In this exciting interview, hear from the Entrepreneur’s Godmother Alison Edgar MBE, author of ‘Secrets of Successful Sales’ and ‘SMASH IT! The Art of Getting What YOU Want’, who is a top business speaker specialising in sales and corporate growth.
In our exclusive Q&A with the London Business News Blog Alison reveals the story behind her title of ‘Entrepreneur’s Godmother’ and her proudest professional achievement – getting an MBE!
Want to know the secrets to sales, positive corporate culture, and innovation in business?
Read this exclusive interview with Alison Edgar MBE.
You are called the “Entrepreneur’s Godmother”, how did you earn this title?
“Well, it was actually given to me like a gift!
“I think that’s such a special thing. When I started my business, it was 2014 and I worked with a lot of entrepreneurs. So, Dragons’ Den winners, The Apprentice winners; I’ve got quite a well-known portfolio of entrepreneurial customers.
“There used to be funding to help subsidise the work that I do, but when the Government pulled the funding, a lot of people just didn’t have any money to learn new skills. So, I thought, how can I help these people? I felt like it was my duty to help people!
“I wrote the book, my first book, which is called ‘Secrets of Successful Sales’. Then I went on a mission to New York with one of my young entrepreneurs – he is outstanding, really creative, and energetic – and I said, ‘look, I need a name for this new brand’.
“He didn’t even have to think twice. He said, ‘that’s really easy, Alison, you are the entrepreneur’s Godmother!’. When I Googled ‘Godmother’, it was defined as ‘a person of influence in an organisation or somebody’s life’.
“It was just so apt!”
Why is your approach to sales and customer service so successful?
“I love sales and customer service! I genuinely believe when it’s delivered correctly, sales and customer service are exactly the same thing.
“Everyone seems to hate sales apart from me. They’re like, ‘sales is dirty, it’s lazy, it’s pushy’, but the reason it gets a bad reputation is people don’t know how to do it properly! You’re not going to sell to everyone, if you work on the people who are right for your product or your service, then it’s not sales, it’s just giving great customer service!
“For example, somebody might want a speaker for an event. You know that they need more than a half-hour Zoom call; they may need an ongoing program. But that program might be three times the price. By not offering your suggestions, you’re not meeting your customer’s needs. People would say, ‘well, that’s cross-selling, that’s upselling’ – it’s just genuinely hot as hell customer service that people pay for!
“That is where my background was original, hospitality. So, I worked in Cape Town, I worked in big hotel chains. And when I moved into sales, I worked for BT. And so, it was the combination of those things and thinking like an entrepreneur that made me really successful.
“And that’s what I teach. So, my teaching is not based on theory, it’s based on facts and reality and what I’ve done in my own career and what I’ve taught other people!”
How can businesses cultivate a positive and innovative workplace culture?
“I think it’s not about just getting a speaker and to talk about the topic, it’s about really living and making the changes internally.
“During [the Covid-19] lockdown, one of the organisations that I worked with was really struggling with demotivation. They had to let some people go. They had an office in Sydney, an office in Hong Kong, the UK, Canada, and on both sides of the US. So, can you imagine trying to communicate not only virtually but in all those different time zones?
“We started with the senior leadership team. Senior leadership teams will often say, ‘yes, they need to change, these people over here – no, we don’t need to change, they need to change, not us!’.
“And that’s so wrong because if you’re going to change, everybody has to go through the program. Everybody must know about fixing a growth mindset, everybody must do icebreakers!
“Because if you don’t, that’s when people say, ‘oh, we tried that, and it didn’t work’ – but they didn’t try it, they half-heartedly tried it! If you are going to do something, it’s all in. Change doesn’t come from the bottom; it comes from the top and it works its way down.”
What is your proudest professional achievement?
“It’s got to be the MBE!
“The day I found out, I just started to cry. I didn’t know who nominated me or why!
“It was between lockdown one and two – the one where you were allowed to work in a garden, I can’t remember which lockdown that was.
“I was in the garden writing my new book and this email comes in, I literally just started to cry. And my colleague said, ‘what’s wrong, has somebody passed away?’, and I said, ‘are you my press officer?’, she said, ‘yes’ and I said, ‘look at this email because I can only show it to my press officer’.
“It was from the Cabinet Office to say that I had been given an MBE! And I’m so proud because it’s for business and entrepreneurship, and that’s the thing I love.
“My colleague laughed and said she said, ‘Allison, I knew two weeks ago because the man phoned me – I nominated you three years ago for this!’.
“I’ve got to say on a personal note, my kids, my husband, and all that kind of stuff. I have just finished a new TV show for Amazon Prime, I’m so proud of that.
“I didn’t start my business until I was 46 years old, and when I was 46 the only four addresses and phone numbers in my phone were the mums from school. I’m 53 now, so I have created all of this in just nine years.
“If I can do it with no educational background, then I hope it inspires other people to believe that they can also achieve their goals!”
This exclusive interview with Alison Edgar MBE was conducted by Megan Lupton.