Inspiring The Tired Shopkeeper

As you might have picked up, in my downtime I’ve become a bit of an iPlayer surfer.  It’s the BBC’s catch up service.  Pretty much any show from the past seven days can be seen at your leisure.  Like much of the Beeb though, its provision falls short of excellence, with seeking farther back gems and overseas access among the deficiencies.

Nevertheless, being a huge fan of Mary Portas when I saw a reality business show called All Over The Shop, I wanted more.  It was presented by a fella called Geoff Burch.  I’d come across him before.  A few years back one of my customers had him as their annual sales conference’s guest speaker.  I missed the event, but I remember praise offered in his direction.  On that basis, I bought one of his books.  Unfortunately, I found it underwhelming, more suited to a time a couple of decades preceeding its publication date. So much so I ditched it less than a third-in.

Luckily, Geoff’s telly antics are closer to the mark.  His aim is to revitalise small shop owners.  There seems a deliberate attempt to differ from Mary’s approach.  An absence of wallowing in detail or depth means it’s a fast-paced sketch show compared to Mary’s Emmy winning drama style, doesn’t detract from Geoff’s enthusiasm.

Much of his advice can be readily adapted by salespeople long in the tooth, yet perhaps falling behind their numbers.


He implored each to get their “eye back on the ball”, “sharpen your act” and “bring the pizzaz back”.  To instill the necessary sense of “showbiz”, one great trick was to give each an “inspiration day”.  I like this idea a lot.  He found a model store in their sector that was wildly successful.  Playing a game of spot-the-difference you could see everyone’s eyes light up.  It did a terrific job of rekindling flames.

The application of this concept to B2B solution sellers isn’t straightforward as, after all, which one of your successful competitors is likely to let you in the door for a nose round?!  But think a little creatively and the inspiration you seek to rejuvenate is out there.  What about your customers, suppliers, even competitors that sell to your type of clients but say in totally different sectors and territories?

General Lines

There were smaller snippets where decent reminders also cropped up:

  • He constantly preached “focus”.  Guilty of trying to cram too much into the offering, the advice was de-clutter right now.
  • Upsell opportunities were homed in on, train staff vigorously and offer them incentives to add items to each client basket by “helping happy customers towards happy decisions”.
  • When times are tricky, people gravitate towards competing on price.  Don’t.  Geoff’s favoured line was “would you go to a cheap brain surgeon?”

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