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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The Hidden Cost Of Simplicity

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We used to think the earth was flat. We thought that the sun rotated around it. We used to believe that it was uneccessary for surgeons to wash their hands before they began operating – it was pointless, they were about to get covered in blood!

Our minds have progressed, our knowledge has expanded, our understanding has grown. And still the questions keep on coming; our minds are clearly built with a need to learn, to develop, to discover.

Yet as the world around us becomes more and more complex, we are also driving for simplicity, which is a good thing, especially as consumers. We want things to be simple, and straightforward, easy to interface and use. We want to pick up and use without the need of an instruction manual. We want service that is easy to access, simple to understand and that delivers it right.

There is a hidden cost to such simplicity. Human’s require a degree of complexity in their work for it to be engaging, and yet, as the world becomes increasingly complex we are finding new ways to outsource that complexity to tech solutions.

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Are We Losing Trust in Trust?

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Our trust has been broken so many times that we no longer trust “trust”. What do I mean by that? Well, if someone says “trust me”, we’re becoming more inclined to respond sceptically or defensively.

The tele-sales rep tells us “I’m not trying to sell you anything!” because if they said they were trying to sell us something then we would not trust a word they said. Even though we don’t trust that they are not trying to sell us something… because we know that they are!

Politicians have broken our trust so many times that we no longer trust them. As a result there’s a surge in popularity for “rookie” candidates – the person who’s new to politics, the person without political experience. One reason, perhaps, that so many are finding Donald Trump an appealing candidate for the US Presidency.

Businesses have broken our trust. They’ve lied to us too many times. Banks have fixed rates, sold us products and services we didn’t want, weren’t eligible for, or didn’t even know we were buying.

Newspaper companies hacked phones… TV shows rigged telephone votes… the list of examples goes on and on…

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It Doesn’t Count

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As a society we seem obsessed with measuring something so that we can put a number on it. Maybe it’s because of our tendency to perceive numbers as facts. But it does mean we risk missing things that could be equally important, or perhaps more so, than the things we can attach a number to.

In business it’s all about Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).  As we strive to represent performance as a number, the KPIs take on paramount importance in understanding how a business is doing, even though less tangible aspects such as employee engagement, or customer experience are also massively important ingredients in achieving success.

Sadly, it seems that what we can’t count, ends up not counting.

If we overlook or dismiss such intangibles, we limit our understanding. We do ourselves and our businesses a disservice because we’re missing out on important opportunities to learn, to grow or to develop.

The same applies to schools and education. In the UK and many other countries, there is an obsession with school league tables. There’s a considerable over-emphasis on counting the numbers of children who can read, spell and perform calculations to a certain level. Yet there is plenty of truly valuable stuff that doesn’t get counted – and therefore doesn’t count – because it can’t be reduced to a number in a league table…

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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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You Don’t See The Re-Writes

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I want you to think of your favourite film. Now think of your favourite scene in that film. The dialogue, the imagery, the performance. Think about how much you love it; how much it means to you. Think about how much you consider it to be perfectly brilliant.

Chances are it didn’t start out that way. That scene could have gone through numerous re-writes before it became the perfectly brilliant version you love.

But you don’t get to see the re-writes.

Our goals in life, whatever they are, have to go through ‘re-writes’. But, all too often, we want the finished product straight away. We’re impatient to see the ‘perfectly brilliant’ version. Going through many iterations, experiencing the process of creating and making our goals and dreams come to life can be very difficult.

The re-writes challenge us.

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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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Problution

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Problution is a word I coined several years ago when I found myself discussing how there are occasions when the solution to a problem is actually the problem itself – hence “problution”!

So how can a problem also be the solution? It sounds improbable and counter-intuitive!

Please allow me to explain…

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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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