From the top · 23 November 2018

The “bizarre” sales technique that left Apprentice viewers stunned

Where did the candidates go wrong this week?
When Lord Sugar assigns his candidates weekly tasks on The Apprentice, real-life business owners are usually left seething in front of television screens at the show’s failure to capture the true tests of entrepreneurship in 2018.

In episode 8 of The Apprentice 2018, Lord Sugar sent Collaborative and Typhoon up to Glasgow to test the candidates’ art dealing skills. The teams were up against private and corporate clients this week and were offered the opportunity to demonstrate a new dimension to their skills.

Those in team Collaborative delivered a more convincing impression of art dealers, and Typhoon’s project manager, supposed art lover Jasmine Kundra, was sent packing.

We asked our panel of entrepreneurs which candidates impressed them the most, and what business lessons can be adapted to the real business world.

Bruce Spencer-Knott, managing director Minister Surfacing

Which candidate performed badly?

If there’s one thing to take away from this week’s episode, it’s that you really shouldnt talk down a product you’re trying to sell to a potential customer.

Tom’s bizarre approach at Team Typhoon’s gallery exhibition saw him hand negativity on a plate to everyone he spoke to.

Although it’s important to be transparent and honest with your clients, criticising your own product will destroy any interest they might have otherwise had. If you don’t believe in your business, who else will?

If it wasnt for Jasmine’s overbearing approach to managing the team, he couldve easily been the one packing his suitcase.

Read more about UK workplaces:

Which candidate impressed you?

Sabrina still stands out to me as a potential finalist. Her enthusiasm is a bit scattergun, but in business, it’s much easier to learn from your mistakes than learn how to be a positive and hands-on person.

Speaking of enthusiasm, over in winning team Collaborative, Daniel did a great job of getting into the role of art dealer. He walked the walk and talked the talk, appealing to his potential customer base and ultimately closing deals.

Once again squabbling and personality clashes meant the teams didnt perform as well as a group of experienced business people should. I know a few of them put it down to finding it difficult to work with certain characters, but everyone who has worked a day in their life knows that it’s not always possible to get on with everyone and yet you get the job done anyway.

That’s exactly what the remaining candidates need to do if they want to win challenges and shine in the final weeks.

Daniel Scott, founder CoinCorner

What the winning team did well

Despite failing to comprehend the client’s brief (?innovation, provence, experience?), the winning team where much better at sales. They knew what they were talking about… or at least it came across that way.

What the losing team did badly

The losing team (Team Typhoon) lost sight of the brief. The brief required cohesive thinking but with the lack of confidence in each other as a team, it was clear it wouldnt come together as planned.

Which candidate impressed you?

Daniel. His ability to schmooze was brilliant! He could certainly talk the talk (even though he admittedly didnt have a f*cking clue?) and he even changed his look to suit the event which worked in his favour.

Which candidate performed badly?

Sabrina. She spent most of the time just getting on everyone’s nerves interfering and interrupting?all the timeand trying too hard to sell the tote bags when she should have been focusing on the pieces that would return a better profit margin.

Also, Tom. How on earth is Tom still in this series? This was another week and another task where he should have excelled! Despite his father and sister being artists, he was awful at trying to sell the art, resulting in no sales at all!

What lessons can small business owners take from this episode?

It’s important to know what it is you are trying to sell inside out. Teamwork makes the dream work.

Samantha Caine, managing director of Business Linked Teams

This week’s challenge saw the teams tasked with becoming art dealers in Glasgow’s vibrant art scene. Both teams were tasked with selecting one artist whose work would complement a corporate client’s workspace and reflect their company ethos. The chosen pieces would also need to impress punters on Glasgow’s art scene with each team required to host a gallery event where they would be expected to sell as many pieces as possible.

Putting herself forward to project manage Team Collaborative, Jackie led the sourcing task, meeting artists and striking a deal to sell their work while the other half of the team met with the corporate client. The team collectively failed to truly understand the client’s requirements. The client’s key messages, which should have been conveyed by the art chosen for their workspace, were also lost in translation.

Despite failing to deliver on the corporate client’s requirements, Collaborative excelled when it came to selling to collectors at the gallery event. The team showed real skill in understanding the target market here and their efforts to immerse themselves in that market and speak its language paid off with impressive takings.

Team Typhoon’s performance, on the other hand, was the polar opposite to their opposition’s. Led by Jasmine, Typhoon did well at understanding the corporate client’s requirements and key messages and chose well when it came to sourcing the art that reflected the brief. However, the team really struggled to understand or interact well with their wider market at the gallery event. When the team did sell a piece, it was already being considered for purchase by the corporate client.

The corporate client was also unimpressed by the team’s inconsistency when it came to managing the client relationship. Having initially met with and been impressed by Sabrina and Sian, the client was baffled to arrive at the event and be told that both Sabrina and Sian were present but werent even able to greet them. When Sian emerged at the client’s request, a sale was finally made.

Which candidate impressed you?

While Jasmine was this week’s boardroom victim, it was Tom who stood out with a cool and calm demeanour, exhibiting great diplomacy when dealing with difficult team situations. However, he failed to sell and landed in the bottom three for the second consecutive week. If you’re going to generate sales, strong people skills need to be visible to clients, not just colleagues.

Faisal Nasim, founder ExamPapersPlus

Which candidate performed badly?

Tom is so fortunate to still be in this process. He had a terrible week with incredibly poor salesmanship skills on show.


 
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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.

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