Saturday, 21 July 2012

Salespeople should switch off - their mobile phones.

More and more of us have become addicted to our SMART phones in our Sales work with buyers.

As a trainer, I have long given up asking delegates to switch off their phones on courses.

( If you can't beat them - lead them)

 Delegates are asked to set their mobile phones on 'silent'.

If they need to ,they can leave the training room to deal with emails, messages and phone calls outside the room so as not to disturb the learning of fellow delegates.

I do ask them not to furtively text or read their phones under the table.

For the addicted I tweet some learning points during the session so they can pick up the learning. I also explain that I tweet so I do not need to repeat questions I put to them .

Once having explained the ground rules I notice most WANT to switch their phones off!

It is interesting to note that a third of the poll of Buyers consider that texting is acceptable.

The anecdotal data captured from the 2012 data included:

" Only when announcing a delay of the meeting"

" depends on what it is, negotiation is not OK by texting"

" e-mail of phone call"

" Yes if we already have a meeting arranged"

" Only if I text them - which i have done last 12 months"

" If I have a relationship with them"

" When I know them"

For a while now, the Buyers' Views of Salespeople survey has asked the poll of Buyers its views on how salespeople should use mobile phone when working with clients. So it is with the 2012 survey.

Delegates often remark that Buyers do not always give reciprocal courtesy and switch their phone off.

 Some salespeople  find that by switching off their mobile at the start of a meeting and telegraph the action quite often prompts Buyers to do likewise - but there is no guarantee.

Silent setting has remained acceptable at around two thirds of the poll since 2006.

So a third will still like the salesperson to switched off their phone.

So this response from Buyers shows no sign of changing on this issue for the present time.

So switch into your Buyer but switch off your mobile seems the best advice.

The Buyers' Views survey of Salespeople 2012 will be published shortly

For information please contact

Monday, 9 July 2012

The Challenge Sell is perhaps not 'new' but is important

(If the' history stuff'  / 'back in the day' does not float your boat scroll down to the 2012 data at the bottom)

In 2005 the  Sales Engagement study stated  75% of  the poll of Buyers said they wanted a relationship or to put it another way 25% were already saying they did not!
However by 2007 the  Buyers’ views of Salespeople  poll questions began to pick up the change in the purchasing scene. We asked  questions around the most recent significant purchase both in terms of the aspects of the offering and the salesperson with whom they did the business.

The Offering ranked as follows in the 2007 poll;-


The ranking regarding the salesperson involved with the Buyer’s most significant purchase was.


We then asked the buyer respondents to decide which was more important



The answers came across in favour of the offering!.
When I used to  show this at conferences it caused quite a lot of murmuring and some grumbling from some quarters. Many salespeople believed relationship as the only key.
Again others argued animatedly that  the buyer only knows about the offering through the benefits being described  by the salesperson.
Well I was only being a provocative messenger - dare I say 'challenging' to the audiences to get them thinking.

Fairly new onto the bookshelves has come te excellent The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation (Portfolio/Penguin: 2011) by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson  
The forward highlights ‘ breakthroughs’ of selling - the  history of sales 
1.      Front line sales and support account developers e.g. Producers and collectors i.e. a defined selling role they suggest first came from Insurance Inspectors
2.      Psychology of Selling from 1925 EK Strong et al
3.      Drill down questioning models like SPIN  etc.based on research studies
4.      Purchasing advancement through supplier segmentation strategies, supplier chain management  models
5.      The Challenger sale - well it is selling the book and research so fair enough!
  According to their study of complex selling they suggest the Relationship Seller style is not the star performer. 
“ Build relationships first and the sales will follow “ concepts have long been off the selling skills fashion radar for a while now.
Most would agree with Dixon and Adamson and  will find their research both helpful and useful.
I  also enjoyed the way Adamson and  Dixon  have kicked those hackneyed sales style ‘buckets’ around –  the hard-worker, challenger, relationship builder, lone wolf and reaction problem solver.
Again nothing so very new here -in  the UK  'Old School' trainers used to categorise salespeople into styles like like the 'Aggressive', the ' Passive', the 'Schmoozer' etc.
Such descriptions have  long gone passed their usefulness.

A preview of the Buyers' views of Salespeople 2012 has picked up these 'changes' and the need for sales people to contest, challenge or even provoke as a trusted adviser.

Note how in the offering Price is very important across the the top 5 choices but only 9% put Price as their first choice. Challenges must me made around quality,  technical specification, the Product/ Service.

The way Buyers now rank the offering and the qualities of the salespeople above. Notice the importance of Listening skills , Questioning ( Challenging) Skills along with adviser skills and how in the offering Price is very key overall but not in the first choice,

So let our selling be challenging in the best sense of the word. Sales is and should be  a challenge.

Buying need to be respectedly challenged with courtesy and the good of the best deal for both parties.
( The TACK International Buyers' views of Salespeople 2012 is to be published shortly. for more information

Sales skills beyond Price in B2B

Price is a significant factor in why a Buyer will do business with a salesperson yet it is seldom the ONLY factor.

Throughout the study of Buyers' Views of Salespeople from 1998 we have asked Buyers to consider  the last significant corporate purchase they had made and to list the top five reasons why they went with the offering.

As you can see from the table below  for 2012 by the fourth choice 80% of the poll had selected price. On a pretty much equal basis to the Product.

Examining the data a little closer what strikes one is how only 9% of the poll put PRICE as their FIRST choice. Early on in the top ranking choices Quality, Technical Specification and Brand hold stronger sway.

This is good news for the sales side if their offering if a higher priced product than the competition. What is helpful from our study is that we can perhaps suggest ideas which Salespeople can explore in order to match Buyer's needs and wants.

As can be seen when just the PRICE stats are displayed even for 13% of Buyers there will be 5 reasons ahead of PRICE which need to be elicited by the salesperson in their investigation stage of their sales process as well as price.

This shows how important questioning and listening skills are for Salespeople.

Most know the theoretical importance of questioning, they may even recognise the labels of various questioning techniques but as far as most Buyers are concerned they tell us through the research that Salespeople are generally ( the majority) only fair and poor at these  assessing skills as you can see from the pie chart below.

Of course these are only the Buyers' views but 'perception is reality'.

 As a check we also have a question in the study which asks how well buyers felt the need is matched  by sales people's offerings. You can see the  'fair'  questioning / assessing results in 'poor'  matching of needs from the buyer's viewpoint  of the salesperson's offering.

Q 10 and 11 from 2012 Buyers' views of Salespeople

The fundamental communication skills such as questioning and listening are still important therefore.

 Not only must salespeople do them well but they need to do them conversationally and convey to buyers that they questioning with skill and genuinely listening.

Such sales skills are 'beyond price' for the Salesperson !

The Buyers' views of Salespeople 2012 is to be published shortly


Icons, Frontal and an Olympic torch All Saints All People Fulham, London

Sunday 8th July was a special day for All Sainst Church Fulham, Its dedication service. There are records of a church on the site for over 900 years

 We have been generously been given two  new  icons ,a new altar frontal for our Lady Chapel which were blessed and venerated. These objjects are beutiful and the photos will give you anidea but seeing them live is best,

Virgin Hodegetria .” She who shows the Way”
The original icon came from Jerusalem in the fifth century to the monastery of the Panaghia Hodegetria in Constantinople  which was founded by Saint Pulcheria (399-453), a daughter of Emperor Arcadius. Tradition states that the monastery held the Icon of the Hodegetria, believed to have been painted by Saint Luke It was hidden from the iconoclasts.
With her right hand Mary points to the Christ child to draw the attention of the faithful.
Her maphorion (mantle) is like the fabric of the cosmos holding the stars and symbols of light and darkness.  The three stars are ancient Syrian symbols for her virginity before, during and after the birth of Christ.
Mary gazes with serenity and acceptance of the sadness and pain to come. She is very young but her understanding of the Word and her willingness to be God’s humble servant shows spiritual maturity. Such spiritual strength is no respecter of age, circumstances, intellectual achievements or worldly understanding, it is God given, a grace from the Almighty.

With her other hand she gently cradles the Christ child who is depicted like a wise older child. Christ is imbued with the wisdom of heaven. He regards His beloved mother Mary and holds one hand in the sign of peace and the holds a scroll of the Law, which is fulfilled in him.
He is clothed in a royal himation and the golden lines, or assist, are indicative of the inner light or uncreated light (light from before the Creation) that emanates from Him.  The icon changes with the changing light from candlelight to full sun.

Christ has on leg tucked under the other and his foot breaks the frame of the icon as he steps from his sanctuary in heaven to come into this dim world full or grief and sorrows. He comes to take part in our lives, to live and work and Be among us so that He can bear our sorrows and our sins.

Christ the Pancreator ( the Ruler of All – the Saviour of All )

Christ holds onto the Bible in his left arm. He rests the Holy Word against his breast showing the way to  salvation.
His right hand is held in the sign for peace and the band of orange and gold show his authority from God.
There is a small stain of a tear from his left eye. He is sorrowful for the pain of the world.
The gold all around him is a symbol of Heaven and his enduring and untarnished love for us.

 The icons in the fixed positions

These icons was especially written for All Saints Church Fulham, London .

The icon writer is Constantina Wood
These icons was especially written for All Saints Church Fulham, London .

The icon writer is Constantina Wood

The new  'Ordinary Time' lady Chapel Altar frontal.

Designed in the shape of a Celtic Cross. It celebrates the cycle of the seasons using the colours of the different times and seasons of the church’s year.
Green is for regeneration, Ordinary time, the beauty of creation.
The vertical bar of the cross within the roundel has heavier gold braid; symbolic of the cross that Christ had to bear on the way to the crucifixion.
The square in the middle of the work is embroidered in ivory, whereas the outer squares are embroidered in cream; the centre of the altar is the focus and the brightest part of the altar cloth.

The never-ending lines embroidered in braid, ribbon and cord speak of life everlasting and the cycle of life: birth death and resurrection.

The creator of this altar frontal is Jacquie Binns.

The Church is currently raising funds for the 600 year old medieval tower which in the last few weeks has welcomed  a Prince, his daughter Princesses on the Sunday of Her Majesty's Diamond Jubilee and has carried on its work as a place to be married over hundreds of years.

 Some photos of a wedding held last Saturday 7th July.

All Saints Church , Fulham , London

Bridesmaids being photographed before a wedding service , Ushers in Morning Dress at the porch yesterday outside All Saints Church Fulham, London

If you would like to contribute to the All Saints Tower and Bells Restoration Appeal details can be found

A bike at the foot of the bell tower.
The Olympic Cycle race will be passing
All Saints Church , Fulham at London's 2012 Olympic games
28th and 29th July .
The Church may be picked up on the
TV coverage as the cyclists cross Putney Bridge

Talking of things Olympic our Dedication Sunday Church picnic was held in the Church Hall due to the rainy weather.
 One of the 8000 Lpondon 2012 torches was brought in for people to see and share in the greatest sports festival of the world.
 It was a privilege to hold and pose with one of the torches

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Hard selling the Shard - The fragility of Unique Selling points

Unique Selling Points are back in the news.  ( Enjoy these photo London's new Landmark building. The Shard can be seen from so many angles all over London.)

Laser Beam from the Shard to the OXO tower
Photo from Waterloo Brdge start of the Laser show
 (see green line centre of photo).
The Shard announces it is the tallest buildng in Europe
July 5th

Whenever facts are announced it is not long before the challenge of “So What?” is raised particularly when regarding cost.

Whether it is  CERN  and their new ‘discovery’ of the Higgs boson , the communicators have been quick to justify ( sell) the investment of their research for example stating  the spin off  benefit of the world wide web and  Internet especially if we don't understand the particle physics stuff

St John the Evangelist Church , Waterloo,
 with the Shard in the background

But uniqueness is a fragile position.

The Architects for the Shard have been 'doing the sell' on the Shard.

They have been selling not just the physical aspects of the building but the concept of the building, describing how it will be used

" not another office block that goes dead at 6 p.m." etc. "  " ne the pulic will love" ...
 The Office Sky scraper Canary Wharf or more correctly One Canada Square consists of fifty floors , is 235 metres tall and was completed just twenty one years ago. 

Once the tallest building in the UK as a title, it has lost  it in a mere 21 years.


Reflection of the Shard on the windows
 of a  building
on the north side of the Thames
The new kid on the block is the Shard whose features include 309.6 metres tall, 11,000 glass windows, 72 habitable floors etc.

Which means it is currently the tallest building in Europe (59th tallest in the world)

But “So What?

So the whole sales communication of features, benefits and particularly personal benefits or You Appeal come into play.

95% of the construction materials are recycled which means that…

And so on

And so on
At low tide the Shard appears even taller

Photo shots taken in August 2012 of other London Views of the Shard

Old Tower newest tower
Tower of London  with Shard behind it

City Hall overlooked by the Shard

The rose window of Winchester Palace
on the Thames at Southwark, London

For more on this aspect of selling:-

Related Links on Selling
Ingredients recipe menu
Buyers’ Views of Salespeople

Sunday, 1 July 2012

B2B Buyers do Social Preview from Buyers Views of salespeople 2012

The TACK Buyers' Views of Salespeople 2012  ( 6th edition) is soon to be published- a comment from one Buyer respondent concerning their search for suppliers which particualrly struck me was:-

“ If they have no web presence, both personally and, if relevant, corporately as part of a team/company, I’m not going to trust them, or at least would find it hard to justify putting in my time to work out if they know anything about anything”

Buyers ‘do social’ on Sales
The processes and approach to the buying role have changed markedly.
 More and more buyers ‘do social’ as part of their buying role. For example, 55.% of the respondents used LinkedIn to research potential suppliers and products in the last 12 months.
 Buyers also use other social media channels to carry out their research of potential suppliers 22% had looked at Blogs, 22% had used You tube as a search engine to investigate supplier solutions  , 20% had used Twitter to read and listen in on potential suppliers. 12% had used facebook in their research of new suppliers and products.
 Those in sales who still do not “do social” themselves in their business are increasingly putting themselves at a disadvantage to their competitors who do.

Social media is also  accepted by many Buyers as a channel to be used in prospecting activity from suppliers.

Cold calling has had a further resurgence in this 2012 poll to above 1 in 5 .
This is indicative of tough times but also challenges the view of  many that believe cold calling is entirely dead.
Linked In at 34% acceptance is also an increase in acceptance from 28% in the previous study.
The TACK International Buyers’ Views of Salespeople 2012 captures detailed information on Buyers’ Views and is a “must read” for anyone involved in sales, sales management and those interested in benchmarking their own organisation and looking for best practice in sales.
It is an invaluable resource for Sales leaders, Trainers and those in Customer facing roles in the b2b sector.
The study is an on-going project, which was started in 1998 and acts as a bellwether indicator of the state of selling from the Buyers’ viewpoint.
 In the 2012 survey, 201 buyers from SMEs to Global Corporations across Europe, Middle East and Africa, Australasia, Far East and North America shared their views with the study.
Buyers undertake the questionnaire on line. 
 Both quantitative and qualitative information is captured from a set of 39 questions.
76% of the respondents had four or more years of corporate purchasing experience
39% had ultimate buying authority setting budgets  49% had limited buying authority  ( budget holders and/or decision influencers).
The male female split was 65%:35%.
For more information contact

Business Dress Code in UK 2012 Keep Calm and ...

A recent invitation to a breakfast business club I received read  (I have redacted the detail with                 )

Dear Hugh

Thank you for booking a place(s) to attend our XXXXXXXX  on                June 2012.  To help make the event as enjoyable as possible please read the full event details below. ( This included :)

TIME:  7.30am - 10.00am


          Suite,                                                 Street, London                     . 

Business Dress

The meeting agenda  did have 'on the bill of speakers' a Government Minister , a Chief executive of a   trade  department for the Foreign Office ( Senior Civil Servant), a case study practitioner and a leading social media provider and was taking place in the city of London - the financial district.
So I thought  Dress Code : Business means that I better keep be tie and suited. 

Well as you can see the "Business"  dress code was interpreted quite freely from the photo below.

Dress Code : BUSINESS as interpreted by the Audience at a breakfast meeting in Summer of 2012

 At front stage :
The chairman of the Business Club was in a suit but without a neck tie.

The Government Minister and and the Civil servant  were in suits and wore ties.

The Case study presenter was in smart casual with no tie and the social media team had a director in suit , shirt and no tie  the rest of the team in company logoed T shirts - which looked great - but they were young and  all had waists!!

Business Dress has changed considerably over the years in the UK.
The Buyers' views of Salespeople study which began in 1998 regularly asks two pertinent questions about dress code and selling. The first is how does the Buyer currently describe his office dress code and the second is the how should Salespeople dress when visiting the Buyer's premises on a 'dress down' day?

Of course it depends .


So therefore it is best if possible to ask ahead but if in doubt remain 'suited and booted.'

After all if you are overdressed you can aways take your jacket off - just like I did at the breakfast meeting.

Not sure I carry off a T shirt that well these days.
For information on the new Buyers' Views of salespeople 2012 contact