“From Thai curry to Blake’s nudge”: a talk by Jeremy Blake on 10 February 2010

On Wednesday 10 February, BSc Business Enterprise students and a large number of visitors from the local business community were treated to a lively, informative and thoroughly enjoyable presentation by Jeremy Blake, Sales Director of Reality Training Ltd (external link), a Buckingham-based sales and management training business.

Jeremy based his presentation around amusing tales of his working life story, regaling his audience with anecdotes that saw him go from failed West end actor, to travels in Thailand as an English teacher, telemarketing success with Yell until his self-inflicted dismissal, to his setting up of Reality Training Ltd. Throughout his engaging talk, a consistent theme of Jeremy’s developing interest, growing understanding, and eventual expertise in sales and marketing shone through.

Jeremy’s main focus was the need for marketers to differentiate themselves from their competitors by being innovative and being able to offer both unique selling propositions and value added propositions, i.e. “Sell the sizzle, not the sausage” and “We do this which means you’ll get that”. Being customer-oriented whilst adopting language to beguile, engage and retain interest through killer questions and effective openings, was also a central theme. As Jeremy mentioned, in any sales environment, whether that is attempting to close a deal with a major client or going for a job interview, “your first ten words will always be more important than your next ten thousand”.

Jeremy discussed the awareness, interest, trial, re-purchase and loyalty phases of brand promotion, stressing the need for ‘the irresistible offer’ at the trial stage in order to encourage repeat buying and eventual loyalty. A key question was whether entrepreneurs or businesses hoped for simply ‘more business’ or ‘more profitable business’, stressing the importance of keeping existing customers happy. Another key point was that strong propositions are a must. Jeremy’s secret of measuring marketing effectiveness was that a “proposition must appear nowhere else whatsoever!” Not easy, but something to aim for.

Having humorously advised the audience to avoid talking to potential customers in monosyllabic ‘bullet points’, Jeremy finished his talk with an explanation of ‘Blake’s nudge’; a simple yet effective sales technique of nodding when making a suggestion that you want someone to act upon. Ask someone if they want a cup of coffee or cup of tea and nod as you mention your own preference and see what happens…

Throughout the talk Jeremy suggested some key reading and website references for the budding innovator / entrepreneur which are listed below:

  • John Seddan, Freedom from command and control (Vanguard Consulting, 2003)
  • Claude C. Hopkins, Scientific advertising (Cosimo Classics, 2007)
  • Elmer Wheeler, Tested sentences that sell (Elmer Wheeler Books, 1983)
  • Edward Deming, Out of the crisis (MIT Press, 1986)
  • Zig Ziglar, Secrets of closing the sale (Time Warner, 1996)
  • Marketing Wizdom (external link)
  • Institute of Direct Marketing (external link)
  • Chartered Institute of Marketing (external link)
  • Bob Bly (external link)

Jeremy’s talk was regarded by all as a great success and made for an excellent opening to the talks being held each Wednesday evening in the Business School.

Report by Euan Leckie (BBE first year student