On-line learning, business coaching
and workshops that bring results


About Ascent Learning

Ascent Learning is part of Pure Potential, the leadership and management development consultancy established in 2000 by Olwyn Merritt. Through Ascent Learning we provide on-line courses, face to face workshops and follow-up coaching to help you apply what you have learned. As business leaders ourselves, we combine our first-hand business experience with consulting and coaching skills to help you achieve great results from our courses and workshops.

Neville Headshot Smart Cropped 1000px
Neville Merritt
Olwyn Merritt
Olwyn Merritt
Courses & Workshops

Our on-line courses and face to face workshops are designed to be highly practical, containing guidelines and tools that you can immediately apply in your own workplace for quick results.

Learning support

Our courses and workshops include support after the event to provide further guidance as you try out new approaches and use the knowledge you have gained. This means you can be assured that your investment in training will be amply repaid through results.

Sharing experience

As experienced business executives ourselves, we have been through the same challenges that our clients face. This first-hand understanding helps us guide our clients and ensure that our courses are highly relevant to the business environment today.

Unique Approach

We are different because of our unique combination: face to face training methods applied to on-line learning; formal training followed by a period of support; course content explaining Why, not just What; training from experienced business people and of course, there is no-one quite like us anyway.

Field Notes

Insights, inspiration and ideas. Observations on real-life challenges that our clients are facing, and practical strategies to address them.

Why open answers kill your sales opportunities

On day one of sales training I expected you were told you have two ears and one mouth for a reason – you can sell more by listening. They explained how to ask open, rather than closed questions to get the prospect talking. Then there was the part about solutions rather than products, because our product is more than just a product, it helps the customer achieve something else. All

6 classic copywriting structures that still work today

Apparently John Emory Powers (1837-1919) was the world’s first full-time copywriter. Famous authors including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Joseph Heller, Dorothy L. Sayers, Salman Rushdie and Fay Weldon all spent time employed as copywriters. Writing copy that helps sell is not new, and many of the structures developed decades ago work just as well online and in social media today. Here are six structures that you can use to create interest

Why selling beads is easier than selling necklaces

Here is a scenario which will be familiar to many. You follow up a sales lead and have a meeting with the prospect. Your solution is a great fit for their business and you go away to prepare a detailed proposal. You put a lot of work into this proposal and the prospect is bound to be impressed. You go back and present the proposal. The prospect is indeed impressed,

How to read your buyer’s mind: handling the real objections

Objection handling is taught in every sales school, and we all have to deal with objections throughout our lives – from difficult customers to our nearest and dearest. I learned early on that an expressed objection was often not the real issue, and sometimes the individuals negotiating didn’t even realise what their underlying objection really was. Often we hear “it’s too expensive”, when the price isn’t the real issue but

A Guide to GDPR for business leaders and marketers (and 10 steps to take now…)

The new regulation The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has been coming up a lot in conversations with business leaders recently. Although most people know it is very important, there are still many who don’t have a clear picture of what it is and what it means to their business. This short feature provides an executive-level overview and what you need to do about it. Hopefully it provides enough information

How BEARS can help us sell (or the psychology of buying)

Our amazing brains do more than think. Just like a computer, they have “background processes” constantly running, watching out for potential danger just as they have done for thousands of years to keep us alive. Now, most of us don’t have to worry about being pounced on by predators but our protective instincts haven’t caught up with our social evolution. That hidden brain activity is still operating and we can

5 Steps to Ensure Your Training Investment Leads to Results

……. “We spend money on training but we don’t see any result – is it worth it?” This is a common reaction at senior level, particularly in times of uncertainty where every discretionary spend is under scrutiny. My response is: make it worth it. The purpose of training is to change something – increase knowledge, improve skills or change behaviour. There is no point in training without paying close attention

Pig Farmer

How to choose measures that work

Weighing the pig Once upon a time, a group of simple villagers were facing rising meat prices. They decided to buy a piglet, fatten it up and share out the meat between them. They went off to a farmer to buy a piglet. “Here’s a great little pig,” said the farmer. “You weigh him regularly and you’ll see how fast he grows.” So the villagers took the pig home, and

How to transform your team’s performance and engagement using game psychology

Anyone who plays popular computer games or has children that do, will confirm that they can be highly engaging to the point of being addictive – particularly the massively multiplayer online (MMO) games. If people can be so engaged with gaming, why can’t they be as engaged in the workplace? A simple analysis of game psychology shows that there are a number of concepts that can be adopted very easily.

Gerald Rosen

How to deliver complex messages – successfully!

I am sure we have all done it – you have a great idea, an important message or a brilliant product and you explain it to your audience of colleagues, team or customers. But they don’t get it! How can this be? Surely they could see how compelling this is. But they couldn’t. Many of us fall into the trap of being so enthused about our message that we go


There is somebody out there talking about you

Whether you know it or not, like it or not, there is someone out there talking about you. They are not making things up – in fact they are only repeating what you have told them. The problem is, you may not have told them enough to create the right impression. Worse still, you may have told them something which is now way out of date but they are still

How to hit sales targets

How to hit revenue targets without worrying about sales

The Problem How many sales meetings, executive meetings and board meetings have we all endured where sales results are behind expectations and most of the meeting is taken up by micro-analysing every sale in its final stages to see if it can be closed? A lot. In fact, I can remember only a handful that were relaxed and that was because the year’s quota was in the bag already. How


From university to your company: how ready are graduates?

In my experience, today’s graduates are bright, driven and great fun to have on board. But perhaps not quite as ready as we thought. Apart from the fortunate ones who were able to spend a placement year in industry (which thank goodness is becoming more common), many graduates will previously have had relatively low-paid, short term jobs probably in hospitality or retail. Even the more applied subjects like business studies


The truth behind 7 Millennial myths that can supercharge your business

Interest in the so-called Millennial Generation (those born between 1980 and 2000) has spawned a whole new industry of consultants, writers and academics, all keen to persuade us that these people are different as employees and consumers. They tell us that Millennials require a different approach to employment and management than the previous generations of Generation X and Baby Boomers, but is that really true? There have been a number

Why Sales can no longer be a silo – collaboration rules!

Recently I heard someone say that the behaviour of the modern savvy buyer has caused the traditional sales model to be turned on its head. I’m not sure about that, but it definitely needs to be turned 90 degrees to the right. The traditional product cycle was to develop a product or service, pass it to marketing to promote, marketing would pass leads to sales and sales would follow up with

value proposition workshop from Pure Potential

Customers want value, not “solutions”!

When I first moved into a sales role, it was drummed into me that I was to sell “solutions”, not products. Solution selling became the mantra for decades, and it even became a trademarked methodology. Unfortunately, the term has become so over-used in sales circles that it is in danger of becoming meaningless. If you ask a sales executive if they sell products or solutions, they will usually say “Solutions,

How to quickly create a strong elevator pitch

I am constantly amazed by the number of elevator pitches I read that are either not elevator pitches, or are just plain bad. Every executive, marketing and sales person needs one for their company and proposition, and everyone who wants to increase their reputation and network needs a personal elevator pitch too. Here is a simple formula for creating a great elevator pitch. Before I continue, it is worth a

The most persuasive business quote ever

It is not widely known that Marcus Tullius Cicero, the outspoken Roman politician who lived from 106-44BC, ran a Management Academy. There is absolutely no historical evidence for this, but if you analyse one of his more famous quotes you know that must have been true. I use this in many of my sales, negotiation and communication workshops facilitated by Pure Potential. “If you wish to persuade me, you must

PowerPoint Tips from cavemen

Five brilliant PowerPoint tips from cavemen

I have always suspected that the human species has not evolved much physically and mentally in the last ten thousand years or so, although the social evolution has been amazing. Watching David Phillips’ superb TEDx talk recently I discovered that there is a discipline called Evolutionary Psychology which investigates that very topic. This is about the hard-wired human behaviour, evolved to keep us alive in primitive times, that is still

Three great tips that will transform your presentations (from Aristotle!)

Back in the day, before PowerPoint, before overhead projectors, even before printed words on a page, skilled orators would wow audiences with nothing but their words and personality. How, I hear you ask, could anyone possibly present without a PowerPoint deck? It is worth having a look at Aristotle’s views on Rhetoric, because what captivated and persuaded audiences over two thousand years ago holds true now – we haven’t evolved

See all Field Notes


Very enjoyable course. Neville was an engaging trainer who clearly knows the topic well and was able to articulate the content in a concise and informative way.

Introduction to Finance


Neville explained the topics very well and demonstrated with examples. We got the opportunity to apply some of the topics through pair-work and the re-cap at the end also reinforced the topics learned.

Business Writing


Really informative course. Made you consider the audience for demos/presentations which in turn made you consider the way you present and the language used.

Effective Pre-Sales Consulting


The course was without doubt the best I’ve done… I was nervous about doing this one due to the presentation side but I’m really glad I did it. I actually had to do a presentation the next day and the skills I learned helped immensely.     Neville was brilliant.

Presenting With Impact


Overall I thought this course was really useful and would definitely recommend to my colleagues.  I am looking forward to doing Level 2.    I thought Neville was great and the pace and the timing of the course was perfect.

Introduction to Finance



A treasure trove of videos, podcasts and light reads that will help you on your way. More in-depth guides are circulated to our Ascent Club members. If you would like access to our free Ascent Club resources please register here

Induction Programme Guidelines

Download the free Guide “Jump-start your new Starters”, essential tips for planning induction days for new recruits that ensure your new employees hit the ground running. You can call it  Induction Programmes or On-boarding, the principle is the same: a programme of activities which fast-track your new recruits to become engaged and productive colleagues.

Amy Cuddy

Our Favourite TED talks: “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are”

Amy Cuddy, Associate Professor at Harvard Business School, on the proven link between what we do and hormones, which in turn affects what we do and how we are perceived. This is especially interesting for leaders working on developing their executive presence.

Sir Ken Robinson Wikimedia

Our Favourite TED Talks: “Do schools kill creativity?”

The classic TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson on creativity and perception of talent. Ten million views later it still resonates.