The Next factor: Maintain a strong focus on selling to help sales soar

I love nothing more than picking up a newspaper and reading headlines like this: We’re not in a recession, declares Next as sales soar (Evening Standard, 1 August). We are constantly being told that the challenging environment is crippling the retail trade, but some businesses are clearly doing something right – especially Next.

With half year profits to July up 4.5% it’s time to take a look at what’s going so right for Next and so badly for others working the same patch. From a sales training point of view (which of course I’ll always take), this was the most telling quote in the piece:

Retail expert James McGregor: “Rather than chase the value end of retail, as so many retailers have done in recent years, Next has remained stubbornly in the middle ground and it has paid dividends.”

The stubborn belief and discipline that Next has shown in its product and its customers have driven them past the competition.

What might Next have done in tough periods?

  • Chased the value end of the market
  • Slashed costs
  • Abandoned its post as a ‘quality’ retailer

Any of these strategies could have generated revenue in the short term, but what sort of long-term impact could they have had? Once you drop those prices and rip the value out of your products or services you need to be prepares for a fairly large door to close behind you. Sometimes, there’s no going back.

Next as a business didn’t do any of the above and the results are there for everyone to see. Yes, adapt and be flexible in your approach to selling, but maintain a focus on what you sell and who to.

How can you keep this steely-eyed focus on your sales targets?

Well, you need a map. You need a reference guide that you can constantly turn back to for reassurance that you’ve stuck to the plan. The selling strategies that work have this kind of framework in their DNA.

Keeping things simple and straight forward to understand is what we do best at Natural Training so we devised a simple eight-step Sales Cycle. And, while we always encourage a natural approach, there is never any harm in having a guide like the one below to keep focused on the sale. There’s no doubt that this is the same structured and processes approach that successful businesses are taking right now to maintain an unwavering on high performance and increased revenue.

Here’s the step-by-step Natural Training Sales Cycle:

  1. Attitude and energy
  2. Strategy and planning
  3. Prospecting and connecting
  4. Consulting skills
  5. Communication and presentation
  6. Handling objections
  7. Negotiation and closing
  8. Drive sales growth


Click the image below to read more about our Sales Cycle…

This is the map, but what would that look like in practice? Well, it will look different depending on the company using it and we would recommend a Natural Training consultant working with you to effectively integrate the process into your sales approach.

For now, here’s a look at how TWO of the eight stages could be fitting into Next’s successful sales strategy:

Staying on track, whatever the cost: Strategy and planning

Where’s the map? Successful selling strategies know their market and their customers – planning is crucial. Next has shown a clear commitment to creating a sales plan (who to sell to, what to sell…) and then sticking to that plan no matter what the external environment looks like. By maintaining its focus on the traditional customer instead of reducing quality and chasing the extreme value end of the market, Next has managed to generate incredible sales results. Why? Because the map wouldn’t let them go off road!

Follow the sale online: Prospecting and connecting

Is there that ambition to unearth new opportunities from your sales team? Without this in the team’s culture, how will the business move forward? There are so many promotional platforms to make use of today so dive in and get involved. With 27,000 followers on Twitter and more than 1m Facebook ‘Likes’, Next clearly has a focus on online promotion. Interestingly, it’s online sales platform has played a huge role in recent success. With more and more customers buying online and the awful British weather of late, Next has shown a focus on adapting where it connects with customers to drive up success.

I wonder where Next would be now if it has bowed to the market pressures and sold off to the value end of the market?

The Natural Training Sales Cycle is a simple and straight forward way to install structure and maintain absolute focus. Next has proved that the current climate is not the hostile and baron land that so many make it out to be. Bucking the trend is simple: devise a clear plan and keep disciplined.

Talk with the sales training team at Natural Training about how our Sales Cycle can keep you on track to increased revenue and profits. Call 0207 043 1582 or email  We’d like to know how much structure is applied to the selling strategy at your company. Is there a plan that requires discipline and commitment?

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