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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!




  1. There are a variety of skills are needed to achieve the goals we want to accomplish in sales. I deeply get interested each single piece of facts about sales skills you post here. Thanks!

  2. Thanks for your comment and your interest. There are several ways to climb the sales mountain, but there are also far too many false trails. I really like Selling, Sales Teams and Salespeople that´s what motivates me, I am a protagonist for Sales.