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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

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