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ocT 1st 2008 / Issue 11

A Sophisticated Salesperson Increasing the professionalism of New Zealand’s Salespeople

The Upside

of Downturns How salespeople need to adapt


Essential Habits for Staying On Your Game

ocT 1 st / Issue 11

5 WANTED: A SOPHISTICATED SALESPERSON How do we improve the professionalism of New Zealand’s salespeople?




KEEPING FOCUSED Essential habits for staying on your game 9 TWO MINUTE TOP-UP THE UPSIDE OF DOWNTURNS How should salespeople adapt when there is a recession or downturn in the market






11 NZSM / oct 1st 2008 / 3


ften the key difference between the sales person who gets the order and the sales person that doesn’t, is not the price or service guarantee or quality, but the sales persons ability to really connect with the customer and show a deeper level of understanding and empathy for their problems. Sales people are concerned with selling their products and services, while sales professionals are concerned with solving their customer’s problems. Given yesterdays decision by the US Government not to bail out Wall Street, and the ensuing economic turmoil, many Kiwi business owners and decision makers will be rightly focused on minimising the impact of these events on their businesses. Sales professionals on the other hand, especially those selling business to business, need to turn their focus

outwards, understanding the problems these events are causing for their customers and then assessing how to position their products and services, if possible, in relation to those problems. Selling IT? What can you do to help your customers retain their customers or reduce network costs? Selling fleet vehicles? Is there a model which will help minimise your customer’s expenses while still enabling them to service their customers? Selling training? How can you help your customer achieve more than their “fair share” in the months ahead? Only by “walking a mile” in your customer’s shoes can you start to get an idea of the problems they are most concerned with solving. While your products or services may not be number one on their list of current priorities, differentiating yourself by showing a little more understanding for your customers situation will position you more favourably than those focused only on their own.

Got any thoughts on this topic or articles in this week’s issue? We’d love to know what you think. Email your comments to and we’ll share the best ones in future issues. ABOUT / Short and sharp, New Zealand Sales Manager is a free fortnightly e-magazine delivering thought provoking and enlightening articles, and industry news and information to forward-thinking sales managers, business owners and sales professionals. EDITOR / Richard Liew DESIGNER / Jodi Olsson ADVERTISING ENQUIRIES / +64-9-361 1375 or email CONTENT ENQUIRIES / +64-9-361 1375 or email ADDRESS / NZ Sales Manager Magazine,127a Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby, Auckland, NZ. +64-9-361 1375 WEBSITE /

NZSM / oct 1st 2008 / 4

A Sophisticated Salesperson How do we improve the professionalism of New Zealand’s salespeople? By Richard Liew

customer research? Should they pay higher salaries to attract more professional salespeople? While all these things would be useful, the real antidote is actually much simpler and much more important. More than anything else, what we require is a fundamental shift in how we view the role of the salesperson in the modern economy.


f we want to see any real improvement in the professionalism of New Zealand’s salespeople, change must be driven from the top – from the leadership of the businesses that employ them. Employers must understand that today’s discerning customers require a similarly sophisticated level of service from the salespeople they deal with, and that in an increasingly competitive market, how businesses sell to their customers, is just as important as what they sell to their customers. Many people have asked me to expand on exactly what they should be doing to lift the game of their salespeople. Does it mean sending staff on more sales and customer service training courses? Spending more money on

We need to shift from simply seeing salespeople as a high maintenance yet necessary evil – the middle men and women connecting our customers and our products – to seeing them as an integral component of the value we offer to our customers, and their decision making and business processes. As traditional “price” and “quality” competitive advantages are squeezed to the limit, businesses – especially those in “B2B” sectors - will need to find additional ways of providing value to their customers. And like it or not, their salespeople will be one of the primary means for doing so. Now make no mistake about it, the responsibility is equally shared. Our salespeople themselves need to lift their game significantly, as it will require a much higher level of skill and understanding to be able to provide the value their employers will be calling upon them to deliver. Specifically there are four key shifts occurring in the role of the salesperson, which need to be understood. NZSM / OCt 1st 2008 / 5


From Door Opening to Problem Diagnosing In the past, old fashioned cold calling, either door-todoor or by telephone, served a useful and welcome purpose – to let potential customers know about a company’s new and interesting products. In less crowded times, when businesses had fewer ways of getting their message to market, customers were fairly receptive to this approach. Today however, customers are bombarded by salespeople and advertisers like never before. As a result they are far less receptive to cold calling – the traditional realm of the salesperson. So as marketing strategies are forced to become more sophisticated, our salespeople will require a new focus. Rather than banging down doors, they will be called upon when the doors are already open, as experts whose primary role is to secure relationships and build trust in a manner similar to a trusted doctor or specialist. To do this they must focus on developing first class diagnostic skills and demonstrate a sincere and thorough understanding of their client’s objectives before they prescribe a solution.

2) Losing the Us versus Them Mentality Selling is often viewed by those in sales as a battle of wits and resilience between the salesperson and the customer. Sales managers encourage staff to “Always Be Closing” and to “not take no for an answer”. With most businesses seeing selling as a “numbers game” is it any wonder so many customers experience buyer’s remorse and feel like just another number? But for sometime now there has been a new dynamic in sales, one which despite all the lip service just doesn’t seem to be sinking in. Today’s customers want to buy, not be sold to. In fact thanks to the high pressure, sometimes underhanded, sales tactics of our predecessors, customers are now incredibly wary of salespeople - even if what they’re selling might genuinely be right for them. Today’s salespeople need to lose the “Us versus Them” mentality and adopt the “Us” mentality, “Us” being the salesperson and their client, working together in the same team to achieve a common goal. Those who continue to seek “victory” at the expense of their clients will lose out in the long term, to suppliers who are genuinely focused on playing team.

3) From Information Providers to Information Interpreters Thanks mainly to the internet it is rare for a customer to call on a company without first doing some research of their own. Many customers complain that they knew more about the salesperson’s company, products and competitors than the salesperson them self! Today getting the information is no longer a problem. The problem we have instead is interpreting it all so we can make good decisions. How do we know what’s relevant and what’s not? Rather than needing more information on all the products, services, and innovations that might be able to help us, we require knowledgeable professionals who can help us cut through and interpret all the information available. Sure, there is always the underlying question of whether or not salespeople can give unbiased advice to their customers, but those who genuinely try to add value in this way, will go a long way towards differentiating themselves from the competition.

4) From Suppliers to Advisors Ultimately, the goal of the modern sales person is to become part of their client’s decision making team. The question for the client then becomes not so much, “Who should we use?” but, “What should we do?” To achieve this, businesses and their salespeople need to focus on becoming advisors to their clients rather than just suppliers. They need to become helpful experts, helping their clients assess the issues, determine their objectives and even help develop their decision making criteria. Those who do this will be far more successful than those simply pitching a range of options and hoping for their clients to choose one, and far less likely to have to compete on price alone.

This article first published in The New Zealand Herald 09.04.2007. Richard Liew is editor of NZ Sales Manager and founded the Rev Sales Network in 2004 after a career in IT&T sales. NZSM / oct 1st 2008 / 6

Keeping Focused Essential habits for staying on your game By Charles Donoghue Here are ten rules to help you focus with great clarity of purpose: Concentrate on the “vital few” rather than on the “many trivial” // Be specific and concentrate on the larger things in life. Trivia never amounts to anything - that is why it is trivia it is not important!


ave you ever felt like you are on a treadmill that increases constantly in speed, and it seems as though the only way to get off it is to blow it up? Take comfort, you are not alone. The average person is faced with many commitments. Life in this twenty-first century has become one enormous treadmill of distractions with emails and mobile phones, which add to the heavy load of demands on one’s performance and behaviour through instant responses and quick decision time frames. Is there a solution to all of this? We need to ask, where we are going and what is the purpose of the journey? Are we demanding too much of our mortal frames? The human body is built to cope with all sorts of pressures and demands, but too much can be to our detriment and hold us back from achieving. By developing the art of focus we can make our life a lot easier and also achieve the desired end result. Thus avoiding heart disease caused by excessive competitive drive, aggressive behaviour, impatience and the sense of time urgency. To make a quantum leap in your life, focus becomes a vital skill. Results start to diminish the moment you take your focus off the task.

Be committed and have path definition // Be accurate about what it is you want to accept and how you are going to accomplish it. Be committed to its realization and not to the distraction caused by other people’s agendas and which can only blur your focus. Discard old habits // They will hold you back because habits are just behaviour adjustments done automatically. Become more disciplined in your mind management and develop good habits, which will help you achieve your desired results because they will determine the quality of life ahead for you. Develop personal power, which keeps you in control of your life and undertakings // The cheapest camera properly focused brings better results than the most expensive one that is not focused. Whether it is cameras or binoculars, their function depends on focus. Likewise human beings, who if they drift from the point of focus, get blurred and go nowhere. Reinforce your mental strengths and abilities // Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t do. Programme your belief system with definiteness of purpose and you will maximize the result. Analyze what you want to accomplish // and decide what is really important in a specific time frame

without striving to accomplish too much or to participate in too many events in the amount of time you allotted to the purpose. Have vision and know exactly where you are going // Without vision focus is not necessary. Once you have the vision then you need planning followed by action and finally persistence, which is the power behind focus. Concentrate on what you are good at then life becomes less stressful // Develop the many talents you possess because your actions will create vital positive energy to pursue even greater goals.

is necessary to accomplish your tasks or goals and along the way pick up only those extras that will assist you. Socrates was once asked the road to Mt Olympus // He answered profoundly, “Make sure that every step is in that direction.” Your eyes are located in the front of your head because that is the direction you are supposed to be heading // Just make sure every step goes in that direction.

Be persistent // Determination is another string to your bow. It helps you overcome all the obstacles and challenges you will come upon and help you up the mountain of life. Let go of the clutter // Let go of all the non-productive garbage in your life and move forward. Start out with what Charles Donoghue is an Auckland based performance psychology coach and author of best selling motivational books Kites Rise Against The Wind and Swim Against The Current. Visit Charles’ website at

NZSM / oct 1st 2008 / 8

The Upside of Downturns

How should salespeople adapt when there is a recession or downturn in the market? By Liam Venter costs, increase profits and find smarter ways of operating.


ontrary to knee-jerk expectations, periodic market recessions can be a good thing for the professional salesperson. If you’re willing to adapt, recession markets can offer great opportunities to grow both revenues and market shares.

When customers are more selective, take longer to make decisions and are looking for smarter options this suits sales people who have a consultative approach to selling. A consultative sales methodology enables you to better engage with the customer over a longer period of time and it helps you work with clients to provide smarter solutions.

If you can grow your market share without discounting during a market downturn, you should be able to convert your increased market share into even more lucrative profits when the market recovers.

Being liked, being charming and being fun, etc are important as always... but these items become comparatively less important than being valuable to your client. Consultative sales people understand their clients business, their operating environment and the issues that effect them.

Why are recession markets such great opportunities? In recessions purchasers are more selective and take longer to make decisions. They are more likely to break purchasing habits as they are under more pressure to cut

They understand their client’s requirements and the specific results they need from a solution. This allows them to better structure, and deliver, deals that will be compelling.

Liam Venter is an Auckland based sales trainer and author of The Consultative Sales Professional. Visit his website at

NZSM / OCt 1st 2008 / 9


MON 6 OCT Business Acumen University of Auckland Auckland


TUE 7 OCT Cold Calling Workshop Top Achievers Sales Training Auckland




THU 9 OCT Consultative Sales Skills NZIM Northern Auckland Sales Development David Forman Auckland Sales Development David Forman Dunedin Motivation & Attitude Geewiz Christchurch Fundamentals of Selling Top Achievers Sales Training Auckland

Time Management Geewiz Auckland

SUN 5 OCT FRI 10 OCT Consultative Sales Skills NZIM Northern Auckland Sales Development David Forman Dunedin Account Management Skills NZIM Northern Auckland

THU 16 OCT Sales Development David Forman Auckland Negotiation Skills NZIM Northern Auckland Presentation Skills University of Auckland Auckland Fundamentals of Selling Top Achievers Sales Training Hamilton

WED 22 OCT Sales Development David Forman New Plymouh Sales Management Geewiz Auckland Networking Skills Workshop Top Achievers Sales Training Auckland Professional Telephone Selling David Forman Auckland



MON 13 OCT Negotiation David Forman Auckland Sales Development David Forman Auckland



Sales Development David Forman Auckland Negotiation Skills NZIM Northern Auckland Presentation Skills University of Auckland Auckland


TUE 14 OCT Time Management Geewiz Auckland Negotiation David Forman Auckland Sales Development David Forman Auckland Telemarketing Skills Workshop Top Achievers Sales Training Auckland



FRI 24 OCT Prospecting & New Business Development David Forman Auckland Fundamentals of Selling Top Achievers Sales Training Wellington


Sales Development David Forman Auckland


Sales Development David Forman New Plymouh Sales Planning David Forman Auckland Advanced Selling Skills (Healthcare Only) Pro-Formance Driven Auckland (Oct 20 - 22)


Sales Development David Forman New Plymouh Professional Telephone Selling David Forman Auckland Cold Calling Workshop Top Achievers Sales Training Auckland

Negotiation David Forman Auckland

Sales Development David Forman New Plymouh Sales Planning David Forman Auckland Sales Leadership Workshop Top Achievers Sales Training Auckland Sales Basics Geewiz Auckland






Fundamentals of Selling Top Achievers Sales Training Christchurch

SUN 2 NOV NZSM / oct 1st 2008 / 10


Difficult conversations By Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton and Sheila Heen Published by Penguin


hether we’re dealing with an underperforming employee, disagreeing with our spouse about money or child-rearing, negotiating with a difficult client, or simply saying “no”, or “I’m sorry”, or “I love you”, we attempt to avoid difficult conversations every day. No matter how competent we are, we all have conversations that cause anxiety and frustration. This book can help. Based on fifteen years of research at the Harvard Negotiation Project, Difficult Conversations walks you through a proven step-by-step approach for how to have you toughest conversations with less stress and more success. It shows you how to prepare yourself; how to start the conversation without defensiveness; and how to keep it constructive and focused regardless of how the other person responds. You’ll learn how to: • • • • •

Decipher the underlying structure of every difficult conversation Interpret the significance of what is said - and what is not Identify the erroneous but deeply ingrained assumptions that keep you stuck Manage strong emotions - yours and theirs Spot ways your self-image affects the conversation - and ways the conversation affects your self-image

$25.66 from

Filled with examples from everyday life, Difficult Conversations will help you at home, on the job, or out in the world.

NZSM / OCt 1st 2008 / 11

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I buy expensive suits. They just look cheap on me

Warren Buffet

NZSM / OCt 1st 2008 / 13

NZ Sales Manager Issue 11  

Short and sharp, NZ Sales Manager is New Zealand's free e-magazine for sales professionals.It delivers thought provoking articles from some...

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