Sunday, 31 July 2011

Dave Kurlan OMG at TMI TACK World Congress 2011

Dave Kurlan OMG

(Kostas Hatzigeorgiou of PRC live in Vilnius, Lithuania at TMI TACK World congress 2011 and Dave Kurlan via video link in USA)

In the song from the musical “Grease” - Summer Nights there is a chorus form the Pink Ladies and from the Thunderbirds “ Tell Me more, Tell Me more “.

This chorus was resonating in my mind when Sales guru Dave Kurlan linked up with the TMI TACK World Congress via video link to present his talk originally billed as “ 10 Bad things that happen when you leave your sales people alone.”

The conference delegates had had the morning energiser at 9 a.m. but for Dave it was some unearthly early hour in Boston , USA.
(Kostas Hatzigeorgiou live in Vilnius, Lithuania and Dave Kurlan via video link in USA)

Dave slightly changed his presentation into ‘10 Great Sales Mistakes when Selling’.
In some senses of course there was not much core information that was nreally new BUT as in so much to do with selling

“When all is said than done; more is said than done !!”

What was new, fresh , exciting and not a little provocative was the brilliant way Dave conveyed his messages.

Perhaps as followers of this blog we know that selling matters.
We may know a sales process, we may be familiar with drill down question methodology, we may recognise the vital Sales DNA of Listening in a business directed but conversational style and uncovering those unanswerable questions.

But that knowledge is only akin to boy car racers revving up their engines- a lot of noise and bluster- what only matters is engaging the sales gears which is what Dave as a F1 Grand Prix sales driver not only can talk about but demonstrate.

As in sports talent is not enough. There is plenty of sales talent out there but earns you the yellow jersey in the tour de France cycling, the Green Jacket of golf, the Gold medal is to reduce or eliminate mistakes. That is the mark of a sales champion.
So here are Dave’s top ten sales mistakes to eliminate:
1. Failing to make a case.
2. Failing to summarise on those unanswerable questions
3. Failing to instil urgency
4. Sales peoplelove talking about deliverables ( but are they compelling to the client?)
5. Waiting for buy in.
(The Munsk Team's flip chart of the Dave's learning lessons at the Sales Boot Camp Vilnius)
6. Getting the money question wrong
7. Not seizing the short moment of a CEO’s time
8. Seeing the wrong people
9. Allowing yourself to be sent away after the first visit with the CEO
10. Not offering a Compelling enough case

(Kostas Hatzigeorgiou live in Vilnius, Lithuania and Dave Kurlan via video link in USA)

So Plan and prioritise,
Research at the global, market and client level; set clear information based and decision based Objectives; State clearly the
Purpose of your meeting; grab your client’s
Attention quickly in that small window of opportunity granted to you; surpass that love of so many sales people to talk about deliverable early on but seek out those unanswerable questions (‘ Tell me more, Tell me, Explain to me, Describe for me… more’) i.e. ensure You investigate by Drill Down deep and Listening hard for what is said and unsaid establish the facts of the case, elicit the issues/concerns/problems/opinions/attitudes ,draw out the net effect of these from your client and finally develop the solutions with your compelling case (F.I.N.D.); then and ONLY then present your DVP with its
Benefits but make your DVP stand out by being relevant unique (compelling) point of difference. RUPOD; should there be any objections or objections appreciate them and
Answer them persuasively; then
Commit your client to your compelling case by instilling a s true sense of urgency in their terms and finally
Keep developing the business.
That’s it PRO-PAYBACK, FIND and TED in action. ( Sales Models and Processes of TACK)
In sales boot camp terminology it is not about swamping ur clients with our wonderful deliverables, research and implementation that is like the foolish soldier FIRE-AIM-READY.
Dave got us to get the sequence right it’s READY – AIM –FIRE !!!!

Other related links

Dave Kurlan’s Blog


5 dangerous trends facing B2B Organisations today in Sales MoSoLo or SoLoMo.

The businessman Sir James Goldsmith once said ' If you can see the bandwagon , you're probably too late. '

Never has that quote been so pertinent for Sales with regard to today's social, local and mobile media.
(The investment curve of opportunities for SoLoMo -MoSoLo running out? ?)

Ed Charvet from Trovus was a key note speaker and 'spot on' at the TACK TMI World Congress 2011 held in Vilnius, Lithuania.
Ed had similar warnings for the audience to avoid missing the opportunities.

Ed began his speech quoting another businessman,Aristotle Onassis- the Greek shipping magnate who said

“The secret of business is to know something nobody else knows.”

Trovus is a specialist business intelligence provider that walks the talk of this quote of Onassis by profiling B2B website visitors via IP address.
Trovus have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Marketing Week, B2B Marketing, Computer Business Review and by the Institute of Direct Marketing.
They advise leading B2B organisations on strategies to win more customers and increase your profits using the power of data from IP address profiling.

Through accessing and taking action with a wealth of business intelligence which exists around their client’s business, they use this intelligence to power up their client’s business with increased revenue and profits by developing strategies and behaviours to leverage and exploit this intelligence to the full.

In essence Trovus help with 3 vital areas of their client’s business

• Growing profits and revenues

• Uncovering new opportunities

• Working smarter and saving time

(Ed Charvet taking the conference through the five dangerous trends for B2B)

Ed outlined 5 key points in his keynote address to the audience in Vinius.
1. Failing to embrace technical innovation
2. Dismissing the value of social media
3. Not listening to the Voice of the Customer
4. Acknowledging the value of Social Media but doing nothing
5. Not having the courage to invest now.

Ed cited the rapid growth of mobile in such products such as iPhone, iPod and iPad which had 30 million units sold in the last quarter apparently.

Businesses would do well to focus on the niche, the local and the specific.
Mobile and the social side of the web is irrefutably the dominant side.
Facebook advertisements have increased by 75 %.

Many, too many companies dismiss Social media with ‘can’t see the point’. Ed suggested the audience considered KPCB’s John Doerr model.

The venture capital pundit John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers coined the acronym SoLoMo to sum up this convergence of 3 major powers and acknowledges they are affecting all aspects of business faster than most business managers have realised.

(Trovus' Ed Charvet)

So Lo Mo ( ‘SoLoMo’)
Social Local Mobile.

Mary Meeker, at KPCB formally a leading investment banking analyst with a 15 year veteran covering the internet and more recently, the mobile internet and related technologies. She re-frames Doerr’s model as Mo-Lo-So.

Mobile allows you to be active at any Location and at the same time to be connected to your entire Social network and their opinions, advice and buying power.

The implications for Marketers are Mary Meeker suggests -a dramatic paradigm shift which will disrupt almost every business.

What you are doing well can be
• communicated faster
• more credibly
• and with more impact

through Social Media than through conventional transmission media. (What you do badly, the same!!!)

The key to exploiting all this is for firms to look at their talent pool. Talent is the catalyst they may well need to bring in the knowledge.

For many companies today key areas to their business include a. Customer service, b. corporate Profit and c. Sales Performance. All these Ed explained can be enhanced by integrating intelligence. Increasingly marketing needs to measure every tool available to them.
The Web gives one that platform.

Ed suggested the activities the audience should start to develop if they have not already undertaken them.
Under the heading of Intelligence Ed included:-
• Web presence
• LinkedIn Profiles
• On line presence
• Twitter profile
• Facebook

Other Links

MoSoLo Sean Andersen, director of interactive services at Six Flags

MoSoLo Mary Meeker

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Sales Boot Camp at TACK TMI Congress 2011- A time for ' Old Lamps for New' for a change?

('Your'e in the Army now" Delegates working at the Sales Boot Camp in Vilnius)

Probably the first time I became consciously aware of a thing called ‘selling’ was as a child when I was taken to see a Christmas panto based on the story from the book of One thousand and one nights - ALADDIN.

The sorcerer in the story gets his hands on the precious old lamp and its Genii by tricking Aladdin's wife, who is unaware of the lamp's importance, by offering to exchange "new lamps for old" in the market place.

He orders the Genii of the lamp to take Aladdin’s palace to his home in the Maghreb.
Fortunately, Aladdin retained the magic ring from a previous adventure and was able to summon the lesser jinni. Although the genii of the ring cannot directly undo any of the magic of the genii of the lamp, he is able to transport Aladdin to Maghreb, and help him recover his wife and the lamp and defeat the sorcerer.

The tale has many lessons for sales but one lesson in particular is to appreciate those ‘old things’ that are still very valuable.

The Aladdin tale itself has been made 'new' for example for the next genration through the video game Sonic and the Secret Rings which is considerably based on the story of Aladdin, and both genies appear in the story. The genie of the lamp is the main villain, known in the game as the Erazor Djinn, and the genie of the ring, known in the game as Shahra, appears as Sonic's sidekick and guide through the game.

(Nushi Stach taking Private "Hugh Appeal" through his paces in Sales Drills.)

Likewise, the ring genie is conspicuously less powerful than the lamp genie in the story.

So it is once in a while a good discipline for a Sales Team to take stock and invest in some time-out to get back to the basics of the job (those old sales lamps of great value).

It is good for our sales mind, our sales body and our sales soul.

We can all get a little too proud about the condition of our selling crafts especially if we have been selling for some time. Of course there are the NEW lamps the NEXT ‘BIG’ THING , consultative selling , solution selling, NLP ,strategic account selling plus the latest version of new lamps for old entitled

“ Common sense made complicated programme” from the University of Life.

We all like the next new shiny programmes, products,systems, processes…… yet they are ALL based on the precious old selling lamps based on those fundamentals.

('The theatre of operations' Base Camp Command Room "Theta " at the Radisson Blu Hotel Lietuva, Vilnius")

Why? because human nature has not changed so much over the centuries even back to fabled times of Aladdin. We all sell to human beings after all .
The Old Sales Lamps we needed get shiny again at the Worldwide Conference for were the basis for our boot camp programme in Vilnius.

(Sales Boot Camp HQ)

• The Market Place 2011 and beyond.

• RFI /RFP Really Fantastic Proposals in response to requests for proposals.

• How to better leverage your website for your sales.

• How to make effective appointments on the telephone.

• Working with different personalities ( Decision makers and Influencers) using Psychometrics

• Revisiting Your Differentiated Value Proposition – RUPOD

• Selling Internationally – Selling Locally

• After you’ve gone – managing quality

• Selling the Brand – selling the service

If you would be interested in having your own sales boot camp facilitated by TACK to boost you company's sales - contact Mike Davis

To warm up us up on Day Three of the TMI TACK Congress 2011 we were inspired by the vibrant energy of a Lithuanian dancing troop. Their choreographer then taught all of us a dance routine. This was great fun and a good drill for accelerated learning in the Sales Boot Camp.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Report 4 from TMI/TACK World Congress OPERATING SUCCESSFLLY ACROSS CULTURES – The Software of the mind

"We may have different religions, different languages, different colored skin, but we all belong to one human race."

-- Kofi Annan Ghanian Diplomat, 7th UN Secretary-General

As more and more businesses enter into markets across the world, the importance of operating successfully across cultures becomes a key skill set. But what exactly is culture?

Emma Steward who specialises in programmes in cultural awareness gave her audience a taster session on Operating Successfully Across Cultures.

Clifford Geertz defines culture as
“ A historically transmitted pattern of meaning embodied in symbols…by means of which men can communicate , perpetuate and develop knowledge about attitudes towards life”
Perhaps more succinctly Geert Hofstede definition is

“ The software of the mind”

Like computer software users quickly become so used to ways of their software e.g. Linux, Apple Macs or Microsoft , they find having to operate a different software system than what they are used to can be “ a little strange” “ less intuitive” " clunky".

If you have ever worked in firms who have been merged or acquired where one firm operated Oracle and the other has operated SAP - the switching to the other system or even trying to integrate them cause people much heartache.

So in human cultures what seems natural to us are learned behaviours for example
• Eating is natural; eating with a knife and fork, chopsticks or our hands is cultural.
• Belching is also natural ; regarding it as impolite and surpassing it, is cultural.

Whatever is cultural is taken for granted within a given culture.
Emma clarified that there is a Bell Curve of norms and values.
Cultural stereotypes, Emma explained to the group at the TMI /TACK Congress at Vilnius 2011 are to be found at the 5% end tails.
(Emma Steward working with the TMI /TACK audience)

In business we may not be able to learn every do or don’t but some understand of dimension of culture will help us committed too many faux pas with clients ‘ abroad’.
Based on work undertaken by Hofstede Emma gave us five dimension of culture with some key questions.
1. POWER DISTANCE: How equal/ unequal are people within a society?
2. INDIVIDULISM /COLLECTIVISM: Do people see themselves as individuals or part of a group?
3. MASCULINITY/FEMINITY: Does a culture value assertiveness or caring?
4. UNCERTAINTY AVOIDANCE: How tolerant are people towards ambiguity?
5. LONG TERM/ SHORT TERM ORENTATION: Are people oriented towards the past and present or towards the future?

For further study Emma recommends and the book “ Culture and Organisations”.
Business people can learn a lot from a Cultural specialist like Emma. We need to develop an understanding of cross cultural interactions. Someone equipped with the tools Emma leaches will work more successfully across cultures through better communication skils ad will learn how to turn cultural differences into assets.

All this area of cultural training becomes increasingly important of course in improving cross cultural and virtual team working both within TMI/TACK as well as with their extensive international client list.

How competent are you and I as a cross cultural manager?
Here is a list by no mean complete but will help you to evaluate your cross cultural sensitivities.
Rate yourself 1-5 on the following areas. 5= you almost always demonstrate this quality 1= you almost never demonstrate this quality.
a) __ flexible
b) __ sense of humour
c) __physical stamina
d) __ able to deal with ambiguity
e) __ establish and maintain relationships well
f) __ set realistic expectations
g) __tolerant of values different to your own
h) __ patient

i) __take initiative and display leadership
j) __manage stress effectively
k) __clearly motivated
l) __deal effectively with conflict
m) __ask for help
n) __Ability to listen carefully
o) __ manage several things simultaneously
p) __ confidence in self and abilities
q) __ facility with foreign language(s)
r) __creative
s) __decisive
t) __clear communicator
Plus any others you may wish to add

It might also be worth asking a colleague to look and your scores and see if they agree.

Monday, 25 July 2011

A perfect recipe -TMI, TACK International Congress Vilnius 2011 - Good Food for the mind and soul with Nestle - "Good food , Good Life" Report No 3

(Sunday at the TMI TACK Congress 2011 begins with tap dancing!)

John Allen, Nestle Corporate Training and Learning presented on "Evolution of the learning landscape within Nestle.

Good food , Good Life is Nestle's slogan.

John's presentation gave us much good food for thought.

Nestle was founded in 1866 by Henri Nestlé in Vevey, Switzerland, where their headquarters are still located today.

They employ around 280 000 people and have factories or operations in almost every country in the world.

Nestlé sales for 2010 were almost CHF 110 bn. Yet Nestle only have 1.7% of the world's food market. as John explained they can't exactly corner the Coffee market as some media suggest!

Nonetheless they are a significant commercial entitity. 3.4 million people either firectly or indirectly draw their livelihood from Nestle.

They split the globe into three zones - AMS, Europe and AOA.

The main product groupings are Nestle Provision, Nutrition, Waters, Nespresso and Nestle Purina

Their guiding business principles focus on ten principles of business operations.

For Consumers – 1.nutrition and wellness, 2. quality assurance and product safety, 3. consumer communications

Human rights and labour practices – 4. human rights in their business activities

Their People – 5. leadership and personal responsibility, and health at work

Suppliers and customers- 7. Suppliers and customer relations, 8.agricultural and rural development

The environment – 9. Environmental sustainability and 10. Water.

With regard to Supplier and customer relations, Nestle require their suppliers,agents, subcontractors and their employees to demonstrate honesty, integrity and fairness, and to adhere to their non-negotiable standards.

In the same way,they are committed to their own customers.

The Nestlé Supplier Code specifies minimum standards that they ask their suppliers, agents,subcontractors and their employees to respect and adhere to.

The Supplier Code includes

requirements such as business integrity,

sustainable operating and agricultural

practices, labour standards, safety, health
and environmental practices.

To ensure that the Supplier Code is put in practice, they reserve the right to verify
the suppliers’ compliance with the Code on a regular basis.

The Nestlé Supplier Code establishes non-negotiable minimum standards that they ask their suppliers, their employees, agents and subcontractors to respect and to adhere to at all times when conducting business.

In their Corporate Business Principles, Nestlé commits to foster responsible practices in their supply chain.
(Nestle are with me all this week not just through John's presentation but also in the form of the great Nespresso coffee machine in my Room at the Radisson Blue Hotel Lietuva, Vilnius Lithuania)

Their Supplier Code helps to implement this commitment.

They want to ensure both responsible sourcing and supplier relationships that deliver a competitive advantage.

Their Supplier Code is an integral part of all purchase orders, supply contracts and is being integrated into all other commercial agreements. The Nestlé Supplier Code is implemented in each market and business and is applicable to all suppliers.

Much of what John talked to the audience about was confidential and therefore not in this public blog, but we all learned a huge amount about how the Nestle training architecture was put in place. Learning must be related to performance on the job at Nestle. Each key role has standard Job success profile from which context curricula can be formulted into spot on content. Nestle carry out performance evaluation twice a year and progress developemnt guides are examined once a year.

Aligning training with intiatiatives such as LEAN and TPM is key to the focus of learning imperitives for Nestle.

John gave us a beautiful mind map ( see below) of how he and his team anticipate, implement and satisfy Nestle's training challenges worldwide for future years integrating specific local needs to Nestle's corporate mission.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

TMI World Congress Vilnius 2011 report No. 2

I had the privilege to attend a 'Power Briefing' given by TMI UK's Managing Director, Gillian James
During the TMI World Congress at Vilnius 2011 there are Power Briefing sessions during lunchtime.
Gillian's Power Briefing was "20 things you may not have known about behavioural economics."
It was great to hear one of the TMI champions present. They are a great company with much to share with their sister TACK.
Her session was punchy, pacey and powerful.
Behavioural economics, Gillian explained to us is a branch of economics that adds elements of psychology to traditional models in an attempt to better understand decision making.
Gillian's power briefing '20 ideas' were her distillation of the key points for this discipline and her reading of key papers from Harvard Business Review and books such as The Decisive Moment, Predictably Rational and Nudge ( known to fans of Prime Minister , David Cameron)

The twenty things include:
Defining a what is meant by Behavioural economics plus
• Segment the pleasure combine the pain
• Build Commitment through Choice
• Using a decoy when offering choices
• The world is not just a case of Supply and Demand
• Herding and self herding
• Market Norms versus Social Norms
• Dealing with procrastination
• The effects of set expectations
• The Importance of Brands
• We trust our feelings and perceive patterns
• Losing makes you twice as miserable as gaining makes you happy
• Overwhelming the rational
• Framing matters
• Mindless choosing
• Status Quo Bias
• Imposing self control
• Social nudging
• Choice Architecture
• End on an uptick

A selction of books Gillian recommends.
Gillian James

Managing Director TMI UK

+44 (0) 1926 462994

Saturday, 23 July 2011

TMI TACK Vilnius 2011 Conference Report No 1 ICE & Fireworks

As part of the show business Pizzazz to open the day, there was a dramatic performance by an ice sculptor smartly attired in a suit and tie and accompanied by Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. He used what looked like Bosch power saws, power drills and even an electric iron to craft an iceblock with the TMI and TACK logos. (see left)

The ice cutting performance ended with a spectacular rush of fireworks.The combination of fireworks and ice was innovational presaging the key note speech.

Kicking off the International Conference our leader,Kostas reflected on how the TACK TMI families had grown. As each members' national flags came up on the screen the clappers were shaken vogorously.

This conference is a United Nations of Global Leadership and Development expertise. 32 countries are represented.
We also held a minute's silence in respect of our Norwegian colleagues and the sad news from their country with such a tragic loss of lives.

Video Clips of the introduction film for the Conference.

Kostas Katzigeogiou of parent company PRC set the aim of this year’s International conference to achieve a significant and consistet progress in the development of the relevant knowledge and competence of both the TMI and TACK teams across the world.

The theme for this year’s event is “ SPOT-ON INNOVATION” and to deliver tangible value. The brand specific themes being both TMI’s one KNOW-HOW brand and aTACKing KNOW-HOW for TACK.

The conference has been designed to enable delegates to leverage on a number of significant new developments of know-how as well as develop everybody’s knowledge , competence in order to progress each countries’ operations to even greater success.

Through a number of amusing video clips,Kostas stressed the importance of cross cultural communication, embedding our offerings with clear business objectives placing TACK in a very strong position.

Then the keynote speaker for the morning was introduced by Anna-Maria Pepin from TACK Switzerland.

Pierre Sarda is a highly experienced International CEO Consultant who has mentored and still advises some to the world’s top CEOs. His topic was “Spot-On Innovation: Inescapable survival or Success objective”.
Mr. Sarda is one of those business gurus who is both uncomfortably thought provoking and challenging as well as charming. In his regrettably too short lecture he covered:-
• Defining , contextualising what truly ‘spot-on innovation’ was
• The Focus Issue and how it confronts us in business
• The Main Challenges of both stake holders and processes.
• Risk associated with success objectives
• The recipe to get started with a spot-on innovation project.
Sarda considers that spot-on innovation is a management process which can improve industrial processes and even other managerial processes. In essence his credo everybody is an innovator.
Illustrating his talk with case examples from his own client base (without mentioning names!) he also covered spot-on innovation processes by IBM, Apple , Nestle et al.
Mr Sarda finished his presentation stressing how the increase and effectiveness of feminine values in the international work place is blossoming. These values are not male and female stereotypes but rather refer to the foundations of social expressions of cultures, religions at any given time in history.

Mr Sarda co wrote with Mike Burke the book entitled “The Silent Revolution” ISBN 0-927015-33-1

Friday, 22 July 2011

TACK TMI International Conference Vilnius 2011 and Wizz Air's Customer Care - Using your LOFO

(Sculptures at the Lithuanian National Drama Theatre in Vilnius' Gediminas Avenue, Since its establishment in 1940 has staged over 200 productions. Not sure we will have time to experience a production on this trip. Further photos of Vilnius punctuate this blogpost)

The Hungarian economy airline Wizz "now flies to 65 destinations on 218 routes. They have fifteen bases in six countries. They fly to 26 countries including Lithuania" as the smiling face in the photograph of the Head of marketing and sales – Attila Dakovics proudly claims in the Wizz's flight magazine.

Of course it is the front line desk staff and air crew who have to deal with the travelling public and deliver the experience that the on-line booking systems and marketing messages promise.
Flying out to Vilnius for a week-long conference at the end of July 2011 with a group of 7 work colleagues we began our voyage uncomfortably with battling with the stressful experience that is (“London’s”) Luton Airport.
(The beautiful and spiritual space of the Russina Orthodoc Church of the Holy Spirit. The bodies of the martyrs Anthony, John, and Eustathius (died 1347) are kept in a glass reliquary in the main sanctuary of the cathedral church of the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Vilnius under the wooden cupola see left.)

The recent drop-off procedures at Luton have resulted in a rush hour that begins in the early hours. The local taxi firms apparently dread the place now. Once you access the departures hall, one has to contend with Luton Airport’s rugby scrum of a check in on a busy Friday morning.
The signage for flights and destinations at check-in have little relation to how passengers/customers are actually processed at Luton’s bag drop off.
Luton's Sahid and his team have to shout out the flights due to close to get the passengers in the packed hall through to departures , the gates and the aircraft.

Perhaps a PA system would help. The young lady who processed us seemed to be suffering from laryngitis and needed supplementary yelling from passengers to convey her announcements.

Despite the apparent swift advantages of on line booking with Wizz air .The reality of the legal practice but unpleasant experience of overbooking and bumping up/off is ever present on the cut price airlines.

A computer system malfunction in the reservation system –it was explained to us- meant that a full plane had two surplus people standing. Volunteers were asked to get off the plane.
None were forthcoming. So Wizz instigated a last on first off ( LOFO) method. The last two passengers who had checked-in were named. They were clearly not happy.

(Jesuit Church of St Casimir, Vilnius.
St. Casimir, the son of King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania Casimir
St. Casimir is the Patron Saint of Lithuania)

Then the police arrived to ameliorate the situation.

All this meant further delays 50 minutes in all.

Then my fellow travellers all had to identify our hand luggage and the on board hand luggage that was not identified/ claimed was jettisoned.

For all the extensive rules and regulations of the legal terms and conditions of the airlines - of course it falls on the air crew to have to deal with it all.

(The Cathedral of Vilnius (Lithuanian: Vilniaus Šv. Stanislovo ir Šv. Vladislovo arkikatedra bazilika) is the main Roman Catholic Cathedral of Lithuania. It is situated in Vilnius Old Town, just off of Cathedral Square. It is the heart of Lithuania's Catholic spiritual life.)

Igor and his team on flight W6 8002 did a good job.

Their safety demonstration once we were given the go ahead to leave Luton was executed with such flourish and panache that the team looked more like synchronised swimming team members – perhaps they should compete in London 2012 games!

However on arrval at Vilnius airport to cap it all one of our party had their luggage mislaid. They await whether to find out their luggage will be’ wizzed over ‘ to the hotel on the next Wizz flight.

Well despite being greeted at Vilnius with an extended thunder laden downpour, a group of us headed off to the Old Town. What a beautiful city as the photos show.

So now its onto and into the conference.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Selling Services and Intangibles

“ My business is different – it’s a service”.
This view is expressed by many in the profession and service sectors in business.

Surprisingly there is not a great deal written for these sectors despite the growth and significance of the services sector in the UK.
But what are the key differences between marketing and selling intangible service compared to physical products?
I have conducted many programmes for banks, building societies and financial services as well as a plethora of industrial services. As a result I have come to one clear conclusion.

If you ask a group of five sales professional services executives what the differences are between selling products and services you will get at least 50 opinions!

A conventional approach to the question might generalise the differences and products as follows..

A service organisation will usually have the following ( informally if not formally)
• Marketing
• Finance
• Operations/expertise
• Human Resources, L & D

However a service business will not usually have the following management functions:
• Engineering
• Buying
• Security
• Distribution
• Quality Control
• Research and Development

This is perhaps how some of the literature tells you what they perceive as the differences between services and products.
In reality there is considerable overlap between marketing services and products and this overlap will differ from business to business.
Selling skills essentially focus on the interactive communication between client and provider and can easily be adapted into selling services.
Many sales trainers would argue that that ALL sales executives are selling services in any case, since what buyers buy are the benefits not the features or facts of your offering.

For example YOU SELL:
The sizzle not the steak ( product)
Holes not the drill bit ( product)
Security not the policy document (service)
The design not the drawing ( service)

The challenge of all selling is to match your offer to the needs and wants of your client – the process of communication differs little between products and services- although the language and jargon will be a little different
For example services often charge ‘fees’ rather than prices, a high street bank will ‘lend’ rather than sell money.

Many of the perceived differences between services and products are just that perceptions.

It is fair to say that services do differ from products, such as Corn Flakes or baked beans, but not in all respects. B2B can learn a lot from FMCG and vice versa, and services can learn from both!

However we should also accept that there are also some real differences between marketing and selling services compared with products.

These differences have the following characteristics:-

1. Services tend to be intangible.
All services have a degree of intangibility. When buying a product, a customer can measure it against a specification or sample. On the other hand, when a client buys a service, (s)he buys a description. With the rise of quality standards ISO 9002 etc and specific trade codes of practice such as NICE, COSH, FSA, some element of measurement and quality can be introduced but it is not possible for a client to know what they will receive until the service is rendered. Consequently trust becomes the dominant factor of all transactions involving a sales service executive.

2. The service provider is often the service.
A product salesperson tends not to be part of the product unless (s)he offers some technical expertise.
Product salespeople are often perceived as company representatives conveying the image of the supplier, and the product that is offered has physical dimensions and specifications which are unique to it alone. On the other hand a services salesperson is inextricably part of the service offered. For example, an architect sells their expertise to a client rather than the blue prints. The architect is the service.

3. Services are often difficult to standardise.

Since the supply of a service is usually inseparable from the service provider, standardising services is difficult because individuals vary widely in personality, attributes, skills, and knowledge. Although certain services can be standardised in some of their routines, most services that are rendered are ‘one-offs’ and customised for each client. Therefore, any assessment of quality before the prospective client purchases the service becomes difficult.

4. Services are perishable.
Services cannot be stored or built up for some future date as demand occurs.
In many services the key resource is TIME, and nobody has yet come up with a way of storing that!
Perishability of services causes many problems.
Fluctuations in client demand make it impossible to build up stock in slack times and similarly in good times a services salesperson can’t make 'hay while the sun shines'. Some problems can be covered by using additional temporary staff or subcontractors or outsourcing but this perishability characteristic causes serious challenges for service providers.

The implications of these real differences between services and products are seen when the client is evaluating the service offered.
The client tends to look more closely at:-
• Quality of personnel
• Expertise in the client’s market
• Ability to keep project deadlines
• Fee levels
• Range of services
• Size of the services provider relative to the client
• Location of the supplier’s office
• Reputation and track record

Acknowledging these differences, however, will not preclude the use of most techniques employed in marketing and selling products.
They can be adapted with little bother to match the requirements of the services sector.
In the same way that the accountant uses standard techniques and approaches to obtain a financial picture of a business ( e.g. P&L, Balance sheet and Cash Flow statement), marketing use classic models such as the 4’P’s , 4’C’s 7’P’s etc. to produce a marketing picture of a services company and develop strategies and tactics for it. Selling will offer both step processes as well as approaches to develop relationships.

The vocabulary of the services businesses is special. They may take ‘instructions’ rather than orders, and liaise with ‘clients’ rather than customers.
But the unifying part of all business products and services is the customer. All businesses whether offering services or products should be about anticipating, identifying and satisfying customer requirements profitably. Be it a service or a product, we are all marketers and salespeople under the skin.

Linked articles

Sunday, 10 July 2011

“The News of the World” a toxic Brand? Jumping on the toxic ‘brandwagon’ and personal responsibility

Rather than perhaps manufacturing failure, an accounting fraud or a dip in sales, the thing that seems to keep some company bosses awake at night is reputational risk - the fear that the behaviour of even just one rogue employee in a large organisation will destroy the reputation of the whole business.
It will make the brand so toxic that even its most loyal customers, suppliers and workers will want nothing more to do with your brand, lest they too become tainted by association in the public mind.

That is what appeared to happen at the UK Sunday Newspaper “The News of the World” (NOTW) in its last week when first Ford, then Virgin Holidays, Mitsubishi, the Lloyds Banking Group and Vauxhall decided to pull their advertisements from Sunday 10th July paper.

These brands were protecting their own image or perhaps enhancing their image by being first in the queue with the publicity coverage.

The story was they did not want to be seen supporting a toxic brand, in case the public thinks that also means they approve of its actions - hacking into mobiles.

Well perhaps but as the aria in Gershwin’s Opera “Porgy and Bess” - “ it ain’t necessarily so “.
Enclosed with the main News of the World Sunday newspaper was its magazine called “Fabulous” with its banner claim – ‘Supplement of the year’.

Of course not all conventional advertisers completely disassociated themselves the Fabulous magazine displayed advertisements for example from :-
1. Olay – total effects moisturiser,
2. L’Oreal sublime hair mousse,
3. TESCO direct , supermarket
4. Tesco British Strawberries,
5. Boots (Chemist) ,
6. Ribena Blackcurrant Drink, Soft drink
7. Sleek Make up available from Superdrug, Cosmetics
8. Nivea body lotion, Cosmetic
9. Jenny Craig diet plans, Lifestyle
10. LG cinema TVs ,Consumer Electronics
11. Unilever’s Sure, Deodorants
12. O2, mobile communication
13. Virgin media
14. Vodafone
15. and Sky.
In the main paper there was a bonanza of advertising space taken up by those who presumably feel they are immune to the toxicity. These were the 28 or so Charities including one small charity for gay parenting who although they would normally not want to be associated with The News of the World (for their not particularly supportive line over the years on such matters) seized the chance to promote their small charity to the millions of readers some of whom are presumably their target audience of LGBT people

No doubt in the Business Schools and Universities there are case studies already being written up on how the 168 year old News of the World title failed.

All this has reminded me of an excellent presentation at Marketing live 2011 a couple of weeks back, given by the Global Innovation Director of Diageo Syl Saller.

Syl has a more onerous brand responsibility for her brands - not a paltry 168 years but nearer 400 years for example heritage brand Guinness. (One would not like to be the executive who blew out that brand)!
Syl’s talk was more Diageo ‘lite’ and Leadership heavy.

Her talk resonates with me now with the debacle of The News of the World.

Many at the paper and in Fleet Street ( the London community of journalists) have said “they (NOTW) have lost their way.” In essence that means a loss of leadership.

One of Syl’s points from her talk was that what we like to dress up as business risk is more often the fear of personal risk , personal reputation in reality.

In my little black book of quotes ( All trainers should have one) I came across this quotation I had scribbled down years before the days of personal computers!

Responsibility: by Admiral Hyman G. Rickover 1900-1986 US Nuclear Submarine Fleet Commander

Responsibility is a unique concept.

You may share it with others, but your portion is not diminished.

You may disclaim it but you cannot divest yourself of it.

Even if you do not recognise it or admit its presence you cannot escape it.

If responsibility is rightfully yours, no evasion, or ignorance or passing the blame can shift the burden to someone else.

Who will claim the responsibility for the toxicity of the News of the World? Tough question.

Related links on Branding
For TACK International's "Marketing Essentials" course

Friday, 8 July 2011

Price negotation- Cost benefit is not just about the cheapest price

An email 29th June 2011 came into my inbox from a past delegate

Hi Hugh

I attended your TACK Pro Payback Selling in Action course at Warwickshire Uni on 11 April 2011 - 12 April 2011.

I would just like to thank you for a great 2 days, your knowledge and advice has really helped me develop my sales techniques and as a result I have seen a great improvement in my relationships with clients and overall sales figures!

I feel that your tips and guidance answered many questions for me, but I have one issue that I am not sure about and was hoping that you could shed some light on the matter…

In the majority of the appointments I have, the customer will ask for a price list. This is fine but on one occasion the customer took the prices we negotiated over a few days and showed them to their current supplier, and of course their current supplier matched our prices and the customer decided to keep their existing supplier, despite they were paying higher prices than necessary for a number of years.

How do I get around this? And more importantly do you have any advice to prevent this happening again in the future?


(It is great to receive such an email of thanks for a training course. Of course 50% of training effectiveness comes from the application of the skills by Neil in the field but is great to know that the course helped Neil on his road to the fruits of his success.)

I guess the first response to Neil's problem is "experience is a great teacher" in selling also. What the buyer did was legal but not particularly ethical. His trimming of his incumbent supplier's prices will make him look like a skillful buyer in the eyes of his company and possibly his purchasing peers.

It also emphasises that Price is not the only motivator for this buyer see the Research results from the Buyers' Survey of Supplier Salespeople.(left)
Neil's experience is proof that cheaper prices he offered was not enough to unseat the incumbent.

Of course much of business has to be based on trust.

"Caveat emptor" buyer beware is often quoted but there is also a balancing phrase of 'caveat venditor' which translates as seller beware!

Perhaps one option Neil may care to try is rather than give a discounted price try to trade it.

i.e. " If you place your business with me today then we will offer you this discounted price" followed by a trial close " Do we have a deal?"
Remember " If you don't try and close - you are working for the competition!"
Neil's experience is the uncomfortable truth of this old saying. Maybe revisit the article on closing skills on this site - scroll down for link.

Now that inflation looks on the return it may be a good idea to ensure any offer has a contract end date so you are not held to a fixed price which may prove increasingly unprofitable over time.

So far as preventing it ever happening again that is not possible but one can try to protect oneself a little better.

Finding out more about the buyer's priorities on matters such as quality, service, brand, track record, references important. Be better prepared next time. Take a look at the questioning skills article - scroll down to link below.

Remember also that although the incumbent supplier has held onto the account he must have gone down in the buyer's estimation.

From my experience sometimes a short gain loss such as this can act like a shot below the waterline which takes a little while for the ship to sink.

So don't give up on this buyer entirely but be better prepared next time.

Fortune favours the brave - Good luck.

* For reasons of confidentiality Neil is not my delegate's real name. The case details are genuine.

Click for free executive summary of the Buyers Views of salespeople research study

Other related links

Link on Questioning Skills

Link on Closing skills

For details of the TACK courses Neil was referring to:
PRO-PAYBACK SELLING – The Sales Training Course

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Sales- A respected profession ?

The Times July 4th 2011 came out with a supplement yesterday on Sales Performance some 15 pages with articles, advertorials ( labelled commercial feature) and advertisements.

It is good to see the newspaper supports the Selling Profession.

Beth Rogers from Portsmouth University’s Business School in her piece for the supplement stated 7% of UK working Population is in sales related work. She describes the still lingering stigma of the ‘S’ word.

Beth pinpoints that much of bad selling is because conscientious people are caught in a web of

• Out of date training
• Poorly designed reward systems
• Aggressive peer competition
• Hire-and-fire-management
UK salespeople are woefully under qualified despite the NVQs of the nineties, launch of National Occupational Standards since 2005. Both academic and vocational and distant learning qualifications are available.
Many reputable companies have launched their own academies to develop the skills of their salespeople.

( left -An example of a Company's International Academy in different languages.)
Indeed Beth Rogers heads a MA in Sales Management ( see link for course at end of this post)

She wished in her article to dispel three common myths about selling

Selling Myths:

1. "Sales people are born not made" yet the diversity of people who fall into selling would seem to contradict this. Certainly from the huge variety of folk come on my courses they come form all sorts of disciplines etc. e.g. sciences, engineering, health and law to name a few..

2. "Salespeople only work for money" All of us are more productive when we have some intrinsic motivation- the personal satisfaction in a job well done. Research suggests that sales people are no exception in that regard.

( left TACK's Sales barometer Study concurs that Money is not the only motivator.)

3. "Close the deal or your children starve".

This 'medieval approach to motivation' as Beth expresses it, can drive promising candidates away from sales as a long-term career choice.

Beth quotes a saying “ the quality of everything depends on the thinking behind it”
Both vocational and academic courses can provide a full cycle of learning to provoke creative, analytical and reflective thinking can be applied to real commercial challenges.

( CIM's centrefold in Raconteur On -Inaugural Sales Investment Index in Raconteur On.More than 60% of companies are optimistic about economic prospects over the next year.)

Research into sales performance provides convincing evidence that teaching questioning approaches, listening skills, respectful challenge and ethical negotiation can lead to better results for them and their teams.

The essence of customer focus is high levels of competence in the sales department who are qualified and respected in "a respectable profession !" as Beth puts it.

Link to MA in Sales Management at Portsmouth University

CIM's Sales Investment Index

Link on recruitment and careers in Sales

Monday, 4 July 2011

Body language in Business - Book Review

Title of Book: Body language in Business

Subtitle: Decoding the Signals

Authors: Adrian Furnham & Evgeniya Petrova

Publisher: Palgrave macmillan

ISBN 978-0-230-24146-6

3 stars The quotes from research post 2002 are useful. A good modern edition for the business library shelf.

Genre: A read-through book rather than “Dip In Reference” so have your pencil ready to mark up the bits you will want to come back to.

Style: 'Worthy' Academic style -references dutifully noted at the end on pages 207/8 like for a lengthy studious 'paper' – all dust jacket endorsements are from PhDs or Professors- i.e. no Business leaders. The book is meagerly illustrated

Contents page: 2 pages and thorough

Index: Adequate 8 ½ pages for 208 page book

Flick through eye appeal: Poor - Only four illustrations Microsoft Word type symbols but plenty of useful and interesting tables

Time for a breather Stops : Fair. There are good conclusions at end of each chapter which would please a school master who corrects and marks essays. Few prompted opportunities to pause and reflect on the learning. One suspects readers perhaps are expected to go away to write and submit their own essays for Furnham and Petrova to mark and hand back at a subsequent tutorial.

Golden Nuggets: Balance of the importance of verbal, visual and vocal clues. There are flouncy polemical attacks on the “so called experts”- as academics are prone to do. The book dispels some of the urban myths of the body language self-appointed gurus. The misquoting of Mehribian etc. by others is stressed at some length.

Topic Summary: 8 strong chapters

War Stories: Few – This is 'Business' described from the conservatoire/ballet school/drama school rather than the concert hall or stage platform of the muck and bullets of doing it. It is written more at the abstract level than the concrete level of daily business but still of use to practitioners of business to try out.

Illustration: Poor - but many useful tables almost make up for this weakness.

Short review: Personally I miss Prof. Furnham’s regular column in the old Pink Business Section of the (Thursday ?) edition of the Daily Telegraph. This book is a serious read and more up to date than many others covering the topic on the market. Although printed and bound in Great Britain (Chippenham & Eastbourne) it is littered with American spelling – color, odor and words like obsessionality for ‘obsession’ . There is quite a lot of psychological jargon which is usually explained but don’t let that put you off.

Worth buying if you are after an up to date book on the subject and you enjoy reading the work of Psychologists 'sounding off' ( which I do !).

Sunday, 3 July 2011

UK Bribery Act 2011 - finger lickin' reasonable & proportionate ?

Last Thursday I joined a client’s pitching team for a final beauty parade presentation to a large utilities firm.

Our team had been selected and invited to the final with two other competitors.

We had rehearsed our presentation and spent hours of preparation over the last week crossing the ‘t’s and dotting the ‘i’s of their comprehensive and extensive RFI and RFP documentation.
The buying team we presented to, consisted of 7 people from various functions of the utilities organisation.

On our way back home, our pitching team stopped off for a late lunch at a motorway service station. I was bought lunch by my client.

OK it was not oysters and caviar washed down with a bottle of Veuve Cliquot at some 3 star Michelin swanky restaurant but a delicious ‘street wise lunch box’ of Kentucky Fried Chicken that also included an ice cream - "so good!" as the KFC logo states.

But what if I had offered to buy the other three members of the pitching team their lunch?
- who can by the way, potentially give me work if they choose to offer the training part of this potential contract- would I fall foul of the law?

Listening to BBC radio 4 the next day ( July 1st) there was an interview between John Humphreys and Vivian Robinson who is General Counsel for the UK Serious Fraud Office ( SFO)- I realised the new Bribery Act had come into force.

Mr. Robinson explained that the new Act is a corporate law. The OECD and other international bodies have applied pressure to the United Kingdom to revise its laws some of which stretch back over a century and do not reflect the current seen in global business.

Failing to prevent bribery to gain systematic advantage over one’s competitors will make not only individuals but businesses liable under the new act.

Mr Robinson explained that the new law has "massive jurisdictional reach” across business across the world. Also international companies can become liable if part their organisation works in the UK.

Firms will need adequate procedures in place to prevent crossing the legal boundaries set by the act.

BBC’s John Humphreys then in a light-hearted way asked if firms offered "say a lavish dinner, offer a client the use of their private jet or a fortnight’s holiday" would such things fall foul of the new legislation?

Mr Robinson stated he wished to dispel what he described as the ‘myth’ on reasonable and bona fide corporate hospitality.

The SFO will first be considering what is in the Public interest. They will look for clear policy on such expenditure and gifts. So long as the expenditure “ fell within the ambit of the policy” ( I had to check what ambit means - ) it will be accepted.

It will be about using common sense.

Companies will need to exercise an appropriate action over such areas. However when the link of hospitality to contract awarded could be traced -this might well cross the boundary. ( Should I be choking on my KFC lunch?)

There is an old joke that describes the three lies in business

1. "The cheque is in the post"
2. "IBM compatible"
3. "Good morning , I’m from the ministry I am here to help you!".

Well the first two look rather dated now but the third is looks as fresh as ever.

The Serious Fraud Office assure us that so long as corporate hospitality offered by Sales & Marketing for example is “reasonable and proportionate” we are OK.

In any question of business ethics in practice though, there is always a scale where individual discernment will make drawing the line on any action different per individual.

For example - Take STEALING- At which of the three questions below would you draw the line ?

Q1. If I take a pencil from the office stationary cupboard to do my crossword or sudoku puzzle is that stealing? Answer- Yes but many would let that one go.

Q2. If I took 12 pencils from the company stationary cupboard for my church’s Sunday school is that stealing? Answer -Yes but maybe some would let that one go

Q3. If I took a gross of pencils ( 144 pencils) from the stationary cupboard to start up my own pencil selling business. Is that stealing? answer - Yes and probably most of society would have said that action had beyond the acceptable line! 'Reasonable' and 'proportionate' can be quite subjective though.

Mr Robinson of the SFO outlined six principles which are quoted on the Mesiro Financial website. These principles have been turned into six questions all in sales and sales management should be considering from now on.

The ACT will make it a crime for a business failing to prevent a person from bribing on its behalf.
1. Is the company keeping up to date on new risks?
2. Is there senior level support?
3. Has the company done adequate due diligence on its business partners?
4. Are there clear, practical and procedures in place? Have they been adequately communicated and do they apply to all employees and business partners?
5. Is the company going beyond “mere paper” compliance?
6. Is there a process for auditing the controls?

Come what may, it looks like the lawyers and auditing industry ( compliance, quality and regulatory) have been given a new source of fees or revenue stream from the new act- and possibly training also!

Other related links

There was also a spokesperson from this law firm on the BBC Today programme

Eoin O'Shea is the author of "The Bribery Act 2010: A Practical Guide", published by Jordans in 2011. More details are available here:

Blake Lapthorn is advising businesses on the impact of the Bribery Act and assisting with the adequate procedures defence. If you require any assistance or guidance on what the Bribery Act means for your business, please contact Philip Somarakis in the Business Regulatory team in Oxford on 01865 254277or by email at