This Must Be The Strangest Job In The World!

Over the years you get to see, hear and experience all sorts on the road.

dirty van grafittiOne particular thing that I’ve become used to is graffiti written on dirty cars, vans and trucks I’ve been sat behind in traffic jams heading to or from appointments. Over the years there are the old standards that appear time and time again:

“I wish my wife was as dirty as this van!” and “Also available in white!” on dirty white vehicles are favourites. Unfortunately the most frequent ones often include obscenities which I won’t repeat here. Occasionally though I get to see something that makes me laugh and there is one in particular that always brings a smile to my face. Continue reading

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How You Can Increase Your Worth And Earnings Potential Without Spending Any More Time Working

clockIn carrying out the work of an external sales person there is always an amount of travelling time that can be used to enhance our prospects of success.  For many salespeople this is often considered as dead time; getting from A to B, travelling to get into a territory or company, to get home or to that night’s hotel, etc…

Few use the time to gain new or improved skills, improve their product, market or competition knowledge.  Instead, too many listen to the radio, downloaded music or audio books that don’t necessarily benefit the listener other than to entertain and fill time.  And I’m often curious why this is so.

Over the years I have spoken with many salespeople about their careers; in interviews for promotions or new challenges.  When I ask them about the training/education they have undertaken, too often they tell me about the company driven training/knowledge initiatives they’ve participated in.  When I ask them about their own investment in themselves, their careers and their success, too many look at me as if I’ve gone insane!  “I don’t have the time for that,” they’ll say, “I’m too busy!”

Busy doing what though?  The vast majority do nothing to improve themselves without prompting from management and yet there has never been such a tremendous opportunity to learn, such an abundance of information and so many sources available to us to gain that knowledge from.  Whether it be; books, eBooks, podcasts, videos on platforms like YouTube, white papers, industry analysis, social media chat rooms, etc … there is a vast amount of information available if you are interested.

It is said that a person becomes an expert when they have spent 10,000 hours working on something.  And whilst that number may sound huge, if you spend 2 hours per day travelling (to and from work plus between calls) and you invest half of that (1 hour per day) in developing yourself that’s approximately 250 hours per year; and you’re well on your way to becoming an expert.  In reality, with so few of your competitors’ salespeople investing this time in themselves you’re already putting yourself a long way ahead and giving yourself a considerable advantage against your rivals.

beat competition


By all means continue to listen to music, podcasts and the radio to indulge your hobbies and interests in the rest of the time.  As the saying says, ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.’  I’m not suggesting you do nothing else apart from keeping on developing your know how; there can be a balance though.  And with the improved results you’ll get from your increased knowledge and skills you’ll have more income to spend on the things you’re interested in, so it’s a win:win.

The time exists, you just need to exert the will and discipline to do it and make the otherwise dead time work for you.  I wish you every success.

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The Lightning Bolt That Turned Me Into A Muppet

I was sent on my first sales training course against my best wishes. Having had some success I took being told I should attend a course to teach me how to sell as an insult rather than an opportunity to develop myself.

muppet2During the first morning I sat, arms crossed and generally disinterested in what ‘the muppet’ at the front (the trainer) had to say. On the basis of what I’d heard, I made it through to lunchtime secure in the knowledge I had learned little, if anything and was going to learn little more. Furthermore I’d already reached the conclusion that the course would be a waste of good company money that could have been put to better use.

Settling down for something to eat I recall one of the other delegates saying something at the table and me commenting that it was the best thing I’d heard so far; better than anything ‘that muppet’ at the front at said.

“The muppet did say it!” came the reply … and it suddenly struck me that if I’d missed that, I’d probably missed other things that could be equally valuable.

muppetsNeedless to say that for the rest of the course I became a muppet fan. So much so I’ve transformed and become a muppet myself. Then again, thinking back over this story … I realise I was already a muppet to start with! I just didn’t know it!

Wishing you all every success, Trentham.

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Nobody Wears Shoes Here!

shoesA shoe manufacturer finds itself with sales having plateaued.  Despite their best efforts there is no growth to be found in their existing markets.  So looking to kickstart growth the Sales Director decides they have to look at new markets.  Two salespeople are sent to a developing third world country where the company has never done business before.  They are sent to different parts of the country and challenged to understand the market, the culture of the prospective customers, to look at the competition and report back on the opportunity.

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You’ve Got To Put In The Miles If You Want To Win Gold

running legsCertain stories stay with you.  One in particular for me came from an interview I heard Sebastian Coe give about his rivalry with Steve Ovett.  During the 1980’s Coe and Ovett were two of the best middle-distance runners in the world.  Both English but from different backgrounds, they specialised on the 800 and 1,500 metre distances and both had held the world record in each which they’d wrestled from each other.  And their rivalry was so intense that it had millions of Britons gripped to their TV screens at a time where track and athletics was generally a very distant second to football, rugby and tennis.  Part of the attraction was each of them’s sheer determination to win and beat the other.  It was compelling.

This particular interview was being given 25-30 years after their rivalry had ended, yet Coe recounted this specific story in a manner that suggested he was referring to something that was very recent, and clearly still important to him.

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Wow … That Is A Beautiful Potato; It Must Be Worth A Fortune! The Importance Of Plan B

potatoHow are you getting the message across that your product/service has real value for your prospects and customers alike? Do you struggle to do this, especially in a world where technical advantages can be eroded in next to no time? If so there could be an important lesson to learn from history and from a man whose exploits earned him the right to be called Frederick The Great .. by promoting the value of the humble potato!

Frederick was ruler of Prussia in the late 18th century (king Frederick II) and was faced with a nation struggling with famine; held ransom by bakers whose bread was too expensive and beyond the reach of many. Frederick realised the potato was a good alternative, cheap food supply and attempted to get people to switch to it. To his and his advisors’ dismay the people rejected royal advice to grow them themselves saying they were, ‘tasteless, odourless and even not wanted by their dogs’. As such, his and his advisors’ efforts weren’t improving a worsening situation.

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“How Do You Know You’ve Been Successful?”

Sitting with a group of senior managers of a new prospective client I was asked how I knew I had been successful in training a sales team. I acknowledged it was an interesting question and asked what type of answer the manager was looking for. She told me to quantify what number out of a group of 12 salespeople had to apply and have success from what I’d shared with them.

ducks odd one out“1” I said. “Only 1! Why so low?”

“Because if 1 person can listen, hear and apply something from a day’s worth of knowledge, skills, tools, disciplines and techniques I share with them, then so can the other 11. I cannot make them do it though, they have to want to do it; to be motivated to work on applying it and improving. Whilst I will have a short-term effect (as do all external trainers, speakers, etc…) long lasting benefit only comes from within the individual wanting to do it and be more successful. The only other way is for those 11 to be managed to change”, (which again needs repeated, even continuous attention … and even then it may or may not work).

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