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Friday, 29 October 2010

Sales Professionalism


The TV Reality show The Apprentice consistently shows Selling in a bad light.
We see “Fools rushing in,” claiming that they are able to ‘sell’, to ‘pitch’ and to ‘close’.
They shame themselves and they shame the Sales Profession.
What we see is below deck discounting; push selling, talking people to death, disrespect and rudeness.

What disturbs me most is any kind of ‘result’, is proclaimed success. Alan Sugar was never famed for quality or service, cheap yes, but even he is damaging his Brand by association with this incompetence.

Professional Selling, is about Product and Marketplace knowledge, it is about superior interactive skills not “professionality”, which is about acting. Professional selling is ethical, repeatable and useful.

Firms rely upon their dependable ability to sell, without selling there is no Company. I firmly believe that Professional Selling means selling what you can deliver, that which the customer needs (and wants).
We are giving a generation of young people a role model that will repel the able and attract the stupid.
It is not learned in the back of a Taxi, nor a Soho Sex shop.

Professional Selling, as a career is both highly paid and personally satisfying. 
It takes a great deal of study and practice to become a Practitioner and even more to be a Master of the Art.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

The FIVE biggest mistakes in Sales Recruitment



1. “In my image”     the good

This is for the Sales Manager who is looking for themselves, but 10 years younger. They believe in “cloning”, they want to use the same management process, which “worked for me”. This is such a limitation. The market and the product, as well as the sales channel has changed so much, maybe YOU would not make it anymore. When they succeed in their recruitment aims, you end up with a mediocre sales department, and a huge recruitment bill.  Diversity Sells!

2. “I never hire a.....”    the ugly

this is prejudice run wild they exclude on the grounds of nationality, gender, race, shape and size, shoe colour, CV spelling and grammar, age, golf club membership, old school attended, university attended or not attended or previous employers. They give credence to the Groucho Marks’ line
“I would never work for a Company that would employ me!”

Keep an open mind, use evidence not prejudice.

3. “Best of a bad bunch”  the bad

Having read a couple of CV’s, and seen two candidates in interview a job offer is made “to fill the spot quickly”. These managers do not believe in anything but luck, and mostly they are unlucky, especially in recruitment. Their ‘new hire’ never seem to work out; they were only the “best of a bad bunch”.

Recruitment is an on-going process; continually try to attract the best people.

4. “Jump to Conclusions”

With five more candidates still to see, you decide this is the one.
Let us make a job offer before somebody else does.
Somebody else will make a job offer! So, see the other five candidates,
make a short list, make the job offer and press for a speedy reply.

Alternatively, you eliminate a candidate for a simple error early in the process.
A poor covering letter, spelling error in the CV, late for the first interview, green tie and blue shirt, we all make ‘mistooks’, don’t we?

Do not rush to judgement gather all the evidence first, then weigh it and decide.

5. “Not accepting less than ‘perfect’

You have extended the recruitment cycle, hundreds of CV’s, tens of interviews and yet you have made no offers. Wasting ‘good enough’ candidates, wasting your own time and having an empty sales territory. Review your process Job and Person specifications.

Loosen the criteria, get second opinions, change your sources of candidates and get a move on!

Final words, why does selection fail?


Selection fails either because YOU did not get the information
(Interview - Assessment Error)


or it fails because YOU did not use the information you had.
(Error of Judgement)

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

21st Century Selling


You pay your Sales people to work between 1,600 and 2,000 hours per year.

ONLY 100 hours, out of those 2,000 hours, generate their sales results.

Most of the hours that you pay for,
somewhere between 1,500 and 1,900 hours are counter-productive or wasted.

Yet many Sales Managers and Salespeople work long hours (mistaken as effort).
He/She is here from 07:30 until 20:00. That is Attendance, not productivity.”

Skilled Sales Managers can manage nine skilled salespeople, easily!

Skilled salespeople can generate up to 500 productive sales hours per year.

Do your Cost/Benefit analysis take cost out and put revenue in.

  • 50% of your Sales Mangers are not required.
  • Your sales force can be at least 100% more productive. 

Today in 2010 (MMX), there is Sales Training available, part of Sales Talent Management, which can double your current Sales results. You can adopt a Sales Talent Management Process, which will give a 400% improvement to Sales Revenue results.

Think about this story.


Destiny_3_0_texture_wip_by_AlxShipyards“For over 300 years non-working Spacecraft have been found  all over the world, located, taken apart and examined minutely, but we still did not know how they worked. Just 8 years ago, we were able to examine the first working spaceship, it is much clearer now how they work. Spaceships are highly complex, there are many secrets yet to be uncovered, but on-going research with working spacecraft will give us all the answers.”

The above is Science Fiction.

Below is NOT science fiction, but Science Fact.

For 300 years, we have been examining dead human brains in ‘autopsy’, no longer working models. We have had a rudimentary knowledge of the brain, at best. The ‘function’ of parts of the brain was ‘identified’ by damage and losses of motor or cognitive skills. Behavioural Psychologists, Neurologists and Psychiatrists have all been trying to apply knowledge gained from non-working brains back on to living, functioning brains.
We still did not know how the Brain worked!

For the last 8 years, we have had instruments such as the fMRI scanner capable of viewing the internal workings of the LIVING brain.

Photo: MRI scans of a human brain

Of our current knowledge of the functioning brain,
98% has been discovered over the last 8 years!

The impact of medications and drugs previously measured by behavioural modification can now be measured by ‘real time’ brain activity.

Our understanding of

thought (Cognitive)
emotion (Affective) and
action or behaviour (Conative) have all been radically changed.

The interaction and interdependence of thought, feeling and action have long been pure speculation,
are now becoming pure science, not science fiction.

In the area of Emotion, I want to recognise praise my former colleague and friend Colin Shaw of Beyond Philosophy for his ground-breaking work and evangelism of “Customer Experience”. Colin and his team have dedicated themselves to understanding the emotional contents of “Client experience” and how to build lasting Customer Satisfaction.

What does this mean to sales?

Sales Skills based on Sales ‘Training’ developed before 2000,
are as obsolete as electric shock therapy, and about as useful as lobotomy.

21st Century Selling Skills,

based on the 21st Century Neurosciences are available now.

21st Century Selling Skills work ‘real time’, they are based upon the detailed examination of
the Buyer’s Brain not upon cliché and the anecdotes of Seller’s Brains

BMAC Consultants are proud to have been in the vanguard of this exciting and fundamental change to Sales Skills and Selling.
We have reviewed our pre-2000 research (12 years worth), in the light of current Neuro-scientific research.
This has caused a complete review of all our training courses, workshops and systematic processes.
Literally, nothing is the same.

Our review has led to a 2-year long re-write and validation of:

  • Selling Skills,
  • Negotiation Skills,
  • Proposal Writing Skills, and
  • Presentation Skills.

We have completely rebuilt or reformed our products including Psychometrics and Personality Type Indicators.
We have:

  • Altered our consultancy format,
    for recruitment and selection of both sales executives and sales managers.
  • Changed our process for developing average sales people into top performers, and
  • Improved our process and procedure for the termination of poor performers,
    as well as the retention of top performers.
  • A complete Sales Talent Management System

    based on the latest research, not speculation.

We are seeing spectacular results, in Revenue growth and Cost management for our Clients.

Your competitive advantage comes from our differentiation.

To discover more about Real Revenue results then contact

Sincere apologies to any reader who thought that Stargate Universe
really is set on the ancient spaceship Destiny, that really is science fiction, at least for now.......

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Personality Testing in Recruitment


papyrus and parchment papers


There is no point in using Graphology or MBTI in Sales Recruitment.

They are unreliable and lack validity

In defence of Dr. R.Meridith, or he of the Belbin Teams then it is quite a different matter. Belbin’s original concepts have been peer reviewed, are intellectually rigorous and academically respectable. His studies were, and are, validated by successful prediction, and Belbin Team Types have had wide use and great success.



It should NEVER be used as the basis of recruitment, or promotion. Indeed, BELBIN decries its misuse in the fable of the "Apollo Syndrome” and “Negative selection”. This preferably self-administered and self-interpreted instrument uses self-perception, which gives the individual and the team insight into the contribution range and preferences of the individual. Its basis is in valuing “difference”, in that the ‘Team’ will always outperform the ‘Individual’. Belbin Team Type insight enables the individual to serve the team best, and recognising preferences enables the team to be best served by the individual.

When training Belbin to Managers or to Sales Teams I use the Movie “The Great Escape”,
which highlights individual types, working together to achieve what individuals could not achieve alone.
All of the types are present and easily identified in the film.

  • Shaper (Steve McQueen multiple failed escapee),
  • Resource Investigator (James Garner the scrounger),
  • Plant (James Coburn the manufacturer)
  • Completer Finisher (Robert Desmond the tailor),
  • Implementer (Charles Bronson the tunnel king)
  • Specialist (Donald Pleasence the forger)
  • Team Workers (David McCallum and Gordon Jackson dispersion and intelligence)
  • Coordinator (Richard Attenborough Big X).

    However that rarest of Types:
  • Monitor Evaluator was played by the Hannes Messmer the Kommandant.

So sit back next Christmas and enjoy a classic Movie, but this time with a twist in Perception and Judgement. Apply the lessons back in the workplace, and watch Teams out perform expectations by a mile.

If you insist on using Graphology in recruitment, then combine it with only offering jobs to Monitor Evaluators and Plants, there is at least a correlation between success and them!

Monday, 11 October 2010

Over boarding poor performers

I have written about “ON boarding”, which is the process to productivity and job satisfaction.
Grasping the nettle firmly by the hand, I want to talk about OVER-boarding. At its worst, fellow employees are made to “walk-the-plank” literally, they are a warning to others.
This can be especially true in Sales departments. It indicates profound ‘Management’ problems, as the cost of selling in a “Hire and Fire” department is always going to be much higher than it needs to be.
Nevertheless, I do not believe in rewarding failure either. Giving gratuitous large ‘exit packages’ to ‘get rid of the problem’, usually means we still have the problem. The problem did not leave the company it stayed!  First and foremost, in any overboarding, Employment Law and all Legislation must be observed. I have neither the time, nor the inclination, for the ever-changing details of this so I ALWAYS consult an expert, either the Company Lawyer or the VP of HR, and work under their supervision. 

I follow each stage of the disciplinary process to the letter, and the spirit, of the Law.

We also recognise the ethics and social responsibility of the firing transaction, firing somebody has consequences.  No Company can carry non-performers, or poor performers, but fairness has to be seen to be done. Examine your conscience and actions for prejudice or bias, any element of gender, age, religious, racial or any other bias must be mitigated to insignificance. After examination of conscience, you will find that you give some people a ‘second chance’.

The process is identifying the issue or issues, attitude (will not do), competence (does not do) or knowledge (cannot do). Be clear, which is it?  You have three different roles Counsellor, Coach or Trainer to manage these issues. Now manage the issue, inform the employee of the issue verbally and confirm the discussion in writing. This is what is wrong, your poor performance, this is what we discussed and agreed as the actions you will take, and this is a reasonable time for you to effect change, with an agreed next review date.
On the review date changes MUST be measureable.

No measureable change, after a reasonable time, means moving to the next stage.

This next review is an ultimatum, if you cannot change these issues, to our agreed standard by this date, then this will be the consequence.  If there is a sufficient change, then you must stay with the process.

Marks that identify a Top Sales Talent Manager are right recruitment, short time to productivity, productivity maintenance AND employee TURNAROUNDS.

However, in most cases there is little to no improvement. You and your Expert Supervisor have decided that the process has run its course, and termination of contract is the only or the preferred option.

Communicate the decision jointly to the employee;

imageyou are terminating
the contract of employment


The timing and place of the termination interview should be well considered, from the employee’s point of view, near the end of the day is best, allow for 60 minutes.



The Manager is responsible for the interview, and the ‘expert’ supervises that all is done correctly; both share the responsibility to ensure that the employee’s rights are respected.

There should be no surprises at this meeting.
This is the expected consequence of the various non-performer interviews.
What can be expected and accepted is an emotional response from the employee.
Emotions do not have to be agreed with, but they do have to be recognised.
It is, I think, a right place for the Golden Rule:

Treat others, as you would wish to be treated yourself, fairly and with courtesy.

In my experience, ‘bundled out the door’, is not the best way. A few days to put their affairs in order, to say goodbyes, and accept what has happened is usually best but it has to be supervised. That they are leaving the company should be announced by Management, without detail, “by agreement” is the simplest form of words.

In my experience, the whole process should never take more than 12 weeks,
4 weeks or instant ‘voluntary agreements’ are also common.

A final word, on grievous misconduct, these rare events should be accomplished with the utmost speed under the supervision and control of the Legal Department and HR, not the line manager.

The key consideration is the safety and well-being of colleague employees.

BMAC Consultants offer a full range of Talent Managements services, from recruitment to termination,

Sunday, 10 October 2010

The Mentalist Sales person


the mentalist



In philosophy and psychology there are two principle theories about how we interpret, then predict or anticipate behaviour in other people.





They are firstly, Theory-Theory (T-T), which despite its name is very practical. T-T simply says each human being comes complete with a behavioural map already programmed into their brain. This innate map enables them to predict (mind read) others behaviours. With practice and trust, this facility can improve.


The second is Simulation Theory (ST) which is that we ALL have, to greater or lesser extent, the ability to simulate in our own minds the other’s state of mind and therefore predict or anticipate their actions and behaviours. “To walk in their moccasins”.

Selling effectiveness depends on our ability
to anticipate, predict and influence Buyer’s behaviour.

Whichever theory you subscribe to, innate ability or cognitive ability,
individual sales effectiveness is improved by:

  1. Ability to anticipate and influence Buyer’s actions (prediction)
  2. To be able to use a wide variety of Verbal and non-verbal behaviours (flexibility)
  3. To select an ‘appropriate behaviour’, in line with desired buyer behaviour (selection)
  4. To modify our behaviour in line with the desired outcome (modification)

This means Behavioural flexibility
and appropriate Behaviour are the sales master skills

The Mentalist salesperson is Interpersonally Masterful

BMAC consultants have over 20 years experience and expertise in Behavioural Analysis, both Buyers and Sellers. In Sales Training with BMAC Consultants, we identify your Current sales behaviours, and then we describe models of Successful behaviours. You develop both a Behavioural Range and Flexibility. You learn how to adapt your behaviour to the Buyer’s situation and state, using the behaviours most likely to succeed in achieving your and your buyer’s objectives.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Sales Forecasts are just estimates

“which describes a twenty-year study in which 284 experts in many fields, including government officials, professors, and journalists and ranging from Marxists to free-marketeers, were asked to make 28,000 predictions about the future. He found they were only slightly more accurate than chance, and worse than simple extrapolation algorithms.”
Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know? PHILIP E. TETLOCK

Review your Sales forecasts for 2015, how did you do?
Did you miss the number, overshoot or undershoot?
Did you book any bluebirds, miss any certainties or drop a ball?
Would you bet your pension against next year’s 2016 FORECAST?



The Captain called the Navigator to the map room.

I want you to tell me, where the ship will be in three days time,

  if we steer South by South-east?”

The Navigator looked at the chart, and then drew a red line almost a thousand miles long.
He cut the line in three places.
Pointing to a spot just short of halfway, he said.
“We will be here if all goes as it has gone for the last three days.”
Moving to a point much closer to their current position
“But, we will be here if all goes against us.”
Then pointing to a spot well past halfway on the line, he said.
“Or, we could be here under optimum conditions.”
The red-faced Captain demanded.
“I need you to point to where you BELIEVE we will be in three days time!”

“It depends.” Responded the Navigator looking at the Captain calmly.
“On what?” Retorted the Captain
The Navigator responded.
“On the wind, the tide, the weather,
how well the crew sail the ship, and unexpected circumstance.”
The Captain insisted. “I still need your answer”.
The Navigator rejoined.
“My answer can only be an estimate, based on speculation and judgement.
  Best case, worst case and probability based on recent experience.” 

This story is repeated weekly in Sales ‘Forecasting’ meetings all over the globe.

The Sales Variables are:

How good are we at Selling? Economic factors, interest and exchange rates, Market Price Movements, demographics, psychographics, Market sector, Political environment, Product preference patterns;
seasonal or cyclical buying patterns;
Buyer attitude, expectation and perception;
Competitive activity: pricing, selling, new product announcement, market positioning and strategy.
Internally we have, technical capability and support, Financial resource or lack of limitations,
Product Marketing, PR, Lead generation, product and service innovation,
R&D, HR and Administration.

By comparison, the Navigator has an easy Job!

Sales forecasting, even short term, is fraught with difficulty.

The factors we control are outweighed by those factors we cannot control.

At best, it’s an estimate based on

speculation and judgement,
with probability based on recent experience!

And, in sales often the the sales person has little idea where they are now!
If you would like to look at Forecasting based on probability and not guesswork,
based on buyer behaviour and not speculative ‘Sales Process’
then contact

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Sales Fatigue kills sales


Are you ramping up for
a big finish, a big 4th quarter?


Ramps go up and they go down,
where will you be in two months, the start of December?



What happens to performance when we pass the medium arousal (activity) level?

Performance Drops Drastically

What are the symptoms of Sales Fatigue?

An inability to prioritise activities, long work hours with little or no results.

Inertia, indecision, forgetfulness
and tiredness (which can lead to mistakes and a stress increasing cycle.)

What should we look for?

Changes in behaviour, angry outbursts (or tears), erratic activity.

How should we deal with it?

  • Get a lot of sleep!
  • Take a day off and relax, chill-out and read a book
  • Play some golf or go for a long walk
  • Listen to some music or see a good movie.

Do anything except work for 36 - 72 hours then ------
have a meeting with your boss, agree priorities, and agree actions.

Work a Maximum of 10 hours a day,   better still 8 hours.

Sleep a Minimum of 8 hours a night, better still 10 hours. 

Get plenty of rest and watch it come back together again.

Be cautious in your use of Alcohol or Prescription Drugs,
they can ‘mask’ a serious underlying problem.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Battle Ready


on parade

Battle readiness is a checklist before the full and final commitment of resources on a Sales Opportunity.

· Understand the competitive terrain

· Know your relative strengths and weaknesses


· Position Resources at principle points

R, A, G.

· Occupy high ground

R, A, G

· Prepare a focus of strength for acquisition of terrain

R, A, G

· Joint operations Sales, Service and Marketing

R, A, G

We have great Tacticians like Sun Tzu,

“know yourself, know your competitor,

  know the terrain and then choose the battlefield”

and Dr. Frederick W. Lanchester who believed that

“the Quantity and Quality of military forces
determine the outcome of battles.”

“Battle Ready” in Sales is the Final Opportunity Plan.

  • How are we going to win this deal?
  • Who does what?
  • Use all your resources
  • How can we coordinate efforts to create a “Focus of Strength”?
    Homer used the term Phalanx to differentiate the formation-based combat
    from the individual duels so often found in his poems.)

Who sets Battle Ready?

In my view, (IMHO) this is a Sales Management function; it is ‘Strategos’, the Greek word for General.
This is NOT about taking over the opportunity; it is the natural outcome of a Key Account Review or
a Major Opportunity Review.  The Sales Manager, by Directive Questioning, uncovers battle-readiness then through questions and suggestions the Sales Manager improves the Final Opportunity Plan. The Account Manager continues to own the opportunity, although the Sales Manager should consider the appropriateness of the Sales Person against the difficulty of the opportunity.
Do they have the competence and motivation to win the deal?

  • Battle-readiness should be rehearsed in Sales Simulations to both train and develop sales people.
  • Account Managers should not be allowed to makefatal mistakes to learn from’ in live accounts!

In Selling, you can take the WAR metaphor to far;
TAS uses the expression ENEMY to describe a ‘BUYER with a preference for your Competitor’.
TAS calls for a strategy of ‘neutralizing’ the enemy.

This is wrong and it is a confusing “mixed message.”

Nobody in our
Client’s Firm is our enemy.


The Competition is a ‘peer Firm in our Marketplace’, they are my opponents in the Sales Game NOT my enemy.

Whoever plays the Sales Game best, with skill and best use of resources, wins.

I can only lose to better players.

unready for battle

Our ONLY enemy in selling is ourselves.

  • When we do not plan, or when we fail to use resources available to us, then we invite failure
  • When we do not do the work to produce, then execute the best Opportunity Plan possible we invite failure.
  • To go to Battle not ready, without a plan,
    is to seek defeat and pray for success.