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Monday, 22 April 2013

Simple Selling and Complex Selling


A Theoretical Foundation in Selling



This was the definition I used for 
twenty  years, it was based on Rackham’s research. Which he published in
‘Major Account Selling’, to distinguish between ‘simple’ and ‘complex’ Selling and then describe differences in successful Sales Behaviours. 

The multiple factors, in effect,
could be applied to almost any sale. 



In other words: ALL Selling was Complex!

By 2000 it was obvious that a Multi-factor definition was not working. 

One by one Factors which were not helpful or important were disappearing. 

First to go was “Competitive Situation”, this was not helpful in Contract Renewals with NO Competitor present, But the Sale was NOT simple! The “Long Sales Cycle” was a repetition of many meetings, in fact some Long Sales Cycles were Simple Selling, which just took a long time!

Decision means Major Change”, yet equally Minor Change with high Impact, could have a similar effect.  The amount of change often reflects the ‘Motivation to Change’, rather than a difference in Selling Behaviour.  “Long Term Partnerships”, let’s take out the word “Partnership” and just go with Long Term Seller/Buyer Relationships. 

We worked with the final two factors “Committee Decision” [not an individual] and “The Solution is Complex” from about 2000 until 2005, as it met most of our needs.  However, in 2005 we were offering some highly “Complex Solutions” in the Voice over IP and ‘Hosted Voice’ arena, and Buyers had NO interest in the Complexity, rather a desire for simplicity. “I don’t care how it works, Does it DO what we want done?”

in 2005, we wrote the final Definition of Simple and Complex Selling:



Selling is a Communication Process, an Interactive Competence,
which becomes increasingly COMPLEX as the number of Participants INCREASES.






One to One
is Simple Selling.

One to Many, or
Many to One,
is Complex Selling.

Many to Many is
VERY Complex Selling!





Observing Sales Behaviours in One-to-Many Sales Calls the level of INTERACTIVE COMPETENCE required for Successful Selling increases alarmingly.  Even the Observer is stretched identifying Behaviours. 

The Salesperson MUST have a Sales Behaviour Fluency many times higher than selling One to One.

If two Buyers means Complex Selling, then what if there are MANY Buyers?



A Sociogram of Big Telecom with a Major Bank Customer may look like this! 
Some Sales were simple Products, some were Complex Solutions. 
Some Sales had a Sales Cycle measured in minutes, some lasted for more than a year. 
Some were Major Changes [Telephone and Internet Banking], and
some were ‘Partnership’ projects with shared risk. 
There was a constant Competitive threat. 


Yet, the determining factor was Selling one to one or one to many!








Today in 2013,
this definition of

Simple and Complex Selling
is crucial






Friday, 19 April 2013

Customer Retention Strategy Selling in Recession


Dave Brock has written two insightful Blogs into Customer Retention.



In a recession your ability to keep and grow
existing Customers is the difference between
Business success and failure.


How do you set a Good Sales Defence Strategy?



I can no more give you a Formula,
than the plan that Napoleon had that ended in his ignominious retreat from Moscow,
instead of the victory parade in he planned.






Sales Defence Strategy will be determined by
YOU, your Customer and the Competition.

The factors in formulating a good defence are building high walls, in business this is “Barriers to Entry”, or at the very least a very high Cost of Entry. IBM, was very successful in this by using proprietary software, in the 1980’s if you wanted the software, it only ran on an IBM Computer. Open-architecture, and Plug-Compatibility put an end to this approach!


What are today’s ‘Barriers to Entry’?

Functionality can be a barrier

If you do what the Customer wants done, and others cannot do it, then you can defend the Account.
However, relying on USP’s and Functionality alone is, no more than, a short term defence,
it won’t last, the Competition will catch-up, they may even leap frog you! [Blackberry]


Today’s barriers are Customer Experience.

That is, in great part, how Sales sold the first deal.

What were the “Expectations” of the Customer,
what are their current “Perceptions” of their experience?

How satisfied are they with your Value delivery? 

In planning a ‘Defensive’ Sales Strategy, you MUST listen to the “voice” of the Customer.
One way is in Complaints Handling, if these are well done,
then you create a Positive ‘voice’,
if handled poorly then it’s a Negative ‘voice’.

Financial Barriers, can be the hardest to erect

And, during recession this can be the weakest point in your defence.

This is not only PRICE, but is VALUE as well.
A well-defended account, will have kept a ‘Customer Perceived’ Value REGISTER,
showing the Financial BENEFITS, which the Customer expected and they perceived that we delivered.
This is NOT a wall you want to try and erect AFTER you are under attack!

That is called ‘Panic Discounting’, a paper thin wall, offering little or no defence.

Relationships are the third wall in Sales Defensive Strategy.

We know that you cannot Sell on Relationships alone,
nor will you be able to defend on relationships alone.

But, they are a vital part of Defence! A good Account Defence, is based on a broad set of Sales-Customer relationships, from the front desk Receptionist through to the CEO.
The front desk may well be your first ‘early warning’ of Competitive Activity in the Account. 
Build an ever growing network inside your Customer,
connect them back into your Company, KEEP ON SELLING!

When I conduct Customer Retention Strategy Workshops,
I always ask the same starting question:

What would you do to win this account?

We spend a lot of time working out the BEST competitive Acquisition Strategy against us,
then, and only then, do we begin formulating our Customer Retention Strategy,
to hold onto [and often Develop] our Customer.

Just a final note, I was at Burroughs [now Unisys] when they adopted the Tactic of Hunters and Farmers.
Against IBM and Hewlett Packard this was a DISASTER,
as fast as our Hunters Won new Business,
our Farmers Lost existing business.

A New Business Salesperson with a Sales Acquisition Strategy
will always take Business from an Account Manager
who has not both planned AND executed their Customer Retention Strategy.

Start Building those walls today!

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Predicting Future Sales Performance


MacIver’s Algorithm



The most accurate predictor
of Future Sales Performance,
and it is FREE, my gift to you.


It can be used to Recruit and Select, to Promote

or to Identify your Future Top Sales Performers.

I am prepared to state that this is more accurate
and has higher validity than any Psychometric ‘test’
or any Recruitment Agency.



This simple three-factor algorithm will substantially out perform any and all ‘Tests’,
and will do at least as well, but usually far better,
at predicting Future Sales Performance than any Expert.

a.) Average (%) of Annual (actual) Performance against target (last five years.)
                (Reduce the total by twenty per cent for each year less than five years)

b.) BEST Quarter’s (%) MINUS WORST Quarter’s (%) Sales Performance (last five years)

c.) Current Sales Velocity (%)   (Last quarter´s Performance against target)


Average last 5 year Annual performance = 87% 

Best quarter 137% minus worst quarter 48% = 89% 

Current Sales Velocity = 115%


(A times B times C) 87% times 89% times 115% = 89%


Then, 89% is the PROBABILITY of this Candidate achieving Target in their first 12 months; redo figures to predict year two when year one actual figure is achieved.


Thanks to Jeff Michaels of Intended Results (@IntendedResults) for encouraging me to Blog this.


Update 04/2013:  I have received a number of direct comments, and I am always happy to receive them here as well.  Based on this feedback and in particular some of the questions I have to caveat the USE of the Algorithm, not the Algorithm, but its use!

Possible fundamental limitations of predictive model based on data fitting

1) History cannot always predict future: using relations derived from historical data to predict the future implicitly assumes there are certain steady-state conditions or constants in the complex system. This is almost always wrong when the system involves people.

2) The issue of unknown unknowns: in all data collection, the collector first defines the set of variables for which data is collected. However, no matter how extensive the collector considers his selection of the variables, there is always the possibility of new variables that have not been considered or even defined, yet critical to the outcome.

3) Self-defeat of the algorithm: after an algorithm becomes an accepted standard of measurement, it can be taken advantage of by people who understand the algorithm and have the incentive to fool or manipulate the outcome.



Tuesday, 9 April 2013

The SIX Hour Sales Call


bad lie

“What’s the ruling?” he asked.

I gave him the rule straight from the Rules of Golf.

“It’s an unplayable lie, you can move the ball [after marking it] under penalty of one shot.
Rule 27-1 lets you play your shot again from where you last played.
Or drop a ball on the line between your marker and the pin, as far back along the line as you wish.
Or, drop a ball no more than 2 club lengths from the marker NO nearer the hole.”

“It’s your choice!”

While he was thinking,

it occurred to me that Golf has RULES which make it fair and enjoyable.


What, I wondered, were the rules of SELLING?

When, like me, you have a Prospect [or Customer] with you on the golf course for six hours?

It is probably best to begin with a few DON’Ts:

    1. Do NOT try and have a six hour Sales Call!
      This will strain both you and your Client to breaking point
    2. Do NOT just have a ‘social’ round of Golf 
      Play a competitive round, which fairly tests both of you
    3. Do NOT play at your rhythm and speed of play but at the Client’s pace, Play READY Golf
      it’s their day If you are a fast golfer, take your time, if slow then get a move on!
    4. Do NOT drink alcohol DURING the Game 
      It will not improve either your game or, your behaviour!
    5. Do NOT talk business for the first six holes, or the last six,
      only the middle six and then in the bar afterwards.  That is a TWO Hour Sales Call,
      but it is best done between the Green and Tee, so it is only 20 minutes on the course.

Before talking about the DO rules,
its best to consider WHY you are inviting your client to a Golf Day.
[and why they are accepting]


It is Classic “Relationship Discovery and Development”,
getting to know one another, it’s about building Trust.


fairplay_golf_55Fair Play on a Golf Course may not indicate fair play in Business.  But, unhelpful, unfair and aggressive Play on the Golf Course, may indicate to a Buyer,
what you are like in business.

Demonstrate Fair Play, helpfulness and collaboration.

It’s important that you KNOW, and abide by, the Rules and, just as importantly, the Etiquette of the Game. The purpose of the day, no matter the actual Goal for the day is to establish that they would want to do business with you!

The Five DO’s are:

  1. DO Only invite People who matter.
    You want key people from the Decision Making Unit, NOT their best Golfers!
  2. DO have Goals for the day.
    Rehearse any Suggestions, or Requests, you may make, DO NOT be spontaneous!
  3. DO Play the best Golf you can on the day, do not play to lose.
    This is obvious manipulation, a fair win is better than a ‘planned’ loss.
  4. DO Be a good Golf host
    ENTERTAIN on the course have some great Stories, and tasteful jokes, be Great Company
  5. DO Play for the 20Th hole, not the 19th, it is what happens next that counts.
    Send a follow-up letter, a photo or souvenir of the day, to remind them of their Golf Day.

A Client Golf Day is all about Relationship and Trust,
it is NOT about Product or Company.

You have an ideal opportunity to observe [close-up] your Client’s Problem Solving,
their Decision Making process, and their Interpersonal Skills.

There are a number of models you can use:

One is the Socializer, Relator, Director, and Thinker model

Make use of these insights to appeal to your Client’s Personality Preferences.

problem solver




The Perception YOU make
with YOUR Customer,
will be their view of you,
and of your Company
…..Manage Yourself.




Non-Golfers can participate in Golf Days by being Hosts’
both before and after the game


If you are thinking of learning the Game of Golf,
then learn from a Golf Pro, that’s your advantage.

Self-taught Golfers, like Self-taught Salespeople, often don’t play by the rules and have more bad habits than good habits. So, take lessons!


BMAC Consultants run Business Golf Training sessions in both Spain and Scotland: 
“How to get the best from your Company Golf day”