Chris Allen's Sales Culture

Selling is just a conversation

Monday, April 06, 2009

What value Planet Earth?

Here's a "value" game I play in my sales training course. A terrorist kidnaps your nearest and dearest and sends a ransom demand for $25 for their safe return. Do you pay? I doubt it. It just doesn't sound like a serious threat. The kidnapper must be a practical joker. We all know that human a life is worth more than $25.

Now, if the demand was, "$
250,000 by the end of the week or they die!", you'd do anything and everything to get the money to save them; sell your house, body, mother, car...

I've just seen the shocking film "
An Inconvenient Truth". According to Al Gore, we are holding our only home to ransome and very soon we will kill Planet Earth. Naturally, with this type of threat, I thought "I'll pay whatever is needed to save the planet", I'll suffer shortages, difficulties, hardships, undergo massive behaviour changes ... whatever it takes to get my only home back..... I visited the official website to find out what price we'll have to for its safe return. seems that the only 'price' we have to pay is to turn our heating down and encourage others to be kind to the environment. So that's it? It doesn't make sense. Either the price has to be much higher ($250000 x 6bn?) or the threat is grossly overstated.

If I am to believe that Planet Earth is in mortal danger, tell me that it's worth more than $25 to save.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Whose interests are they serving?

I used to be believe that western governments had the interests of their people at heart, but 'the war on terror' has steadily eroded that view. The latest media obsession about possible violent demonstrations during the upcoming G20 event for political gasbags has worn it away still further. I wondered, "why this obsession on the threat of violence?" They assume that it is inevitable. Won't all this scare talk drive ordinary folk like me away from demonstrating and encourage thugs to turn up for a bun fight?

In my negotiating techniques course, I teach that to achieve your desired result, focus on what serves your underlying interests.

Let's think - whose interests are served by violent protests? 1] The Media (more and juicy news = £££), 2] the Met Police (injured bobbys present a positive image = £££) and 3] the government (need to curtail freedom of expression = power++)

A good negotiation satisfies everyone's interests but can any policeman, politician or media mogul tell me how talking up possible violent protests serves the interests of us ordinary folk?

Suggestions Mr PM/Home Secretary/Murdoch?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Why big public contracts always go over budget

Shock horror! Yesterday the London newspapers announced that a government body says that the already huge cost (£10bn?) of the 2012 Olympics is in danger of dramatically increasing further.

Why the big surprise?

Any self respecting salesperson knows that the price of product is far higher if the buyer needs it for a specific date, than if he/she is in no hurry. The closer to the event, the more they'll pay to get the product in time.

Contractors do not agree to everything from the outset because they know that the price of the 'extras' required later will massively increase as the event approaches. I'll bet that, in 2012, 3 months before the start, one of them will announce that the Olympic committee has asked for something that was not in the original agreement and that only a massive effort by them, suitably rewarded, will ensure the success of the event.

Ah, where would the contracting business be without the ambitions of politicians?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Beware your strap-line

I believe that the purpose of a strap-line is to enhance the possibility of someone buying your products or services.

I was walking through the City this morning and I noticed a van with the name of its business on the side. Whilst I can't remember the name of the company, I did notice it said, "caterers who care".

I thought that, whilst I would remember that strap-line, it wouldn't induce me to consider their services, because it was inviting me to assess its validity. I'd have to first use them before I could assess if the strap-line was true. It sounded like hard work. Anyway, I assumed that all companies cared about doing business.

At the beginning of the 20th century strap-lines such as, "purveyors of fine wines", described exactly what the business provided. Even today there are some companies that still have such strap-lines and, whilst they may seem quaint, at least they don't ask us to make a judgement about whether they care or not.

So, when creating your business strap-line, ask yourself, "does it describe what we do or does it invite people to have an opinion about our business?"

British retailers just don't get it

A friend of mine recently told me about a fab scheme in which she'd become involved. Its a new loyalty card for small independent retailers, cafes, hairdressers etc.,called a Wedge Card. It offers discounts to cardholders who naturally expect to quickly recoup the cost of the card from the discounts. The aim is to encourage people to buy from local businesses and so counter the cancer of the global chains that are turning our towns monochromatic.

Yesterday I received the "Wedge" magasine. As expected, it had articles about new entrants and unusual businesses who'd signed up to the scheme. All very encouraging. But what shocked me was that of the 40 odd featured classified ads, 25 had 'conditions' attached to the discount (e.g. 10% off on products over £50 bought between 10 and 12am on Tuesdays). So, instead of going the extra mile to win us over, these retailers only want our loyalty if we are worth it to them

Loyalty comes from generosity - unconditional generosity.

Sadly, until they get real, these businesses will provide no compelling reason for us to change our shopping habits.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Good grief!

My friend's death had a much bigger impact on me than I would have thought. One consequence was the inertia it caused, including writing up this blog. I suspect that it's been a form of self indulgence.

I noticed that when I grieve, my thoughts are all about me not her; how I won't see her again I won't meet her for our bar gossip next month or receive random text jokes from her anymore, she won't be sailing with me next summer.

At first I kidded myself that I was thinking of her. But then I saw I was using her memory to think about myself. To emerge from grief means I must accept it for what it is - a feeling - not for the loss of a person, but a deep sadness of an unfulfilled expectation or idea of what my life might have been had she still been here.


Saturday, October 28, 2006

Corporate liars

Have you noticed how telling lies has become part of corporate speak?
I flew into Heathrow the other day. We arrived on time but we were incarcerated on the plane for a further hour because there was no bus to take us to the terminal. The reason given was "the absence of ground transport is due to...........wait for it.....the high volume of incoming flights"! Hellooo....have I missed something? Since when has the arrival of scheduled flights been a surprise??

It was obviously a balls-up, so why not just admit it and apologise Mr BAA?

No doubt we can expect this winter's train delays to be "due to unforseen stations on the route".

Bah! Humbug!


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The departure

Jane died at noon (GMT) on 14th April 2006.


Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Just say it.

I've just visited a very close girlfriend who is dying. She was unconscious, breathing heavily. The hospital staff said that they thought that it would be only a matter of hours.

I sat next to her, not knowing if she could hear anything. I wanted to say stuff based on my Buddhist beliefs, but I was scared to, in case it conflicted with her Christian ones. I caught the absurdity of my reluctance. What does it matter what one believes and says, as long as it comes from the heart!

I kissed her hand and, through my tears, said that I had loved her in our past lives, love her in this one and would love her again in future lives.

Suddenly she opened her eyes. She tried to focus on me for a few seconds but then slipped back.

She'd heard.

We're complete.


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Am I your customer or supplier? - it's make your mind up time!

Last week I had a shocking conversation with an Estate Agent. As you know from my last post, I'm trying to buy an appartment. With difficulty!

I received a call from a 'negotiator' describing a property I might like to view.
"Great! Let's go and see it tomorrow morning?" I said.
"We don't do viewings in the mornings" she replied.
"That doesn't seem to be a very customer-centric approach"
I mused, expecting an explanation as to why mornings were out.
"YOU are NOT my customer!" she said.


I explained that in normal businesses we regard the seller as the supplier and the buyer as the customer. But she would have none of it.

No wonder UK estate agents are such rubbish - they can't recognise a customer!


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Forget first - It's the last impressions that counts

Having watched my bank savings grow at a sub-snail pace over the last couple of years, I decided it was time to become a landlord. I called up a local estate agent (realtor) and asked them to find me some suitable appartments. Within 48 hours they'd sent me details of ~8 properties and the following day (Thursday) the sales guy took my wife and I to view 6 of them. The sales guy was courteous, informative and not at all the pushy type - nice!

During the properties tour we had lots of questions; "what's the potential income from this?.. what are the taxes?... what type of people would rent?.."etc. At the end the sales guy said that he'd call us the next morning (Friday) to answer the outstanding questions - great!

On the way home I said to my wife that I thought he was the best real estate salesperson I'd ever met........

Friday - no call.
Saturday - no call
Monday - he calls!
"Why didn't you call me on Friday as promised?"
I asked.
"I was busy" he replied!

I'm viewing with their competitors this week.