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Nick de Cent - all messages by user

08/02/2008 13:11:24
Definitive Guide to Organizational Backstabbing Has anybody read the original? I bought volume II of The Definitive Guide to Organizational Backstabbing by Berl Falbaum because the title promised to be an amusing twist on the usual corporate self-help manual. Instead I found it to be pretty lame and full of padding that mean at least half of its 150-odd pages of large print could easily be edited out. Still, I guess that its main points hold true for many large organisations I have come across - 'Do unto others before they do unto you' and 'It's not what you know or who you know. It's how effective you are doing-in who you know'. They say that sh*t floats to the top. What does anybody else think?
12/02/2008 17:45:40
Google advertising fraud There has been a lot of interest in the media about problems with so-called 'click fraud' where an automated programme clicks on a company's adverts, making it look as though a person has clicked from Google to an advertiser's page. Because the advertiser pays for each individual drawn by its ad on Google pages, click fraud can cost advertisers significant sums of money.

However, we at are interested in whether any readers have come across instances of Google charging for click-throughs which are not detected or matched by users' own web analytics programs or raw log files as opposed to fraudulently generated clicks.

Let us know, and we will follow up each case. This whole click-through area seems to be a minefield. It's certainly not the advertising panacea it is made out to be and Google's customer service is sparse to say the least.

You can email me in confidence via
12/02/2008 17:52:33
Technology for Marketing & Advertising show I went to the Technology for Marketing & Advertising Show at Earls Court today and found it to be pretty busy.

Digital marketing was generating a lot of interest but there were plenty of salespeople there looking for useful technology and a good cross-section of CRM and sales force automation suppliers.

It's helpful, too, that Confex is in the next-door hall, as many sales and marketing people are also interested in events and conference suppliers.
14/02/2008 13:04:57
Problem Solving & Business Development OK, if organisations are simply going to post advertisements for their courses in this section, I will consider moving them to You're Invited section. You can also email us via and we will try to include some of these forthcoming events in the What's On section on the main site.

What we are really looking for in this section are reader reviews and recommendations, so has anybody been on a great (or terrible) course recently? Don't hold back.


19/02/2008 15:10:22
Quant v Qual - Do more calls equal lower quality? Alan,

You could try asking Beth Rogers at Portsmouth Business School - she usually has a handle on this kind of question. Email me via if you need her email address. She can also put you in touch with Prof Neil Rackham, who would almost certainly have first-hand research into this issue. You might also try Lee Levitt from IDC. Again, email me if you need contact details.


07/03/2008 16:31:37
Public sector leads I guess many colleagues will know about this, but for those who don't, you can pick up leads relating to upcoming public sector tenders at Tenders Electronic Daily - the Supplement to the Official Journal of the European Union. This allows you to browse leads by country, business opportunity, business sector, place of delivery and heading. See

Another good place to look is which lets you register for a daily email alert service for lower-value (typically under £100k) contract opportunities with the UK public sector. A basic service is free while there is a charge for the enhanced service. The home page also has a link to CompeteFor which details opportunities relating to the 2012 Olympics. It also has its own url at

Does anybody know any other good sites which list opportunities in the private or public sector?


10/03/2008 10:15:42
Quant v Qual - Do more calls equal lower quality? Interestingly, technology consultants IDC are promoting a different approach for US hi-tech firms. It might be worth getting in touch with Lee Levitt from their Sales Advisory Practice. (I can give you the email if you don't already have it, Alan.) He was saying, as one one of three tips for success under the current market conditions, that sales leaders should focus on results rather than activity; specifically don't focus on number of calls made or duration of calls as this is just as likely to measure the time a salesperson is sitting in a client's car park as real quality time with the client. To paraphrase what he was saying: In today's sophisticated sales environment the number of calls is irrelevant.

This sounds like the start of an interesting debate because, although the comments may be counter-intuitive, Lee is suggesting that sales forces need to align themselves more with buyers' requirements and this doesn't necessarily involve being 'door-stepped' by reps. What buyers are actually looking for in the hi-tech arena is more field sale support and technical help. So, as far as the sales side goes, it's quality not quantity that counts.

All this is highly specific to enterprise-class hi-tech companies, so I would be interested to hear what anybody else thinks, and your response Alan.


10/03/2008 10:37:08
Hi-tech recruitment In the US, it seems that everybody in the hi-tech sector is hiring - so much so that one sales leader told a leading consultancy that 'anyone with a pulse is a candidate'. Marketing may be being reined in but it seems that US hi-tech forms are forging ahead with sales spending in a bid to meet their ambitious quotas. Also, much of the focus will be outside the US - including EMEA.

So, does anybody have any confirmation of whether this trend is spilling over to the UK and Europe?


13/03/2008 18:49:44
Hello all Hi Stef,

Welcome to the ModernSelling Reader Forum.

We'll see who we can find to help you along the way. Are there any specific selling issues you have which you'd like to focus on?


20/03/2008 16:04:43
City Meltdown Amid all the talk of the sub-prime crisis, banks rescues, lay-offs and decimated City bonuses, this rather touching pastiche of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody arrived at ModernSelling HQ courtesy of the City grapevine. At least those traders still have a sense of humour....

Is this the real price?
Is this just fantasy?
Financial landslide
No escape from reality

Open your eyes
And look at your buys and see...
I’m now a poor boy
High-yielding casualty

Because I bought it high, watched it blow Rating high, value lo. Any way the Fed goes… Doesn’t really matter to me, to me

Mama – just killed my fund
Quoted CDOs* instead
Pulled the trigger, now it’s dead
Mama – I had just begun
These CDOs have blown it all away

Mama – oooh
I still wanna buy
I sometimes wish I’d never left Goldman at all.

I see a little silhouette of a Fed
Bernanke! Bernanke! Can you save the whole market?
Monolines and munis – very, very frightening me!
Super senior, super senior
Super senior CDO – magnifico

I’m long of subprime, nobody loves me
He’s long of subprime CDO fantasy
Spare the margin call you monstrous PB!
Easy come easy go, will you let me go?
Peloton!*** No – we will not let you go – let him go Peloton! We will not let you go – let him go Peloton! We will not let you go – let me go Will not let you go
– let me go (never) Never let you go – let me go Never let me go – ooo

No, no, no, no, no, no, no, –
Oh mama mia, mama mia, mama mia let me go S&P**** had the devil put aside for me For me, for me, for me

So you think you can fund me and spit in my eye?
And then margin call me and leave me to die Oh PB***** – can’t do this to me PB Just gotta get out – just gotta get right outta here

Ooh yeah, ooh yeah
No price really matters
No liquidity
Nothing really matters – no price really matters to me

Any way the Fed goes.....

*Collateralised debt obligation – are a type of asset-backed security and structured credit product blamed for many of the current problems in the financial sector.
**Monoline insurance companies guarantee the timely repayment of bond principal and interest when an issuer defaults.
***A hedge fund set up by two former Goldman Sachs bankers; it got into deep doodoo this month having just been crowned the ‘New Fund of the Year’ at the Eurohedge industry awards. Peloton’s strategy of betting that US sub-prime mortgages would fall in value had clocked up gains of 87% over 2007.
****Standard & Poors – a financial rating and risk evaluation agency, it also issues the S&P 500, much like the FTSE share index, which is considered a prime indicator of the health of the US economy. Such agencies have been widely criticised for the sub-prime crisis and accused of not highlighting risk clearly enough.
*****Price-to-Book ratio or P/B ratio – a ratio used to compare a stock’s market value to its book value. It is calculated by dividing the current closing price of the stock by the latest quarter’s book value (book value is simply total assets minus intangible assets and liabilities).
edited by Nick de Cent on 20/03/2008
02/04/2008 19:08:07
Laugh? I nearly bought a round! Mr Warren, It's high time Mr McReynolds started posting his own jokes... and he clearly needs a lesson in evolutionary science. On the question 'If people evolved from apes, why are there still apes?' it's pretty obvious that when species evolve the 'ones that are left behind' don't instantaneously die out, otherwise we wouldn't have dogs or cats, or crocodiles, fish or even bacteria. Oh course, there's every chance that people will soon be left behind by another more intelligent life form or indeed AI-based consciousness.

And the reason Tarzan doesn't have a beard is because it's important to keep up standards if you're a symbol of white colonial exploitation even when you're deep in the tropical rain forest.

Ok, so at least Ed's points were funny... ;-)
04/04/2008 18:25:46
Lead Generation publisher Neil Warren is actually a database owner so can help you out in terms of a list of companies with over 5 salespeople - the Sales Direction Database. He is contactable at Newar Data on 01582 65 777 0 or via email
04/04/2008 18:28:04
E Commerce OK, we're going to have to get back to you on this once we have consulted the experts...

Any ideas folks?
15/04/2008 09:35:13
Adam's Field Sales Interview I have copied an item in the Sales Tips section here because the original post from Adam relates to advice on an interview process he's going through at the moment. Any help offered would, I'm sure, be gratefully received, so it would be much appreciated if any readers with the relevant experience could help out here. Here's the post...

I have reached the final stage of the interview process for a Field Sales role within a major telecommunications company. The role will be primarily based on prospecting for new business, but I will also have a handful of accounts to manage. The strategy for prospecting will be based as much (if not more) around "knocking on doors" rather than the traditional cold calling and appointment setting sessions.

The core element of the interview is to demonstrate my tactical approach to the role, including a business plan with a 3, 6, 9, 12 month breakdown and detail on my approach to prospecting. I need to be very specific in terms of the exact processes and methods I will use to achieve my goals.

I would like to ask if anyone with Field Sales experience or anyone who has been on the interviewer side of this process can give me some advice. If you need any more information please ask.
02/05/2008 17:56:34
Gordon Brown and that "Shallow Salesman" jibe! Yes, it's interesting that Gordo used this description - sounds like a soundbite from a spin doctor - and, although the political commentators seem to think he scored during this interchange, what better way to put off many hundreds of thousands of your electorate by sneering at the job they do!

Plus, of course there's the sheer hypocrisy of the situation - politicians tend to have to be highly accomplished salespeople (eg Tony Blair) in order to get often unpalatable policies past back-benchers and the electorate.

I guess Gordo's jibe was only half an insult in that he called Cameron a shallow salesman. But then Labour are probably wishing they had any kind of salesman leading their party after yesterday's local election debacle. A salesman Gordo certainly ain't - he could even make Christmas sound boring. ;-)
edited by Nick de Cent on 02/05/2008
06/05/2008 18:40:06
Enough is Enough Thanks for your comments, Mr B.

I thoroughly agree that any kind of regulation should be aimed as much at employers (along with individual senior managers) as the employees themselves.

In the case of Enron in the US, with senior management and auditors colluding, the ramifications of the scandal sent shockwaves around the world and it saw the end of one very high-profile auditing firm. To my mind it is just as important to regulate the sales function as it is finance (or health & safety).

It seems inconceivable that Npower (what is it with power companies?), for instance, had not been encouraging a certain sales culture within its organisation given the previous instances of mis-selling down the years (especially if you believe the blogs from employees). From what they say, as well, it is the senior sales management who will be heading up the enquiry into what went wrong, so I wouldn't expect too many changes....

While I agree that corporate culture is often to blame, mis-selling does seem to be most rife in certain industries - power, telecoms, financial services, automotive - all industries which rely heavily on the sales channel. As a first step, strong industry regulators that maintain a not-too-cosy relationship with their industries are a must. Then, we also need to think about protecting consumers, competitors and those people employed in sales from organisations in which the senior management surreptiously advocates mis-selling but maintains their innocence when instances occur.

Whilst I am an advocate of light regulation, the rather unsatisfactory status quo is going to persist unless the government or the sales community itself actually makes a move to improve matters. I seem to recall that it took several people to die in a series of notorious rail accidents before corporate manslaughter legislation started to clean up the situation amongst the rail maintenance companies in Britain.

It seems preferable to me that the sales profession takes the opportunity to move towards self-regulation (rather than having more onerous regulation forced upon it by government), because clearly the public's view of sales as a profession couldn't really sink much lower. And we can't rely on too much support from government, given that our own Prime Minister feels able to use the terms 'salesman' as an insult in the House of Commons.

What does anybody else think?
10/05/2008 22:42:40
The less I practice the better I get? I think Neil's point remains valid (though Standard Chartered is still going strong and not part of HSBC - it was Midland Bank that became part of HSBC). Especially in difficult times, it is important to maintain or even boost activity levels, but this doesn't just mean call rates; it also means improving the quality of your offering, how you prepare for a call, generally honing what you can offer a prospective customer and the way that you offer it. I have already mentioned elsewhere that research indicates that low-quality calls can have a negative impact on sales success and simply stepping up the call rate without improving creativity, quality and effectiveness of your proposal will be counter-productive.

As it says in this week's Sales Tip - when you're in a hole you stop digging until you've found a way to dig yourself out.

I think most people would agree that it's not only quantity that counts, it's increasingly quality as well.


11/05/2008 11:20:42
The less I practice the better I get? Hi Alan,

I think we are both banging different sides of the same drum here.

Clearly, those organisations or salespeople who step up their activity and the quality of their output will do best. However, where salespeople simply increase their call rate but don't pay attention to the message they are delivering to prospects and, most importantly, where the message/quality of the proposal actually begins to suffer as a direct result of the higher activity rate, then it becomes counter-productive.

There are only so many hours in a day and people need to spend some of it engaging the customer in a meaningful way and preparing fresh and creative approaches to prospects, followed up by innovative solutions. I guess it depends on how valuable a customer is to you, but the trend does seem to be towards greater engagement, spotting opportunities and genuine problem-solving, rather than delivering the same old tired patter to as many people who are prepared to listen as possible.

On the other hand, you may be suggesting that the average salesperson is 'lazy' and most should be capable of increasing their activity rate so that they are actually doing a full day's work... ;-) I'm sure this is true of some of them and there will be a normal distribution curve around salespeople's activity rate in any organisation and in the wider population as a whole.

One thing I do know is that as an m-d of a company on the receiving end of plenty of sales calls, it irritates the socks off me when the salespeople approaching me call up ill-prepared. And, however often these calls are repeated, unless the salespeople know what they are talking about, they are simply wasting my time and de-valuing their organisation in my eyes when they do it.

I think what I'm saying is that there needs to be strict quality control along with an increase in call rates, and then the organisation will be successful.


27/05/2008 13:41:28
Quant v Qual - Do more calls equal lower quality? How you measure quality is a key point and, just because it's difficult, doesn't mean it's something that should be ignored.... Maybe what's needed is a quality checklist. Does anybody have any ideas?

Stepping up the number of low-quality calls (however we choose to define them) versus spending more time on fewer, better-prepared, higher-quality calls is surely the issue here.

Some sources say that making more lower-quality calls is not only a waste of time, it can actually prove counter-productive in terms of damaging you brand's reputation. And we also know that some salespeople are quite capable of simply going through the motions or entering misleading data into a CRM system.

Clearly, stepping up the number of high-quality calls is going to be the best of all possible results.


28/05/2008 10:03:42
Organising Client Visits If your company sponsors any kind of sporting local or national sports, it works well to have one of the players host an informal lunch where the guests have the opportunity to chat to the player. This used to work well for us when we sponsored Adam Hollioake at Surrey CCC, who would make himself available for events from time to time. And if we were holding an event in our box, we would also get other England cricket stars like Graham Thorpe to drop by.

I wonder also whether a brief presentation of your company's work in the community - perhaps with local schools - or any content relating to boosting skills amongst the workforce might be relevant. You might also find some ideas amongst any charity work your staff undertakes. Is involvement of the workforce feasible in your situation?


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