The Way Midnight Man Became Thriller And Your Hit Pitch

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In the UK there was plenty of coverage about the recent passing of a Grimsby fish filleter. Including, we learnt, that he hated that particular tabloid label.

Keyboardist Rod Temperton went straight from writing mid-70s britfunk to crafting Michael Jackson’s most loved work.

Producer Quincy Jones recalls first deciding to give working with him a whirl. A partnership that would lead him to ask Rod during recording sessions for Jackson’s 1982 solo album to go away and write a title track.

Wikipedia quotes the following pop legend;

I went back to the hotel, wrote two or three hundred titles and came up with Midnight Man. The next morning I woke up and I just said this word. Something in my head just said, ‘This is the title’. You could visualise it at the top of the Billboard charts. You could see the merchandising for this one word, how it jumped off the page as ‘Thriller’.

And the rest, as they say…

Anyway. As I whistle away to myself, I’m brought to mind of selling tips from creative gold mined here.

O-oh, first, a biggie. How many salespeople still, even today, do so little of the absolutely vital activity of Preparation? Too many. Yet here his prep time gave him enough propulsion to conjure an eye-popping choice of options.

This very volume to select from also improve chances of success. When you’re looking for the single big-impact slide, pitch, line, then the defining argument seldom comes with the first idea.

In addition, making such effort in advance clearly allowed his subconscious mind to whir further. A feeling we must surely all recognise. Especially sweet when the resultant brainwave nails what we’d been tussling with the day before.

And lastly, the specific visual aspects of the brief intrigue me here. Quincy Jones delivered a simple brief; title track. He also later revealed he’d wanted a short title. Then the composer’s mind actively visualised how cool the title would look on a giant advertising poster or merch.

A quartet of winning approaches to consider when in your studio trying to release your equivalent of the world’s biggest ever selling record.


Seller Meets Buyer Solution Meets Problem Urgent Meets Now

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Chinese-born Yang Liu has lived in Germany since age 14.

Her comparison pictograms sped round the web this year.

A trio of coffee table books sprung from the trope of looking at how the same thing is viewed from opposing poles.

Her first collection grew from her upbringing, East Meets West. Birthplace red, adopted homeland blue. There’s plenty of cute cultural captures.

From here spawned the battle-of-the-sexes clickbait of Man Meets Woman, and then Today Meets Yesterday. Both feature several crackers too.

She’s inspired a decent meme or two as well (I note trashrussia & Bangalore traffic examples with a smile).

So it strikes me as a brilliant way of adding something memorable to a slidedeck.

The classic being a before-and-after view.

I understand though that it can be a little daunting.

Pictograms mean a level of artistic application fraught with the fear of failure for a salesperson.

Take comfort from Yang Liu’s treatments. Many are happily shorn of tricky drawing. Dots, boxes and lines abound.

A template we can surely take as our toolbox.

So in this spirit, here’s my triple contribution to the meme.

Starting with how we sometimes feel our thinking about a solution is at odds with our prospect. We’re outside the box, when they obliviously stay within it;


Then how about the discrepancy between who our contact buyerside may tell us is making the decision and the reality of the process;


Finally, the evolution of prospecting. Whereas not so long ago we could tap a phone keypad and call up someone, nowadays we may only ever hear from them after they’ve seen us online. And mostly, buyers reject us – swipe left – and we’ll never even know they looked at us;



3/14 Psychological Tricks That Could Help You Sell More

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Yes. Alright. I fell for clickbait. 14 psychological tricks to get people to do what you want. My weakness callously exploited by a webfarm buzzfeeder.

Enjoyment in the classroom of the likes of Richard Wiseman and Robert Cialdini meant I couldn’t help myself.

Yet. Aside from decoy pricing on which I’ve blogged before, there were three possible gems hidden in the seam of impenetrable rock.

8. Use nouns instead of verbs to get people to change their behaviour
10. Focus on what your bargaining partner is gaining to get them to agree to your offer
14. Tell them they’re free not to comply

I thought on giving snappy(ish) Salesy labels to the trio. Here with selling slant provided;


So using nouns rather than verbs makes a buyer. A gerund is a verb turned into a noun by ending it in -ing. The example quoted revealed people were twice more likely to cast their ballots the next day when termed “a voter”, as in (b) over (a);

(a) “How important is it to you to vote in tomorrow’s election?”

(b) “How important is it to you to be a voter in tomorrow’s election?”

A selling crossover feels pretty clear. I myself can recall asking, “how urgent is it for you to buy…” When perhaps a better evolution is along the lines of “how important is it for you to be the problem-solver….”


Emphasise what can be gained, as oppsed to lost. The example used by the authors being selling a car;

…you should say, “I’ll give you my car for a grand” instead of, “I want a grand for the car”.

Again, “I’ll save/make/deliver you [xyz] for just [$$$]”.


This apparently stems from an effective technique which begins, “but you are free…” when you then remind the buyer that they have freedom to turn down your enticing offer. Supposedly then doubling your chances of them accepting.

Could we say, “of course you’ve plenty of other options, including not going ahead…”, or “obviously do not feel obliged…” in the style of a kind of Don’t Close-Close?


Pitch How Film Composer Makes Maximum Impact

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Silent film pianist and visiting professor at the Royal College of Music Neil Brand plays intriguing sales chords.

After tinkling a semi-stock phrase proving his mettle on-the-spot to evoke the iconic scene ‘the realisation that the person in front of you is the person with whom you’ve fallen in love’, he commented;

“It’s an odd thing. If you want to make a big impact, you get quieter. Because people draw in towards the screen. It took me a long time to learn that. I was “too many notes, Mozart!” for twenty years.”

This counter-thinking is so true. I often hear salespeople rushing a crashing crescendo drum roll when revealing their major key, only for it to fall flat, way short of the desired symphonic target ears’ reaction.

I’m reminded of a rare time watching the Oscars unfold. When announcing best film, Clint Eastwood said American Beauty in such a slow, quiet, understated way. Impact certainly amplified.

Less gameshow host, more measured drama.

Later, he revealed that his composing stepped up a vital level only when he became open to what it really feels like to be whichever actual emotion concerned. He cited being jealous or alone as examples.

Again, this is a regular failing of sellers. When the yeah-yeah lip-service to understanding being in the shoes of the potential buyer is not seriously meant.

Finally, he mentioned that every year there are 1200 new concert pianists going out in to the world. A bewilderingly high amount. His quoted point was that;

“it’s not enough to be perfect any more, you have to have personality”

I tell sellers this more often than I’d like.

During this ambling BBC ninety-minute magazine show, Neil’s slots are for a dozen minutes from around 37’50”, three-ish minutes from 57’30 and a spot at the end, from about 1h22’30”.


Vi Coactus

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Posts from this Summer of 2016 might as well have been subtagged politics & selling. So tumultuous the global election landscape. Yet so comforting that democracy is the only viable path.

We learned that one political party leader, having won the vote for that office, was never fully crowned. The UK Electoral Commission did not like that she wrote vi coactus next to her signature on the required paperwork.

This slice of bygone Latin evidently signifies “under duress”.

Apparently the apt phrase to write when being forced into signing a contract.

It doesn’t take a legal mind to figure the link between this and selling.

It can be easy to lose sight of the fact that a deal is only a proper deal when it is in the best interests of both parties.

Such a hackneyed phrase has “win-win” become that it can encourage eye-rolling dismissal.

It’s almost always taken for granted that the ‘good’ for the vendor is the resultant payment. which should be good enough. But that is not right.

Likewise, the good for the buyer should be a problem happily resolved, sunshined horizon headed smoother towards. Yet the precise impact can be left tantalisingly – damagingly – dangling in the air.

Then there’s individual players. What happens – as so often does in solution sales – when one person blocks a deal driven by self-preservation rather than company progress?

Shall I re-state that Corporate Politics only exist when someone is no good at their job?

Wherever you sit on such scale, one point is a selling winner from all this. Have you asked your potential client who may feel slightly under duress about your proposal? To isolate and address such concerns can make the key difference to your bid. And starting this conversation invoking the phrase vi coactus could be a disarming way to go about it.


Facing An October Surprise Dealbreaker

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Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton. Many wail that these pair are the most unloved and inept American presidential candidates ever to run.

Wherever you sit with their attributes, one thing stands out from their electioneering. Campaigns can spiral out of control when someone throws in a credibility grenade.

For Sillary it was “wikileaked” Wall St speeches. For the Trumper it was “hot mic” fairer sex views.

I recall something similar from the Bush-Gore race. The subsequent winner slammed late on with a previously hidden DUI charge.

They are apparently deliberately timed to cause maximum damage. Appearing as the November Day-After-First-Monday vote nears.

Hence the term October Surprise.

We encounter such eleventh-hour attacks in solution selling.

A torrid client divorce. Suspect balance sheet items. Divergent strategic intent.

Sometimes there’s plenty of scope for the unscrupulous competing vendor to scandalmonger.

As you may know, for me there is no way ahead with slating the opposition. Indeed, I revel in never even mentioning them. The only thing that matters is best fit to prospect needs.

So when hit with any potential slander yourselves, how should it be handled?

Well, if we were to take a lead from the current politicians’ example, there’s a choice.

One side comes out what they believe as “fighting”. Laying on their own thick slathers of counter-low blows.

The other simply shrugs, and says “they’re free to run their campaign however they want”. And get on with stating their side’s case.

In a few weeks we’ll have the answer which response prevails.

I know which way I recommend for us already.


Declutter Your Sales Writing With Central Bank Gobbledygook Filter

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Central bankers. Not a species deserving esteem aplenty. Just like their commercial bankster compadres. Yet this past week one of them has railed against over-complex language.

Not only does he call it out as unnecessary, he correctly labels it as mostly unreadable.

Apparently there was one Bank of England missive cited featuring an oxygen depriving 77 word sentence.

The media delighted in presenting collages from offender-in-chief Mark Carney. Slice after slice of incomprehensible nonsense.

The resulting blog post suggests Dr Seuss’ Cat in the Hat as the aim. Deliberately crafted from only 236 available words.

Ten million copies sold later a standout clear language standard.

So how about applying an accessible test to your own latest Prop. Or any written comms to your prospect in fact.

The basics are sound. Themes go back at least to Orwell.

Short sentences (25 words appears the max limit, 14 the ideal ‘average’). As few instances of polysyllabics as possible. Cut the jargon. Have a point.

There’s a couple of further factors with a Sales doc.


There’s the distinct trend for business messaging to resemble a present-day half-tweet. Often maintaining the tone of a dismissive 90s web-forum one-liner. I entitled this arena ’emails’, yet even they appear a dying breed. Corporate and personal messaging seems unstoppable.

Gone are the days when you’d sweat for over an hour typing a two-page-plus note and expect it to get read. Even though successful selling still requires the occasional detailed document.

Don’t feel that you can’t buck a trend. A thorough, essay-length item can be – and when done properly certainly is – a significant qualification tool. Read and engaged with (or otherwise), and you know where your prospect sits with you.

In any case, it’s unlikely you’ll present this as unbroken prose. But do bear in mind you ought not supply long lists of bullets either.


Does a picture speak a thousand words? Surely a slide can pitch the cut-through reason to act now.

If it is duly so that buyers are only scanning what you send, rendering three-quarters of your work sterile, then how about a diagram? Or succession of them. Can you tell the tale in a series of pics, tables, charts, graphs or drawings?

These work tremendously well as summary or guide docs. Pre- or post-meet set-ups for the next action. And to get your point in “a sentence” alone could well be the difference on that year-crowning bid.


The Eden Future Truth Sin

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Here’s most of a story from today’s London Times print edition.

Although its veracity could be fuzzy – in the sense of a fisherman’s tale – it certainly has an eye-popping Sales angle. Fifty-six million of them, even.

Let me say this from the off. Cheating is not winning.


So how such soothsayer-slanted fibbing can be the “telling of future truths” sits most uneasily with me.


And yet there are boundary, grey areas of sometimes large and bending expanse.

I’m reminded for instance of hearing salespeople heartily inform one person that their colleague of note is wildly in favour of their bid to secure their immediate action on a progression. That really is not the path to huge, repeatable quota-busting.

Whereas painting a genuine picture of how a new albeit untested product ought flow joy forth … sometimes belief really does move mountains.

Category C.

Now there’s a construct.

How many of your bids are in your prospects’ Category As right now?

Then there’s the deliberately implied influence of a heavy third party. What would be your equivalent of obtaining a glowing, supportive Times editorial?


Give Your Patch A Funkapolitan Twist

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Boris. How few people are recognised worldwide by their forename mononym alone.

From most privileged of educations to indefferent journalistic par excellence to London Mayor to (one such) figurehead of Brexit to the Foreign face of his country.

As he shuffles his prosperous frame onto the cushion of his freshly begun chief diplomat role, he provided customary red meat to his Party grassroots at their annual conference this week.

Starting with Russian autocracy, stirring in growing African despotcracy, mixed with 46m global refugees, he sought to plot a path for planetary safety steered by British values.

They duly lapped it up. Applause bellowed through his battery of pictorial depictions; the hairy eyeball, cyclotron, (castles of) Mitteleuropa, euro-creoles, gloomadon-poppers. Climaxing through shared pride Britain is a “soft power superpower”.

One widely reported section saw him modestly suggest London’s global cultural and creative allure and success was less down to his 8yr mayoralty, but more due to the incredible spirit of Londoners themselves. Who generate “a great jiving funkapolitan melting-pot”.

A phrase sure to baffle much of his audience. It beguiled the gathered scribes.

Whether he comically soundchecked shortlived pop music of early Eighties’ britfunk, alluded to the panicked in hiding or evoked an unfragrant place is a selling red-herring. His use of this new/unusual word owned that day’s media coverage.

He promoted his home town in an unforgettable way with just one neologism. Also a portmanteau. A word freshly formed by mixing elements of existing ones. They are often a winner. Can you coin one (with a sprinkle of peotic licence) to show your bid, product or firm in similarly memorable light? If you can, clients will happily melt in your jive pot.


When You Gonna Call Your Mummy?

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I sat next to a table in a café recently where a Sales interview was underway.

It was a chastening experience.

Carbon emissions seemed central to their product.

Whether that be in corporate credit trading or consumer greenery was beyond my earshot.

What I did hear though was an example of what happens when ego runs amok in a sales operation.

Hubris soon comes calling.

The candidate was verbally battered by two interrogators.

The junior of the pair boasted how they were “best friends”. The senior ‘taught him all he knows’. And he would similarly guide the new recruit.

The stated key to success was unequivocal;


The hopeful was further told;

“You will get 75, 76 Nos.

What you gonna do then, call your Mummy?”

It was painful listening.

Then they lathered on a typically dazzling earning potential. Astronomical sums for an early twentysomething to be fed. Followed by the job role ladder. Equally mesmeric for sure.

Cold call boiler rooms. It’s a thankless task.

Yet the bravado of those in early who made it through that hardest rung is no doubt severely stifling the true potential of their outfit.

I thought about what Martin Slegiman would make of the trumpeting of ‘aggression’.

(Studies coming out of his book on ‘learned optimism‘ famously show optimism as the over-riding sales success factor, with those possessing such making significantly higher sales. I’ve also blogged on his ‘happiness‘ beliefs before.)

You also think on the perennial social media deepisms around persistence. ‘Famous’ quotes ranging from philanthropists to presidents to pioneers summon this as what sets winners apart. Watered-down rebranded aggression or a moral replacement antithesis for it?

Then there’s the real killer metric. Not calls. Not even Nos. But conversations.

Overhearing all got progressively more painful.

I even chuckled to myself at how the prospective employee was press-ganged into revealing how confident he was of success and what he’d spend £10k of commission on. Slightly cringing that I actually spouted similar stuff back in the late 90s.

If your recruiting sounds anything like these carbon boys, you seriously need to unfossil your fuel.



My selling blogs this time last year