Death of a salesman…..or not ?

Just whispering the word ‘salesman’ will send many rushing for shelter, either through fear of being sold something they don’t want, can’t afford or just being bored to death by an unrelenting sales pitch. Trust me, I know , I have been one for most of my working life.

Throughout modern commercial  history , say the last one hundred years, going from one extreme, second car sales, double glazing through to Charles Ponzi and Bernie Madoff, salesmen have not always garnered much respect within society.

In my experience the salesperson, no …’salesman’ , as even today the vast majority of those in sales are men, the ‘profession’ has gone through various cycles. The thirties through to the sixties, they  were commercial travellers. In the U.K. these were often grey striped, black coated, bowler hatted ‘gents’ with a sample case. Often travelling by van or train. Mid sixties through to the late eighties were the ‘sales representatives’, sharp suits and Ford Cortinas.  The gold standard often came from food and confectionery companies such Mars. Their training was extensive and intensive, yet when released into the field they were little more than order takers as their brands were so strong.

From the mid nineties onwards, technological developments, increasing pressure on costs saw many organisations slashing sales forces as easy financial savings . The days of how many calls can be made in a day, are over. The days of orders takers are fast disappearing.

Buyers are looking for a lot more value beyond just a binary transaction, the sale and purchase of a product. They want insight and partners who can help them grow their business. This takes a whole new level of competence.

“The top-performing companies now focus their sales on industry or niche expertise to ensure that clients get the best results. These corporations realise they have a re- sponsibility to deliver results for the client, not just make the sale.

Raconteur report: The Times, September 2017

The sales function should now seek to show the client how they can help develop their own business. In order to do this ethically and effectively the sales person must believe in the organisation and its services and products , they represent. Maximising the sale, without benefiting the client results is very short term, ineffective and sours client/supplier relationships.  In today’s climate this is not an acceptable nor conducive  way to a successful commercial relationship.

…Sales people are becoming more like business consultants and consultancies, such as McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group or Deloitte, and are increasingly having to go out there and sell their services,” . “Everyone is having to offer genuine business insight right now.”

Ian Price- business psychologist at Recludo Consulting.

 The nature of the job is changing. As it redefines itself so the numbers will decline but the professionalism is and will continue to change and improve. It must in order to survive.

So, apart from being one most of my working life, why is this of interest ? Because it has vindicated my own belief. Organisations need people to create a symbiotic and mutually profitable relationships between existing and new customers. Symbiotic because they need to learn from each other. Mutually profitable,  because that is the nature of the contract. A buys from B. If A is not profitable they will no longer be a client of B. If the reverse is true then A will loose a supplier. It is part of the sales function to understand the needs of the ‘buyer’ and match those products and services that meet those needs . Part of that process involves an element of trust. The ‘buyer’ should be able to trust the information and data from the supplier.  The supplier should understand the requirements of the buyers and the market within which they operate . Often a complex procedure if executed properly, even with basic products. It is no longer about ‘selling a load of gear!

Finally, I come back to the ‘salesperson’ rather than ‘salesmen’. It is never been a profession that has attracted many females. No doubt due, in part, to its dubious associations with second hand car salesmen, unethical practices, golf club/football talk ‘boys club’ image . Yet in my experience those women I have come across in sales have been far more effective than their male counterparts. Perhaps the redefining of the role will encourage more women to enter this, increasingly professional and rewarding career. So perhaps it is the death the salesmen , but it it is being replaced  by something very different and a ‘salesperson’ does not quite do it justice.

Much ado about nothing….

Maybe at the very end of the sixteenth century , William discovered that little happened of any importance in the Northern Hemisphere during August. Consequently, he decided to write a play so titled. Apart from Kim Jong un, everyone else sods off, or the media gives the impression that little happens apart from natural disasters.

So here are some of my picks of ‘nothing much adoing…’


Up until the last few weeks the government has banged on about five a day healthy eating. At the beginning of August a study , said this was nothing like good enough and we should have ten . By the end of August, the following was in  The Times

If you obsessively count every piece of fruit and vegetable in pursuit of the magic “five a day” it seems you can relax — one of the largest studies of its kind has concluded that there is no point having more than three.

People who ate three or four large portions of fruit and vegetable a day were a fifth less likely to die early than those who had less than one but eating more offered no extra protection, research in 18 countries found.

Then there was ……

Low-fat diets could increase your risk of dying early, according to a large study that adds to confusion over healthy eating advice.

Those who ate the least fats were a quarter more likely to die during the study, suggesting that what people eat instead of meat and dairy products could be even more dangerous.

Those who ate the most carbohydrates were 28 per cent more likely to die during the study. The Canadian researchers called for global dietary guidelines to be revised to warn against white bread and rice……

“When you emphasise lower fat people replace fat with carbohydrate and the harm of refined carbohydrates has been shown by our research,” said Mahshid Dehghan of McMaster University in Ontario, who led the study of 135,000 people in 18 countries over a decade.

So that’s all straightforward then….until next week. Can say I have  not seen anything about red wine recently. That is often touted as the biggest health seesaw , one day good, one day bad. Four glasses a day, half a bottle …or nothing, who knows ? There has, however, been a pronouncement on prosecco. It’s bad for your teeth.


Next up are driverless cars. following Gove’s pronouncements on electrifying anything that moves by 2040, Oxford University August gushings (or rather one of its professors. That is what they do when the office is on holiday, academics that is) are pontificating the impact of driverless cars.

Driverless cars will lead to the creation of huge urban sprawls as lengthy commutes become painless and workers flock to the suburbs, an academic has claimed.

Timothy Hodgetts, from Oxford University, said reduced travel times in vehicles that allowed passengers to work, combined with high property prices in city centres, would cause ever-spreading “suburbanisation”.

He doesn’t specify whether they will flow out to the suburbs from inside the city , or ‘in’ from the countryside. Well, whatever, presumably it would be good for wildlife because driverless cars will be taught not to flatten hedgehogs, foxes, squirrels, badgers,cats and the odd magpie.


UK Govt

We need EU workers…we need to cap EU workers….EU citizens are welcome…except on Tuesdays….we need to think about what we need …aah thought about it and we need to do some research…there will be no hard Brexit barrier between Northern Ireland and Eire…we are talking to Trumps Mexican wall planners…we will borrow supermarket scanners to check the border posts on incoming goods …

The EU

No..maybe…no you can’t …you need to pay us 42 million trillion wongas….no of course it’s not that much… we don’t need to tell you anything …..if you except elderly Germans with dementia, ex French presidents’ mistresses and retired polish jockeys , we are sure the freedom of movement can be sorted….do the British Government always take so much time off..

In short, little has happened . Can so many achieve so little….
Korean Kim and his arch enemy ‘The Donald’ , have to their credit not taken August off. The former firing off his favourite toys and the latter firing off his favourite tweets. Or maybe they have taken August off…..

What happens in the Southern Hemisphere in August ? Don’t know …nobody in the North tells us…

Natural disasters 

Natural disasters have no concern about whether people are having time off. The horrendous storm that struck Texas, killing up to fifty, displacing tens of thousands and destroying billions of dollars of infrastructure has dominated the world’s media . The storms that have hit the Indian sub continent, killing at least fourteeen hundred and displacing over forty million , has also been covered….just .

My point here is probably blindingly obvious . Despite the fact that a bucket load of the world’s media (or at least in the northern is winter in the south ) are in Tuscany, Thailand, or idly frittering their down time in their back gardens (all members of the media have back gardens ), there are still a load reporting much about nothing. 

So if it is not about shortage of resources, what is that deems we are more interested in a relatively less impactful natural disaster in the US as apposed to a rather larger one in Indian sub continent ? This is a question, not a judgement ….