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Getting to know…. Simon Hazeldine

Simon Hazeldine

In his session at Ambition 2017, Simon Hazeldine will be looking at techniques he calls “brain friendly selling”. What he does is to use the results of neuroscience research in order to learn more about how his customers’ minds work and develop an effective selling system.

We thought it would be a nice idea to get to know him a bit better before Ambition, and find out what makes him tick.

How did you start in business?

I began my first business as a teenager when a friend and I delivered the local evening newspaper in our village. The village didn’t have a newsagent so we bought the papers at wholesale price, delivered them and took the customer’s payment. As a result, we were making about ten times more per week than our school friends who had part-time jobs as newspaper boys and girls. That was my first exposure to the difference between having a business and having a job!

What’s been your proudest career moment so far?

Bare Knuckle Selling by Simon HazeldineThe publication of my first book Bare Knuckle Selling. I wrote it whilst holding down a demanding corporate job – for six months I got up two hours early, every day, in order to write it. It was a great thrill to hold the first copy in my hands.

I did a speaking gig that same week and I had copies of my book for sale. After I’d finished speaking, people queued up to buy a copy! I was sitting there signing books for people thinking, “This is amazing, people are queuing up to buy my book!” It still thrills me to sign books for people to this day.

What’s the best bit of feedback a client has ever given you?

“I much preferred you to the other speaker. He talked about himself for an hour. You talked about us.”

What’s more important for a company: profit or loyalty?

The ultimate metric that matters in business is profit, because no profit ultimately means no company. However, profit is a lag indicator. It is a result of lots of other actions. Customer loyalty, for example, is an important lead indicator that you measure (amongst others) to make sure you achieve your lag indicators. Far too many businesses focus too much on lag indicators (what has been achieved) and not enough on lead indicators (how you will achieve what you want to achieve) – you can’t manage what you don’t measure.

If there’s only one learning point you’d like people to learn from your Ambition session, what is it?

If you can’t close enough sales, you’re going to have to close your business. To put it simply, marketing is the process of creating a potential customer; selling is turning a potential customer into a paying customer. If you can’t market and sell effectively, then how on earth are you hoping to have a successful business?

Who do you find inspirational in terms of business and why?

I’m always inspired by entrepreneurs like the two guys who run the garage where I get my car serviced. They decided to leave safe jobs with a main dealer to set up their own business. They provide a far better, far friendlier service at a better price and they are 100% trustworthy. They are the classic example of the entrepreneur who says, “I could do a better job myself”, and then goes and does it.

If you could only recommend one business tool as the ‘must-have’ for any business owner, what would it be?

A decent CRM system. You must manage your sales process and sales opportunities in a disciplined and rigorous manner.

Who do you turn to for business advice?

I’m part of a mastermind group with several of the UK’s most successful speakers – we get together to share our successes, strategies, problems and challenges, which is very valuable.

Who do you think is the world’s #1 entrepreneur?

Jeff Bezos who founded Amazon. He’s a real game changer.

What’s the weirdest job you’ve ever done?

Providing event security. You get to meet lots of famous people from the music, comedy and television industries. You rapidly realise who is a grounded, genuine human being and who is a bit of an… erm… you get the idea! Oh, the stories I could tell!

Did your time as a nightclub bouncer give you any skills that are useful in sales and business?

Working on the doors taught me the vital importance of understanding the difference between theory and practical application. I rapidly found out that what works in theory in the karate dojo (training hall) did not always work in the real world! I apply that philosophy to business. What seems like a good idea in theory may not work in the real world. Just because there’s a gap in the market does not mean there’s a market in the gap. Test and check, test and check, test and check… because reality always wins.

Simon loves a challenge!

Simon HazeldinePhysical and mental challenges (or “crazy stuff” as he calls them) are important to Simon, who has completed The Three Peaks Challenge, a Royal Marine Commando Challenge, run a marathon, walked barefoot over broken glass and swum under frozen ice. He also has ambitions to go cage diving with Great White sharks, and swim with a whale shark. All of which begs the question: Why?

I like to set myself challenging things to do as it drags you out of your comfort zone – where there is no growth – and into what I call your ‘stretch zone’. Challenge is a great learning opportunity. A phrase I have adopted from the former Special Forces soldiers I have met is, “Always A Little Further”, which summarises their incredible focus to the unrelenting pursuit of excellence. Their commitment to constantly improving is what makes regiments like the Special Air Service the best in the world. Something businesspeople can learn from.

The research I did for my Master’s degree in the psychology of performance showed that (amongst other factors) elite performers have better levels of concentration and focus. I had the opportunity to test my own concentration and focus last year by learning how to handle venomous snakes. When you are handling something that can kill you (and I handled about 15 different species of venomous snakes, all with their own unique characteristics and behaviour during the days training), you can’t get distracted. At one stage I was handling a large cobra and the instructor reminded me, “Don’t give it a chance. It won’t give you one”. I think we can apply this principle of focus and concentration to our customers and to remember, “Don’t give your competitors a chance. They won’t give you one”.

What are the characteristics of the ‘perfect salesperson’?

Average/poor salespeople have their objectives/sales commission in the front of their mind and the customer’s needs in the back of their mind. Exceptional salespeople have the customer’s needs in the front of their mind and their objectives in the back of their mind. And the more you focus on what the customer needs, the easier it is to get what you want. Great salespeople get out of their own head and into the customer’s head. They see things from the customer’s perspective. There is no such thing as a perfect salesperson as all elite performers regard themselves as work in progress and are constantly trying to raise their game.

What was the best business advice ever given to you?

A sale isn’t a sale until the money is in the bank.

Why did Roger Bannister not break the four minute mile barrier?

I am the only motivational speaker in the world who tells audiences that, contrary to popular opinion, Roger Bannister did not break the four-minute mile barrier. The reason for this is top secret and if you want to find out, you’ll have to come to my session!

And on a personal note…

If you had a dinner party and could invite anyone at all (living or dead), who would be on your table of 6?

  • Lemmy (former member of Motorhead)
  • John Lydon (a.k.a Johnny Rotten from the Sex Pistols)
  • Jaz Coleman (lead singer of one of my favourite bands Killing Joke)
  • Jeff Bezos
  • Richard Branson
  • Robin Williams

What would be your top Desert Island Disc?

‘Pretty Vacant’ by the Sex Pistols.

Do you have a personal mantra and if so, what is it?

Get a grip! i.e. take personal responsibility – there is no-one else to blame. You can have excuses or results – you can’t have both.

What makes you laugh?

Life! I do love stand-up comedy (and have tried doing it myself a couple of times – a very scary experience!) but some of the greatest laughter is when you are with your family and friends.


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