Thoughts and techniques for improving our performance in life and at work

Likeable persistence will win the sale

There are so many people who say selling is a numbers game. And in a way they are right, but it isn’t just about the numbers, it’s about how you deal with each individual number  – with each individual.

The successful salesperson will treat each contact with the same respect. Every single person we sell to is a prospect. And they always will be if we believe we can help them. Yes of course, we need to convince them, understand their needs, show them the benefits, but the key to long term success is that you never give up. Never!

I know sales people who tell me “You know x prospect? I can never get hold of them, they’re never going to buy.” or “It’s so difficult dealing with y, I just can’t get across to him.”  We all have prospects like these, but the key to success is to understand that a sales prospect moves at their pace, not at ours. Our job is to build the relationship so that when they are ready, they will come to us. And frankly, just because you can’t get hold of someone only means you can’t get hold of them – it doesn’t mean they won’t buy, but it’s funny how your mind plays tricks with you isn’t it?

I always tell salespeople to never cut off their contact as a prospect. Never write them off, always leave your conversation so that the next call to them still has potential to be a step nearer the sale. This doesn’t mean you don’t close on them – but just because they have said no to one close doesn’t mean that they will never buy. “No” just means “not yet”. So don’t end the conversation with a no. Find a new topic of conversation, a new angle to open up and give you a reason to call them. Next time you talk you’ll be a step closer.

They key to this is to always understand that your relationship with each individual is paramount. Your prospect needs to be aware of your absolute conviction that what you are selling will be good for them – if this conviction really is unshakeable, why would you stop calling them?  Make your persistence an ongoing joke if necessary, but one where this is shared between you. Your prospect will probably respect you for your sheer persistence, but even more so for the fact that you’ve shown the professionalism to maintain a good relationship with them all the while the prospect has been saying no.

I hope this short piece has remotivated you to look at some of your toughest contacts in a new light.

“Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.”  Bill Bradley

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated failures. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”  Calvin Coolidge

Let me know your thoughts, or even share some of your stories to illustrate how this works for you.



The medium is not the message, the message is the message

From talking to many senior people in our industry (cycling) and looking at what they’re doing differently in the “new retail world”, it strikes me there’s still a lot of confusion out there.

You can see that people are using all sorts of devices to go online at any time they choose – at home, at work, on the train, bike, or car (!), even in your shop. There are statistics out there showing quite amazing numbers for tablet, smartphone, ipad sales, or statistics showing the prevalence of internet use for virtually any area of life, but – put simply – the fact is, the way people buy your products has changed beyond recognition in barely a generation and that is down to one thing.
No, it’s not the internet. It’s the amount of information on the internet!

We’re all so hung up about our websites, microsites, blogs, social media, that it’s easy to become distracted from what is important. People go online using any number of different gadgets, but the reason they go online is to find information. It’s the information, the content that is important. It really doesn’t matter (ok, it matters a bit) what platform they use, but it matters a great deal what information they find.
And for you, as business people trying to reach your customers, converse with them, build a relationship, and, ultimately, sell to them, it’s what you are giving to customers, what information, what truly compelling, entertaining , inspirational content you can supply customers with that will make them come to you, and not your competitor.

So meeting your customers where they are searching, where they are chatting, and making sure that the information they are looking for comes from us is a vital part of the new world we are living right now. Even more vital is making sure that you are then providing them with the quality of information, the truly standout content they need to capture their attention and loyalty.

If your intern, or the “guy who quite fancies doing it and has a bit of spare time”, or maybe even your webmaster is the person who decides what products, comments, reviews, photos, videos, appear in the name of your company, how confident are you that this person really knows how to write good copy? How to get the tone of how he talks to people right? How to choose a decent photo (no! don’t tell me he takes the photos too!)?

Or to put it another way – How qualified is he to devise a coherent integrated content strategy and produce that quality content to promote your brands/products to potential customers? – I hope you see what I mean!

You all need to become content publishers. But, if you don’t have the experienced, skilled people to do it properly you need to find them.  Or hire a company like ours to do it for you! Boom-tish!

As ever, feel free to contact me with any thoughts or comments.






Train your mind like an Olympian

I hope you’ve all been as inspired by the athletes in the 2012 Olympics as I have. It’s not just  the Gold medal winners who inspire,though, is it? The back stories of the athletes from strife ridden countries or from heartbreaking personal circumstances show that it is not just  a supreme athleticism that marks these individuals out.

It is their attitude, their determination not to be knocked back, their belief in themselves and their focus on achieving their aims that have helped many of them to transform their lives and reach the Olympic Games.

And after their competition, time and time again, you hear from those athletes who have underperformed about how their mind wasn’t right or how something just didn’t click, and from the winners of how they just felt so focused.

It is clear that for many athletes, the time they spend training their mind is as integral a part of their training as the time they spend on their technique or physical condition. Just as honing their techniques and tuning their body to supreme fitness requires daily practice, so tuning their mental state requires a similar commitment.

If we want to perform at our best, why is it that so many companies don’t invest time in training their people’s minds? Why is it that we as individuals don’t spend personal time on developing our own mental condition?

Much of the time with people I have trained is spent on developing aspects that are more mental than technical, such as their belief system or their approach to themselves, business and clients, possibly as much for some people as I spend on technique and skills development. How can you possibly sell at your optimum level if you don’t have confidence in yourself or your company or have a negative view of your client – or any number of elements that stop people performing at their best? How can you achieve your objectives in life unless you have total faith in your ability? And if we as trainers and and managers are aware of shortcomings or mental blockages in our people, don’t we therefore have a duty of care to try and help them develop them? True motivation comes not from outside, but from helping our people to find the motivation within themselves.

As individuals we can also work on our mental approach to life. People like Terri Cole, Tony Robbins and Robin Sharma (amongst many!) offer concrete daily personal development programmes than can help us develop the way in which we approach our daily life. These often involve practicising mental exercises, affirmations based on NLP or EFT principles or meditation to build up our confidence or focus on our goals or work on a particular aspect of our atittudes and belief systems that challenge us.

As a Nichiren Buddhist, I study the teachings of Nichiren Daishonin and chant morning and evening to uncover my true Buddha nature.  For years I tried to manage my life and my mind on my own, but I’ve found having  a handbook works a lot better; a little bit like having the manual for my car, I’d probably be lost without it.  You will find that Buddhist principles run like a constant thread through the work of most personal development practitioners. There’s a reason for that.

Whichever way you choose, take the time to find the way that works for you and then practice it diligently. Each of us can find the answers deep within ourselves and develop a spirit and attitude to make us all Olympians in our own lives.

A couple of quotes to finish on:

“The battles that count aren’t the ones for Gold medals. The struggles within yourself  – the invisible, inevitable battles inside all of us – that’s where it’s at.”    –  Jesse Owens

“The mind is everything. What we think, we become.” – Shakyamuni Buddha

Please feel free to contact me directly or leave your comments here.


Win, but discreetly.

Whereas my last blog talked about how the way you handle failure defines you as a person, this blog is in some ways about how you handle success.

I am a competitive person. I like competing and for many years winning was extremely important to me. In fact, if I lost I used to be inconsolable when I was a kid and being told “learn to be a good loser” was a constant mantra from my father. It took time, but eventually I learnt that lesson.

In fact, it’s one of the wonderful things I’ve learnt over the years that competing can be great fun, even if you lose.  As I get older, I’m finding more opportunities to learn that playing squash:-)  But I’m still getting immense fun out of it. And when I lose, I don’t beat myself up. And when I win, I don’t get too carried away.

Building a career in sales, you have to be competitive: With yourself, your targets and with colleagues. And that competition can be great fun, highly motivational and build strong relationships with colleagues.

One of the major issues I have often found with salespeople is taking their competitive spirit too far. There is one person you cannot be overtly competitive with: The client.

Of course, if you get the sale, to a certain extent, you have “won”. And given that ultimately, gaining a sale is your aim, why do so many salespeople get so hung up on “winning” each step of the process? Whether it be about the biggest objection he has to your proposition, or even minor points of the discussion, you must never obviously win the argument and sometimes, it really helps to let the client “win”.

We’ve probably all seen or even been on the receiving end of a salesperson who just has to prove that he is right. It can be quite painful to watch, because it is the salesperson who is the last one to realise the fact the sale will not happen.

Some salespeople seem to have a need to demonstrate their “wins” in an obvious way. And of course internally, in the privacy of the office or after work over a cold one,  this can be OK, celebrating wins is good.

But if you let your client think for one second that he is in a competition,that the sale is about “winning”,  then the salesperson has in all probability lost that sale.

The job of  manager or trainer involves more than techniques and skills. Sometimes it is about helping your salespeople understand fundamental character traits about themselves, to learn positive life lessons and becoming more rounded individuals. Reining in that triumphalism you see, that need to show proof that they have won, is crucial in turning a potentially good salesperson into a consummate professional.

The salesman must learn that you can still win the sale even if you lose some of the steps along the way. In fact the client will respect you more when you concede points he makes.

The only person who needs to know that this is a “win” is yourself.

Ultimately a career in sales can be a great lesson for life. Taking all the rejections and never giving up; honing skills of presenting coherent arguments and the ability to discuss those in a non-competitive and mutually respectful way;  understanding the other person’s viewpoint; setting and achieving targets; working as an individual in a team. But of all the lessons a career in sales has taught, realising that the only person you have to prove anything to is yourself is probably the most important one.

“You can stand tall without standing on someone. You can be a victor without leaving victims.” – Harriet Woods

“Our ego hinders our ability to influence more than anything else under our control” – Michael McKinney

Let me know what you think.


Failure IS an option

What a week of sport this has just been! England lose on penalties again, Germany lose, Nadal loses to a player ranked 100, who then loses his next match. The ups and downs of life very quickly illustrated in particular for Rosol. All of which has made me reflect a little on the interesting way in which some of these results were portrayed.

For intance, Nadal’s failure was a great shock, England’s failure was oddly seen as almost a success in some quarters, and then Germany’s defeat in the semi-final was seen as a major failure.

It all depends on the context and who’s making the judgement, doesn’t it?

When you look back on  events in your life, do you sometimes label them as successes or failures? A relationship or a job, maybe? I know when my marriage ended a good many years back, I labelled it myself as a “failure” for quite some time, and it’s a common term isn’t it, a “failed marriage”? In fact, we do it all the time, “his business failed”, “her relationship failed”, we seem intent on defining the events of our and other peoples’ lives with some degree of finiteness.

And yet sometimes, isn’t it interesting how some events actually change from failure to success, or even from success to failure, dependent on when you look at them. For instance, I would never have had the opportunity to re-discover elements of my own life I’d previously put on hold had that marriage not ended, nor have met quite the most exceptional woman who is now my partner, and hindsight shows the “failure” was actually a success for all parties. Eventually.

A year ago I’d just started a new job (success!) and was excited about this new challenge and stage in my career and yet 6 months later, disliked the job, ( the old me might have labelled it a “failure”), and made an even more significant step by going freelance. So far I’m doing OK and much happier, so perhaps this is a success, but what will it look like in ten years?

Up, down, up, down, which way it goes nobody knows!

Buddhism teaches us that a life with no ups and downs is impossible, in fact you should expect challenges and embrace them as a normal part of life and character forming. Having a strong faith that you can cope with anything that life throws at you, that no matter what happens, you will stand resolutely and keep striving is the key to developing an inner steel. Not letting the “downs” of life defeat you is success in itself. And so in the long run, why label something in a finite way if you carried on undefeated? I read a wonderful quote recently I’d like to share with you from Tom Krause:

“There are no failures – just experiences and your reactions to them”

He is so on the nail here isn’t he? When I come across quotes I like I’ve taken to pinning them up on my wall for a while to really try to engrain them into my unconcious. That quote’s up at the moment.

Experiences are just that, it is only we who choose to label them in either a positive or negative way. It is up to you to write the commentary on your life, no-one else.You would not like anyone to say that you were a failure, or the end of a relationship was a failure or losing a job was failure, would you?

So why do it yourself? Why beat yourself up like that?

If any event could be a success or a failure then it is totally up to you to decide so why decide in a negative way? Banish the word “failure” from your vocabulary, strike it from your mental dictionary. It is so unhealthy to label events in your life or even worse, yourself, as a “failure”, so just choose now not to do it any more.

If you’ve had an eexperience that you labelled as a failure, look at it again, think about how it looks from a different angle, how it might look in, say, five years time,  try taking a different attitude to that event, preferably a more positive one! Avoid labelling it in any way, it was just another event, another step along the path and the path still has along way to go and you’re still on it. Just reflect for a moment on how that event has not stopped life carrying on, you have not been defeated – that is awesome, pat yourself on the back and congratulate yourself. Now that just must be better than beating yourself up and judging yourself in a harsh way?

It’s your choice. Failure IS an option, but it is YOUR option.

I’ll leave you with a couple of other quotes:

“I get knocked down, but  I get up again, you’re never going to keep me down” – Chumbawumba

“Suffer what there is to suffer, enjoy what there is to enjoy, regard both suffering and joy as facts of life” – Nichiren Daishonin

Feel free to let me know what you think of this blog.

Thanks for reading and remember to be kind to yourself .


Do days just drift by?

Have you ever  found yourself committing to a new goal or to make a start on a new project and then suddenly realise a whole week has gone by and actually, you’ve not made any progress? In fact, you may even have found that most of the time that has somehow just  drifted by, you haven’t even thought about whatever it was that you were planning do!

Does this sound familiar?

You’re not alone.  And it’s nothing to give yourself a hard time about, all of us do it at one time or another. But there are steps you can take right now to make sure you don’t continue to do this. Or at least there are steps you can take right now to give yourself every chance of changing this pattern.

And there’s no secret to this, anyone can do it, so stop telling yourself that this sort of thing is for other people. We are each unique and yet at the same time interconnected. Just because someone ultra successful or somone you really admire does something, that doesn’t mean you can’t do it, it is much more likely to mean that maybe if you did what they do, you might start making some real strides in your own journey.

A work mentor of mine once told me the secret of making great magazines (an industry I’ve spent much of my career in) is “if you see something great, steal it!”

There’s little new that has been invented in how to make changes in your  life, just different ways of presenting it. People have been using these techniques for thousands of years.  And if you put yourself to the test for just a few weeks, you can rid yourself of the habit of drifting, and learn a new, positive habit that helps you move your life forward.

I’d suggest you take all of these steps onboard, but if you just take one of these steps and use it daily, I hope you’ll find those days don’t just drift by so often.

1. Frame the day – by this I mean take some time at the start and at the end of the day to be alone with yourself for a few minutes, 15-20 minutes maybe and just be still. To fill this time, some people pray, some meditate, some people chant, some do stretches, some people just sit and think! – do what feels right for you! What is important is to find the time for yourself and prepare yourself mentally for the day ahead and at the end of the day be grateful, review the day and recalibrate yourself. This helps you appreciate each day. You never get them back, you know!

2. Write down your goals – Yes, it’s that simple, make a list.  Make it achievable, of course (SMART goals) and then tick them off. The sense of achievement will be inspiring and should help you keep the habit.

3. Keep setting new goals – Renew that list, every day.  Even small things are worth putting on there – like the ironing for instance – ticking them all off helps give you a sense of achievement. You’ll be amazed how much progress you’ll make in the course of a few weeks just by the simple daily habit of ticking off chores, projects, whatever tasks and goals you set yourself.

And these techniques can be used to influence every sphere of your life – home, family, friends,  work, whatever.

I’ll end with a couple of my favourites quotes:

“Small daily improvements over time lead to stunning results” – Robin Sharma

“A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step” – Lao Tzu

Let me know if this was useful to you or not.



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