Suavest Bond Handles Golden Gun Price Objection

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Roger Moore disarmed critics with wonderful, legendary stand-up calibre self-deprecation.

So I was delighted to hear he also knew of that most Bond villain of objections; it costs too much.

Naturally, he left it defeated, shaken and stirred.

Here’s the tale on a common version of this hurdle, as recounted to London’s Telegraph Money section in 2012;

The Bond role creates numerous commercial opportunities. What was your most lucrative endorsement?

I did a commercial for James Hanson, Baron Hanson of Hanson industries, for which I was going to get paid $1m. He said to the fellow who arranged it all, “That’s a little excessive for three days’ work,” and the reply was: “No, it’s for a lifetime’s work.”

There’s no argument, is there?

None whatsoever.

I’m reminded of the buyer who once tried to tell me a computer program was overpriced because they could buy a blank cd on which it came for less than a quid.

File the work’s gestation-duration handle of 007 alongside the classic Picasso napkin drawing dinner payment and the machine engineer forced to itemise his bill into ‘hitting’ and ‘knowing where to hit’. Then fire with eyebrow suitably raised.


What Your Own Slide Photos Can Learn From Dating Profile Pics That Attract

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I was enjoying coffee with a photographer. Then a man with a large camera and associated bag of tricks began to set up in a corner of the cafe. A legal lady was to have her picture taken.

Cue jokes about long zoom size as appendage compensation. Then sidewards headshakes reminded me of the famed ‘hairdresser syndrome’. Whenever you go to a new trendy barber they shriek at you, wondering how on earth your previous stylist could butcher your look.

Yet in this case, a stream of plausible reasons spouted forth about where the whole approach could be bettered. One way of summing up his advice; ‘lights, camera, action’. The lighting was poor, the backdrop strange and the unnatural pose strained.

My mind turned to thirty years before. The freelance husband of one staffer got the gig to take pics for an exhibition stand. I was struck at the time at how good a job he did. One in particular that made an impression was as he snapped away when a techie took a screwdriver to the bowels of a big computer.

The less staged the better.

I’ve always liked to take my own shots for sales slides. In the Nineties I recall when I won a deal in part due to popping along to the firm’s pre-Handover Hong Kong supplier when holidaying in the Harbour. With my then popular trusty palm-held Olympus µ, I had others take a string of pics as I wandered around their warehouse. The delight in presenting them back in England surely aiding my signature.

Not being a trained photographer does not necessarily matter. Although when an NYU camera grad once talked me through how to snap a springbok I realised how much there is to the art.

You can trail any relevant pic as one you took, suggesting you’re no expert behind the lens, even asking for tips from your audience. So long as you don’t go all Gareth Cheeseman (excruciating prez starts 7’10 in) and show ‘comedy’ or banal slides it can work well.

As I’ve blogged before through my one-time incarceration at the hands of corporate jobsworths, be careful to ask any permissions and best not shoot alone.

It should come as no surprise that an industry niche surrounds dating profile pics.

The main teaching being that you are best advised not to take your own. Saskia Nelson appears one trying to improve chances here. After seeing her tips, you feel you can improve your own slide photos too.

The sweet spot seems to reside in the tricky ground between a random, quickie phone snap and an obviously studio-stylised posing.

The implication; find that natural vibe.

This isn’t an easy place to happen across in the corporate environment.

How can you demonstrate an intangible issue when all you have at your disposal is a clichéd canyon of cubicles?

So why not let someone else try? Can your resolution be seen better through the attuned eye of another? What chance your prospect whipping out their phone and taking a shot or three?

Great qualification too, should you find a willing accomplice.

The key is often in the small detail too.

A pile of anonymous papers overflowing an intray here, the store cupboard looking more like a teen’s bedroom there. The jumbled returns or prototype ideas on a meeting room side table anywhere. Even Milton’s stapler.

I recall a reception I was in recently where there were the typical plants in place. Thin reeded pale greenery in bog-standard white plastic pots. Possibly maintained by an external interest, yet looked fairly bedraggled. Ready for a shot, ripe for a slide extolling the virtues of tomorrow.

Can you spot that which looks like you care, taken from their point of view, is positive, doesn’t smack of a marketing-led stipulation and which any competing option will be nowhere near. Shutters primed to click…


How Many Changes Do You Make When Your Impregnable Silo Gets Flooded?

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I do like the amazing seed vault run by the Norwegians for us all.

Not least because of the suitably dramatic building entrance design, growing beautifully, jaggedly out of its Arctic island ground. And also due to the associated logos of both Svalbard Global Seed Vault and Crop Trust (above) being so idea sparking, sales presentation friendly.

Despite being considered secure, 2017’s mildest winter saw it ‘flooded‘.

Thankfully calamity did not ensue.

The managers suggest an alternative term; “water intrusion“.

The question that followed; how to shore up our ‘fail-safe’ Doomsday Vault?

Four precautions appear enacted;

  • major work to waterproof the 100m-long tunnel into the mountain
  • digging trenches into the mountainside to channel meltwater and rain away
  • removed electrical equipment from the tunnel that produced some heat
  • installed pumps in the vault itself in case of a future flood

My Sales aerial couldn’t help but think on competitive inroads to once solid pitches.

The first time it happens, there may not be any lasting damage. But is the warning sign heeded?

If we are like the Vault here;

There’s the same attempted infraction to keep out.

Some way of diverting it away should it return.

Removal of anything we might be doing to encourage its repetition.

Knowing what we’d do the instant we take on water.

An interesting defensive check-up for any sales process this week.



The School Assembly Turn

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I suffered the typical surface scraping of an evening radio football talk show. This time putting to right the fact that no English manager has won the EPL, and there seems an absence of any likely to come through and take the game by storm. Newspaper columnists, administrators, coaching badge holders and ex-pro ‘personalities’ lined up to say as much as possible whilst saying nothing of substance.

Key themes included that fêted English players don’t want to go abroad, cannot learn a language, turn their noses up at young-age levels coaching and prefer the lazy route of easy pundit cash.

One scribe suggested that as a player you have so much time off you should surely use this to embrace coaching development. Just like he did at uni or later as a grad in his field, I bet.

It was all rather a deflating listen.

One reminiscent of an occasional conversation I’ve had with leaders of sales teams.

The paradox being that a rep may well want to work on skills that further their career, yet this seems impossible to do without adversely affecting the day job which jeopardises reaching (smashing) your target.

One way I’ve suggested (and made happen myself) remembers the school assembly turn.

From reception class to post-grad seminar and all stops in between, pupils often get to run a spot in front of their peers. Predominantly in a subject (or at least a slant) of your choosing. Happy to do the extra homework to make a decent stab of it.

This can transfer readily into the sales meeting.

In the same way individual footballers could be encouraged to prepare for and take an element of a training session, salespeople could take turns to tackle a specific area for a half-hour stint as team trainer.

Counter an emerging competitive threat, handle a stubborn objection, pitch the key nuance of a new offer.

Engage the chief exec, the single most important demo trick, uncover critical pain.

A winning graphic, shaping the timeline, recruiting a champ.

There’s plenty of choice.

I have seen one topic regularly chosen for such treatment. The celebratory regaling of a big win.

There must be a health warning attached to this one though. Without disciplined framing, they often descend into a stand-up-comic-stroke-big-I-am waste of time.

You might be surprised at how many (and who) of the rank-and-file volunteer too. Press-ganging made a thing of the past.

As my blogging aims to connect salespeople to the aspiration of becoming a fine ceo, here is a natural opportunity to see those who share in this ambition shine.


Sales Survival Rule Of Threes

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I’ve blogged in the past about the magic of threes. The delightful oratory device of the tricolon (especially effective when also used with the repetition of anafora). The way you should frame items on the sure-to-stick three-legs of a stool. I think of how each time I try and make a point I often consciously search for its triple-whammy delivery.

So I briefly caught a lady that seems to be the producer for Bear Gryls style adventure shows. Meg Hines quoted her own survival “rule of threes” for hostile terrain. Her limits you must be aware of;

3 seconds without thinking
3 minutes without air
3 days without water
3 weeks without food
3 months without company

Which naturally made me ponder solution Sales survival skills in this manner.

3 seconds without listening
3 minutes without progress
3 days without contact
3 weeks without requalifying
3 months without celebration

There feels a decent idea inside here.

Take any deal death knell for your selling and remind yourself to avoid getting close to such situation.

You can riff on the theme too. There’s those triplets that can derail your bid. Or more positively, what would you need three of on any deal to have better chance of prevailing?

3 reasons why
3 c-suite dwellers
3 user workshops
3 menu options
3 post-sale plans

Always adding to the sales survival mindset.


Scale Rank Importance

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I was reminded of my 90s flirtations with what’s recently been re-termed the dater’s Drake Formula conundrum.

Namely that – just like the probability of life elsewhere in the universe and in Sales a deal coming home – too many funnelling stipulations for anything and chances drop with each one, hurtling towards a soul-crushing zero.

Unaccustomed as I am to internet dating options, I was tickled by provider eHarmony announcing how they treat preferences.

Firstly, they have drastically chopped the ranking required. From 1-10 to 1-7 and now simply a three-point scale.

Any seller that’s tried to get a prospect to rank various decision criteria should appreciate this pattern.

I fondly remember employing the traffic light system. Just asking for a red, amber or green.

I also like the labels.

not important, somewhat important, very (very) important

Echoes of traffic lights. Yet this goes further. Anything except ‘very’ gets ignored.

Must-haves, nice-to-haves, won’t have.

A commonplace lens through which to view requirements. (Who knew there was a documented method like this called Moscow?)

Anything else and your deal management will likely be weighed down by a dense algorithm which would see salespeople unnecessarily – as eHarmony Chief Scientist Dr Steve Carter remarked – “kick themselves in the nuts”.


Make Your Sales Office Wall A Cattle Breed Apart

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cattle breeding board top ios

I love my sales office wall visuals.

I blog on good ones every time I see them.

Most recently with meezers and visionboarders, as well as Wall St Wolf set-dressing.

From a completely different field, I saw on telly a cattle farmer’s office.

He loves his old status board so much, it’s been in place for four decades. Despite tech options aplenty over the years, and now there even being ‘an app for that’.

cattle breeding board side ios

In the same way calendars abound, inbuilt in our smartphone-tablet-laptop lives, there’s something special about seeing progress splashed large across a wall. Rather than on a thumbnail screen.

What really works for me with this, is making sure you don’t merely replicate either a dashboard or diary screen on your wall.

My favourite is to grid your deals by process.

Along one side you write (or have drawn icons for) your specific process elements.

On the other, list each forecasted prospect.

In each cell note next to a tick, cross or question mark how you stack up.

The colour coded pins from the farm can also translate into your own key gateways and solution gaps to help ensure a healthy customer is born.

cattle breeding board closeup ios


Personality Pop Quiz For Prospect Secret Reveals

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Here’s a cheeky BBC cartoon graphic in keeping with their core brainwashing values.

This time, thinking it clever to sneer how “boring” the current snap electioneering and the likely winner are.

Frontrunner Theresa May faced that staple of magazine quizzes. Choose from a binary pair of options and let us all into the secrets of your real personality. The trio highlighted here were;

Line of Duty or Broadchurch?

Whiskey or Wine?

Indian or Chinese Takeaway?

These answers led to unnecessarily dismissive eye-rolling;

not seen either :: it depends :: I cook instead

On the telly front though she has watched Sherlock and Midsomer Murders, albeit with no preference expressed. She may have approached these cautiously, given the plain sight trap of “Merkel or Macron?” (she’ll work with both). Oh for the Facebook Live event suggesting “strong or stable?”

I once saw a former music scribe turned popstar asked similar. One was which radio station they listened to most (for UK readers; Radio 1 or 2).  He and his duo partner went for different stations altogether (Radio 3 & 4). Cue frustrated chuckles from the lady with the mic. After a short barrage of these type of queries, with the interview ended, the popman let his guard down a touch and empathised with someone from his old profession. “Those questions sound so simple but are really hard to write”.

Either/Or. This or That. Quickfire choice. Ice breakers. Conversation Starters.

You cannot say ‘we’re coming up to the end, here’s some fun’ and ask a prospect ‘boxers or briefs?’ Imagine if they answered ‘commando’. Ew.

But you can ask them to plant a flag on a pole in your planet and so gently reveal a little marvel of their mind to you.

Pretty much any scenario can be framed as a potential dilemma. Blue pill or red. Yin or yang. Two sides of the fence.

General themes for our solution selling build from concepts such as; what we’ve always done or something different, on-costs or day-one cost, standard or bespoke.

When you know what potentially mutually exclusive alternatives exist in your realm then you can slip in a friendly yet fiendish question early with your prospect to uncover their thinking.

footnote; when consulting the wisdom that is the internet for examples of either-ors there’s a slurry of “favourite” or “most hated” tropes you could possibly riff off too. As well as the style of delightful “first date” fodder which yielded this gem; How long before you leave for a trip do you start packing?


Urbanista Room Dressing

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I’ve blogged on this vital skill before.

Theatre stage designers can teach sellers a great deal.

Not in terms of trap doors, no matter attractive one may often be, nor smoke and mirrors to add pizzazz to a presentation.

Which to slightly digress, reminds me to adapt the lovely quote about design attributed to Juan-Carlos Fernandez;

bad selling is smoke while good selling is a mirror.

Which gets me thinking also about art gallery layouts. How an installation is deliberately displayed to make the most of the experience of being there.

There is on occasion a key meeting you’re hosting where you know the precise venue in advance, have prior access to it and so should try – although it is a hard task to pull off – to ‘dress the room’ in readiness.

So I did like to see a noble movement do just this. Taking the bohemian route, they announced plans for a city centre rehabilitation from an unused building in their focal point location as their launch pad.

They dressed the room beforehand.

The top ‘n tail pics are from the event. Some of several bare bricked, half-plastered walls adorned with single sheet of paper.

The one above being a kind of version of their ultimate “success statement”. Other walls had similar laminated pages with bulldog-clip hung on them. They included graphics, plans, lists and details. All in between artefacts on floors and tables supporting their cause.

Think of every meeting room you go into. Same faceless four walls. Maybe these days a glass panel here, huge plasma there. Cabinet where the tea and coffee perch. Selection of nearly spent marker pens in a drawer.

Now imagine that room with prepared decoration.

A key graph printed in striking colours pinned to a board and stuck at head height.

Some simple circles with words in them, connected or dotted lines making a flow in thick pen on a flipchart sheet taped up next to the drinks.

A list of priorities printed out, ready to be ranked.

The standard 2×2 matrix template primed for action.

A photo blown up large which, despite being perhaps a touch blurry or pixelated still gives impression of the problem seeking resolution.

The options are almost limitless.

I’m reminded of the anti-forgery trouncing of mechanical reproduction back in the Thirties. The impact is something you cannot replicate sending through a mere jpeg or pdf. In the term of those bauhaus and art deco days, your room gains a precious aura. One your competition will lack, and your prospect will likely prize.


Sales Ransomware Patch

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Who could be next?

This weekend the most enormous, indiscriminate ransomware attack yet made global headlines. Those caring souls at Microsoft yet again leaving their customers exposed to extortion of Bond villain proportions which can now, it seems, be unleashed by teens in their pyjamas as well as organised or even state-sponsored criminal gangs.

It struck me that selling endeavours encounter their own ransomware infiltrations with regularity.

Dastardly competitors will leave all kinds of traps for the unwary opponent to get clamped into.

They may trail ludicrous claims for their upcoming game-changing imminent model. Suggest all is not well in our State of Denmark. Hypnotise the prospect into thinking that little feature which we shy away from with reason, is in fact the deal-breaker and how lucky that they have it instead.

So how do you ensure you’ve a patch in place for these or any emerging threat?

Structured objection handling practice is something I seldom see in corporate salesteams. Let alone any in depth – and critically, ongoing – discussion about a particular, odious new one as it crops up in the field.

The latest deal-locking danger can emanate from many a place. A flag-placing competitive win. An install of ours gone slightly whiffy. A spiralling cost or price.

Despite the efforts of ‘knowledge management’, sales department attitudes to this are patchy themselves. Have you got a true procedure that first uncovers, then addresses and finally monitors success against the threat? From informal ten minutes at each sales forum, to a fully fledged sales ops resource on the case, a solution is out there and needed.