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Thursday, 15 November 2012

Managing Sales Attitude for Success


Attitude, “Positive” Sales Attitude
is one of the five “leading indicators”
of a Sales person’s likely Sales successes.

We know this from repeated research.



Attitude is linked to motivation and if all other things are equal,
the more motivated Salesperson sells more than the less motivated Salesperson.

Adverts for Sales jobs frequently ask for “positive” Attitude,
every job Candidate claims to have it, but how do you measure it?

There are several Validated, and Reliable (in expert hands) Psychometrics,
which give insights into a Sales person’s likely attitude
to their Product, Company, Manager, Customers and to themselves.

Here is a simple exercise, which is a good indicator of a Salesperson’s Sales Attitude.

1. List the five most important tasks you completed last year.

2. Now, put them into two groups:

· Group 1 Tasks you did to avoid negative consequences or to receive promised reward.

· Group 2 Tasks you did because they had meaning for you or your company in the longer term.

You can now “measure” their engagement, the number of Tasks in Group 2;
which will give a percentage of their optimal Motivation, intrinsic motivation.
Sometimes this is called “Self-motivated”.

The number of Tasks in Group 1 which,
were sub-optimal motivated by external events of Punishment or Reward
show their Ratio to External or Manager-based Motivation.

During interview this exercise,
and YOUR subsequent inquiry,
will give insight into how the Salesperson works.

It applies equally to your current Sales team!

Repeat the exercise with every individual.

Diagnose their level of Engagement, by using the two lists.

The more Group 2 items the Higher their engagement,
they have the Positive Attitude to do the Task.

The more tasks they have in Group 1 the less engagement they have,
the more variable their Commitment and their Attitude.
Then, the more work YOU will have i.e. to manage them by punishment and reward!


As a Sales Leader, the Sales Manager’s role
is to connect the Salesperson’s work to meaningful outcomes.

The lowest form of motivation [the least effective] is Carrot and Stick; people are not Donkeys.

Understand and share the meaning of work, FOR yourself,
WITH your Salespeople and FROM your boss.


“Cutting stone is just poorly paid, hard, exhausting work,
  but, being part of building a great building that then brings meaning!”



Saturday, 22 September 2012

Selling against Value, with Price.


In these frugal days, Price,
or as Buyers refer to it “COST”, is a very important factor in their Decision Making.

Sometimes, clever salespeople reverse the Price Advantage by offering more VALUE.

It’s a Formula:
Value = Benefits less Cost

Their “Added Value” comes from offering MORE benefits to cover their EXTRA Cost (higher Price)

For example:

discountThey may claim that “due to lower running costs”,
their Total Value over five years is better than yours.
However, YOUR PRICE is less than theirs is, NOW!



So, “How do you WIN on Price?”


There is an embedded preference in most people.
In Human Decision Making we have a marked preference
for Rewards (payback or benefits) that arrive EARLIER.


People prefer Rewards sooner, rather than later.

Would you rather have $1 now or wait a year for $3?

If you chose a dollar now, then you are in the majority and you exhibit PRESENT BIAS.


You like the certainty of rewards now,

rather than the hope for reward at some future date.

A future which may, or may not, come!

discounts present biasWhen selling on PRICE, you have to appeal to your Buyers “Present Bias”.
The Value of a lower Price is available NOW.
The Value of “added” benefits only occurs over time and has a lower value than a Reward instantly available!

Who knows
if the projected value over five years will occur?
Who will get the credit, perhaps your successor?

The Time Value of Benefits discounts with time.
The certainty of reward and recognition of a lower Price, to you a lower COST, is available now.



So, when Selling on Price against a “Value” Seller, make sure you invoke the “Present Bias”.

Make sure your Buyer knows they can have their REWARD from you NOW!

How does PRICE link to Sales forecasts and missed Targets?


Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Do NOT spend money on Sales Training without doing a Sales AUDIT first


Dealing with Recession and Market Downturn
is causing many Companies to consider expensive or extensive Sales Training and Coaching Makeovers.

Do a SALES AUDIT first, before you throw good money after bad!

Our research [ The MAC Group, no connection to BMAC ] shows that in most firms,
more than half of all Customer accounts are NOT profitable.
Moreover, between 30%-and 40% are only marginally profitable.
It is only a mere 10%-15% of a Company’s Customer-Sales relationships
that generate the bulk of the profits”.

Upturn Down turnA Sales Audit MEASURES your sales force,
its individual and their total capability.

It measures your ABILITY to SELL your Product,
to your Market, against YOUR Competition.

A meaningful Sales Audit is a PORTFOLIO of appropriate
Sales MEASURES, for your particular Product-Market.



The Sales Audit is the baseline score (100) against which future Sales Performance, both Positive or Negative, can be measured and compared.




Sales Audits and Sales Assessments

The purpose of the Sales Assessment is to measure Key Performance Indicators and calculate the likelihood of Sales Performance Success. The process producing a Sales Assessment should involve a Sales Audit by an Independent Sales Assessment Professional; its purpose is to provide a measurement rather than to express an opinion about “quality” of Sales Performance.

Cost JustificationSales Audits should always be an Independent Evaluation, which will include some degree of quantitative and qualitative analysis, whereas an
Sales Assessment implies a consultative approach.

The Sales Audit includes both LEADING and LAGGING indicators as well as an overall Performance Benchmark.



A Sales Audit is an ESSENTIAL part of:

  • Due Diligence, Pre-Acquisition, Merger or Joint Venture
  • Pre-Training Project Management
  • Pre-Investment (or Re-investment)
    the Sales CAPABILITY is a key indicator of likely future success.

Contact for details it’s a LOT cheaper than a mistake!

Saturday, 21 July 2012

The Secret to Selling


A great sales Guru discovered the Secret to Selling.

It is comprehensive; it is elegant in its simplicity.


Those who learn the secret will have untold success and fulfil their dreams.

Using the secret will bring great wealth, which may then be demonstrated in Property,
possessions of great quality and a five-star life style for themselves and for their families.

They will be respected and valued by their Employers,
admired by their colleagues and loved by their Customers.

The great sales Guru who found and taught the Secret of Selling
retires and disappears to live in secluded luxury.

The Salespeople who learned the secret begin to fail.

They search libraries for new books, watch new videos and attend conferences for the secret.
They consult with Consultants,
they are trained by Trainers and
they seek coaching with Coaches.

They search for the Secret of Selling in Psychology,
they then resort Pseudo-Psychology and Folk Psychology. 

They ask neuroscience if they have found the Secret of Selling
and they are told of a Biological basis to decisions.

Computers are bought to enter, share and manage Data, to Control Relationship Management,
to give Sales Force Automation systems and process to the speculations of ignorance.

As their Revenue numbers drop and their success turns to failure,
their search becomes frantic.
Any street prophet, lunatic or charlatan is paid for advice and, even worse, they are listened to.

Salespeople pretend to their Employers that they still have the secret,
but they are losing the respect and value they once had.
Their Colleagues stop admiring them; instead they begin to resent their high salaries.

Customers no longer love them; in fact, Customers avoid them preferring to buy on-line.

Their five-star Lifestyle is no longer possible and their families resent the change.

And then, the sales Guru returns.


They ask again for the secret of selling.

He smiles then replies,

“The secret of selling is in the skills that you have,

the knowledge that you need, the work that you do,

the strategy that you use and the attitude that you hold.”

“After I left, you forgot this,
you listened to false teachers
and you looked for lazy answers.”

  • The secret of Selling is in Evidence Based Selling Skills, not in short cuts or proverbs.
  • The secret of Selling is in Appropriate Knowledge of Product/Market, not in bluff.
  • The secret of Selling is in Revenue Generating Activity, not in busy work.
  • The secret of Selling is in a Good Strategy for Your Customers and Your Competition,
    not in an imaginary Selling Process married to an imagined Buying Process.
  • The secret of Selling is in a Healthy Attitude to work,
    to your Employers, to your Colleagues and to your Customers;
    not in easy answers, tips, tricks, ploys and dodges.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Putting the Challenger Sale to Work (SIX)


Making a Challenger Sales Presentation or NOT?

I love Flip Charts the fresh white surface, the smell of the permanent marker Pens! If you have been to one of my “Early Closing” days, then you know the room fills with Flip-chart pages 20 or more blue tacked to walls, windows and doors. Flip charts filled with 3M post its which are sorted, listed grouped as we identify HOW we will win the sale, and WHAT we have to do to win it!

I do not like “Whiteboards” so much, you cannot bring them with you,
and you are not allowed to take them away after you finish!

The content is temporary, like their Dry Marker Pens (more Dry than Marker) with almost no smell.
The main use I put whiteboards to is as a Projection Screen for presentations, and they are not very good at that either.
They always have a glaring, reflective “hot-spot” which prevents the viewer from seeing the best bit!

It has been with some interest that I have watched the FAD of “Sales White-boarding” grow.
Like all FADS, numerous people claim its invention. Moreover, even more “licenced”
or “accredited” to run a “White Board Sales School” Training Courses.

There is a wide range of Claims for “white boarding”, the basic claim is it’s “better” than PowerPoint.
Additional claims are its memorable, creative, flexible and persuasive.

The CLAIMED out comes of white boarding are SHORTER Selling Cycles, BETTER Sales Margins and
more acceptable to C level Buyers. Most Firms would want these.

What is the reality?    Have a look at this video.

Are their Claims met?    Is it ´operator error´ or is it the concept?

Let us compare this to a simple PowerPoint Presentation on a similar subject.

There is a “script”, which the presenters are trained to “tailor” to their audience.
If it is no better, it is certainly no worse.


Let us look at some static images

white boarding bad 1   then this one       your fired


Which is a C-level graphic, which is a play ground doodle?


These are two BLOG graphics from one of my favourite bloggers, a really smart guy…….

Bad graphic     or    Good Graphic




Many smart people are being mesmerised by this approach,

especially in MARKETING, but MOST Sales people CANNOT use it effectively,

only a very few who do use it, use it even fairly well.


What you did………

what you did         what you tried to do…….   what you think you did


My conclusion: if you have an arty degree,

especially in the graphic arts this tool may help you.

If you do NOT have any talent in lettering or drawing,
if you always lose at Pictionary,
then remember the Saying

“A fool with a tool is still a fool!” (Thanks Tamara)


What does all this have to do with Challenger Selling?

I have watched a series of great opportunities being blown due to inappropriate amateurish,
even childish efforts to whiteboard.  And, at the same time as the CMO is sending
more and more people of for “Training” in the ART.

Buy a copy of “The Challenger Sale” for your Salespeople instead, it’s cheaper,
the outcomes are SHORTER Selling Cycles, BETTER Sales Margins and
more “Challenging Selling” is a lot more acceptable to C level Buyers, than DOODLES.

If your PowerPoint Skills are poor, then get trained.

If your PowerPoint Presentations are boring or extra-long then buy the book “Beyond Bullet points”,
and realise the power of Great Storytelling, together with great graphics
in a really SALES PROFESSIONAL way.


In Challenger Selling,
you do a lot of hard work to earn your Presentation Opportunities,
Tailor and Control it instead.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Putting the Challenger Sale to Work (Five)


a Challenger Insight


The CEB research clearly shows that Challenger Insights work.

However, few Salespeople are actually using them!


Let´s review briefly, what USP´s are:

“The Unique Selling Proposition (a.k.a. Unique Selling Point, or USP) is a marketing concept
that was first proposed as a theory to understand a pattern among successful advertising campaigns
of the early 1940s. It states that such campaigns made unique propositions to the customer and
that this convinced them to switch brands.


Marketing produces USP´s by the gazillion:

Faster, bigger, smaller, easier, cheaper, and on and on!

HOWEVER, do they work?

C5 no fuel  USP:

The Gas ‘free’ car



We have known for years, in Sales, that USP´s DO NOT SELL.

Rackham’s Research published as SPIN Selling devotes a chapter to it (Ch.9)

The Myth and Magic” of the Initial Benefit Statement
and the USP in “Opening the Sale” is just another rod on Sale’s back!

“It’s the fastest on the Market!” offers the novice Salesperson.

“We do NOT need more SPEED, we need more reliability,
and faster usually means LESS RELIABILITY!”
Retorts the cynical Customer.

This really is stepping off on the wrong foot,
from push “benefit” to Customer Objection in less than 10 seconds!

“We do not want your USP of speed;
we believe that might damage the reliability that we really need.”

The brochures promote SPEED, the adverts promote SPEED,
and the Call-centre is calling trying to book appointments for salespeople to talk about SPEED.
It is another failed Marketing Campaign, but Sales is going to get the blame.

“They didn't sell the USP: SPEED!” laments the CMO.


Opening the Sale refresher


How do we construct these Challenger Insights?

goFrom the MARKET, not MARKETING!

Get together with some customers, product specialists and ….
OK some marketing people
(but have an equal number of Salespeople present).
DO NOT let Marketing seize the White Board
or write-up the minutes of the meeting.

Have a Customer Engagement;

see their world through their eyes.

Ask Customers to design your next product,
or to modify your existing products.

Find out where “Speed”, size, or cost etc. is on their priority list.

From the meeting develop and test a variety of “insights”,
this is the beginning of Challenger Insights. (And the end of the USP! fiasco)



Monday, 28 May 2012

Putting the Challenger Sale to Work (Four)– INSIGHTS


Challenger Selling is when a Salesperson uses a Business Insight to Challenge a Customer which enables a process of discovering and developing Vales with the Customer. The Value Proposition, made by a Challenger Salesperson, is constructed from the Customer Identified Value and the Salesperson’s Capability to deploy and deliver these Values to the Customers organisation.

It is not easy.Exhausted businesswoman.

In fact, some of my Clients are finding it difficult to even get started.
Here is a solution which BMAC Consultants have successfully deployed to Big Software. Their basic difficulty was: “What is the “insight” we deliver which leads our existing Customers to re-deploy Enterprise Software into The Cloud?

Well I am not going to tell you their insights;
they are confidential.



But, I will tell you how BMAC Consultants solved their problem!

We introduced “The Five O’clock Club.”

productive group“The Five O’clock Club” is a meeting place for Sales, Marketing and Product on a weekly basis.
They meet usually on Wednesdays or Thursdays at Five o’clock. The core group are ‘volunteers’, one salesperson, one marketing person and one product person. To get ‘volunteers’ you need to invite people along to the first few meetings.

BMAC does this with beer and snacks!




You pose the problem “What insights can we offer our Customers which will support a selling cycle taking them from Enterprise software to Cloud based software?”
Then use a variety of brainstorming techniques with the talent in the room.
BMAC facilitate these, but you could use the ideas from “a whack on the side of the head!”

OK, by now ‘the question’ has transformed into a range of completely different “questions”,
about us, our competition, our customers, their competition, our capabilities,
our ability to deploy and deliver value that Customers WANT.



That is when BMAC turnover the whole process to the Core Five O’clock Group,
by now you have volunteers and their substitutes!
They can invite guests (including Customers)
and now they pay for their own beer!


Officially the meeting ends at six o o’clock,
but you will find that sometimes they run longer, don’t disturb them.
Look at their output, let them bulletproof their own ideas,
don’t be an “idea crusher.”

The groups which really zing are based on:

Account Manager, Marketing Executive and Product Support Specialist.

If Sales Managers, Marketing Managers and Product Managers want to “generate insights”,
they do NOT have to wait for Thursday at five O’clock that is their DAY job,
they can do it any time they want.

However, DO NOT STOP The Five O’clock Club.

This is a low cost, Customer (and Segment) based insights machine. You will find that more than enough Insights are being generated AND time wasting “internally generated insights” are discarded before they are communicated to disinterested Customers.

If you would like more details on a Five O’clock Club e-mail



Thursday, 26 April 2012

Putting Challenger Selling to Work–THREE


At A Glance - First Impressions

in Challenger Selling



The Sciences of Behavioural Economics have many lessons to offer Salespeople who are interested in Human Behaviour
and particularly in Decision Making.

I have never seen any science behind the many schools of “Body language”,
nor proof supporting their “Claims” of 90% of communication is visual (or 80% or 70%), based on Visual “Signals”.


There is, however, a piece of Scientific Research
which demonstrates First impressions – at a glance.




This study by Alex Todorov (Princeton)
which seeks to explain the human “ability” of
“Rapid Judgement”. The judgement is of the
“Safety or Danger of a Stranger”.

The accuracy of this ability is far from accurate.

Yet, it is an inherent “skill” from our long ago ancestors where this judgement was life or death. Todorov’s experiment proved “rapid judgement” to be universal, multi-national and multi-cultural.




What does this mean for Salespeople?

The “First Impression” is of particular importance for The Challenger Seller.

This is because early in the Seller Process (regardless of the Buyer Process)
the Challenger delivers an “insight of value” to the Buyer.

“How” the Buyer both receives and perceives this “insight of value” is greatly influenced by the First Impression given by the Seller.
In the study by Toderov “At a Glance” (Cognitive miser) the buyer will form a first impression composed of
“Dominance and Trustworthiness”.  These twin characteristics are based on face shape and smile.

Further influences MAY be Posture, Movement, Voice, Firmness of Handshake and their Deodorant or Cologne.

The Buyer will make an automatic “rapid judgement” at a fundamental level.

How do Salespeople cope with this?first impression wrong

In observations of successful Challenger Sellers their “insight of value”
is held back for between 10-15 minutes.

Challenger Sellers who deliver their “insight” earlier in the meeting,
particularly as their “Initial Statement”, have a much lower success rate
(measured by rejection of the insight).

Yet, if the same or similar insight offered later in the meeting
then it has a far greater degree of acceptance.


1. Recognise the importance of first impressions.
    You can influence this by dress, posture, smile, handshake, voice and deodorant/cologne.

2. DELAY, your “insight of value” for at least 10 to 15 Minutes, use this time to be Buyer Centric,
    express interest in them, their role and their company.

3. Offer your “insight of value” in an assertive way (review the challenger sale and other work to be clear about
   Aggressive and Meek behaviours, as both reduce your sales effectiveness

4. Use Evidence Based Selling Skills;
the TV program “Lie to Me” is entertainment, not a reality show.
The Lightman Institute is not real; it’s a speculative flight of fancy.
The “real” Dr. Lightman is Dr. Paul Ekman, who’s acclaimed work is presently under critical review,
but currently he refuses to allow peer review or publication (read criticisms)

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Putting Challenger Selling to Work–TWO


Value Creation is a False Premise.


Value “Creation” is a misnomer,
which places unnecessary stress on Salespeople
and disrupts the TRUE Value Generating Process.

Value “Creation” causes companies, Marketing and Sales,to look for “Value” inside their product

“What is our Value?”

This leads to dysfunctional Sales behaviour, TELLING Customers about their “created” Value.
This is no different than Feature/Function pitches, so held in contempt by the “Gurus” who promote Value Creation.

Before Columbus visited the Americas, they existed!
Columbus did not “create” the Americas;
he simply filled a void in his own Knowledge.

The fallacy of the “undiscovered” Country:

“Urtho and Aena looked on in bewilderment as the men in the Iron Shirts left their boats
and planted sticks with cloth attached on the beach.”

For Columbus it was a personal (not a Universal) discovery.
His on-going visits discovered and developed his knowledge,
while the void of his own ignorance shrank.

The Spanish had not found South America, they had arrived as uninvited guests, “gate-crashers”.  Today landing without Passport, Visa and travel documents in good shape, they would have been deported, as undesirable aliens, back to their country of origin.

Yet Popular Sales Myths persist: 

the “undiscovered” Problem,

the “created” Customer Need or Value “Creation”.

Seen from the Customer´s point of view,
these can appear as an arrogance bordering on stupidity.

None are probable, all are highly unlikely!




The role of the Challenger Salesperson is to perceive POTENTIAL Value first,
then to MANIFEST the Value WITH the Customer.
This is “Latent” Value, i.e. Value which is already PRESENT but NOT Perceived.


How can we Add-Value to the Customer´s Value Generation Process?


The “Catalyst”, which enables latent value to become known, is the Salesperson.
The Challenger Salesperson enables the LATENT VALUE to become apparent,
and clearly revealed in the MIND of the Customer.


Salespeople are the VITAL part of

The role of The Challenger Salesperson is
to perceive LATENT Value inside the Customer´s Value Generating Process,
then to make visible this value.

Together the Salesperson AND the Customer can discover
further Potential Value and DEVELOP this Value together.


The correct approach is VALUE CONSTRUCTION .


Discover – Develop – Deploy Change – Deliver Value.

CC map

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Putting Challenger Selling to Work–One


Top Performer Challenger Salespeople BEHAVE differently from Average (or Core) Challenger Salespeople. What is it that Challengers DO which either holds them back or makes them more successful?

One of the differences is in HOW they Challenge the Customer!


winner and second


I have just reviewed a quantity of recorded sales calls.
I was running Behavioural Analysis on BOTH the Customer and the Salesperson.
Running the recordings both Forwards and Backwards

i.e. WHAT did the Sales person say to CAUSE the Customers response and

HOW did the Customer Response ENABLE the Challenger Process.

Let me share with you an Insight gathered from the recordings.

Some of the BEST Customer responses, which enable a Challenger Process,

Teach, Tailor, and Take Control were questions 
prefixed by the Salesperson with the word “HOW” in their question.


How” is a very challenging question!

  • HOW do you do that currently...HOW would you like it to do it in the future?
  • HOW does that work...HOW should it work?
  • HOW could it add more value?

Some of the WORST Customer responses were to Sales Questions prefixed with WHY.

  • WHY do you do it that way?
  • WHY have you not considered making Changes?
  • And “any Customer Statement” then the Sales person responded WHY?

WHY, seems to put Customers into a defensiveJustification” mode,
explaining WHY they do things.

HOW, seems to put Customers into an openExplanation” mode,
HOW things are (or How things work)

The Power of “HOW” was published in 1987 by Miller & Heiman in:
“Conceptual Selling” (P. 119), in a slightly different context.


Sales Challengers should be aware of HOW

it can increase their effectiveness.

Fall at the hurdle

Sales Challengers should be aware of WHY

they might struggle!


Thursday, 22 March 2012

Three Times when a Salesperson MUST involve their Sales Manager.



1. Before a “walk-away” from an Opportunity


2. Before “No-bidding” an Opportunity


3. Before recommending a Competitor for an Opportunity





Over the last 3 years, all of these issues have arisen with BMAC Clients

and what was missing was the conversation between the Salesperson and the Sales Manager.


No Salesperson is allowed to take these decisions on their own, ever!


selling to the CEO

These three Decisions are Joint Decisions where the Salesperson “recommends
but the Sales Manager “decides”.


This more than just a “sanity check”, it is good Business practices. Taking the Decision on your own is not only Bad practice; it can lead to your dismissal.



1. The walk-away.

Learning when to walk away from an Opportunity is a key skill common to all Top Sales performers (and Professional Gamblers).
It’s a complex formula of Cost/Reward based on you “Likelihood to Win” the deal. If the odds are stacked against you, then it makes no sense to throw good money after bad. The common failure of Poor Sales Performers is to waste huge amounts of time on “No Hopers”, because they have a near empty Pipe line!
The walk away review with the sales manager should involve a Joint Customer visit, to confirm the facts. A bold move is to inform the Customer of your intended walk away and your reasons for it. Again, this should happen if it needs to, but it should not happen on a whim! 

Sometimes we have to change the Salesperson and reallocate the account.

2. No-Bidding an opportunity.

This should be done during a “special” Opportunity review. It is based on risk/reward, pursuing “no-hopers” COSTS our Company money for no reason, no reward!  Bids are expensive processes, the biggest cost is the other business lost while using key resources on the bid! It is reasonable to expect a win possibility of better than 50% before bidding an opportunity. The no bid special review occupies the 20%-50%, range. Below 20%, why are you bidding? The no-bid decision should be reviewed with both the Manager and the Customer. Strangely, the no-bid announcement can have a dramatic effect on the Prospect, increasing the likelihood to win greatly!

Again, the Sales Manager may have to reallocate the opportunity to another Salesperson if there is a particular need for Skill or Knowledge which would bring the opportunity to a “likely to win” status.


3. Recommending a Competitor.

(This would be a Firm which competes with you directly in the same Product/Market, not a Complimentary Product which you don’t have!) For many of my Clients this is NOT allowed. However, during the last decade, the rise of the “Trusted Advisor” has led to this occurring more and more often. There are two reasons, why salespeople may recommend a Competitor. The first is in a reasoned way, in the hope of winning TRUST and credibility with the Prospect which will pay off in a big way later. The second reason is because the Sales person is CRAZY. Both are really good reasons for NOT taking this decision on your own, but involving your Sales Manager to review your recommendation and for the Manager to agree or disagree, i.e. The Sales Manager makes the final decision. A key question which must be discussed internally is “What if I am wrong?” The consequences of giving your Competitor Account access AND your endorsement may have devastating and long term consequences. If the Competitor performs well, you could find yourself “locked-out” for years; if your Competitor performs poorly you may share the blame, thanks to your Recommendation! Lose, lose!

BMAC Consultants believes this is ALWAYS wrong.
If you are using it as a “technique” to gain trust, ultimately the prospect will realise you are manipulative. If you are foolish or crazy then you are likely to lose your job.



No-bid, or Walk-away.......
come back to fight another day!


Further thoughts on difficulties with Trusted Advisors:



Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Using Psychometrics and Personality Tests to recruit Salespeople.


Consider the opposite what if you are wrong?


You are caught on the horns of a dilemma!

If Sales Psychometric Tests and Sales Personality Tests DO NOT work, what are the consequences?

At the first level; if random results are being given, and then some potential Top Performers are being rejected some potential Poor Performers are being accepted.
The personal consequences of rejection for one and acceptance of the other could be dire!

bull fights back

The consequences for the firm are the second cost of hiring, the costs of firing and the lost business.

In IT, Telecom and Finance sectors these figures based on a six month cycle total more than $500,000.

The cost of a Sales Personality Tests may be between $60 -$120, if a full process recruitment assessment was used it would cost over one thousand Dollars.



BUT, the $1,000 saving may cost you $500,000.


Further, it is only a matter of time before Legal Tribunals will make huge and punitive pay-outs to “Failed” or even “Passed” Candidates. The Test “users” would do well to ensure that the Legal Liability rest solely with the Test “provider”, the legal costs may well exceed the “value” of the test. This may well be why Test providers are using an “as is” clause to protect themselves and leave the user holding the liability.


What is in doubt?


First: let me introduce myself.


My name is Brian and I have used Psychometric Instruments.”

“Welcome, Brian!”

Over the last 30 years at various times my Company BMAC Consultants have used MBTI, 16PF, DiSC, OPQ, and a variant called SPQ and lastly, but not least, KAI The Kirton Adaptor –Innovator Inventory.

My Partner is a certified user of KAI, which is used widely in Creative Thinking-Problem Solving workshops and University Courses.  To become “Certified” in KAI’s use she had to prequalify with an MSc in Psychology then undergo a “Pass-Fail” five day intensive training course led personally by the originator Dr Michael Kirton. Which enables the Certified Psychologist, a Member of the British Psychological Society, to both “administer and interpret” the results. 

This result is a single score on a single continuum from Adaptor to Innovator, it is non-judgemental and based on valuing difference. The output is a confidential counselling session to understand “your personal preferences” for Creative Thinking and Problem Solving.


WE Do NOT use any Psychometric or
Personality Traits in Sales Recruitment

Why then don’t Sales Psychometric Tests or
Sales Personality Tests predict future sales performance?

The use of the word “TEST” is inappropriate as they are, at their best, MEASURES.
In fact that is why they are professionally referred to as “Instruments or Indicators” because they only MEASURE.

The interpretation of these measures is considered a professional and highly skilled task, not “automated” or layperson.

The “test” part is in the “judgement” (often subjective) of the user NOT the candidate.

The answer lies in answering three Questions with a resounding YES.

A. Are there Sales Behaviours “associated” with, or predictive of, future Sales performance?

B. Can these Sales Behaviours be “Linked” to a Personality Trait or Characteristic CLEARLY?

C. DO Sales Personality Instruments actually “measure” the trait which is
believed to be an indication of the likely Sales Behaviour taking place in the future?

Starting with question

A.) Certain Behaviours have been identified as “associated” with sales success and Sales Failure.
e.g. Both Positive: Asking more questions and Negative: talking less features.

Neither is an actual predictor of Sales success or failure,
what we see is that some salespeople who ask more questions
and talk less about the Product features are MORE LIKELY to succeed.

What WE can do, and indeed have done, is further research to identify which SPECIFIC Question types succeed more than others or which Product “Talk” is more successful than Features. Indeed Rackham did this with SPIN(r) describing the Successful SPINFAB Behaviourally and deriving as evidence based Sales methodology. This gives us an evidence basis to the claim that certain “Sales Behaviours” have an element of predicting likely future Sales Success. Using those behaviours MAY lead to a performance improvement of 20-30%

This brings us to

B.) The Linking of a Personality “Trait” to a given successful Sales Behaviour. Will any “Trait” predict that a salesperson will ask more questions?  Perhaps, but will this trait predict that the Salesperson will ask the SPECIFIC type of question associated with Sales Success?  Not, likely!

Here is the SPI insurmountable difficulty…….
the linking of any “Trait” to evidence based sales specific behaviours.


C.)  For as long as Psychometric Instruments (and Indicators) have existed, the Question “Do they actually Measure, what they claim to measure anyway?” is asked. Perhaps they do, perhaps they don’t. It is very difficult for them to do so, there are many limitations preventing it. The ideal instrument would be extraordinary.

Current Practitioners and Marketers of Instruments, Tests and Questionnaires argue endlessly, they debate “Normative or Ipsative” methodologies or specific applications. I am reminded of “Alchemists” arguing over which stone will turn lead to gold, when all that is in the room are a variety of “stones and a lot of lead!”

In layperson’s terms a Ten Factor (traits) “test”, with a 10 point scale range (0-9) would appear to be an Instrument trying to measure on a 10x10 matrix, giving a neat “Score” out of 100.
A Percentage, easy to read, easy to understand if only that were true!!!!

A 10 Factor Instrument using a 10 Point Scale Instrument actual could measure 1010 (the tenth power of 10) or the instrument could measure 10 BILLION distinct individuals. It is sufficiently sensitive to measure every human being alive DIFFERNTLY. And, that is precisely what makes them so DIFFICULT to interpret!  If you had specified a single profile; you would be looking for one individual currently alive on the planet. This may be more expensive, and take more time than you thought. As those who search for the reincarnated Dali Lama would testify!


The likelihood of error
is highly probable.


chicken fightingIn conclusion:  I ask you to consider the opposite, Personality “Testing” For Future Sales Performance may not work. The consequences are not just the loss of a little time and a little money. It is the loss of a great deal of time, a great deal of Money and is potentially damaging to both to the Candidate and the Company.



Consider the opposite, consider the consequences.

further reading on:

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Selling is life or death.

I have been asked by a Sales Manager who I mentor,

"What’s the best way to sell life insurance?"


In the old days it was

“Reverse a hearse into their drive way, and then let them smell the flowers!”



Life Insurance was sold on a “Peace of Mind” Value,
“think of how your loved ones would be able to cope after you’re gone”. 
The Policy Holder inevitably, paid in but was not paid off.

I had identified with the Sales Manager his staff member with most success. 

She was a New Hire a Graduate Trainee, selling the product well. 

What was her secret? 

“I focus on women with new babies!” 

pram and baby

Every time a Pram comes in I ask
Have you thought of increasing your own and your husband’s life cover to include the new baby?”

The most frequent answer is “We hadn’t thought about it yet.” 

Then, I give them a short overview on Fatal Illness and Life Cover. 

She was having the most success in the office!

There are a couple of really useful points. 
When “Change” happens we are more open to other “Changes”. 

Responsibility is just as good a “motivator” as fear

AWARENESS is the first stage in any Buying Process. 

Spot the market, prepare the offer, give the insight,
construct the Value and let the Customer Buy.

We reviewed “CHANGES” in people’s lives that might provoke an Insurance review, we found 7. 

We ran a short workshop for five staff,
on identifying changes and when identified how to introduce an “Insurance Cover Review”. 

The most successful "change" now is “empty nesters”,
over-insured Parents whose children are no longer dependant on them. 

The product?  
A reduced cost policy which meets their current reduced needs.


Insurance really is a cradle (or Pram) to grave business. 

So too, I think, is Selling!

Monday, 5 March 2012

Ignoring the Sales Forecast and missing Targets


The first Monday of the Month is when we “review” last month’s Sales Performance at the weekly Sales Review. It’s a bigger than normal audience with “guests” from Marketing, Tech Support and Finance. We were honoured today by the attendance of the CFO and the CMO, the meeting was chaired by the CEO.

Why such an illustrious audience?

Because we have missed two consecutive Month’s Sales Targets and
we are NOT on track to hit the quarter’s Target!
This gets the attention of the Investors and the Board.
There was a smell of fear in the room.

They say wolves sense the fear of their prey and that’s when they start howling!


What the wolverines in the room didn’t know was the Sales VP and I had spent three days preparing for the encounter. We knew it was going wrong three weeks ago.

The early signs were “weak signals” an unusual Discounting Campaign from our prime Competitor announced in December, launched on Jan 1, was beginning to bite.

Despite Sales giving Both Finance and Marketing early warning, the signals were ignored.

Marketing decided they were NOT going to respond, Sales were told to SELL VALUE not discount.
Along with the Price Discounts, the Competitor offered great financial terms,
90 day payment terms with installation and setup charges delayed for 12 months.

Their offer was keen pricing and easy payment terms,
both very attractive in these “Frugal” times.

At the First Monday Monthly Meeting in February we had Presented Marketing and Finance with a list of 14 identified “at risk” Sales Forecast opportunities. They had stonewalled and not responded, we had escalated this to the CEO as a Valentine present of a visit with the CEO to an “at risk” Prospect.

“I like your Product, functionally its better, we have a great relationship,
BUT I can’t justify the extra cost. Comeback when you can compete financially!”

We lost the order.

The Sales VP and I had reviewed 6 lost opportunities during February, and a further 14 which were forecast for February close which were being delayed or postponed. The Competitor’s Disruptive Pricing had been a well executed Marketing Campaign, into a Product/Market with reduced budget and a drive for Cost Reduction.

So, “Who lost the Sale?”

Sales had brought early warning of the Competitive Threat to the table in December. Marketing and Finance had ignored them as “weak signals”. Sales had brought “proof” in February, Marketing and finance wanted to “wait and see”. The CEO had first-hand experience, a real time “Battlefield Intelligence”, but he had not reacted.


We closed the Presentation with the January and February “WINS” despite the competitive Disruptive Pricing. Sales had a 100% success where that Competitor was NOT present, Sales had only lost one time in five (20%) when the Competitive “Offer” was present.


Finally we offered the meeting this thought:

Consider the case of Bertrand Russell's Inductivist Turkey


“The turkey found that, on his first morning at the turkey farm, that he was fed at 9 a.m. Being a good inductivist turkey he did not jump to conclusions. He waited until he collected a large number of observations that he was fed at 9 a.m. and made these observations under a wide range of circumstances, on Wednesdays, on Thursdays, on cold days, on warm days.

Each day he added another observation statement to his list. Finally he was satisfied that he had collected a number of observation statements
to inductively infer that 
I am always fed at 9 a.m.''.
However on the morning of Christmas eve he was not fed
but instead had his throat cut.''

You cannot predict the future from inductive reasoning on past data,
a key lesson for Turkeys, Marketing and Finance.

Now, stop being Turkeys!

turkey cooked


Here are TWO excellent blogs on why Forecasting does NOT work:


Learn why the “Competitive PRICE Campaign” was so successful?

Friday, 2 March 2012

The Challenger Sale and Evidence Based Selling



When I talk about
“Evidence Based Selling Skills”,

it begins with a blank sheet,


then, a list of Sales names.






Then, we look at what those Salespeople actually DO with Buyers,

(300 sales calls minimum)

then, we look at the results they generate,

(immediate, short-term, mid-term and long-term) Microscope



then, we identify Behaviourdifference” between
Average Performers (“core”) and Top Performers,

then, we have Average Performers
CHANGE Behaviour  what they do (or don’t do)

then, we measure if it made a “Performance” difference

(immediate, short term, midterm and long term)







After we have distilled (SPSS)
"What Works or Does NOT work!"
We argue a lot over the research,
was it impacted by
“Halo Effect”,
“Hawthorne Effect”,
or the “Pygmalion effect”?

Was it reliable, is it valid?

THEN, we have all Performers change,
increase (or decrease)
Evidenced Based Sales Behaviours.


But, we keep measuring just in case there is MORE to learn.



that’s why it takes a really long time,

that’s why it’s difficult and expensive to do and,

that’s why it WORKS!


Or, we could just do a quick survey on LinkedIn, about 5 days,

then read the free text boxes and promote it as insight!


Or, even faster, we could just think about our own selling retrospectively,

our experience and casual (not Causal) observations

then mash it up and put it out as insight!

By writing some Sales “Proverbs, Rules or Laws” of Selling.


Just try a proverb as an “Insight”

in a Challenger Sale and

see how long YOU last!



Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Three Great Selling Skills that really work.


Opening The Sale

is becoming a lost art.

During recent Sales Field Coaching
I have watched a few Rookies and some Veterans fumble the opening ball pretty badly.

We are in the Customer’s office;
the social pleasantries have been completed now it’s time to

OPEN THE SALE!selling to the CEO

· “Right then, down to business!”

· “How’s business?”

Both are equally BAD,
even though one is a statement and the other a Question they BOTH immediately lose you control of the call.

You are now on the Customer’s Agenda (usually ill-prepared; as you had asked to meet them so they thought you were going to prepare an agenda.)



There are three evidence based techniques to OPEN THE SALE.

They are:

1. Initial Benefit Statement

2. Initial Problem Statement

3. Initial Value Statement

None of these are elevator pitches.

An elevator pitch is a general statement about
What your Capabilities are and How that may be of general interest to Suspects.
Keep Elevator pitches for chance meetings with strangers and elevator journeys.

Bob Apollo has written a useful guide to Elevator Pitches on this link

Do NOT use Elevator Pitches in face-to-face sales calls, they DON’T work!

1. Initial Benefit Statements,
take a LIKELY need and show how your capability can fulfil it.

“Many Commodity Traders need the LOWEST POSSIBLE LATENCY (time delay) to make their trades early. We offer the lowest Latency from the City of London to the Frankfurt Market.”

“Would this be of interest to you?”

(36 words) with TWO simple ideas: The need for Speed and our ability to deliver Speed.
The Client was a the Head of Trading in a German Investment Bank


2. Initial Problem Statements, take a LIKELY Problem and show

how a Capability we have is being used to overcome the Problem.

Recently we are being asked by more and more Clients

to help them REDUCE STAFF TURNOVER, without increasing Payroll costs.”

“Could we show you how we would be able to help you do this?”

(34 words) with TWO simple ideas, lower staff turnover and no increased costs.
The Client was the Head of HR in a Call-Centre.

3. Initial Value Statement,
are clear statements of DELIVERED Value in similar situations.

“Typically our Inventory Management System increases stock turns in a business like yours from 6 to 7 or even 8 times a year. This has delivered a 13% up to a 25% stock cost saving.”

“Is this something you would Value?

(40 words) with TWO simple ideas Increased Stock Turns and Cost Savings.
The Client was the Head of Merchandising at a large store.

In all three cases we are INITIATING The Sale with an Idea,

that is LIKELY to be of interest to the Client,

and then we ask for the Client’s agreement to continue.

In the Research none of the three techniques worked ALL the time.
Each should work about 4 out of 5 times.
If they don’t work then review your CONTENT,
it may not be relevant to the Client or the Client doesn’t understand it!

The total words used should not exceed 40.

The Initial Statement should contain only TWO ideas, THEIR need and YOUR capability.





Initial Benefit Statement




Initial Problem Statement


(never a Solution)


Initial Value





Proof Statements, if appropriate, can be used if less than 40 words from Client referrals, Testimonials, Editorials or Articles.


In Golf you may “Open for Show” (Drive), but “Close for Dough” (Putt), but

in Sales if you don’t “Open for Dough”, then you never get to “Close for Dough” either!

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Which Sales Skills DON’T work?


chaffAn expression I am using more and more with Clients is
sorting the "Wheat from the Chaff".

And there is more "Chaff" in Sales “stuff”
than in the RAF and the USAF combined!

I have tried to form a set of Beliefs based on “Sales Values”

Since my Values are that all people have near infinite potential, then all people given the right opportunity and encouragement can sell.

Like most worthwhile things learning to sell, like learning to speak a second language, is a lot of hard work but we are all capable of doing it!


wheat from the Chaff

I use a winnowing process on Selling Skills, when you throw both the Grain and the Chaff in the air, then because the Grains are heavier they fall straight down but the Chaff is light weight it just blows away in the wind! The Sales “grains of truth” are heavier because they have the weight of evidence but the “Chaff” has no weight, its a Lightweight Idea and blows away!



A. Selling is a Skill set which can be learned.

B. No one is a “natural sales person”, it’s not DNA based.

C. It is NOT Personality or Trait based, either.

D. Successful Selling Skills can be observed, it is what we DO, or don’t DO, which makes us successful.

E. Show me the proof, what evidence supports the “stuff”.

F. Never take a Salesperson’s word, ask for Proof.

G. People who have never sold for a living (and gone Hungry) don’t really get Sales!

H. People (like Marketers and HR) who drink beer with Salespeople don’t really get Sales either.

Based on these Values and Beliefs there are no easy answers, no short cuts, no magic moves, no silver bullets.
Finding new stuff that is not “Chaff” is like panning for gold in a mountain stream. You find the odd nugget,
but mostly you just get wet feet, cold hands and a whole load of sludge!

panning for gold


Then, there is the good day when you come across a Masterful mother load, like Neil Rackham’s work, not just SPIN but BA, Sales Management and the Buying Process and evidence based Negotiation Skills.
Or, there is Practitioner Stuff that Holden, Miller, Heiman and Tuleja as well as TAS have produced.

We were treated last year with “The Challenger Sale”, which my Clients in Big Data, Big IT and Big Telecom are already putting to work very successfully. At the lower end (B2C) TCS is working well for Property Sales in a depressed market and Home Furnishings and Fittings, where Value counts.

However, once you start SNAPing “sales stuff” of the Airport departure lounge’s book shelf you fall into
Crazy, Facilitation, Fable, Mystery, Myth and Magik.

I have never read a “Selling My Way” book of any worth or which presented any evidence other than “Popularity”. Remember we use the expression “Popular Misconception”,
to see how stupid this is have a look at :


You could add:

  1. “Cold” Calling,
  2. A.B.C.,
  3. Objection Handling,
  4. “Pain-Point” Questioning,
  5. Value “Creation”,
  6. Selling By SFA, APP, CRM or Numbers,
  7. Sales “forecasting”,
  8. the Sales “process”,
  9. “Hunters and Farmers”

but if you did then many Salespeople would have NO skills,
and Many authors would have NOTHING to write about.

My favourite is “Sell, without selling.”
The long awaited sequel is “Golfing, without Clubs!” should be out soon.
Or, did Wii already do it?

So, I continue to read, books and blogs, found via Twitter, about selling.
The most popular ones are written by people who don’t get it.

They offer quick tips, easy answers and proverbs,
none of which will enable you to sell;
any more than “keeping your head” down will enable you to play great Golf
or learning a few irregular verbs will help you to speak Spanish.

Then there are a few who DO get it, Dave Stein and Dick Ruff for example,
but they still want to earn a living so they are nice guys, much nicer than me! 
So, they don’t always argue when they read nonsense, even nonsense that has been registered, trademarked and copyrighted.

We don’t know the whole story, which is “How the Buyer buys”,
and HOW we as Sellers can impact, effect and influence their decisions.

Sales is the next best game to Golf, Sellers like Golfers come in all shapes and sizes, nationalities and backgrounds.
You learn how to play, you avoid the chaff, you manage your own game and you succeed.

I wouldn’t have it any other way!



Monday, 27 February 2012

7 ways to detect a Phoney Sales Trainer


  1. Do they quote from well known courses? 

    But fail to grasp the Meaning of the Material, e.g. TAS or SPIN


  2. Do they quote from self-appointed Gurus?

    Who come from the ‘self-help and actualization movement’
    e.g. Brian Tracy


  3. Do they offer clichés likefeel, felt, found
    or “people buy from people

    dysfunctional sales skills which never worked.


  4. Do they clip images from from expert blogs

    to give an air of pseudo-science and proof to their nonsense?


  5. Do they confuse pseudo-science about Personality,

    Psychometrics or Emotions for Real Selling Skills?


  6. Do they offer worthless Software Sales tools

    to help “Sell by Numbers?”

    sell by numbers

  7. Final proof, when you read THEIR LinkedIn Profile
    did they spend 20 years in Marketing or

    does their “profile” suddenly begin 3 years ago?


Monday, 13 February 2012

Can a 21st Century Sales Methodology be built on Proverbs?


Gangs we keepI had the great fortune to know my wife’s Grandmother. Born in 1900, at the province of Soria, Castile and León, Spain. She lived to be 93 years old. She left her village Castillejo de Robledo for the first time when she was 65 years old. Leaving behind the three story house which had been the family home for 4 generations, without the benefit of running Water, Gas or Electricity. The family had lived off the land for 200 years, a few acres of Vines which made the fine Ribera de Duero Wine, a few pigs, chickens and goats in a “corral”, a Burro to help till their wheat field and a “huerta” to grow vegetables besides the river.

It would be easy to label her a Peasant Farmer or even “Peon”, and she had had no formal education being unable to read or write.  Yet she and her husband had raised and ensured that her three children were well fed and educated. All of her children left the village and they came back to take her and her husband with them when they were able to. The house now with all utilities including Broadband, has passed, along with Vineyards, to her son who summers and harvests the grapes with some of his family.

I met “Abuela Germana” in her early eighties, by turns she could be talkative or silent. She was a very interesting Old Lady.
Although she had no formal education, she could neither be described as ignorant nor un-educated. She was wise.
Her wisdom was expressed by Proverbs.

“You know a person by the company they keep.”

She repeated this to her Children, her Grand-children, and Great-grandchildren.
She would deliver the saying then explain what it meant, and how to apply it to life.

We reckon, for nobody ever counted, she had more than 500 proverbs. I first noticed that her “recipes” for Cooking were expressed this way, to give the ingredients and their ratios. She recounted Proverbs for Life, for married life and family life, for Farming, relationships with the land and water, when to sow and when to harvest, the best time for the “matanza” to turn Pig into Chorizo and Jamon, for relations with friends and neighbours:

“Good walls make for good neighbours!”

Many sayings were derived from the Biblical Book of Proverbs,
but even more clearly came from folk wisdom,
garnered through centuries living and working in the same part of Spain.

You will be glad to know that I will spare you from lists of examples,
mainly because she spoke them in Castilian Spanish, but often in a dialectal form.
They were understood by her and were “her way of thinking”.

So, I am no stranger to Proverbs.

My question is “Can a 21st century Sales Methodology be built on Proverbs?”

We could use expressions like :

better late than never

· Haste makes waste

· A stitch in time saves nine.

· Ignorance is bliss

· Better late than never

· You can catch more flies with honey than
   you can with vinegar.

· You can lead a horse to water, 
but you can't make him drink.





· Those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

· A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

· A little learning is a dangerous thing.

And easily make them apply to Sales and Selling,

“People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones” could apply to relationships with the Competition.

A commonly used proverb is “Don’t knock the Competition”
but what does that mean in a 21st century “Modern Selling” setting.

Is it glib? Has it become a cliché?

Does “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” mean that in Sales we should only pursue “sure things?”
or only take small deals or stay out of the sales underbrush and beware of Poison Ivy?

Could a Salesperson justify keeping damaging information from a customer by declaring
“Ignorance is bliss?”

Can unethical behaviour by Salespeople be justified under cover of Hyperbole
“All is fair in love and war [or sales]”

Or should we use the nemesis to successful Selling “ABC Always be Closing!”

In these “modern times” the anti-proverb is more widely used:
"Nerds of a feather flock together” could describe Facebook or perhaps better Twitter!

My answer to the question is NO!

A 21st Century Sales Methodology,  CANNOT be based on Proverbs.


It leads to Sales Myopia and a Dysfunctional Selling situation.

Sales time and energy is wasted on a simple quick answer inappropriate to a Complex Selling. The basis of all FUNCTIONAL Sales methodologies is in Sales Behaviour. DOING the right thing, in the right way, at the right time, during the right circumstances not regurgitating a cliché.


Evidence Based Selling Skills

rest in Identifying FUNCTIONAL Selling Behaviours,
in LEARNING how to execute those Behaviours
and in actually DOING them.

Here is a little evidence, a BMAC Study of 150 Salespeople identified as Sales “Poor Performers” by their Manager and Peers’ opinions, as well as by their actual Sales Results and confirmed by the results of Sales Skills Assessment;

90% described themselves as “Skilled in Sales Methodology.”

Almost all long-term “Poor Performers” describe themselves as able to sell,
yet the evidence is overwhelming that they cannot!


The use of Proverbs as a Sales methodology
I would simply describe as:

“A little learning is a dangerous thing.”

a little learning