Monday, 31 December 2012

Selling reality and beyond- New Year resolutions for 2013

As 2013 approaches , the challenge of New Year’s resolutions arises.

Of course cynics may advise us to make a resolution  -not to make a resolution. Yet as Orchestral Conductor Benjamin Zander once said

 “ A cynic is a passionate person who does not want to be disappointed (again)”.

Such thinking is essentially a cop out.

So even if 2013 may hail troubles ahead ,let face the music and sell !

For a moment consider what is involved in resolutions or objectives set by sales professionals.

What will you continue to do ?

What will you do more of ?

What habits will you try to do less of or better still drop for 2013 ?

The  real challenge of making resolutions - “When all is said and done, more is said than done.”

Unlike the fantasy world of Toy Story’s Buzz lightyear with his appealing and  imaginative slogan “to infinity and beyond” in selling  we need to both dream a little but also we have to keep our ‘feet on the ground’  most of the time and focus on reality.

To keep focused and to contribute to your future success, answer the following questions of your New Year’s resolutions in your selling in 2013.
You can adapt the list to both internal and external selling resolutions.

Why not make a template of these questions and create a fresh checklist for each idea/resolution you wish to make happen in 2013 !

1.       What is my objective?

2.       How important is it to me?

3.       What results do I expect?

4.       What will help me achieve this?

5.       Which decision maker / manager do I need to involve to achieve my objective?

6.       What will I need in order to convince them and gain their support?

7.       Who else do I need to involve [team and individuals] ?

8.       What do I need in terms of resources [ people , time, money, training, equipment]?

9.       Will I need delegated authority ?

10.   What are the actions required?

11.   What are the milestones ( dates and times?

12.   How and when will I measure my progress?

13.   Who will I involve in reviewing my progress?

14.   What could prevent me from achieving my objective?

15.   What is my next step?

Now make it happen!

Good Luck and Good Selling for 2013
please return to this blog soon.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Alekandr Orlov visits Wallace Collection and Saatchi Gallery

During the holiday Aleksandr Orlov is honoured guest editor of www.Fruitsofsuccesswithhugh.blogspot  he got Mr Hugh to take photos.

Feeling homesicks for my mansion in Meerkovo and  collection of paintings of my honoured ancestors. I went to see how British Collectors of art both past and present display their collections. First I visit The Wallace collection which  is the result of four Marquesses of Hertford and Sir Richard Wallace. (There was no mention of his partner Gromit form movie of wrong trousers.)

Alekandr Orlov outside house  Manchester Square
 In the large drawing room with its glorious green wall covering and drapes which remind me of  Malachite  rocks of  Merkovo mountains hangs very famous portrait of my favourite logos for British beer McKewans Export which is based on this picture.
Portrait by Frans Hals  1624 of
a man who is neither a Cavalier nor laughing
but a great portrait nonetheless

Later on in week, Sergei suggest I go to Gallery of famous ad man and collector Saatchi.

Alekandr outside the Saatchi Gallery
with Giant snowball decorations for Christmas

St John's Gospel by Dmitry Planitov( left)
 Principles of Surrender by Nika Neelova (right) with bell clappers

The show entitled " Gaiety is the most outstanding feature of the Soviet Union: New Art from Russia.

Leonid Sokov's meeting of two sculptures 1994 Lenin and Giacometti left,
  coat with upside down pockets (right) did not get artist's name but Mr Hugh loved the work

Then I see this picture which is 'simples' black with tiny white dot.

Point by Erik Bulatov reminds me of Malevich Black Square which upset Uncle Joe Stalin so much.

The Artist's despair or the conspiracy of the untalented (by Ilya Kabov ? I think)
note the violated pictures and the broken glass and axe on the floor
I found this installation very upsetting to look at .
 Reminded me about the damage done to the Tate Modern Rothko painting
  this year, but in this work it was the artist who vandalised their own work and the destruction was recorded and preserved.

Finally I see this great picture painted on sides of cardboard boxes that have been flattened.
Mr Hugh is back soon to take over editor role. 
[Picture and Promenade a la Mussorgsky: photo by Hugh Alford] :
Grand Opera Paris by Valery Koshlyakov 1995
Tempera on Cardboard
I think this made a fun photo with silhouette visitors both looking at  the painting,
a child with its back to the painting and
 someone moving on from having looked at the painting to another of Notre Dame- out of view to right
at Saatchi Gallery, Chelsea , London

Monday, 24 December 2012

Fiscal Cliff resolution Merry Chrstmas :)


Root of the "London's Fiscal Cliff" problem discovered inTrafalgar Square:
 Too many Santas and not enough elves !!!!

(With apologies to Dean Martin and Boris from an elf who needs his holiday)


London’s train of growth is moving too slow

 And I can see the economy burning low

 The Mayor’s criticising everything thing I do

 But listen Boris, I've got news for you


There's too many Santas and not enough Elves to work in this old City

 Boris  I'm tired of this old game we play called Austerity

 If you don't give just a little bit more

 We're both gonna lose this race

 'Cause there's too many Santas and not enough Elves to work  around this place


Trouble on our happy hunting ground

 'Cause you keep stepping too far out of bounds

 It's hard to run this conurbation right

 When you stay on the bike lanes day and night!


Well there's too many Santas  and not enough Elves to work around this house

 Bojo I'm tired of this old game we play called cat and mouse

 If you don't give just a little bit more

 We're both gonna lose this race

 'Cause there's too many Santas and not enough Elves to work around this place


Look at all the things I have to do

 To keep this business running just for you

 Well time's are tough and money's hard to save

 Just remember who's the spender and who's the slave


Well there's too many Santas and not enough elves to work around this house

 Bojo I'm tired of playing this old game called cat and mouse

 If you don't give just a little bit more

 We're both gonna lose this race

 'Cause there's too many Santas and not elves for work around this place

Have a great holiday one and all
During the holiday period deputy editor Alexandr Orlov will be in charge of the Blog - Simples

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Selling's a gift ? The tricky business of trying to do economic good at Christmas

Some have postulated that the star of Bethlehem, a harbinger of great joy, might have been  a comet.
The former workers at the stores of that name must be having a tough time this Christmas.  The gift of redundancy is a very bitter one. I guess the Administrators , Delloites must have found their failure to find a buyer for the white goods ‘ company put them in the place of messengers but with bad tidings .

For the majority of folk who have some money to spend, perhaps  we have a tighter budget this year Christmas. Our gift selection and purchase is on our minds. The task is tricky enough for family and friends but also in our business relations clients or suppliers and staff.

The perfect gift
For some it is important to buy the right gift.
So what do you buy the female 'employee' who has everything yet has served an institution extremely well for 60 years?
In the case of our monarch, her majesty was presented with a set of table mats in honour of her visit to No 10., Downing street in her jubilee year.

Eric Pickles the Communities secretary asked whether her Majesty might have had enough table mats already before today's gift, Mr Pickles said:

"One can never have too many table mats."

I would imagine the table mat industry is grateful for this endorsement of their industry.

My breakfast place mat on Thursday December 20th 2012
Here is a photo of my place mat on the morning after her majesty visited No.10. to receive  hers.
Mine was at a McDonalds !

BACK to The Challenges of Gift Giving

If you think gift buying is easy and the answer to the UK’s problems this season take heed of the viewpoint of economists.

Before we feel too pleased with ourselves there are professors like Anthony J Evans to direct us to the seminal article called the Deadweight loss of Christmas by Joel ( regrettably not Noel) Waldfogel  written in1993

Unless you ' froth at the mouth with excitement' at Economics papers, I would advise you not to wrestle with this.

( I tried !  The consequence of which  brought back nightmares of my student days in the last century struggling with ‘marginal propensities’, ‘utilities’ 'Giffin Goods' and the ‘Harrod Growth model ‘-which I learnt by rote to pass an exam but I confess never truly understood .

It seemed to me that  curves on the diagrams that economists produce were both baffling and  had a another nefarious  purpose ! This was to insert calculus into the course syllabus to make it last a few more semesters. Employing calculus meant economics could be also labelled a ‘science ‘and respectable in Academic circles ;))

Fortunately Professor Evans explains dead weight economics more intuitively . If only he had been my  economics tutor back in the day….

A matter of taste

He explains ( or argues as academics are won't to do)

Extract of article in City a.m. page 19 Thursday Dec 2012

The main problem with Christmas spending is that it’s often used to buy gifts. And the problem with gifts is that they generate dead weight loss.

Most of us have a pretty reasonable understanding of our own tastes and although we can buy things we regret, we have a strong incentive not to do so.

It is typically our tastes that we regret rather than our consumption choices.

Perhaps this is why gifts make more sense for children , because we take a  more active role in trying to shape their tastes.

When it comes to adults , the potential for waste is a lot higher. In almost every conceivable situation , the recipient would prefer the cash value of the gift itself.


Gift Solution with no economic deadweight loss
 w.r.t. Prof Anthony J Evans
It’s always better to have the choice of £50 or a garish sweater rather than a garish sweater that cost £50.

Some argue that gifts demonstrate thought and consideration.
But often the only thing they demonstrate is complete ignorance.”

The Professor’s answer to all this if the value of the gift is information is rather than buy it tell the recipient what the gift is and give them the cash to buy it themselves.

Waldfogel  estimated that holiday–gift giving for Christmas/ Hanukkah etc.  destroys between 10% to a 1/3 of the value of gifts.

I suppose to economists such as Joel Waldfogel and  Anthony J Evans,  the Magi should have
a. brought a cheque for the value of the gold,

b.  purchased their frankincense from Marks and Spencer which could be exchanged for a scent of the taste of the recipient- so long as the packaging and till receipt was presented.

 c. purchased a Boots' voucher for myrrh with the risk that only myrrh from the Boots chain could be exchanged.

Merry Christmas or Bah Humbug  whichever matches your tastes dear reader and  I hope 2013 turns out better for those former workers at Comet.

9 golden rules for motivated learning

You can 'rev up' the engine of training as much as you like but until you engage the gear shift of motivation no learning progress will take place.

Here are nine golden rules of motivation which will help you achieve this.

Rule 1

Setting clear objectives:

As trainers we should always try to appreciate the viewpoint of a learner. From the outset, we should change our thoughts on the material for a session from ‘what do I need to tell them?” or “ What do I as a trainer know about this subject?” and turn it into objectives from the delegates point of view. It is useful to write down such objectives so that the learners can appreciate what they are going to learn and how it will help them in their work.

e.g. to learn…, to be able to…, to appreciate…,  to understand…, to acknowledge…,

Rule 2

Every learner has motivation hot buttons

For those familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs we can adapt the five levels to the learning environment.

As trainers it is important not to overlook each stage of the hierarchy of needs.

Sometimes they can have an overriding importance e.g. the basic physical needs such as meals, breaks, refreshments. In terms of security and safety needs, these would encompass such things as fire regulations, safety at work, timings for the course, explanation of the measurement of trainee reports and evaluation of both trainer and content.

When it comes to social and belonging needs we can work with groups, and teams, group exercises and team briefings  also in any follow up-up e bulletins, newsletters and ' extra mural'  activities.

Recognition needs of your learners can be met through justifiable praise from the trainer and keeping learners informed of their progress.

The top level of Maslow  (selfactualisation) is achievement and fulfilment . Trainers  help learners attain this by setting challenges that are achievable . Trainers also need to delegate responsibility to members of the group  as well as the group as a whole, to take charge or their own training and development.

Trainers should remember that all learners have motivational ‘hot buttons’, but remembering to be pragmatic, few trainers will have time to dig out hot buttons for every single delegate at every level of the hierarchy of needs.

Rule 3

Participation motivates:

Most trainers work their sessions through three phases.

1.       An EXPLANATION of the material to be covered.

2.       A DEMONSTRATION of the material

3.       PARTICIPATION of the material by the learners.

Most delegates learn by doing. They do this through exercises , role plays , group discussions, group assignments and individual exercises.

The level of participation has to be decided by the trainer. It can range from a lecture which has high instructor control through to delegates reading material.

However it is important to include some form of active group work and hands on exercises.

To add spice and variety to  your training courses it may be useful to deliver material in different presentation methods from step to step discovery to interactive role play and video.

Rule 4

Motivation requires recognition and acknowledgement:

A point of view worth considering is this. “ Learners don’t really learn from their mistakes- they learn by doing it right.”  With this the trainer has an active responsibility to remember ‘ any fool can criticise and most fools do!”

Trainers must give justified praise and encouragement to learners. They can also give praise by encouraging other team members to acknowledge and feedback recognition of colleagues’ work.

By awarding prizes, photographs and certificates trainers do not only appeal to learner's recognition needs but also their achievement needs.

It is a good habit for trainers to actively seek out opportunities to congratulate their learners.

Rule 5

Motivation once established- does not last.

However good our motivation technique is , it may not necessarily last the  entire session.

Trainers should strive to keep learners’ interest and attention by constantly developing new and fresh approaches.  It is worth remembering learners can only take a certain amount of ‘into syndicates’ in any one training course !

Rule 6

Challenges only motivate if you can win.

Challenges range from skillful use of questioning to setting particular tasks for individuals or groups to complete. They must be positive and they must be achievable in the time allowed.

Take a lead from those copy writers who write questions for TV 'Quiz' shows. The Chase , Eggheads, University Challenge Pointless even Prime minestr's question time in Parliament etc. If the level of the question is too technical  for example “ What are the principles of hypo static union?” – most of us would change channels quickly. Similarly if the question is too banal “ and how old are you my dear ?” ( canned applause), we will switch channels because the challenge is too easy.

As Learners / TV  quiz watchers, we want questions that stretch our mind a bit but stimulate us to come up with the correct answer ( so we can show off to the family or friends who are watching with us.)

Similarly it is not enough for trainers to know the mechanics of open and closed questions etc – they must make sure the design and content of their questions are sufficiently challenging to motivate, but also that the learners have a fair chance of getting the answers correct. Good questioning should be purposeful, clear and precise and relevant to the training objective ( See Rule1). Your questions are best limited to one idea, but can then be directed to the whole group or distributed at random.

Trainers should avoid using, catch, leading, irrelevant, pumping or ambiguous questions since these tend to demotivate.

 Rule 7

Course group belonging motivates

Team challenges work well.

There are a number of methods to encourage group bonding. Popular is the use of energisers for both the mind and the body.

Energisers are activities which increase the energy level of the of the participants. They help to activate a readiness for learning.

They can promote an excitement and anticipation before a training experience  and they can counteract the effects of drowsiness or tiredness.

Simple team energiser using flipchart paper bowls
 and zoned points mat. Help to reveive energy levels
Energisers often employ some gentle physical exercise. The simplest is to have the whole group stand up, stretch out their arms and shake their legs. Even a shared gentle shoulder massage  between delegates works well!! Energisers are often playfully competitive. They often require delegates to use their imagination. This leads to more open minds which are ready to receive new ideas and information. This in turn stimulates and increases creativity. Wherever appropriate ,the trainer should partake themselves in energisers. This help bond trainer with delegates as well as keeping the trainer mentally and physical fit.

 Rule 8

Seeing yourself progress motivates.

Because we know motivation does not last, each of our delegates should feel they are individually progressing closer to meeting the objectives of the learning session. One of our chief roles a trainers is to  observe and give feedback  on how learners are progressing.  This gives them increase self esteem  and that important sense of achievement.

For those trainers involved in role play exercises you can give learners feedback and suggest what actions learners might wish to take to further improve and involve learners into thinking through how to apply such new skills learnt  to the workplace.
Rule 9

Trainers have to be motivated to motivate.

It is not enough to have some knowledge  and experience of working practise to exhibit the golden rules above trainers have to ensure their enthusiasm infects all delegates. Enthusiasm is the strongest training asset in the world. Single handed  the enthusiastic trainer  dominates where an army of academics would scarcely raise  a tremor of interest.

“An enthusiastic trainer tramples over prejudice  and opposition, spurns inaction, storms the citadel of their object and like an avalanche overwhelm and engulf all obstacles”

Motivation is a key responsibility for all trainers. Sometimes we as trainers are not too motivated ourselves so it is useful to remember

“ being miserable is a habit, being happy is a habit the choice is yours!”

Related Links

Sales self talk Positive mental attitude 

Monday, 17 December 2012

6 Selling skills from Social Activism campaigns

The impact of the web on social activism, is making it faster, cheaper and easier to do than ever before. This has big implications for societies around the world.

Its influence is broad and is relevant to  those of us who make and sell stuff .

 This year the USA  have been through a presidential campaign where social activism has been at its height.
 In the UK we had the London 2012 games in volunteer games makers and ambassadors did a great job to help the greatest sports party in the world work brilliantly. They were knicknamed the twitter games.

“The students are revolting !” - Change merchants extraordinaires.

A provocative claim from Nancy Lublin CEO of DoSomething.Org was that "change is the domain of young people".

Just think of the student protesters in Tienanmen Square in 1989  standing in front of that tank. The civil rights movement was as much worked by the many young people in the lunch  counters queues, those refusing to sit elsewhere on the bus etc.. The LS Occupy movement  even brought a positive response from the spokesman for the Bank of England.

One of their key ‘weapons’ today is that young people ‘ get social’.

 Nancy Lublin stressed 6 key areas that changes by the young can be harnessed in selling of social activism campaigns from her experience with .

Her talk given to a New York Public broadcaster was also aired by BBC radio 4 Four thought programme.  BBC I player site

1.       Choice – Multiple options Ice cream flavours, cocktails

A superfluity of choice may have  little to do with quality, but we live in a world of Ben and Jerry’s of seemingly endless accessories and applications.

The Proliferation of phone covers, ‘Apps’ offers choices.

It always interests me how many American business people use the word ‘vanilla’ ( ice-cream) in a derogatory sense  meaning bland or the limits of a one trick pony offering.  Yet really good vanilla ice cream is takes a ot of beating.

Similarly a straight forward gin martini is superb but for the moment the 'less -s-more' philosophy is taking a back of stage position.

Nancy’s illustration was her fondness for Peanut butter. In her youth there were just two versions Jif or Skippy Peanut  were the offering. But now there’s low calories , low salt etc.

2.       Customisation –  they don’t buy albums they buy songs they remix or they rent them.

Theymake it their own  and localise it. They build their own play list.

3.       Leading from the middle

For many, the power of crowd sourcing is quite a game changer. Lublin offered different label to the 'old skool'  innovator, laggards mass market categories of conventional product life cycles.

Lublin labelled the audience categories of  a social activism campaign as Presidents -VP -Followers –Slackers

She emphasised that her campaigns were weighted towards Vice presidents and followers. Apparently on social media most people are sharers and followers in the sense on clicking on share.

 Sharers and followers outnumber  90 :10 makers according to Lublin.

 4.       Speed
Today communication signals are sent and received shorter and short time lengths.

 Back in the day a car took 7 years to be developed now it is probably under 18 months from CAD to first model off the  production line.
The typical campaign length for social activism from launch through living to it’s death for is six weeks.


5.       Cost

Social activism campaigns amongst young people must consider cost. i.e. NO COST

A paradigm for for social activism campaigning with young people means a campaign must involve  no money, youngsters don’t have much. It must not involve adults since  independence from the power of adults is a crucial value .Campaigns must not depend on cars.

6.       Wired

Young folk are master jugglers of technology. They are continually on multiple devices. A study showed they are capable of juggling 9-11 activities at any one time. Adults are nearer to 5-7 devices- although I am not sure I can even manage that many!

Text messages have very high open rates.  Lublin's campaigns begin with a text to get folks to opt in.

The key is to make this multi choice and multi-channel as easy as possible for your audience.

Take a look at site click on

Related links
Click here for

 1.  Occupy's influence acknowledged by Bank of England

   2.  Selling methods of Peaceful protest

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Happy St Lucy Day to all in Selling Festival Food and John Donne

St Lucy's day  Dec 13th "The eyes have it !"

Lucia ( Lucy) was a fourth century  noblewoman from Syracuse, Sicily who  denounced  the Roman  authorities as a Christian after refusing to marry her pagan suitor. Being a Christian in the 4th century were dangerous times .
 The  story bit
  In 304, being identified as a Christian meant that the authorities could rip your eyes out, then stab you in the throat -  which was the fate she suffered. Yuk!
Amongst other duties St Lucy is the Patroness of Salespeople. I guess her story teaches salespeople to be true to themselves. The first sale you make is to yourself. Believe in what you sell.
A prayer in her honour even mentions the word 'PROFIT '!
“Hear us, O God, our salvation, that, as we rejoice in keeping the festival of Blessed Lucy, thy virgin and martyr, so we may profit by the tender devotion we gain through her example. Through our Lord. Amen”
The Food bit. Cucuia porridge , St Lucy Buns, and St Lucy’s braided bread.
A hearty Breakfast for Salespeople
An additional history bit
In 1582, a terrible famine swept Sicily. In Syracuse, starving people prayed fervently to Santa Lucia ( St Lucy) for salvation and, lo, into the harbour did sail a boat laden with wheat. The story does not mention who the merchant( salesperson) who sold the wheat was.
 The starved populous were so desperate that they didn’t even wait to make bread, and instead boiled the wheat for immediate consumption. They thanked Santa Lucia ( St Lucy) as their saviour and, ever since, Sicilians have eaten a dish made of boiled wheat called cuccia on December 13th

Two Currants represent her eyes
Maybe for your mid morning snack ( ‘Elevenses’ in England) try a delicious St Lucy Bun.

Finally, for  supper those, those of you with elder daughters can be presented by her entering the room with a coronet of candles and a tray with St Lucy braided bread. This still is celebrated by Swedes and Norwegians who honour St Lucy so I am given to beleve.


by John Donne

John Donne was Dean of St Pauls in 1641
 the one before Wren's Cathedral
'TIS the year's midnight, and it is the day's,

Lucy's, who scarce seven hours herself unmasks ;

    The sun is spent, and now his flasks

    Send forth light squibs, no constant rays ;

            The world's whole sap is sunk ;

The general balm th' hydroptic earth hath drunk,

Whither, as to the bed's-feet, life is shrunk,

Dead and interr'd ; yet all these seem to laugh,

Compared with me, who am their epitaph.


Study me then, you who shall lovers be

At the next world, that is, at the next spring ;

    For I am every dead thing,

    In whom Love wrought new alchemy.

            For his art did express

A quintessence even from nothingness,

From dull privations, and lean emptiness ;

He ruin'd me, and I am re-begot

Of absence, darkness, death—things which are not.


All others, from all things, draw all that's good,

Life, soul, form, spirit, whence they being have ;

    I, by Love's limbec, am the grave

    Of all, that's nothing. Oft a flood

            Have we two wept, and so

Drown'd the whole world, us two ; oft did we grow,

To be two chaoses, when we did show

Care to aught else ; and often absences

Withdrew our souls, and made us carcasses.


But I am by her death—which word wrongs her—

Of the first nothing the elixir grown ;

    Were I a man, that I were one

    I needs must know ; I should prefer,

            If I were any beast,

Some ends, some means ; yea plants, yea stones detest,

And love ; all, all some properties invest.

If I an ordinary nothing were,

As shadow, a light, and body must be here.


But I am none ; nor will my sun renew.

You lovers, for whose sake the lesser sun

    At this time to the Goat is run

    To fetch new lust, and give it you,

            Enjoy your summer all,

Since she enjoys her long night's festival.

Let me prepare towards her, and let me call

This hour her vigil, and her eve, since this

Both the year's and the day's deep midnight is.