Simon Squibb’s guide to sales

HelpBnk founder and investor Simon Squibb shares some road-tested sales and marketing advice gleaned over a 30-year career as a business leader and entrepreneur…

Simon Squibb’s guide to sales

Simon Squibb has built an impressive career as a serial entrepreneur, investor, and sales expert and wants to help more people do the same.

Over the past 30 years, he has founded, scaled, and sold several successful companies across various industries. His first steps into entrepreneurship began in typical low key fashion in the 1990s when he launched a local gardening business. 

As a young founder knocking on neighborhood doors to pitch his services, he learned his first sales lessons through rejection.

“Every time someone said no, I would want to understand why,” he explains. Rather than being discouraged by the inevitable refusals, he viewed them as opportunities to improve his approach and offering. This persistence and mindset would serve him well as his ambitions grew.

He decided to pursue his dream clients – the top 50 companies he aspired to work with. For nine years, he relentlessly nurtured these relationships, sending personalised messages and providing valuable insights to each prospect – never giving up. 

He reflects: “Every single month somehow, whether it was a happy birthday message or Merry Christmas, or here’s an insight piece that I thought you might find interesting to help your business.” 

His tenacity and consistency paid off. Before long, Squibb had built an impressive client portfolio at the highest level.

He believes that sales fundamentals come down to three key steps:

  1. Establishing mutual liking and need 
  2. Determining that you can fulfill each other’s needs 
  3. Letting the specifics and terms flow naturally based on the relationship. 

But he also believes closing deals requires much more than process and logic. Effective sales hinges on authenticity, emotional intelligence, and storytelling. 

“The best salespeople are themselves. They don’t pretend that something’s good. I only have ever sold things that I really believe in,” he says. 

While modern technology has opened up powerful new sales channels, Squibb cautions against over-reliance on automation and digital tools alone, perferring a more human approach. He acknowledges that he has leveraged social media to build a big following, but his biggest deals have come from old-fashioned relationship building and human connection. 

“I think one of the hottest things that isn’t being leveraged is direct messaging on things like Facebook and Instagram. Businesses aren’t really using it. I think voice clip messaging is also really powerful. People can hear your voice, instead of some text-based email rubbish. Try to connect to your audience. And that’s what I use now, technology like voice clips.

“One of the things that we did recently was send an email to people that we wanted to work with, with me holding a coffee cup with their name on it. And literally it’s just a bit of work in Photoshop, but it really stood out to people. They noticed that we taken the time to Photoshop something with their name in it, showing that we thought about them. 

“And they all responded because it was personalised and that’s what we need to do now I think in a mass market, automated tool system, where sales strategy is all about blasting people.

“The ones that will win are the ones that will personalise. Doing simple things like Photoshopping someone’s name onto a cup and inviting them for coffee can be pretty powerful.

“But sometimes, just go back to basics, take someone out for lunch, go and play golf, go and do something with the very customer you want to work with,” he advises. “It’s not all about social media and email. Put technology to the side”.

Though he has enjoyed tremendous personal success, he measures his impact more by how many people he can empower. His latest venture, HelpBnk, aims to help 10 million people start and grow their own small businesses. Through the initiative, he hopes to inspire a new wave of entrepreneurs who have historically lacked access. “Anyone can be an entrepreneur!”, he insists.

This mindset of abundance and opportunity reflects his own humble beginnings. He started out hungry for his first business to succeed, tirelessly pitching services door-to-door. Now, he enjoys sharing the lessons he has learned along the way. 

He is unambiguous when asked what makes the best salesperson: “Authenticity is the number one tool that people should use.” 

He believes success comes to those who stay true to themselves while generously serving others. It’s an approach that has certainly served him well so far.

He also offers some unconventional wisdom when it comes to incentivising sales teams. Rather than short-term carrot-and-stick motivators, he advocates giving employees real equity and ownership in the business. 

“If you want to build a brand, in my opinion you need to give the employees more than just a little bit of extra money when they get a sale.” 

This approach, he argues, builds team commitment and aligns people around growing the overall brand value – not just chasing quick wins.

He also emphasises the value of narrative as a key sales skill. 

“The ability to tell a story, not sell a product. Sell the sizzle, not the steak,” he explains.

Effective stories evoke emotion and imagination rather than dryly stating features and facts. He practices what he preaches, bringing plenty of energy when sharing his own entrepreneurial journey.

Resilience and relationships are recurring themes in his path to success. By persevering through rejections and nurturing contacts over time, breakthroughs happen through compounding invisible actions he says. As he reminds audiences, “Sales is very simple. Get one client, and make them so happy that they become your salesperson.”

While new technologies and tactics may come and go, his technique has been tried and tested down the years. Whether starting a global enterprise or your first business, he emphasises the importance of trust and service.

“I think if more people believed that, the more handshake deals would happen,” he says.

You can catch more insights from him at Elite Business Live from March 13-14 2024, when he will sharing intelligence from his 30 year journey as an entrepreneur.  Tickets are available but selling out quickly for what promises to be an empowering and entertaining event. 

He insists that anyone can embrace their potential and chart their own course as he’s done, concluding: ”I’m sick and tired of everything being so legal. Most of the best deals I’ve ever done, including my marriage, had no contract at all.”

Ronnie Dungan
Ronnie Dungan

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