Are you selling to the right people?

If you’re like me, you went to school or university to learn skills that would one day get you a job that used those skills. Selling whatever that product or service happened to be would be someone else’s job. So getting to grips with sales when you start your own business can be quite a shock.

I found that there’s no shortage of experts telling newbie business owners they need to get over that ‘icky’ feeling of not wanting to sell their wares, but once you’ve made peace with your inner salesperson there’s still work to be done. The truth is that selling isn’t some gift you’re born with – although like anything, some people are naturally better than others – it’s a set of skills and techniques that can be learned.

I’m far from being a sales expert and I’m learning all the time, so I thought I’d share some of what I learn here on as I go along.

My latest lightbulb moment came at the February Drive The Network Bedford meeting where Andy Bargery was talking about sales pipelines. A sales pipeline is a way of planning out your sales process so that you have a steady, predictable flow of clients instead of either too many or too few. We plan to have more on this on the  Drive The Network blog shortly, so here I’ll focus on just one aspect of Andy’s talk.

andy bargery sales pipeline

When you receive calls or emails from new prospects, do you treat them all the same? Of course, everyone should be treated politely and professionally, but some will be much better prospects than others. To make the best use of your time and resources it makes sense to focus on those who are most likely to buy, and buy fairly soon. But how can you identify these people? Enter the BANT model for qualifying prospects:

Budget – how much are they prepared to spend?

Authority – who is the decision maker?

Need – does the prospect have a problem you can solve?

Timing – is there urgency?

An example I’ve seen in the online course world is where a teacher creates online courses for other teachers. The danger is that these courses are aimed at classroom teachers who don’t have authority over their budget. And whatever budget there is may be very small. Also, the senior management team may already have committed to spend that budget somewhere else. This isn’t necessarily the case everywhere, as there are a lot of different schools all over the world. But it’s really important to think these issues through before you invest time in making course materials.

A better example is an educational software company I worked for many years ago. This company learned about the ‘pots’ of government funding that were available, identified the schools who were likely to be eligible for that funding and put together a software package to solve the most pressing problems experienced by those schools. Then it ran trials in several schools that met those criteria and produced case studies to show how the software produced measurable results.  The sales team then knew who they could best help and could invest their time and energy in those schools.

The BANT model can go wrong, especially if it’s used in a heavy-handed way. But had I known about it sooner I would have been able to politely and tactfully work out if someone approaching me was likely to be a good fit for what I had to offer, saving both of us time and effort.

So there you go, another sales lesson learned!

Image: Andy Bargery talking about sales pipelines at the Drive The Network Bedford meeting, February 2018. Photo by Kelly Lambert of

The top questions I’m asked about online course creation (plus the answers!)

online course creation questions

I’m asked a lot of online course creation questions and I do answer them! But lately my answers have been in different places at different times. Sometimes in my podcast, sometimes in Facebook groups and in other places, too.

So here’s a list of the top questions I’m asked in one easy-to-find place:

1. Why should I make an online course?

So let’s start at the beginning and look at why you should make an online course.  I give you four good reasons in the first episode of my Totally Courses podcast.

2. What about the technology? Should I upload my course to my own website? How do people pay for it?

‘How do I do the tech stuff’ is just about the biggest question of all, but you might be surprised to hear it’s not the best place to start planning your course creation. The best place to start is to understand who needs your course and exactly what problem you can solve from them. I walk you through this process in my Online Course Brainstorming Sheet, which you can download here (it’s free).

But when you are ready to explore the tech side of creating a course, this podcast episode is a great place to begin.

And if you’d like to know my top picks of the simple tools available, take a look at my Course Creation Resource List right at the top of

3. My online course creation Q and A for Drive The Network

In one hour of frantic typing I answered the course creation questions of the Drive The Network community including “What’s the optimum length of an online course?”, “What are the best alternatives to Udemy?” , “How much support should you offer?” and “Should you pre-sell your course?”

You can read all the answers here.

4. Do you have any questions you’d like to ask?

Then please do come and join us in my Online Course Brainstormers Facebook group. See you there!

I’m launching a new business networking group in Bedford (UK)

Update: The first meeting was a great success! Huge thanks to George Zitko of Zitko Consulting who told us about how he grew his business from his back bedroom to a highly respected specialist agency with six employees in just a few years. You can listen to a recording of his talk here.

Original article:

I’m launching a new business networking group in Bedford (UK) and I’d love to see you there. Let me tell you why I decided to become a networking group leader.

You know how working from home is supposed to be? Work whenever you want, in your pyjamas, any time of day or night? It sounds great – and the flexibility is amazing if you have family commitments – but there is a dark side. This summer it hit me that working from home wasn’t really working for me. True, it was great some of the time, but doing it all of the time was knocking my productivity, mood and my confidence. It was time to connect with more like-minded people local to me.

At about the same time Ann Hawkins began subtly suggesting I should start a Bedford group of Drive The Network. I first met Ann about five years ago at a women’s networking group in St Neots, Cambs which has now closed. We stayed in touch on social media and I really liked Ann’s style, which (as she says) is to network like a human being!  So no elevator pitches, no “you can’t come to our networking group because you’re a web designer and we’ve already got one of those”, no “here’s my business card, bye” drive-by networking, no forced referrals. Just good old fashioned getting to know, like and trust people. Both online and offline.

At that time I didn’t think it was for me because I didn’t feel I was a natural networker. Yes, whatever that means! Then I decided a) I really needed to connect with more people locally, b) I really liked Drive’s style, aims and members, and c) what the hell, you never know unless you try!

So here I am, the new group leader of Drive Bedford!

Our first event is at 44 Harpur Street, Bedford on 21 November, 10 am to 12pm.

I would love to see you there! If you have any family or friends local to me that might be interested it would be great if you could pass the message on, too.

Here’s the link with all the details:

Our speaker is George Zitko. George started his recruitment business in 2012. In 2013, working from his back bedroom, he was broke and almost decided to give up and get a job. George will share how he turned his business around to become one of the most respected and nationally recognised specialist recruitment consultancies in the UK.

You’ll also have a chance to decide what happens at Drive Bedford in the future.

See you there!

The return of the blog

Over the last year or so I’ve been focusing on my other site, There’s now lots of great content on that site for anyone who wants to make online courses, so I’m happy with that.

So what happened to

Focus is incredibly important in any online business, so while I was focusing on Totally Courses, I decided to use this site, as a landing page for anyone who Googled me by name. After all, It looks really bad to visit a site and find a blog that’s not been updated in six months.  Also, social media has changed a lot in the last couple of years and I needed some time to explore new strategies as the old ones became less effective. (More on this in upcoming posts, but in the meantime this is great advice.)

Unfortunately, this meant that many of the useful videos and posts I’ve created over the last few years weren’t available for visitors to see. So I decided now is the right time to bring back the blog. (I’ve also deleted the posts that are out of date.)

I make courses and I help people to make their own courses. It’s a been real challenge to decide whether to combine those on the same website or to keep them separate. In the end I decided it was too confusing for visitors to my site(s) to combine the two. Even though that means it’s a bit of extra work for me to have two sites.

I’m now the Bedford group leader of Drive

There’s another change, too – I’m now the Bedford group leader for Drive The Network, which is a networking group but with a difference. Drive is focused on building long-term relationships using face-to-face meetings and social media, which means it makes sense for me to return to using a blog with my own name on it. When you’re networking, people meet a person rather than a business, so it’s important to be yourself both online and face-to-face.

Putting the fun back in blogging

In fact Ann Hawkins, owner of Drive, also made me realise I needed to bring this blog back to life. She said that my strengths were explaining things in a simple way and trying out new things then not being afraid to report back on how they went. That’s why I used to enjoy blogging in the old days (about 2010, ha ha!) Since then I’ve got bogged down in what the experts say a blog should be and that sucked most of the fun out of it. From now on I want to keep things simple and share what I find out, whether that’s what works or what doesn’t work.

The blogs I’ve been enjoying lately are the business blogs with personality that tell me something about the author. I want to get back to that.

Finally, I’ve been improving my drawing for the last year and now I feel brave enough to start using my drawings on my blogs. Stay tuned for more!

Why you should make Instagram videos

Ever thought of making Instagram videos? I hadn’t until a few weeks ago, but I gave it a try and in this post I’ll share why I did it and what I gained from it.

I enjoy making videos, but sometimes I resist making them. Why? Because they can be a lot of work. To make a good, useful video you need to to plan out a script or storyboard (even if it’s a simple one) work out its goals (are you aiming to get more views or subscribers on YouTube? Or build your mailing list? Or make a whole series and turn them into a course?), sort out you lighting, software, camera, mic, backdrop, hair and makeup, then record and edit.

But what you need to catch attention online is the opposite of that carefully structured approach. What catches attention is novelty, fun, creativity and imagination and often those come from spontantaneity.

So how do you balance both? That’s what I was getting to grips with a few weeks ago. So I decided to give myself a quick break from the careful video-making, have some fun and try new things. Which is why I decided to make Instagram videos.

Instagram video is the opposite of YouTube video because the videos have to be short and catch attention. I mean really short – just a few seconds. On the other hand, people tend to go to YouTube to learn how to do something, so they are more open to paying attention to a video for a few minutes. You still have to work to keep YouTube viewers engaged of course, but their expectations are very different to Instagram. With Instagram people are looking for fun, relief from boredom and to look at something that makes them say ‘wow’. Think flicking through a magazine.

Video tutorials are very much my thing, so it took me a bit or research and experimentation to get into the mindset you need to make Instagram videos, but I’m getting there. Here are some of the videos I’ve posted there:

My first tutorial…

This got a respectable number of views considering I’d only been using that Instagram account properly for a few days, but I still think it was too long and ‘too YouTube’.  After that I tried to make my shortest ever tutorial at just under 20 seconds:

I was getting more into the Instagram video vibe here. But I believe it would be a mistake to focus on teaching in Instagram, instead I want to get across ‘hey, did you know I make tutorial videos?’

This is great because I can now try lots of other fun stuff to catch attention and connect with people. So here’s what else I’ve tried:

In the video above I was just playing around with an animation smartphone app called Flipaclip. My results were pretty amateur, but it was fun and I had a few people asking me which software I’d used to create it. Incidentally, you can do amazing things with Flipaclip – take a look here – it’s going to take me a while to get to that standard! Then I tried another video with Flipaclip, which made on my Android phone in front of the TV one evening:

So it looks like I’m addicted to this animation app then! #animation #heart #video

A video posted by Helen Lindop (@totallycourses) on

As you can see Nick Park has nothing to worry about from me 🙂 but it’s had more views than any of my other videos.

I have more videos in the pipeline, so if you want to see how I get on you can follow me at

So the take-aways for me are:

  1. It’s easy to get stale and stuck in a rut but not even notice. Every now and then you need to shake things up, have some fun and experiment.
  2. I’ve connected with a whole load of people on Instagram that I hadn’t found on Twitter or Facebook. Yes, you do need to take care to not spread yourself too thinly across too many social media platforms, but if you’re able to spread out a little then you can find entirely new people.
  3. Because it’s fast, I’m posting more often and that means more visibility. Blindingly obvious but true. I’ve started to get more Twitter action just because I’m sharing my Instagram posts to Twitter daily rather than just my blog posts weekly.
  4. Video definitely doesn’t have to be a long, complex process.

So why not  have a go yourself and make Instagram videos?

How to clean up audio in Camtasia Studio 8

Ever recorded a video and wanted to get rid of the sniffs, ums, errs, crackles and background noise? Here’s how to clean up audio in Camtasia.

The best way to get clean audio is to keep background noise to a minimum when you record and use a good microphone. Not only does this give you the best result, it also saves you a lot of time. Video editing can be really time-consuming, especially if you’re fairly new to it. And if you pay someone else to edit your videos this will save you money, too.

Sometimes you do need to clean up your audio when editing, though. Here’s how to do that in Camtasia Studio 8 (but it’s a similar process in other software):

By the way, I already have a video on how to minimise background noise when recording here, so do take a look at that before you start recording if possible.

Here’s the link for my done-for-you courses that I mentioned in this video:

If you’re wondering why I’m using Camtasia Studio 8 when version 9 was released a couple of weeks ago, well that’s a good question! My feeling is that most course and content video creators haven’t upgraded yet and won’t for a while. But I’ll keep my ear to the ground and start to switch over to version 9 when people need me to.

I now have a few really popular videos in my video editing playlist on YouTube. Maybe there’s a tutorial there that could help you with your video editing? You can take a look here.

Good luck with your audio, and if you need any more help you can find me in the Really Useful Web Video tips Facebook group!