Tag Archives: Sales

What You Can Learn from Long Sales Cycles

I was at a London Tech week event recently and one of the panelists was referring to having been through 3 years sales cycles into banks.  There was some discussion as to what to do in these circs.  Strangely no-one mentioned the obvious conclusion “get a new job!” 🙂 I mean if you are selling a fleet of Airbus or some such you expect the process to take some time – but there is a very big-ticket at the end of it. But just selling something into a bank?!

get a life

But what if it is not quite that bad? What do you need to learn short of moving to Airbus where you would at least land a whale not a fish after 3yrs? Continue reading


Brain Hacks – The Immense Value of Doodling Stories in BizDev

Funny how some weeks you see lots and lots of the same pattern.  As if the universe is trying tell you something… The one I kept noticing this week in BizDev conversations was one of the most common roadblocks I see folks confronted by in Business Development. Namely being “stuck with the facts”.

Now there is nothing wrong with facts or descriptions. That is unless you are trying to do BizDev 🙂 For BizDev we need messages, we need to arouse emotion (emotion drives action), we need to convey the essence of what we are trying to get across.

Once folks are stuck in this descriptive place there is no easy way out.  The logical parts of the psyche are in control and the logical parts of the psyche don’t like anything that’s not logical 🙂  Like creativity or seeing the way out of the logic trap 🙂

But there is a great Brain Hack.  A way out of the cul-de-sac of prosaic and unsexy explanation…

visual thinking Continue reading


The Importance of Dating

Darth Vader doesn’t date. Mind you, based on a poll I saw, Anakin Skywalker and Padme’s on-screen “romance” was judged the least believable ever – so Anakin barely dated either. But they – and “American style” 20thC manipulation marketing – belong in a galaxy a long time ago far, far away.

In our galaxy, here and now, different principles need to apply. In the second part of The Tao of BizDev YouTube trilogy on how Business and hence BizDev has changed in the 21stC I emphasise the importance of dating as an antidote to many of the challenges of 21stC business development.

The Tao of BizDev - Dating

In talking to folks subsequently it’s clear that many – or even most – agree, but few understand all the ramifications. I believe there are five main reasons why dating is vitally important (it is after all The Tao of BizDev’s second principle}: Continue reading


Case Study of a Strategic BizDev Audit

I first saw Hawkind in 1978 at a gig that the local evening paper suitably described as “a weird evening”. Never mind that punk had happened – every hippy and assorted entity who lived under a stone had been drawn there as if by a tribal dog whistle.

masters of the universe

The previous year they had written a song called micro-man, which has a key line which has only become more applicable over time:

It’s the age of the micro-man, who sees the detail and never the plan

Which is highly relevant to business development today.  In this world of speciation and specialisation we are all admonished to be ever more detail focused and ever less plan focused – to drill into and live amongst the pixels. This, de facto, means less time attention and thought for the big picture.

Detail is fine and dandy – and essential in many professions, or even the arts – ever seen a ballet rehearsal?. However time and time again I see that it’s The Big Picture that makes the biggest difference.  No amount of tactics will make up for strategic drift.

One Tao of BizDev strategic consultancy gig was Continue reading


What is the Minimum Minimum Viable Product?

Funny how coincidence goes. I was only last night watching Eric Ries gig at the LSE – which two years on seems surprisingly dated (see eg Wu-wei, Growth Hacking, and The Rise of Marketing-less Marketing) when what should I get today but a text from a buddy asking about the above koan. How could I resist 🙂


For those of you not in the loop. Ries’ (a silicon valley programmer turned manager turned director) book is based on his experience of spending 6mts and a whole bunch of funding developing a product that no-one ever downloaded.  A pain I can relate to as my first gig way back was porting Unix to an ICL mainframe (when the UK had a mainframe company). Lots of work, lots of stress, huge efforts, brilliant work. And it never got used. Ever. [ICL was sold to Fujitsu].  Not long after I promptly became a Merchant Banker 😀

Ries methodology centres on having an MVP – a Minimum Viable Product – that you can put out there ASAP to at least find out if the market wants it.  In the extreme case it’s a single page website which says click here for more info.

It’s a solution to the old Supply-Push, Demand-Pull balance. It’s product development interacting ASAP with Sales.

We can also Continue reading


Will Purpose-Driven Businesses Blow Away Marketing-Driven Businesses?

In the seminal, if dated, 1999 HBR article “Unbundling the Corporation”, Hagel and Singer declared that every company contains three different kinds of business and that in future they would unbundle. nice work for consultants if you can get it (which is probably why it’s free at McKinseys site lol) … followed only 5yrs later no doubt by them “Rebundling the Corporation” 😀

unbundling the corporation

This is a nice way in (well I think so lol) to framing things in a different take.  Using the first three steps in the BizDev Cascade – Value, Marketing, Sales – we can “Unbundle the Corporation” in a different way.

Starting with Marketing-driven business, I would say that the sans pareil definition of most Global American Mega Cos in the food industry – is that Marketing has become the product.  When you drink Coca-Cola you are drinking a brand not benefitting from a dozen teaspoons of sugar and some chemicals. Continue reading


BizDev when there is no Conduit to Market

I have had some interesting conversations recently with various different folks who are all doing different types of business where the clients are in Financial Services.  They all break the simple textbook Product-Conduit-Market model.  This model is fine for selling your cornflakes in supermarkets perhaps but of little relevance in more consultancy-based businesses. For Financial Services perhaps most of the sellers into it have to build up their own contact list.  There are no real channels as such.

As I wrote last week the modern “Beyond Marketing and Selling” process is heavily dependent upon searching for and attracting leads.  This is even more vital when you and your firm “wearing out the shoe leather” is the “channel to market”.

Churchs shoe sole

So what is the secret to “21stC shoe leather” marketing?  Continue reading


Moving Beyond “Marketing” and “Sales”

Do you like being “marketed” to? Do you like Ads? Do you like being “sold” to? Do you like some guy selling you stuff?

Thought not. Me neither. So why does everyone persist with Marketing and Sales?  Well the same reason everyone persists – inertia. But if “we always do what we always did” … in the 21stC we will not continue “to always get what we always got” – this is my whole point – 21stC business development needs a radically new mentality.


I believe we can all make a leap forward by taking a step back, re-examining the intent behind “marketing” and “sales”, why we resist them and how we can expand our business in a harmonious way that we flow with the Tao rather than swim against the flow. Continue reading


21stC BizDev in 5 Words – What? Who? What? How? Why?

Once I wrote a nice simple, clear post … doesn’t happen often 😀 – 21stC Communication Essentials – Simplicity, Clarity, Brevity You simply must get that inserted into your DNA to succeed in our noisy, overloaded 21stC world.


Basho should have been a 21stC marketer

Basho should have been a 21stC marketer



Easily forgotten.

In a noisy world.


I was reminded of this recently Continue reading


Ten Fingers, Ten Toes, One Attention – Oh Dear

Everyone wants your attention.  Texts ping. Calls come. Voicemails lurk. Emails flood. Banner Ads wink, in-App ads glisten. “Can we have a meeting?”. Your partner calls, the kids need something, the school says something, the insurance company sends you a quote.  Man has anyone got a way to clone my attention and give me lots of them?

Nope – I didn’t think so. Nor yours, nor your potential clients. Continue reading


Why Next Steps is the First Not Last Part of a Presentation

I had a hard time once when working with a client on a pitch persuading them to put the “Next Steps” slide first.  They (being logical, bright, technical folks) thought this looked ridiculous.  Why have next steps right up front?

next steps

Well let’s consider the opposite.  We go through a nice educational presentation (after all we are not trying to flog folks stuff they don’t need are we?) and then – last slide is “next steps”.  Like every other presentation.  At which point the audience always gets defensive as they feel this is the stage where they stop relaxing and have to fend off these people coming back in or selling things etc etc.  That’s always the stage where you get some polite “we need to think about this”, “we have to discuss this further internally”.  And that’s always the kiss of death 🙁 … as you may have noticed 😉

On the other hand what happened when we put Next Steps at the beginning was Continue reading


Content Shock, Rear-View Mirrors and the End of a Gold Rush?

I am sure you have noticed how the number of books have gone up in your lifetime.  How the number of webpages explodes along with emails, blogs to read, podcasts, YouTubes, and links to cute kittens.

Mark Schaefer Grow Blog

Mark Schaefer Grow Blog

Exponentially increasing content, a limit to eyeball hours in the day and naturally it gets less valuable.  Coupled with the fact that in this world of instant sharing how much is genuinely new?

Of course strong rebuttals.  A buddy who is an expert in government website content sent me (when I mentioned the phrase “another snowflake in the content blizzard”) a link denying all of this.  It was written by “The Content Marketing Association” (and had little real logic).  No shit Sherlock the X institute says X is no way getting less important to the world 🙂

It’s a good excuse to recap the whole picture and let you know my take… Continue reading


Decision Fatigue – Took A While To Decide About This Post

So I looked at the menu and chose the turkey with quince jelly – well it is nearing Xmas. Hmm list of starters – oh well won’t bother – that will save thinking about it.  My chum arrived later and stared at the menu. The waitress came. He was still staring.  Then he decided he wanted a starter … oh no, I better have one too. Here’s the pub by the way.. (or rather the sign).

hare-and-houndsStill he hadn’t chosen. Grr.  What is going on and why is this really important for 21stC BizDev? Continue reading


Wu-wei, Growth Hacking, and The Rise of Marketing-less Marketing

Last week I wrote about wu-wei and the perfect presentation. Now let’s go the whole hog and consider profound non-doing/effortless-doing/natural-doing and marketing as a whole.  What’s better than Marketing?  No Marketing!

And I joke not. Gazillion dollar start-ups such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, AirBnB and Dropbox grew without marketing budgets worth mentioning. I saw some linkbait today about getting 10,000 hits a day without marketing.  Growth hacking (well it does come from California lol) is all the rage.  What can we learn from it?

growth hacking Continue reading


Wu-wei and What’s the Ideal Presentation?

Wu-wei is the quintessence of the Taoist vibe.  Like the Tao it’s also utterly untranslatable 🙂 The usual translation of not-doing doesn’t really cut it.  Many times in life when stuff needed doing I tried the “doing nothing”, “sit on the sofa drinking beer, eating pizza and watching TV” approach and nothing ever did get done 🙁  Perhaps “effortless doing” is nearer … like when you do a near perfect golf swing with no strain and the ball sails off.  Or “being completely natural” … like when grass grows … it “just grows” … no efforting about it.

From David James Lees blog

From David James Lees blog

So what would the equivalent of being “perfectly natural” be when applied to presentations?  I think the answer might surprise you… Continue reading


The Scariest – But Most Important – Ingredient In 21stC BizDev

Start your meeting with “This might not be of relevance to you”.

Nothing scares the amateur BizDev-er more than starting with what they would see as “failure” – ie the end of a conversation and no chance of a sale. But nothing is more important to 21stC BizDev. In a world of excess “selling” we must adopt an “educational” approach and be simple and clear about our value (see Value Encapsulation).  Then (and spot the 21stC concept here) the BizDev process stops being about “sales” and becomes about “search”.

search-marketingThis “search” approach is the antithesis of the archetypal “slippery second-hand car salesman”, “sell to anyone and everyone using every trick in the many books on ‘how to sell’ “.  Besides as “sales resistance” has increased and customers wise-up to at least some of the “moves” that approach has got much harder (and less succesful) anyway.

So what is the 21stC “search” way? Continue reading


Value Encapsulation – the 21stC Key

I resisted this for a long time.  I resisted the “Twitter-isation” of society. So how come I gave in? Why do I now think it’s vital?  Why is it the next 21stC BizDev step which must come after the all-important Value Mining and Refining?

beach-surrender Continue reading


The Buddha Knew The Importance Of Doing Marketing Before Selling

Actually he got it wrong first time … unsurprisingly not something emphasised by tradition lol.  But he learned fast.  After his enlightenment the first person he met asked who he was. The Buddha replied along the lines that he was the fully enlightened one – at which point the guy said “may it be so friend” and wandered off.  Thereby missing out on the start of one of the longest bull markets in history – 2,500 years and the stock is still rising 🙂

Standing BuddhaActually did you know that the Buddha forbad images made depicting him?  One of life’s ironies as there are probably more statues in the world today of a man who forbad his followers from making statues of him than of anyone else (or maybe even everyone else put together?!). Doh!

Anyway back to the Buddha and marketing. So his first “pitch” – tell the facts – had failed. What was his next and how come it’s still appropriate today? Continue reading


Sales secrets III – WIIFM .. What’s In It For Me?

It’s only when I come to write this blog that I really appreciate all the lessons I learned the hard way over a decade ago. At the time it just felt like pain! If you are going through business pain right now check out my post on Flowing Smoothly, Struggling as Symptomatic.

My primary focus selling Stratos, my strategic risk system, was to explain how it was useful. And for sure that’s necessary. And I told some good stories to back it up which is also very powerful. And the presentations got shorter which is also good. As is discussing their headaches. And their buying process. Yada yada.

Now this was all great but I was missing one vital angle which is a bit like a fuse in a plug .. The whole circuit can be in place but without this tiny piece it won’t work. What was my missing fuse? What base wasn’t I covering?

psychological key

Continue reading


Sales Secrets II – Staircases Not High Jumps

I learned this lesson the hard way.  And like all lessons learned the hard way it’s worth its weight in gold.  Mummy may have told you not to put your hand in the fire, but it’s only when you put your hand in the fire that you never forget again.

Over a decade ago I was busy marketing and selling my strategic risk system – Stratos.  This was (and is) a unique approach in so far as it looks at the chance of revenues falling below costs – ie a “real loss”. It may surprise you to know that all of the banking risk systems in the world – zillions of dollars worth – just look at the chance of income falling below zero – which is a very different thing.

The first thing I learned the hard way is evangelical selling.  This a rare thing – so rare I don’t think I have ever read much about it at all.  If you are selling a new toaster or new car people already understand the concept of toaster and car, and you are doing comparative selling.  Why is your toaster/car better? But if you have invented a whole new concept the sell is more around why the concept is valuable – you need to create the market – a veeery different type of sale.

The second thing I learned which has been extremely useful in all subsequent sales contexts is incremental commitment.  Contrast this staircase…

small staircase Continue reading


Sales Secrets I – Tai Chi Not Foie Gras

We live in a world of Excess. Excess Selling. Excess Marketing. Excess Advertising. Excess Choice.  Excess Spam [Er surely an oxymoron? Ed.]

Consequently we have developed a strong resistance to being sold to.  Judging by the click-thru rates on web Ads our resistance is hard-wired at very deep levels in our perception – we don’t even “see” these Ads – we look at a page and our brain filters it out for us. As for someone knocking on our door (literally or metaphorically) – when was the last time you bought something like that? We feel this instinctive “go away!”.

And the same thing happens in business.  Some pushy salesman – or more subtly, manipulative, salesman – tries to get us to do something.  We instinctively resist.  Many of the 20thC “tricks” that decades of sales psychology research in the US (surely the most “salesy” culture on Earth?) no longer work.

So what’s the secret?  How do you overcome sales resistance? How do you “sell” something if that’s what you need to do – whether it’s selling yourself, your company’s products or services, or just your ideas to a colleague?

Tai-Chi holds the answer.

My qigong teacher - Master Lam

My qigong teacher – Master Lam

Continue reading


Supply-Push & Demand-Pull – The Key and The Lock

I learned this lesson the hard way.  You know, as in sticking your hand in the fire and finding out that fire burns and not only that it really hurts.  Anyway like all lessons learned the hard way (as opposed to read amongst a million other surfs on the net) it is never forgotten.

It’s simple to explain, easy to remember (if you think of keys and locks) but hard to strike the dynamic balance in practice – the Tao is not a fixed thing – this isn’t some western “right answer” thing … more like surfing when you have to decide there and then where the balance is.

source: V&A

source: V&A

Supply-push is when you design something and then try to sell it.  It’s like designing a key.

Demand-pull is when you find out what is required and then design it.  It’s like working out what key is required when you know what the lock is like.

This is a huuuuge rift between two tectonic plates in BizDev. Which way round you are is perhaps the most important factor in determining BizDev ease of success. Let’s go over why… Continue reading