My job is selling technology. Actually I'm more of a translator. I sell technology to other businesses and that's where things get weird. There is a bewildering array of tech out there and unfortunately many companies think technology sells itself and the value that the technology delivers should be obvious. Wrong. That's where I come in. I said I was a translator. My job is to translate techno babble into value that customers understand. This blog share my adventures with high tech sales. Selling high tech is fun so come join me on my sales journey!

Friday 25 January 2013

Outlaw sales closing.

I'm really starting to detest closing. The ABC of Sales - ABC (Always Be Closing) should really mean (Always Bullshit the Customer).

Is there any evidence that closing works in complex sales? There's plenty of evidence it doesn't work.

OK completely abolishing and making closing illegal isn't realistic since closes are basically questions.   It's just that closing needs to be used in moderation and with the correct timing. In my quest to make sales more romantic, lets look at some closes from the world of dating.

"Would you like to come back to mine for a coffee?"
"Will you marry me?"

Let's look at these closes in a little more detail:

1/ These are questions derived to move things to the next stage.
2/ They both have implications and deeper meanings.
3/ They are closed questions.

In dating we are used to using these closes when the timing is right yet in sales we somehow lose sight of where the relationship is and whether the timing is right for a close.  Most closes are about getting the order.  We need more subtle closes, more like "fancy a coffee?". This has some subtelty to it - is isn't as blunt as saying "Do you fancy sex?".  Asking for the order at the wrong time is pretty blunt and can turn your buyer-off just like asking for sex when the mood is wrong may will more than likely damage your chances or get you blown-out.

Let's experiment with some alternatives.  How about some open questions rather than closed "yes/no" closes. "What do you think of this?",  "How do you see this moving to the next stage?".

If you are too reluctant to drop closed questions, how about "Are we OK to move to a trial?", "Is there anything else that needs to happen before you can get internal approval?"

Let's kill off the old school closing!

Friday 18 January 2013

Which is the best book title?

I need your help. Nothing major - I would like your opinion on some possible book titles.

One of my goals for 2013 is to write another sales book.  I've been thinking about topics such as the power of words and their impact in influence and persuasion  and more recently I've been thinking about the role and psychology of the buyer.

A good starting point I find is the title so here are some thoughts on possible titles.

I would welcome your input on these.

Which ones grabbed your attention?
What would you expect the book to deliver?

Maybe you have some suggestions for titles.

Humane Selling
Customers have feelings too
Stop selling - start helping
Stop selling - start serving
Stop selling - start solving
Word Chemistry
The Sales Climax

Thursday 17 January 2013

Sample chapters from Romancing The Sale: Customer Seduction

Below I have pasted an excerpt from my book Romancing The Sale: Customer Seduction.

For many, sales is seen as a unethical, distrustful profession - it doesn't need to be that way!
The book compares dating and sales and shows how to build lasting successful relationships with sales techniques that are honest and ethical.
The book is aimed at novice sales professionals as well as more experienced sales professionals that have lost their way or picked some STD (Selling Technique Disasters) along the way !

If you like it, it's available on Amazon Kindle: Romancing The Sale. You don't need a Kindle as there are readers available iPhone, Android and even PC.


Death to Bad Selling

Most selling sucks. Like you I've bought lots of things in my life and I've been on the receiving end of many hundreds, if not thousands of sales people selling me things.

I can smell almost instantly when someone is selling something to me. More often than not, my barriers go up. Occasionally however I have that encounter with that special sales person. They stand out and I remember them afterwards with a smile. I know they are selling to me but rather than wanting to escape, I want to stay and play. I've even had sales meetings where it didn't feel like I was being sold to - it was more like building a lasting friendship. How come? What were they doing that countless others didn't do?

I love it when I'm treated special by a sales person. They flirt with me. They seduce me. It's fun. It's a two way game arousing desire and lust.

Contrast that with. I've got this – I want your cash. Hardly romantic. It's almost prostitution. The sales technique doesn't turn-me-on, arouse me, titillate me or even make me feel good.

So do you want your selling techniques to be romantic too? Romancing the Sale explores the art of selling romantically and shows you how to be romantic with your prospects.

I can't promise reading this book will get you more sales but I can promise you:

1/ It will make sales fun
2/ Your sales will be for the right reasons – love

Welcome to Romantic Sales and the art of Romancing the Sale.

What is a business without any sales? Trick question. It's not really a business - it is already failed or dead.
Without selling in business – nothing happens. Until somebody sells something, there is no need for anybody in the organisation – the business simply doesn’t have a purpose if there are no customers for its products.

Sales is one of the most important roles in a company yet amazingly in the UK, sales used to be looked down upon as a low status profession. However the good news is that sales' reputation is changing. Sales is a fun, rewarding and important career.

The goal of this book is to teach you how to make your customers fall in love with you, enabling you to be successful in sales.

This book will teach you how to sell by comparing the steps you will have taken when dating and apply these principles to the act of selling. When you sell, you are taking a journey with your prospect from stranger to customer which is remarkably similar to the journey from stranger to lover. Not all sales require human contact however complex sales usually are based on strength of relationships and it is these kinds of sales that this book focuses on. Complex sales are a type of sale which are characterised by the buyer needing to trust the seller either because of the scale of the deal or because there is an ongoing relationship between the seller and the buyer, once the deal is consummated. Complex sales are a lot like marriage.

Before we delve into the world of selling lets first lets look at sex. Yes sex. The need for human contact is at the very core of human emotions. Yet we've built a set of rules in society that need to be followed to get to that highly desirable sex.


Mating rituals allow the human race to continue and selling yourself to a prospective mate can be a daunting task yet it is something we feel compelled to do.

Now imagine a world where men and women failed to sell themselves to each other – we wouldn't have births and marriages and presumably death wouldn't happen either. The existence of the human race depends on selling ourselves as good sexual partners. Without sex – nothing happens – the human race ceases to exist.

If you are a virgin sales person you may feel much like you did when you first asked someone out on a date. Butterflies in your stomach. Lacking in confidence to make the first move. Basically your fear of getting it wrong is stopping you getting out there and selling. There are rituals which need to be followed in sales too and you are about to embark on a journey that will help you figure out what rules you need to follow in order to win the heart of your customer.

You might be thinking “I'm useless at pulling the chicks so I'll be useless at sales” – if that's the case you're in luck. This book will improve your love life as well as your sales!

Most people fear selling, so you are not an oddball. Most people are terrified of selling themselves, ideas or products. In the top 10 of fears, fear of dying comes third whilst fear of public speaking comes first. Your fear stems from the fact that you are making yourself vulnerable to attack, whether real or imagined. This fear is irrational. How many sales people have you heard of that have been killed whilst selling to a prospect? What's the worst that can happen?

Dating is the same - asking someone out on a date is one of the scariest things we've probably done – it is the fear of rejection that makes it so scary. There can be a lot of rejection in sales and I'm going to show you how to cope with these fears and handle rejection. And when you find that dream prospect that you think, “this could be the one” you'll know how to romance them and whisk them off their feet so they fall in love with you.

People buy from people and all things being equal people will buy from people they like. All things not being equal they still buy from people they like.

So a bit about this book. Firstly I've written the book from a male perspective since (i) I'm a man (ii) generally men do the chasing in dating (iii) in sales the seller usually has to do the chasing.

Some readers might be thinking I'm being chauvinistic. Well ask yourself “Is a sale male or female?”.

The French seem to know the answer. “Sale” in French is “la vente” - female. There is no doubt in my mind that a sale is a feminine thing. Just like a woman, the sale needs to be romanced to win it over. Women control dating, in fact I would be so bold to say that the groom doesn't know he is going to get married until the bride implants the idea in his head. Women certainly know whether their guy is going to get lucky. On the big night she will be in her best sexy underwear whereas he will probably wearing socks with holes in them and some threadbare boxer shorts.

Customer's control the sale – the sale isn't going to happen unless the customer wants to get hitched.

My final proof that a sale is female is the phrase “the customer is always right”. It shouldn't therefore be a surprise when you consider women are always right too.

This book is designed for two types of reader. Newcomers to sales that want to develop their own selling style that they feel comfortable with and those with some sales experience that are struggling to find selling natural. The selling style I cover here is more relevant for complex sales – those that are selling high value products and services however the techniques can be used on any sale where there is a lasting relationship. If your business is all about one night stands then this book is probably not for you.

By the end of the book you should be confident about going out there and engaging in lots of fun, unprotected sales.

Sales is some of the most fun you can have and make money from it ! Selling needs to be fun. Consider this. Who would you rather be sold to by? (a) someone dry and boring (b) someone fun and energetic.


The Beginning of Sales

According to the bible somewhere near the beginning there was Adam and Eve. There wasn’t much need for selling in the garden of Eden. However along came some pesky snake and changed the balance of power and from then on, the need for sales arose.

Over the course of time, sales has grown to have a bad reputation. In fact the phrase a slippery salesman has emerged. I don’t know if this is a reference back to the serpent in the garden of Eden but if it is, it's wrong. Snakes are not slippery – they are smooth.

Sales is sometimes viewed as a sleazy, pushy profession. In many ways this doesn't sound any different to rape. If you have a perception that sales is forcing you to compromise your values then stop worrying. You won't be learning a rapist selling style here. You will be learning how to romance your customers to build a lasting relationship. Your goal is happy sales. Sales that both you and your customer are happy with.

Before we jump in, it's worth covering the basics. Sometimes the basics are not as basic as you might think. Now picture a sale in progress. There you are facing your customer. You're having a really fun time so you're smiling. Your customer is enjoying the sale and is smiling too. Now take a look at that customer. Look closer. What do you see?

They are a person just like you. They are not some scary monster. Lets zoom in a little further. Take a look at their head. Look closer. You'll find they have a brain just like yours. It's full of random thoughts, desires and emotions just like yours. Your customer is not a monster so you don’t need to be scared of them. They are not an object – they are human just like you.

It is very easy to start viewing people as objects in the sales process and when that happens, sales start to become very transactional. Customers are not a barrier or obstacle-course to a big pile of cash which you want to get at. Sure you want to earn money from selling but that is a side effect. If you get the sale right, your customer will want to give you their big pile of cash because you are giving them something that they value as much as, or maybe more than, the pile of cash.

The moment you forget your customer is a person with these needs and wants, you're straying into rapist territory. Selling is about satisfying your prospect's needs and not selfishly forcing your needs upon them.

Brain Power

Now you know that you'll be selling to a person and they have a brain just like you, it's worth taking a look under the hood. Knowing how your brain works will help you tremendously in sales and knowing how your customer's brain works will help you even more to be a success.

Brains are pretty complex and amazing things. Your brain is in fact three brains: left half, right half and the oldest brain - a small reptilian brain at the top of your spinal cord. You've probably heard about the left and right half of your brain.

The left side handles speech, time, logic, details, facts, problem solving, order and sequential information. The right brain recognizes pictures, faces, symbols, past and future, risk and spatial concepts. As a generalisation the left brain handles more logical, practical male tasks and the right side handles more emotional and creative tasks associated with females. This is often reflected in gender related jobs for example engineering is a male dominated profession which requires logic and attention to detail whilst women are stereotypically associated with artistic and creative jobs and therefore the right brain. One side is not better than the other – you need both sides to function fully.

Everybody uses both sides of their brain however one side tends to dominate. Now we come to the reptilian brain. The reptilian brain is probably the most important brain in many ways and it is also the brain that doesn't switch-off and have down-time as you will now find out.

You might think you're a very sensible person in control of yourself however you are wrong. Utterly wrong.

The reptilian brain exerts massive control over the rest of your brain (and body). This brain isn’t just some evolutionary legacy like an appendix, it is there to keep you alive. It handles most of your body's basic life support functions. Humans are pretty weak animals and it's the reptilian brain that's kept us alive for millions of years – it tells us when there is danger and it controls most of our emotions too, including sexual desire and love.

Now reptiles are not known for being particularly clever. They don't do tricks and in-fact reptiles don’t even dream. Yet this brain exerts a lot of control over you – it thinks it is looking after your best interest and can seize control whenever it wants. Right now it's working out whether you need to run from that sabre tooth tiger behind you? Did you feel your reptile brain kick into action for a fraction of a second as you read those words?

The fact that our weak logical brain is not in control is not new information. Phrases like “I know in my heart this is right”, “I have a gut feel about this” recognise that your logical brain is not the only brain. Go back to the 1500s and the Dutch philosopher Desiderius Erasmus (Erasmus of Rotterdam) observed this and said “Jupiter has bestowed far more passion than reason – you could calculate the ratio as 24 to one”. The emotional brain overwhelms the logical brain.

So if you thought sales was a logical process, think again. It is a messy emotional process. It's a lot like falling in love.

All of your senses, except smell, are hard wired into the reptile brain. That means everything you look at, hear, touch and taste is being processed first by your reptile brain. It is screening and censoring everything. You might have noticed that reptiles don't talk much or make much noise. Unfortunately speech is a product of your higher order brain. I say unfortunately because you think you're being clever when you speak but the person you're talking to is a reptile until they have screened your message to see if it is acceptable to be passed to the “higher order” brain.

Every time you look at something your reptile brain is evaluating what to do. Is this situation dangerous? Should I run away? Should I fight? Is this safe? So some of your primary emotions like fear and anger are because of the crocodile in your brain.

These base responses are termed “fight” or “flight”. In fact there are 4 responses referred to as the “four F's”. Fighting, fleeing, feeding and sex.

We don't want to invoke fighting (active resistance) responses or fleeing responses in our prospective customers when we come onto them. If we trigger these behaviours then they will manifest themselves as doors being slammed in our faces or ignoring us for example not returning our calls. We want to romance our customers into a sale so we need to be considered safe or stimulating.

Over the years I've come to the conclusion it is almost impossible to teach somebody your experiences – they pretty much have to make the mistake themselves in order to learn. Old habits die hard, and billions of years of crocodile brain evolution have given you some hard coded rules and behaviours that are designed to keep you alive. That means that there's nothing more stubborn than your reptile brain. It's developed what it thinks is a winning recipe to keep you alive so it won't change easily.

A key part of the reptile brain is the filter. It has a fancy name, the Recticular Activating System, which filters most information so only the really important stuff has to be processed by the brain. I first became aware that I had this filter in my head a few years ago when I decided I wanted a new type of car. Until my interest was aroused I thought these cars were pretty rare however I suddenly noticed these cars everywhere. I had literally been living with blinkers on and had filtered out this unimportant information. We are bombarded with information and filter out most information we are exposed to and probably for good reason. Without this filter we would collapse in a confused heap, overloaded with millions, if not billions, of bits of information which we are exposed to each day.

This filter has big implications for you. Firstly you need to learn about sales and because you're reading this book you need to have an open mind. If you haven’t got an open mind when reading this book, very little of this book's content will lodge in your brain – you'll carry on doing what you've always done. Secondly all your sales prospects have this filter which you need to get past. You need to understand how to get past their filter. One classic sales technique to break through the filter is brute force persistence.

Let's start with you. To get your reptile brain to do something different you either have to show it, that the task is very similar to something you already know (not a threat) or you have to shock it into a different way of thinking – effectively invoking the fight or flight mechanisms.

We'll be meeting your new reptile friend frequently and I'll be showing it that there is nothing to fear. Sales is fun and safe.

If you've ever tried to learn a foreign language it can be pretty daunting. Often you're on the path to failure before you've even started because if you think it is impossible to learn a foreign language then it will be impossible. I discovered Michel Thomas' language courses – they are great. His approach is to show you all the things that are the same – that way you don't feel threatened and you learn very quickly. We will be doing the same.

The reality is you already know how to sell. You will have bought a product or service in your life and interacted with a sales person, so you have been on the other side of the table of the sales process. You've seen selling in action and you've built a mental store of what worked well and what got your back up.

This book will tease your latent sales skills out in the open or adapt some existing skills from elsewhere. Don't believe me that you already know how to sell? Ask yourself “Have I ever had a good or bad sales experience?”. If you know what good and bad looks like then we know where we are headed.

To help you navigate your way around a sale, we need a map. A sale is a journey – the actual point of sale is just a specific point on that journey just like the wedding day is a specific point in a relationship. The diagram below shows the typical flow of a successful sale. Of course not all sales result in a commitment to buy. If you pick a sale you're familiar with, say you are walking into a clothes shop. The shop assistant might do a very basic introduction, they might sell you on a particular item such as “this colour suits you”. You select the item, go into the changing room to trial the product. You discover the item doesn't fit or they don't have your size. The result is the sale falls through.

In a more complex sale the introduction phase can involve the seller identifying prospective clients, some preliminary qualification and background information about the buyer. Once the formalities or pleasantries are over it then evolves into the selling phase – does the buyer need what we are selling. Once the customer feels the need for what is being sold, the next step is often some kind of validation or proof that the solution does what is needed. The validation step is required to ensure purchasing does not pose a risk to the buyer whether that is a risk to business or simply a risk to wasting money. Once a successful trial/demo has been completed, it may lead to a commitment or sale.

Not surprisingly, relationships follow a similar process:

Now you might look at this model and be saying “people don't get married nowadays” - living together is considered the commitment. In which case sex can be considered the trial or demonstration of compatibility. Just like in selling, not everyone you date will result in a marriage. Like sales, all dates are unique. The time spent in each phase of this model varies with each deal.

You should now have a mental map of where you are in the selling/dating process. Let's get busy and find the partner of our dreams.

Exercises and Actions

Reflect on your sales experiences both as a seller and a buyer.

  • How did you feel in the sales experience?
  • If you were being pushed into a sale what emotions and reactions, such as fight or flight were triggered?
  • Write down where your head-is-at – what are your current feelings about selling? For example are you nervous, confident, love it or feel you're compromising your values.


Getting Match Fit

Athletes warm-up before a race. Winning a race is about being physically ready and just as importantly, being mentally ready.

Success is all about getting in the right frame of mind.

Physically there is very little difference between the best tennis player and the number five tennis player in the world. The real difference is inside their heads. One knows they can win, the other thinks they can win.

So to prepare you for this dating frenzy, we need to get you mentally prepared and your mind in the right place.

Sales is as much about having the right mindset for success as it is about the process of selling. If you think you can't sell – you will fail. If you condition yourself to believe you can sell – you will succeed. The sales mindset is not just about feeling confident about the technical aspects of selling – it is also about feeling that you deserve success. Many sales people crumble under pressure like bottom league professional tennis players when the pressure is on and the stakes are high. If it were possible to play a “sales friendly” they would sell like a professional sales champion but once the stakes rise for a big deal, they choke under the pressure. Odd destructive behaviours can emerge.

How comfortable would you feel selling a £10,000 deal?
What about a £5 million deal?

Reflect for a second. Did you feel a twinge of panic about whether you could sell a £5 million deal?
No. What about a £5 billion deal?

The rules of selling are the same – it's the stakes that have changed. The moment doubts creep in and you start to believe you won't win the sale, then doubts will turn into beliefs and unfortunately beliefs turn into reality. Competition for the big prize will be high – don't let nerves and other human defects blow your sales deals.

First the big ask – please forget all the emotional baggage you're carrying around about sales. Maybe you've had a really bad sales experience that still haunts you. Do I only have to mention the word sales and you start twitching? ...”I really wasn’t comfortable buying that car but the sales guy pushed me into the sale. I hated that car. I hate that salesman. Why did I buy that luminous orange car. I couldn’t sell it on and everyone laughed at me. Being a sales person means I have to be like him!”

Like what you've read? Tweet about it. 

If you enjoyed this sample, you can buy Romancing The Sale on Amazon Kindle. You don't need a Kindle as there are readers available iPhone, Android and even PC.

Wednesday 16 January 2013

Exposed buyers

Following a few posts this year from a buyer perspective, my curiosity has been aroused.  As a result, I made an interesting discovery yesterday. Sales books pretty much ignore one of the fundamental things in selling. The buyer.

Just like a scientist making a discovery, the natural reaction is to assume you've made a mistake. Was I on the brink of a major discovery - my epithany (I've always wanted an excuse to use that word) or was this really nothing?

So I skimmed through Advanced Selling Strategies by Brian Tracy, one of the best selling sales books ever.  Just over 400 pages long. I counted about 8 pages which talk about the buyer and motives. SPIN selling by Neil Rackham - 197 pages of which about 6 pages were about buyer needs.

Interestingly both of these books gave the impression of mechanically identifying buyer motives and objections and handling these obstacles as part of  the selling process. What ever happened to it's all about the customer?

Surely buyers are more important than that.  It's impossible to have a sale without one after all.

I'll give Brian Tracy a little credit here. He did at least mention about the fear and anxiety buyers go through -  "am I doing the right thing?".

I've bought lots of things and I am sure you have too. Can we really do justice to what is going on in the head of buyers in just 8 pages in a sales book? The same book that takes about 100 pages to discuss what is going on in the head of the salesman?

This lead me to thinking about the sales process.  The classic sales process is "Lead->Cold Call->Qualify->Sell (read presentation)->Close->Order".  I've never sold anything that way.

The other model suggested by Tracy and Rackham is

Establish Trust->Identify Needs->Present Solutions->Negotiate/Close

I can't say I've ever had any success ringing up prospects and saying "Hey. I want to establish trust with you. How are your kids?".  I usually find if there is no existing relationship it feels like I've intruded and they want me to get to the point pretty damn quickly.  They aren't in the market for a nice friendly chat - they want me to talk about their "need" right at the beginning.

That being said my sales seems closer to this model than the classic sales process but it's still different.  My successful sales are more  likely to be one of these 2 models:

Identify Leads->Research Lead->Identify a need->Contact (cold-call) lead based on need/research->Talk about the common ground-> I ask questions->They ask questions->I offer free advice/help->We establish trust->I explore how I can help them->Sale might emerge

Buyer has a need->They research it->Identify solutions->Contact me->Ask me lots of questions->They feel confident and trust me->We negotiate->sale usually happens

Given my sales process looks rather different to the "classic" sales process, maybe it's time to rethink what's going on in the head of the buyer.

Buyers are very well informed today compared to even 10 years ago. I have had buyers researching me (read qualifying themselves) when I am cold calling. They look up my company, they read product descriptions,they look me up on LinkedIn - whatever. This is all happening real-time whilst I calling them. OK the buyer's motive for this might be to establish trust and credibility but the point I am making is maybe it is time for a rethink.  It could also be a defence reason - "OK I need a reason to get rid of this jerk on the other end - what reason can I find?"

So have I had an epithany or am I making a mountain of a mole hill?

I'd welcome your thoughts on whether it is time to rethink what the real sales process is and give more thought and emphasis that role the buyer plays in a sale.

Monday 14 January 2013

Targets, targets, bloody targets

I couldn't resist the opportunity to copy John Cleese and call this post "Targets, targets, bloody targets"

I've always had mixed feelings about targets and goal setting.

It's a fact that "Measurement drives behaviour".  If you measure something,  it will influence someone's behaviour.  The fact that measuring someone impacts their performance was popularised long before Schrödinger's Cat by the Victorians.

In order to set targets you need to need to have a measure - remember SMART objective setting (Specific Measurable, Realistic, Time-bound). Get your targets and your measures right and you can have a winning system. Or do you?

It is human nature to be lazy and play the system.  Having run a Service Management function for several years, I found people want to measure things which are easy to measure but probably irrelevant. The things which are important to the customer (and therefore the business) are often difficult to measure. For example in a shop, what is the measurement from entering the shop to being served and leaving the shop satisfied?  It's hard to measure this without influencing the measurements.

In these tough economic times, it's fashionable for companies to set ambitious targets (or not as the case may be) to be competitive.  Even here target setting is rarely straight-forward. Set a clearly unrealistic target and the person becomes demoralised and gives up trying - not good for the business. Make it too easy and others around may feel resentful that they are really trying hard and struggling with their stretch target whilst others are having an easy ride - end result is paying for mediocre results where the cost of the reward exceeds the value to the business.

Part of the problem is the association of financial reward, such as a bonus, with a target. As witnessed with the banking sector, greed kicks in and a culture of reward regardless of effort becomes established. The reward needs to reflect the results.

Sales seems to be one of those areas where on the surface it appears transparent and there is clear relationship between performance and reward. Make the sale - get the commission.  Even here the clarity of reward is far from clear.  If the commission is paid on revenue, then the salesperson may be rewarded for unprofitable deals.

Sales systems can lead to behaviour which is at odds with the goals of the companies and similarly companies can experience their own  "greed" and shoot themselves in the foot.

The obvious example with sales is where there is a cap (a limit).  If the sales person is rewarded up to a sales  limit of say £1M a percentage say 5% and anything above £1M is paid at 1%, there is a natural tendency for the person to stop selling above £1M in a year. Unless the company only has capacity to cope with £1M of sales, it doesn't make sense to cap sales. The behaviour of the sales person is therefore to stop selling and delay deals in the pipeline until the next year. Net result is the person achieves their sales quota early in the following year and is coasting for the remainder of the year. One of the reasons companies introduce these stupid caps is greed.  They don't want to pay their people "too" much.

So back to target setting.  The other problem with setting bold ambitious targets is when it comes to review time there is a tendency to look at non achievement as failure. Again utterly utterly stupid.

Let's illustrate this.

Normal target
100% achievement                            grow profit by 10%

Bold, ambitious target
100%                                               grow profit by 100%

With the ambitious target we "only" achieved growth of 50% so this is a fail.....

The challenge for businesses that want to be successful,  is to create bold ambitious targets that move the business forward.  Reward and celebrate achievements even if they don't quite meet the lofty ambitious goals.  Ensure there is a fair a equitable reward - to do this there needs to be culture that avoids greed on either side.

Friday 11 January 2013

What difference does 5 minutes make?

Five minutes isn't very long. It's only 0.35% of a whole day or 1% of an 8hr working day.

What can you do in 5 minutes? Not much you are probably thinking.

Make a cup of  tea.
Walk quarter of a mile

You can't listen to Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody - it's 5:52

Some people can do more with 5 minutes - some can run a mile.

Interestingly 5 minutes can be a very productive period.  I've been experimenting with "I've got 5 minutes spare, what can I do with it".

The results are surprising.  You can achieve quite a lot in 5 minutes.  I've been experimenting with this technique for less than a week but the interesting thing is if you pick a small task and just do it, it gets done. No internal procrastination.  Just 5 minutes of intense focus. Job done.

I've achieved several things in just 5 minutes that would have been too low priority get done when they are competing against big urgent tasks - they always slipped down the importance pile.

In a typical day I probably have about 3 spare 5 minute periods that normally I would squander.
Over a period of a year, I can potentially deliver 660 things that would have slipped down my priority list and never got done.

I haven't picked the item from a to-do list or anything as structured as that.  I can imagine wasting 5 minutes figuring out which item I wanted to do.  Instead I have literally done the first thing that came into my head. No consideration to whether it would fit into 5 minutes - I just did it.  Most of the time it gets done. If it doesn't I have made progress and when I next get 5 minutes I pick it again.

Take this blog post - just over 5minutes for me to write it and post.

This technique has really surprised me. I'm beginning to think these 5 minutes are the most productive of my day.

Try it. I'd be interested to hear your experiences.

Thursday 10 January 2013

How process can blow the sale and create distrust

Last night I was on the phone to a travel agent booking a holiday over Easter.  I was sold on the holiday. We'd researched the hotel. We liked the price and dates.  I was ready to buy.

The person on the end of the phone was professional, courteous, respectful yet he lost the sale.

What went wrong?

I love selling and writing about sales - there is just so much material and experience around us every
day of the week to learn from. And this was a great example to learn from and explore what went

After the call, I spent some time reflecting why I said right at the end that I didn't want to buy.
The key issue they lost the sale was their process.   It eroded my trust in them.

So lets play the whole sales process out from the beginning.

Firstly they captured my attention with a headline price. It was a great price so I rang them.
My previous experience with these types of companies is that there is some excuse that the offer is not available. In this case it was a pleasant surprise - maybe too good to be true. The holiday was available as advertised at this great price.

So we proceeded to book. However as the booking unfolded the price started to rise.
Firstly the charge for the luggage - OK we've grown to expect that but still the headline price
was disappearing.  Quick look in the mirror.  Not quite a full blown smile but I'm still marginally happy.

Secondly there was a charge for transfers to the hotel - OK I've had that before. The headline price is moving into the distance and I'm getting my binoculars out to try and see it again.  Mirror check. Hmmm maybe not a smile - a forced grimace. I'm starting to feel shafted.

Oh did I forget to mention the flight times are not very sociable - I'm starting to think this isn't the great holiday I was expecting.  I'm beginning to visualise a grumpy family trying to get into a hotel room at 3am.

Thirdly there's a charge for paying by card (despite there being no other way of paying). OK. I'll
accept that.  Smile gone.

We now have a price. I've supplied all the details and ask to confirm that this is the price that will be charged to my card. Yes is the response.

After the first increase I was scribbling numbers on a pad and our numbers tallied more or less.

So we proceedp. Spending 20 minutes taking all the details for the booking (that's a reasonable for for them). You're probably wondering how they lost the sale.

Their process was booking fees were not included in that price and neither was the airline check-in fee.

It was actually impossible to book the holiday for their headline price.  If I'd opted for no luggage, turned-up at their offices with cash to pay for the holiday and was prepared to walk the 40 miles to the hotel, it was simply not possible to book the holiday for the price they were advertising.

As their booking fee bombshell was dropped in I was really getting edgy about proceeding.  The final straw was the airport check-in fee.

Mirror check: Furrowed brow. No smile.

They must have known about these fees up-front but they were conveniently excluded. Their process was one where the trust established at the beginning of the call was systematically eroded by many "small" price increments.

The final price, to be fair, was still a pretty good price, despite increasing by about 30% from the initial headline line. Had they been up-front with the charges right at the beginning I may well have proceeded. Their process created lots of small surprise price increases - this  lost them the sale. I simply didn't trust them anymore. Each unexpected increase was a nail in the coffin of their offer until the lid was nailed shut.

Holidays is one of those areas where things always go wrong for me. Over the years I've taken 3 companies to court and won because they failed to supply what they claim.  This drip of bad news during the buying process was enough to recall all the fears, anxieties and remorse of previous holiday disasters.

The lesson learnt from this experience is make sure your sales process (particularly if it is scripted like this one)  is building trust not eroding it. The sale was theirs to lose.

Wednesday 9 January 2013

Buyer's remorse - Losing the Sale after the Sale

Those following my articles on the psychology of sales will be aware of the thought process of the seller and the buyer to the point where the decision to buy is made.  Sales is a marriage the relationship often continues after the  deal has been struck.

Buyer's remorse is when the buyer has a sense of regret after having made the purchase. Often it is when
the buyer has been swept along and purchased an expensive or extravagant item. It can also be due to
feeling suspicious about the seller after the event.

I first came across this as a young naive teenager when my brother-in-law bought a Morgan sports can. It
was something he had always wanted.  Yet that night he couldn't sleep. The decision weighed heavy on his
mind whether he had done the right thing.  So the car went back in the morning!

Why does it happen? 

There are many reasons.  In the case of my brother-in-law it wasn't a case of being "mis-sold". The desire for the car was a long standing passion.  In his case it was a disconnect between his desires and reality.  
I have never discussed it with him but I would guess the thoughts running through his mind at the time were

"Can I really afford this"
"Do I really need this"

The buying decision was an emotional one.  Once the emotions had subsided the logical brain raised questions which lead to fears and anxiety.

So what can sales professionals do to avoid remorseful or worse still resentful buyers?

There will always be buyers that wonder whether they have made the right decision. 

The obvious thing to do is to take steps to make sure that the buyer doesn't internalise their own fears and anxieties into blaming the salesman for their decision. How can you do this?

Firstly never force the person into the sale. If you sense there are fears, objections then acknowledge their fears and get them to discuss them.  Bring these into the open.

If they look uncertain when they make the purchase decision, explain what will happen if they change their mind.  Some industries, particularly financial products, often have a legal cooling off period anyway.

Help make Start-up Roller Coaster Free.

Amazon are taking forever to make my book Start-up Roller Coaster free. It's been over 3 weeks since I told them about the lower price and so far 20 people have told them about a lower price. Maybe if lots of people do it, they may respond!

So please help me make it free.

If you visit the book's page on Amazon, you can let them know about a lower price elsewhere. It is free on Kobo.

1/ Visit here:

2/ Click on  "tell us about a lower price" on this page

3/ Select Website

4/ Paste  the URL below where the book is free

5/ Enter price.  Both of these are 0.00

6/ Submit

Thanks for your help.

Saturday 5 January 2013

Excerpt from Start-Up Roller Coaster - Plan for success on the ride from brainwave to business

Below is a free sample of chapters 1-3 of my business start-up advice book, Start-up Roller Coaster.

1/ A new start

Creating a new business is exciting. The euphoria of embarking on a journey to success. The thrill of changing or bettering the world and the promise of untold riches. Creating a new business triggers emotions comparable to finding a new love and it can similarly consume your thoughts to the point of obsession. All you can think about is the new love in your life.

Creating a business is a journey. Not a mundane journey to the shops but a once in a life time journey such as a challenge or adventure. The initial stages of this journey are often the happiest – saturated with excitement and enthusiasm. The excitement of going to new places. The thrill of bringing your dreams to life and changing your life. Boldly stepping into the unknown.

You are a brave warrior. The majority of people will not have the courage to make this journey. They will see the risks and consign themselves to failure before they have started.

If you have run a marathon or undertaken a similar challenge, you may have experienced a point on the journey when your beliefs are challenged. You may think “what the hell am I doing here”. The goal of reaching the finishing line remains your rock to spur you on. Your business journey will have its challenges and steep slopes to climb that were hidden from view when you took the first step of a journey of a thousand miles.

This book is about your brain and the role it plays in the success of your exciting new start-up venture. There are hundreds of books out there advising you on the mechanics of what you need to do to create your business. How to raise capital. How to plan your marketing, product positioning etc. But none of them shed light on the journey your brain will take.

Having the right mindset for your journey is as important as, and maybe more important than any of the mechanical tasks you will need to undertake.

Your brain will be with you at every step of this journey. It can literally be thinking about your business 24 hours per day. You may work, eat, sleep and dream your business. Forewarned is forearmed. Spend time getting to know your travelling companion in order to have a successful journey.

Your brain can be your best friend and worst enemy.

This book covers the mindset you need to develop to help you achieve success. It doesn't cover the mechanical or technical aspects of setting-up or running a business. There are lots of books out there that already cover that. This is about what is within you – your brain.

Business success is more about you than knowledge.

Business success is more about you than funding.

You are the driving force behind your business.

2/ Going It Alone

Making the decision to start your own business can be dangerous. You may not think so as confidently start your new enterprise filled with self belief and unshakable resolve. If you are embarking on this journey having left a secure job, then the thing you are leaving behind is security. Security that you know what to do at work. Security of income. Security of routine. Security of support from colleagues.

Making the decision to leave and start a fresh new life of work can be one of the hardest decisions to make. You may wrestle with the internal demons between the love affair and adventure of the new business or the comfy familiarity of your job. Once you have found the guts to make the decision, it can feel liberating and you wondered why it was so hard reaching that freedom mindset. Your brain was resisting change. It sensed danger and told you to step back from the cliff edge. Making the decision is a hearts-and-minds decision.

With the new reality and dawning realisation that you are going it alone, comes excitement. Opportunity and a world of possibilities is out there. The sheer aliveness and believing in yourself can be exhilarating.

The desire to start your own business may have started as an itch. Maybe the seed of the itch was resentment. Over time that itch was watered and fed and slowly grew into an overwhelming desire to flee the security of the nest. Maybe the trigger wasn't a slow build-up but a revolution. You woke up in a flash and knew there and then that you had to leave and turn your idea - your dream into reality. Your heart fell in love with the idea and your rational brain was dragged along in the rush towards adventure.

For some, the decision to go it alone is not theirs. Redundancy or some other forced lifestyle change may be the spark that ignites the passion of being an entrepreneur. Unable to find a job, maybe you felt the only option is to create a job with your redundancy cheque – a desperate last choice option.

If you made the leap voluntarily, you are towards motivated – you were motivated by a desire for change. If you were pushed off the cliff then you are away motivated – you wouldn't have leapt without help.

In my first business book, Romancing The Sale, I introduce Croco Mojo. Your brain is made up of the left brain, right brain and the reptilian brain. The reptilian brain, or Croco Mojo as I refer to him, keeps you alive. He controls your basic emotions – the four F's. Fighting, Fleeing, Feeding and Sex. Croco Mojo assesses risk and controls the release of chemicals such as adrenaline to give you a burst of energy when you fear something and need to escape. Croco Mojo keeps you alive and away from danger. Being “towards motivated” or “away from motivated” are basic emotional responses.

Croco Mojo makes most of your decisions for you. His decision making is emotional and so most decisions you think you are making logically are actually emotional. Croco Mojo is the Heart in the Hearts-and-Minds of decision making. Your higher order left and right brain plays catch-up rationalising Croco Mojo's decision making skills, further convincing yourself that the decision is right.

If you wrestled with making the leap, it's an internal argument between your brains. Croco Mojo is in love and is impetuous whilst your logical left brain is trying to exert some order and discipline, asking little questions like “what about paying the mortgage”.

My intent is to give this book away for free (sorry if you got this from Amazon – they struggle with the idea of free) you'll have to put up with my occasional sales plugs for Romancing The Sale. If your business involves selling things or services, which to be honest is virtually all businesses, then Romancing The Sale will provide valuable insight into the psychology of the sales process. In other words it explains what is going on in your head and the mind of your customer as you romance them into buying your stuff.

Enough advertising for now. If you are at the early stages of your business then it is worth reflecting on and writing down where your head is at. Write down all the things that really irritated you at work and why being your own boss seemed to be the answer. If you were pushed, write down the thought process that lead you to the decision. Don't just write this down on a random scrap of paper that you will lose. Write it down somewhere that you can reference back to. Maybe type it up, print it, get it framed and hang it on the wall. Try to capture your emotions.

If working for someone really pissed you off – document all the things that caused you to want to escape.

If the dream of your new business lured you to go it alone, then capture the passion, energy and excitement which drove you there.

The brain has a nasty habit of changing the truth and as you repeat the “truth” the brain has a habit of changing the story that you tell yourself. To avoid this you need to document the truth or at least your most recent recollection of the truth. Emotions will subside and become difficult to recall over time. Once Croco Mojo's euphoria and lusting for adventure subsides he will stop releasing those addictive reward centric chemicals like dopamine. You'll then be cold turkey.

Why am I asking you to do this? Unless you are one of the very fortunate minority, your early years in business will be tough. Thousands of things can go wrong. People won't pay you. Deals you are banking your hopes on will fall through. If you are successful then people will try to take you to court. You name it – shit will happen. Just like the marathon, you may start to wonder “what on earth am I doing here”. Being able to have something which you can reference back to and remind yourself of all the reasons why you started this journey, is invaluable. If you do this exercise well, it can be your touchpaper. It can reignite the flame and spark the drove you to take on this mission. You will wake up Croco Mojo.

A Four Letter Word

I'm now going to talk about a four letter word. Some of you have dirty minds. The four letter word I was thinking of was WORK. Why do you want to create a business? Are you simply creating work for yourself? Is the four letter word you are thinking of, RICH? Is your primary reason for the business to make money for yourself and become rich?

If you are looking at franchises, you are more often than not buying a JOB. Job is a three letter word. Chances are you are making someone else rich, you are part of someone else's company and you are paying for the privilege of working for them. You are not after a job. If you are then go work for someone if you want a job. Creating a business has a higher purpose than just being a job.

Let's look at making money as your reason. Sure you want to earn money but customer's don't buy your products and services because they want to make you rich. They buy because they perceive the thing you are selling to be as valuable or more valuable than the money they give you. It is important that you put satisfying your customer's needs first.

No customers = no sales.
No sales = no revenue.
No revenue = no business.

If you don't have customers you have not got a business. Creating satisfied customers needs to be your first priority and if you get it right, making money should naturally follow.

Forget the myths of the dot com era where this rule was temporarily suspended. You need customers.

You have broken free of your shackles so you need to be more ambitious then just mere four letter words. Don't sell yourself short with three letter words. Four letter words are OK but they are not pushing the boundaries. Stretch yourself. How about embracing a five letter word? DREAM

Six Letter Words

In order to achieve your DREAM, you will need 6 letter words to get 7 letter words. VISION, BELIEF, ACTION and ENERGY to get the RESULTS and SUCCEED.


If you haven't already done it, spend time thinking about how you decided to start a business and document the emotions that you experienced.

Spend time thinking about your higher goal. Where will your business be in 20 years time? What do you want to have achieved and why?

3/ Loss of Power

Here's some of my story. I love creating things. I get great satisfaction from coming up with ideas and turning them into reality. If I see something broken, I want to fix it. When I see empty shops I wonder what business would be successful there. My brain is constantly on the look out for business opportunities. Many people have commented that I have a natural entrepreneurial flair as a result but being creative alone is not enough to guarantee success.

Although I've dabbled in start-ups in the past, this time round I decided for the big push. My previous start-ups were back-room businesses. They were all businesses I ran in my spare time either alone or with friends. None of them were big enough to make a full time living from but they certainly taught me about the realities of start-up businesses. They were a low risk way to cut my teeth and they provided invaluable experience. If you haven't gained much business experience then this route may be a good way for you to learn how to swim before you jump (or get thrown) in the deep end.

With my early business experiments, I quickly became painfully aware that commitment is absolutely critical to make a successful business. You may have heard there story of Cortez landing in Mexico where he gave the instruction to burn the boats. He had the full attention of his men – there was no retreat or going back – there was only forwards.

By holding down a full time job, I always had an escape route if things went wrong. I firmly believe you have to burn the bridges. By creating a situation, it forces you to innovate – necessity is truly the mother of invention. I will come back to this later.

Before I started my own business this time around, I had a very senior level job in a large corporation. I was well paid, comfortable, controlling very large budgets and a very large team. But the gremlin inside me was not happy – I was too comfortable – it wasn’t getting my pulse racing - I wanted the freedom. I wanted the thrill and excitement of chasing business.

I spent a while looking at business options whilst still employed. My first idea was sexy and viable but required £10M to get it off the ground. Raising £10M for vapour-ware is non trivial. My second idea was not sexy but was a scalable business but required £0.5M to get it off the ground. Too little money for venture capitalists and unfortunately not a sexy business. So I finally opted for a service business requiring minimal capital to get it off the ground, so self funded.

Once I had set my business up and left my employer, the thing that struck me was I was now alone. In my old job my phone was constantly ringing. People wanted to meet me to sell things to me, make decisions, brief me – I didn't control my diary – others dictated it.

Had I moved to another big job in a big company I would have been in demand. Instead I now had a massive job in a minnow company. Suddenly I went from constantly being emailed and phoned to the occasional junk email and no-one ringing me. I had discovered it was the job in my old world that made me powerful, not me. I know what I am capable of but the sudden withdrawal of power made me question my own abilities.

This transition was very revealing for me – it has taught me who I can really rely upon from my old network – it is literally a handful of people who will go out of their way to help me. I've since gone on to grow my network in very different directions and had support and help from very unexpected areas. And I'm having fun!

The withdrawal from the hustle and bustle of corporate life was a sharp contrast. It was actually quite lonely at first – there were no constant interruptions and people driving my agenda. The sudden silence almost made me feel shunned. I was no longer part of their world – I was a leper – I had defected. Left unchecked, the brain can start to build irrational stories. “Maybe I am not as good as I think I am – all those successes were the job and not me”. Self-doubt can creep in. If you do not have strong self belief, just the change in situation can make you feel weak and vulnerable.

There is no-one to talk to to discuss your ideas and business. If you are used to bouncing ideas off colleagues, you may be tempted to ring former work associates up to solicit their views. Particularly when you discovered your cat was far from interested and purred in agreement with all our ideas.

Comfort calling is not productive. If you feel the need to interact then contact prospective customers instead!

If you are in a similar position to where I was, you will feel stripped of your identity. A shell of your former self. You are naked for the first time. Get used to it. The human race is weak. Humanity has survived by hunting in groups and as a result the fear of being alone and not being with the pack is a deep seated fear.

Your brain may make you feel small and insignificant - compelling you to run to the warm safety of a job. If you can't cope with the exposed feeling then maybe you do need to run for the safety of a cosy job. The negative thoughts are too powerful for you.

These doubt are not real. The origins of these feelings are hard wired into your brain. Remember humans are weak animals. Cavemen learnt that belonging to a group provided safety from predators. The threats we had as cavemen are no longer there so you will have to wrestle with your mind to overcome these negative destructive thoughts of seeking safety in the cave.

Negative thoughts are at least five times more powerful than positive ones. Evolution has made it that way as negative thoughts such as “Oh shit that sabre tooth tiger wants to eat me” was a good survival tactic. Whereas positive thoughts can be dangerous: “I bet that sabre tooth tiger wants a belly rub”.

To make the leap, the fire really needs to be burning in your belly. The desire of running your own business needs to be at least five times bigger than your fear of failure. You need that burning urge to achieve.

What's stopping you starting that business? Often just yourself.

I like the saying “It is better to live one day as a lion than a lifetime as a mouse”. Man-up and find the balls to bring your dream to life.

Back to burning bridges. If you are starting a business whilst holding down a full time job then be aware it is not a business but a hobby. Your life does not depend upon it. Inadvertently your brain has conditioned yourself for failure. The very fact that you thought “if it all goes wrong then I still have my job”, you have established a belief that failure can and therefore will happen.

Tightrope walking without a safety net is dangerous. Few people are willing to take the risk so it is totally understandable that starting a back-room business is a preferable option. If you don't have a financial safety net then it is the safest route to start a venture. However to make it a viable business you need to treat it like a business. You have created this new baby life-form and if you don't feed it, it will die. If you don't satisfy it's demands, it will scream for attention. So how do you balance the safety vs growth? Simply have the right mindset.

A tightrope walker does not think about not falling off. The reptile brain cannot cope with negative sentence wording. Croco Mojo works on the basis if you think it, then it becomes real and he can't cope with negatives. Saying “don't fall off” will make you think about falling off!

Don't think about penguins. See you had to think about penguins in order to not think about them.

Instead tightrope walkers think about walking to the other side – the goal. Focus on your goal, not on avoiding failure. The reptile brain is really not that clever at thinking.

Allowing rogue thoughts, that your back-room business could fail, to surface is fatal. You are setting yourself up for failure. Think big bold successful ideas for your back-room business. Imagine it succeeding so you have to give up your secure job to nurture this growing business.

If you have a financial buffer then give up your job. Breaking free from the corporate hand-cuffs is like having a lion chasing you. You suddenly discover you can out-run Usain Bolt because your life depends upon it. Creating the same level of energy, enthusiasm and commitment whilst knowing you have a safety net, is a massive challenge.


Examine the higher goal that you devised in the previous exercise. Imagine how you will feel when you reach that point in 20 years time. Picture the finish line for this business. Be as bold as possible with your dream. Write down the dream and identify the parts that give you that warm glow and feeling of achievement.

Spend time listening to little voice in your head. If you find your voice using negative language, spreading cancerous self doubt, then challenge the voice. Believe you can achieve success then you will.

Liked what you read? You can also get it on Kindle

I hope you find the book useful

Thursday 3 January 2013

Battle of the eBooks

Sales of eBooks have surpassed paper sales.

I don't think this means the death of paper publishing but it does mean the long tail of books is set to get longer. Approximately 70% of books sell less than 100 copies in their life time. This ultimately  means that these niche titles are well suited to electronic publishing. For those minority of books in the best seller category, they will of course remain available in paper.

As people increasingly migrate to eBooks, we have the battle of the eBook readers.

Most people have heard of Kindle, Amazon's reader but there are others out there such as Nook, Kobo and more....

I've currently published books on Kindle and Kobo. I am monitoring the effectiveness of these sales channels and will publish a blog in future contrasting the effectiveness of these channels. The reader is after all a sales channel.

So far I haven't managed to publish on Nook. Nook is Barnes and Noble's attempt at e-readers.  My thoughts are at this time they need to up their game. As an author I can't publish on Nook.


Well I don't have a USA bank account. Currently their PubIt!  publishing system does not permit non USA based authors! Seems to me that if they want to compete with Amazon they urgently need to fix this. Or maybe this is a subliminal ploy to demonstrate USA authoring supremacy.

Amazon have adopted a policy with their KDP Select offering which is there to stifle competition.  With KDP Select, users are encouraged to opt-in to an exclusivity arrangement where content is only available via Kindle.  Given Nook won't accept my content, the exclusivity is really a battle between Kindle and Kobo at the moment however it will eventually starve competition of content.

Given the speed at which change is happening to the publishing industry, it is interesting times.  I will keep you updated on progress through the year.

Wednesday 2 January 2013

Sales Brainwashing

Over the past 3 years I have become fascinated by the human brain.  If you've read any of my books you'll probably have guessed it!

More recently I have being researching the Neuroscience of language.  The saying "With knowledge come power" is absolutely correct for this topic. The interesting thing about language is the profound power it has to control people. 

Let's do a small experiment

"Chocolate or Painkillers"

The last sentence was very short yet may have stimulated cravings for chocolate.  Firstly you may have pictured chocolate.  When you pictured chocolate, part of your brain would have reacted as if it was in front of you. Another part of your brain would recall the reward feeling that chocolate gives and this would have reinforced the desire. You will have probably made a decision you would rather have chocolate as opposed to paracetamol - unless of course you have a headache right now.

Generally people are "towards motivated" to chocolate and "away from motivated" from painkillers. 

Although I wasn't there to physically sell you some chocolate (or painkillers) I may have stimulated a desire - I sold you on chocolate.

OK this is a very simple example where I exploited the fact you may have been conditioned over time to like chocolate and you are used to making impulse buy decisions for chocolate.   This was a simple example - it is possible build more complex examples where the choice of words, structure of sentences and positioning can be used to create "forced" decisions and responses.  

Words have the power  to change minds. Words can be a window into the soul. 

With all power there is the opportunity for the power to be used for good or for evil.  The opportunity for language neuroscience to be abused by sales is a very real threat.  The title sales brainwashing was deliberately chosen to attract your attention, arouse curiosity and trigger a possible fear that you may be brainwashed by the next smiling salesman you encounter.  

It is not all evil - neuroscience can be used for "good" in sales too.  

The reality is the world is saturated with noise.  Cutting through noise to deliver the right message to a prospect, to gain their attention and show how a product can solve their problems or create opportunity for them  is an example of the use of neuroscience for good.  This is a perfectly ethical use - using words to help the prospect make the right decision is fine. It is when words are used to manipulate the prospect so that  they buy when there is no benefit or value for the prospect that neuroscience is straying into evil territory. 

People like to think they are being rational when making purchase decisions however my research suggests that the vast majority of people are susceptible to being brainwashed to make purchase decisions simply by the clever use of words.  

Given that certain segments of the sales profession has a poor reputation  for being unethical and manipulative, how can we ensure that neuroscience is used for good and not evil?

I'd welcome your thoughts.