Friday, 22 October 2010

Successful Selling 2010 ISMM Conference

I had a brilliant and inspirational day at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry hosted by the Institute of Sales & Marketing Management on Thursday 21st of October.

The halls were buzzing with a wonderful array of professional salespeople who still have a thirst for learning and sharing new things.

It is a day to seize the opportunity, to take stock and re-learn. It acts as a catalyst to action some of those fundamental skills that have been on the back burner and need to be brought to the fore in these tough economic times.

The conference is a great forum to network and meet old friends and make new ones.

A brief welcome from ISMM President began the proceedings. Eric Peacock used a slide of data from the Office of National Statistics showing how the 'sine curve' of UK’s growth is on the ascendancy.

He announced that the ISMM’s regional forums have been increased by 50% next year.

He emphasised to the audience that salespeople were responsible for £3 trillion of sales.

It was pertinent to point this out. So often economic pundits talk so blithely about the country’s sales or GDP and omit to mention that there are salespeople across the nation and beyond working hard to produce those numbers.

Sales don’t arise out of thin air. Nothing happens in business without Sales – and the salespeople who derive them.
Click for link for ISMM

Master of ceremonies for Successful Selling 2010 was the amusing and motivational Jim Steele of Meta Lucid Ltd, who immediately engaged the audience with his delivery.

Jim had a delightfully sceptical take on psychometric questionnaires. He introduced the conference to an 8 second psychometric using images of a square, triangle, circle and a ‘Z’. We were asked by Jim to select one.

I selected the ‘Z’ which if I was to explain what the selection said about me might violate the moral rules of Blogs! Of course Jim’s four image 8 second psychometric test was a spoof- I hope!!!!

He was the first of many speakers to return us to a theme which was very popular years ago but is making a comeback. It used to be called PMA – positive mental attitude.

Click for link for Meta Lucid

Now PMA is revitalised with the language and examples from the worlds of sports psychology and parenthood. Jim Steele took the parenthood route and the behaviour lessons learnt when dealing with young kids. He related engagingly how the parent teaches as well as the child teaches the parent.

This analogy helped to show how we salespeople can change our thinking, behaviour and influencing skills in our work to gives us 'the edge' to win.

Next to the stage came CEO of Sage UK and Ireland
Paul Stobart
who is an accomplished speaker and businessman. Recruiting/selecting the right people, training the right skills, job match and enrichment and support make for the development of a good team into a great team according to Paul.

Paul told a fascinating story about South West Airlines. Prospective pilots as part of the selection process are interviewed by Check-In personnel in order to establish suitability of the “right fit” to the company. Paul also quoted some advice given to him
" At final interview NEVER LOOK AT THE CV, HIRE FOR FIT"

Paul then drew a simple but most effective diagram to explain the difference between leadership and management. His “speedometer” diagram was hand drawn on a visualizer ( a CCTV camera whose pictures were projected on the main screen). This device is the ‘phoenix from the ashes’ of the overhead projector screen.

It brings a personal touch and live feel to the shrink wrapped perfection of PowerPoint slides. Integrated as it was with PowerPoint presentations it was most effective.

Paul then covered areas such as authenticity, appreciation and communication which he cleverly illustrated with his former life experiences whilst doing national service in Rhodesia as a young man and life as a former Merchant banker with Hill Samuel.

Paul is a modern leader prepared to share and teach what he has learned. In practicing what he preaches I found his talk very authentic – a word he defines as “ being your strengths and self-disclosed weaknesses.”Click for link for Sage

It is a good lesson for all salespeople to adopt as the country’s premier leaders of change.

In the next blog I will report on Marc Jantzen’s presentation on the “Changing face of Sales” and Robin Fielder’s on “Closing more business in the new economy.”


  1. Fascinating review Mr Alford, look forward to more

  2. Thanks

    I have just completed a piece on the late morning sessions on Cahnges in selling and Closing more sales in today's economy

  3. Great stuff Hugh - many thanks for this.

    Marc Beishon
    co-editor, ISMM's Winning Edge magazine

  4. Part of this article and others on the ISMM conference have been published on the ISMM web site.

    There will also be an extract in in the next issue of Winning Edge magazine