things we can learn from the apprentice


Like a lot of people, i like to laugh and pick holes in wannabe apprentices & their tactics on ‘the apprentice‘. It’s entertainment. Same with dragon’s den. All of us think we can do better and are quick to rubbish participants and their ideas from the comfort of our chairs and sofas. Remote control in one hand, tea in the other…

Whilst we’re all only too happy to point out other people’s mistakes, it’s important we learn from them. For example, in last night’s apprentice, half of one team sat in a car for a few hours, in a business park, ‘trying’ to get leads.

Would i have done that? A few years ago, possibly. Having watched the apprentice and shows like it over the past few years, there’s no way i’d do that now. I was saying to myself & on twitter “ha, you’re never gonna sell stuff from the back seat of a car…”.

I’ve learned that kind of stuff doesn’t cut it with the likes of Bill Cullen or Alan Sugar. They like grafters and people who at least give it 110% even if that’s not good enough. I’m no businessman, but even i know it’s extremely difficult to run a business or sell things from the back seat of a car. You’d need to be one hell of a sales person.

Now that’s a pretty obvious, fairly common sense thing NOT to do but the thing is, 3 of 4 people in the car had a job in sales. That’s what they do… it’s staggering that these people thought it was acceptable to stay bunched up in a car with no face to face contact with anyone and then expect to magically sell stuff. All they had to do was to watch apprentice programmes from previous years to realize that’s a big mistake.

Creative Commons License photo credit: o5com

Although i have no intention of ever going in to a sales job, i always pick up some useful tips from these kind of shows. It’s interesting to watch sales people in action. Steve from last year (who eventually won it) was a sales machine. What separated him from the others, in my opinion was his likability factor. You could sense the others were *trying* to sell but with Steve it didn’t seem to obvious. He was by no means the biggest character from last year and i think big characters makes bad sales people… i know if i see someone that’s loud and very forward, i’ll ignore them because i know they’re selling something, they’re trying too hard.

In last night’s show, Bill made an interesting comment on selling technique. Assuming you have a stand, rather than say to people “Can i have two minutes of your time?”, ask them if they’d like some chocolate strawberries. Of course you should have chocolate strawberries at the stand, otherwise you’re just a liar :mrgreen:

But this is a much tougher question to say ‘no’ to. Most people would like sweets or a snack, even if they don’t like you or whatever it is you’re selling. So perhaps some people will instinctively say yes and thus trap themselves in your web. They’re snookered once they say yes because they’re forced in to moving closer to the stand and your product. It’s rude to just take free stuff and run, so most people will hang around and listen to what you’re saying. The chances of a sale increase.

I’ve noticed this myself… over the last few years charity workers are getting smarter (perhaps they’re watching the apprentice too!). They’ll ask you questions like “would you like to help the blind” or “have you heard of x” whereas before they’d ask questions which were easier to say no to. Most people ignore them or say ‘no’. So if you have a ‘no’ answer prepared and somebody asks you a question which you actually want to answer yes to, that results in hesitation a.k.a weakness and again you’re one step closer to getting yourself trapped.

So that’s the kind of stuff i learn from shows like the apprentice. It’s not just entertainment, it’s a like a business and psychology lecture all rolled in to one 🙂 It would be a real shame if you were to watch these sort of programmes, end up in similar situations in real life and didn’t learn from other people’s mistakes.

No.1 rule on dragons den is to get your facts and figures right and not over value your business. How many times do people go in with all sorts of mad figures that don’t even stack up?? I’m sick of that happening and i’m just a viewer seeing edited clips 🙂 i can only imagine how frustrating that is for the dragons. Some people just never learn until they experience things for themselves…

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