Does Selling Exist Anymore?

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I’ve been in sales for a long time, so much so that I believe we are all in sales; I’ve written a previous blog about that. I love sales probably because as a consumer I love buying! I love a great sale, when the salesperson really listens to what you want and wows you with their level of attentiveness and personalised service.

I detest bad sales.

And unfortunately, over the years, more of us experience bad sales than good sales. So it’s no surprise that so many consumers view salespeople as possessing some very unsavoury characteristics. Most of us see sales people as pushy, privacy-invaders, cold callers, or those who will go to any lengths to close the sale.

Companies seek to attract and retain people who are ‘hungry’ for the sale, driven, ambitious, entrepreneurial. These are not bad characteristics – I admire them in people – and when combined with someone who is an excellent listener, make for amazing sales potential.

Unfortunately, whilst sales techniques have developed over the years, they perhaps haven’t changed and developed as much as the consumer base has.

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Mind Monopoly

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Nearly all businesses wish they had a monopoly in their field, to be the only provider. To not just lead the market, to be the market. It would provide a business with limitless profit potential, even if it didn’t generate advocacy from the customers it extracted profit from.

Because whilst businesses want to monopolise, customers generally hate it when they do. Customers want choice, and choice is good for price. Different providers in the same market create variations to meet individual needs, which generally drives prices down.

And businesses today have to fight harder than ever to catch the customer’s attention, to be heard above the competition, to engage them in “why choose us?”

So perhaps the goal now is to hold a monopoly of the consumer’s mind, rather than on the market. If you think about it, some businesses may have already achieved this with you…

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Quick Wins

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I’ve heard the phrase “quick wins” used for many years, usually in a business setting, when people refer to the actions that can be done easily and quickly to deliver the biggest results. Is there anything wrong with that desire? I mean, why not get the results you want in the shortest possible amount of time? That’s what we all want right?

It seems we also want this in our lives outside work. We’re always on the look out for a quick win, whether it’s to enable us to lose weight, make money or learn a new skill. It seems that whatever it is we want, we want it quickly.

The problem I have with “quick wins” is that, in my experience, a true “win” is rarely achieved quickly and if it is “quick” it generally isn’t that big a win.

We all have a desire for the best results with the least amount of effort, but I fear we have become lazy in believing that the best option is to always go for the quick win first. We become so obsessed with the concept of quick wins that we never get around to the long term actions needed to achieve our work targets or our life goals. As a result we jump from one quick win to another; seeking short term solutions to long term problems.

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10 + 10 = ?

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I’m sure that even those of you who profess to be terrible at maths came to a pretty quick answer to the above equation, right? I mean, 10 + 10, you can’t get much simpler than that. You have an answer.  And when we have an answer our minds stop. Answers represent endings, they represent winning, concluding, game over. No need to think about it anymore – problem solved!

It’s how we’ve all been taught; our education system teaches us to find the correct answer and move to the next question. Remember something, repeat it under test conditions and you are good to go. Well done! A gold star!

The current education system was developed over a century ago to provide industry with competent workers – people know how things work, they know right from wrong, they know what fits in the box. That was great, then, but not now.

Now, more than ever, businesses need people with creativity because change is the new norm. You never know what the competition will come up with next or what new products will emerge that offer the customer something easier, better, different. Something that doesn’t fit in the old box.

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Out Of The Fire

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Fire is an amazing resource. I find it amazing that the contradictory potential to provide necessary, life-giving heat and the capacity for raging destruction, are bound up within the same element. It can both support and destroy life.

One place you don’t want a fire is in a forest. Unless you happen to be a Giant Redwood or Giant Sequoia tree. These huge, sky-scraping trees can now only be found in a few locations across California and are the world’s largest single living organisms. If you’ve been fortunate to see one up close I’m sure you’ll agree that they are truly something to behold. I say from experience that no picture can capture the awesome and humbling experience of standing in front of one of these remarkable trees.

I find it fascinating that scientists have discovered that these majestic trees, thousands of years old, actually benefit from forest fires. Scientific tests of the bark has determined that these trees have been in many forest fires during their lifetimes. And, not only did they survive, they thrived. We’ve learned that the ash from forest fires had provided nourishment, and it was from amongst the ashes that new saplings of these giants would emerge.

It’s why forest rangers now have controlled fires around these trees. They recognise that the fire, whilst destructive in it’s ability to burn so many things, provides the Redwoods and Sequoias with important nutrients.

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The Cost of Time

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One of the most common challenges in today’s workplace is the perceived lack of time that we have to complete our work. As the pace of work is getting faster, this pressure never goes away. Unless you can change the laws of physics you are never going to get more time, so the only thing you can do is to change what you do with it, how you invest it…

As Benjamin Franklin said, “time is money,” and I’m sure that’s a phrase most of us have heard. Well, here is a little equation I’ve used over the years to help illustrate the point…

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Full Front Loaded Costs + Budgeted Income / Time

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The VF² Equation


Improving engagement, performance and results in the workplace are key focus areas within most businesses. But the way to achieve consistent success across these three areas seems to evade a great many employers, managers and leaders. In today’s blog post I share with you the equation that holds the answer:  VF².

VF² refers to Value, Future, Fun. It’s not an equation in a mathematical sense, but it is my equation to engaging people in their jobs, careers or calling.

In my experience VF² = engaged and productive individuals.

I’ve coached leaders on this for many years although sometimes, frustratingly, it can seem so basic and simple that they ignore it. Surely cracking a complex problem such as getting people engaged with their job is very complex – it just can’t be that simple? Can it?

But I tend to find that sometimes it’s the simple things, the small things, that can make the biggest difference.

So let’s look at the equation a little closer. Let’s break it down…

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Targets vs Potential

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Targets in business are good things, right? Without a target how do you know where you are going? Without a target how do you measure success? And measurement is important; as the old saying goes… ‘what get’s measured gets managed’.

Or does it? Is it more ‘what get’s measured gets manipulated’?

When it comes to targets in business I think there is a fundamental problem: more often than not, they are based on what has gone before, what was achieved in the past. We readily believe that the past delivers a reliable prediction of the future…

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The Evolution of Expectation

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Customer expectations have evolved, are still evolving and will continue to evolve. Customers have never had more choice, more opportunities to switch between providers and this puts pressure on businesses to tailor products and services to more readily meet the individual’s needs. To make it personal.

The variance of process is expensive for businesses. If you don’t have a standardised process it makes calculating the channel cost very difficult. If you can’t force customers down particular channels, if you can’t serve them all in roughly the same way it becomes very challenging. Businesses don’t exist without making a profit, and the traditional view suggests that variance challenges profit.

But customers don’t want standardisation, they want to be treated as individuals and as a valued customer. And if a business doesn’t make them feel like that then they’ll find a competitor who does…

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Everything Was New… Once

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There’s a common fear that exists: changing the status quo for something that hasn’t been done before. When something is new and not yet tested we want to see evidence of it working somewhere else before we can accept it or feel at ease with it. Why is this?

Everything was new at some point. I guess what makes ’new’ particularly hard is when you are trying to put something ’new’ into something ‘old’. And of course, that involves change.

Whether it’s entering a new market, creating a new role or a new product launch, the new (and the inevitable change it brings), generally trigger a sense of resistance (at best) or fear (at worst) in so very many of us.

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