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Saturday, 5 July 2014

Buying is CHANGING.

In study after study we can measure changes to the Buying Process.

  • The Buying Cycle is taking longer.
  • There are more people involved in the Buying Process.
  • Buying Criteria has increased and is more diverse.

These changes to the Buying Process are giving consequences to the Selling Process.
Sales are becoming “involved” later in the Buying Process.

The role of Sales, in the Buying Process, is changing from Informational to INSIGHTFUL.

insights lightbulb


Buying Decisions WERE being made on ‘Best’ argument, ‘Loudest’ voice or simply ‘Gut Instinct’!
Buying Decisions WERE often justified using post-decision rationality to highlight possible benefits,
mitigate possible risks and minimise likely costs.

Today, increasingly, the Buying Process is supported by Decision Science.
The Decision Making Unit is using tools, techniques and process to PREDICT likely outcomes from its Decision.
In many cases the decision support system will simple give a Red, Amber or Green light on options,
WITHOUT exposing the Decision TAKERS to the full underlying Data or even the actual analysis!

So What?

This means that Salespeople now NEED an awareness of Decision Science and Data Analytics if they hope to influence the Buying Decision in their favour, or at least AVOID influencing the Buying Decision AGAINST themselves! ‘Shooting themselves in the foot’ is, currently, a widespread Sales Activity.  Giving Information, instead of Constructing Insights which contain REAL Value Data Input to their Data Analytics.

What is Data Science?

Data Science turns Data into Actions.

The collection, storage, sharing and use of Data is about 50 years old.
The Analysis, inductive reasoning and Decision advice is about 10 years old.
Simply, most companies have acquired sufficient processing power to perform viable Predictive Analysis.
They can, with a reasonable degree of accuracy predict their future.
Or, at least ONE of their possible futures, based on historic data, analysis and extrapolation.

Science based guesswork, rather than ‘gut feel’.

What should you be doing?

Perhaps you think this does NOT apply to me, MY sales are based on Relationships.
Well, you may as well know “Relationship” is going to play a steadily DECREASING role in Buyer’s Decision Making.
And, INSIGHT input based on Analytics is going to play an increasingly IMPORTANT role.

imageData Analytics are the BEST “Insights” available to Buyers.

They are inductive reasoning based, patterns which indicate the best action for the best probable future.
They outperform ‘theory based’ deductive reasoning, in real time! The inherent ability of Data Science to offer NEW relationships from multiple domains in business, to spotlight new business insights, and to offer alternative paths based on Data, not instinct.

If you thought the Internet and Social Media changed Buying then that will be small change compared to the REVOLUTION that Decision Science is bringing to Buying then Selling.

Learn, at least a little,
about the Decision Science available to your Prospects and Customers, and probable applications.

Understand how information shapes your Web Page Ranking in Google!

It’s NOT gut feel, loudest voice or Best Argument.

It is Data Analytics.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

How important is Sales Education?

I don’t usually preamble a Sales Blog with my ‘qualifications’,
so the fact that I tell you, Dear Reader, that I have worked in Sales Education for 30 years, is significant.

For more than a decade I have wrestled with a really thorny question.

How important is Sales Education?


Here I included both Training as well as Coaching; and both Skills and Knowledge.

I am, I have been, and will continue to be VERY critical about much that is sold and delivered as Sales “Education”
most of it is, for the want of a better word, “BUNKUM”,

if you run your Thesaurus over that great word Bunkum you get:
Nonsense; Claptrap; Twaddle; Hogwash; Humbug; and Codswallop.

None of these words are too strong, to describe such ‘education’ as:
Always be Closing, Handle Objections, Never Discount, ‘steps’ of the sale, or the Sales ‘Gene’ theory.

Yet, that is not my worry.
Younger, and smarter, salespeople, with ‘Big Data’ tools and Analysis Apps can spot these dysfunctional selling skills in days,
rather than practice them fruitlessly for decades!

My worry is one which is facing Educators world-wide, and NOT just in Sales.

It is this:

Does Education really make a difference in Productivity?

And its subsidiary question:

Does Sales Productivity depend on Sales Education?

We have generations of Sales Educators,
Trainers and Coaches who have offered their “evidence” that Sales Education is the key to Sales Productivity.

But, they all have a vested interest in finding the positive correlation. I confess Guilt.
I have shown proof that MY Sales Education correlated with improved Sales results.
I have shown relationships between my Training and/or Coaching and improved results.

But, I have never answered my own question:

Does Sales Productivity depend on Education?

It is only since 2010 that I have delved into this question.

Here I share my results.

    • The best educated Sales people do not always make the best sales people.

    • The best educated Salespeople does not lead to Corporate Success.

    • Poorly educated Salespeople can be TOP Sales Performers.

    • Corporate success is linked to having the right Education, not the best.

Education, as I am presenting it, includes but is not limited to: Schooling, further education College/University, Continuing Professional development [Sales Skills, Product and Marketplace Knowledge, Negotiation Skills]. It includes Formal and Informal education as well as structured, semi-structured and self-directed Learning.


The conclusion has to be that Education=Productivity is a myth.

And, a very expensive myth as Sales Education is a multi-billion Dollar business.

Poor Sales performance CANNOT be explained by IGNORANCE,

because the ‘ignorant’ often sell and the ‘educated’ do often not sell!

Poor Sales Performance is NOT attributable to a “Lack of Education”;
nor is Sales Productivity the result of Sales Education.
We have to look deeper, and think a lot harder,
rather than simply prescribing “Education” by Training Knowledge, Skills or Coaching.


Before we run our next expensive Education program,
before we burn Valuable Salespeople’s, and Sales Manager’s time on Coaching,
we have to ask ourselves, and answer honestly

Does it really matter?

Or should you work on another aspect of Sales Performance?

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

How to Catch a Crocodile

: by Emma Clarke aged 9

elephant with a crocodile

As everyone knows,
crocodiles are large fearsome creatures so if you want to catch one you have to follow the rules really carefully.

If you want to catch a crocodile the first thing you have to do is to go where the crocodiles are.
(We know a lot of Sales and Marketing people who haven’t worked that one out yet)

Crocodiles as we all know live down at the swamp, so if you want to catch one you have to go down to the swamp,
but before you set out you must make sure you take the right tools.

What you need to take with you if you want to catch a crocodile is:

  • a blanket a pair of binoculars,
  • a pair of tweezers
  • and a match box.

So, making sure that you have remembered your tools, you set off down to the swamp.

When you get there you go down to the edge of the swamp and you spread your blanket out on the ground.

You take your tools and you carefully lay them out, then you lay down and go to sleep.

Eventually the big old crocodile will come by and poke his head up out of the swamp.
What will he see?

He will see you lying there asleep on the blanket!

“What’s going on here” the crocodile will think “I know what’s going on here, sleeping is what’s going on here”
and with that the big old crocodile will haul himself out of the swamp and lie down beside you on the blanket
and because you are sleeping he will go to sleep to.

(This technique is better than diving into the swamp with a net and a bowie knife)
[which many salespeople use to Close Deals!]

But because you went to sleep first you will wake up first , (this is the INSIGHT)
and there beside you on the blanket is this great big fearsome crocodile
and you think: “How can I deal with this?”


So you take your binoculars and you turn them round
and you look at the crocodile through the binoculars backwards
so that reduces him to a more manageable size.

Then you take the tweezers and you put him in the matchbox!  Simple!

Crocodile in a match box

In the case of Eating an Elephant, then this is BEST done in bite-sized chunks, which may be kept in a match box!

So you see nothing is impossible

and with the right approach it is possible to simplify the hardest task and make it seem easy!

  • The moral for Salespeople?  Take this nine year-olds advice:
    • Go where the Customers are.
    • Bring the RIGHT tools.
    • ADAPT to their situation
    • Bring INSIGHTS which enable you to “reverse the binoculars
      and VALUE to act as “tweezers” to put them in the Box!

N.B. I have to thank Emma for her insight; we should all learn how to think like 9 year olds if we want to Sell!

I also MUST acknowledge Dave Brock’s Great posts on Sales Fundamentals

for putting me in the frame of mind
to see the TRUTH which Emma’s insights presented.


Wednesday, 9 April 2014

The internal and external world of selling, and buying


We never KNOW what our Buyer is thinking or feeling.



Nor, do they KNOW our thoughts or feelings.

All we have is their behaviours, as they have our behaviours.

The sell/buy experience is in the external world of Activity and Behaviours,
which is what is said, and what is done.
[As well as what is NOT said, or NOT done]

It is notoriously unreliable to interpret a Buyer’s word or action
as a “window” into their interior world of Thoughts, Feelings or Motivations.

Nor, can our Buyer’s READ us.

We are what we say and do.



That is the reality of the Sales world