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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!