Bad Sales

Written by Elliot Epstein Saturday, 27 August 2016 06:22
2708, 2016

There’s a whole genre of Bad movies such as Bad Santa, Bad Grandpa, Bad Teacher, Bad Neighbours and the most recent, Bad Moms ( genuinely funny!).

The premises vary ranging from absurd stupidity to hilariously heartwarming, but one of the keys to their box office success (collectively over $1 Billion) is that people relate to the stereotype being broken.

We don’t see ourselves as robotic stereotypes and whilst people often crave acceptance from their peers or managers, it is not sought at the expense of losing intrinsic individuality.

One of the greatest advantages of selling or consulting is to engage authentically and frequently with other Homo sapiens.

However the trend towards homogenised sales approaches, skills, account plans, recruitment and training is getting worse, not better.

Recently I have conducted five different executive level selling programs and one of my longstanding themes of ‘It’s OK to be yourself, rather than being a life support system for a sales methodology’ has never resonated so strongly.

After all, you got the job for a reason.

The look of relief, liberation and transformation is palpable as professional sales people discover that the person they are with friends and family is the same person they can be with clients.

The only change is a business context.

The meth (odology) pushers are still selling dangerous pills that destroy creativity, ingenuity, individuality and ultimately confidence.

Sales managers reach for more pills to give sales people in an effort to produce results. Sales Steroids are legal though and many are subjected to three and four day regimes to be indoctrinated in the latest Sales meth lab.

Unsurprisingly, sales people come out of these labs slightly giddy, heads spinning, temporarily euphoric, only to crash in front of real clients when the alignment of the methodology to their individuality is about as neat as Trump’s hair in a tornado.

We need a WADA – an anti-doping program to stop turning wonderfully imperfect, highly competent, individual, introvert, extrovert, ambivert sales people into dopes.

We need to coach, mindful of the individual preferences of real people who deal with real clients.

Standardisation is lazy. It’s like emailing sales teams with this week’s key sales messages instead of discussing it with them.

It’s not 1977 where we only had two flavours of yoghurt. One size fits all sales processes leave a chunk of people wearing ill-fitting suits in front of clients.

Those clients can tell and that’s the bottom line. They’re subjected to sales meth addicts daily and they can see exactly what you’re doing Spinning, Challenging or Snapping to try and lead them to buy your widgets.

They’re over it.

They want more.

They want the real you.

As Nietzsche said “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist”

If you’d like to know more about we can help you unlearn your way to authentic sales results, email me directly

Elliot Epstein is a leading Pitch Consultant, Keynote Speaker, Corporate trainer who gets sales results rapidly. He has coached and trained high profile corporates globally in presenting, selling, negotiating and pitching. He has spoken at over 1500 conferences and workshops for leading companies such as HP, SEEK, Avaya, Hitachi, Lend Lease and EMC.

He is internationally renowned for ensuring sessions are engaging, interactive and relevant to winning business in competitive markets.

Elliot is based in Melbourne where he lives with his wife and two individual children.


Published in   Executive Level Selling

The Greatest Decision Maker of All Time

Written by Elliot Epstein Thursday, 04 August 2016 04:58
408, 2016

James was sitting in the coffee shop with his sales manager, Sophie preparing for their meeting upstairs on Level 31.

Sophie: ‘Today, I’m going to introduce you to the greatest decision maker of all time’

James: ‘What, Donald Trump?’

Sophie: ‘Funny….You really should read material that contains more than cartoons and coloring pages’

James: ‘Don’t worry, I read Harvard, AFR and subscribe to a bunch of sales blogs… I know the latest trends in selling, LinkedIn, ROI analysis, client personality styles…remember that offsite with the weird facilitator in the orange socks that kept categorising us as blue sheep or green dogs or something. He suggested pigeon-holing all of our clients as if they were one dimensional…then we all got pissed’.

Sophie: ‘I remember the bar bill very well…now to today. We’re meeting Mr Selfin Terest, Intergalactic Head of Global Infrastructure and Resources’.

James: ‘Wow….the big cheese….Selfin?…isn’t he Scandinavian or Belgian or something?

Sophie: ‘Dutch’

James: ‘Well, as Nigel Powers famously said ‘There’s only two things I hate. People who are intolerant of other people’s cultures and the Dutch’.

Sophie: ‘Concentrate, will you?….Selfin has your proposal and he has agreed to discuss it with us now’.

Level 31 (After pleasantries and stale water is served)

Selfin: ‘Let me be really honest with you…when we first came to see you, we asked for a solution that was innovative and cost effective that gave us an edge over our competitors’.

Frankly, whilst the ideas you’ve put forward have lots of potential, we can’t see the payoff for at least three years’

James: ‘Yes, that’s the ROI we discussed at the start based on justifying the investment and….

Sophie: ‘Let Mr Terest finish please James’.

Selfin: ‘We’ve chosen a less expensive solution that doesn’t have all the bells and whistles but certainly plugs a hole for the next 12 months. Rest assured, we’re happy to revisit it then and thanks so much for all your time and effort… I’m sure it won’t be wasted for other bids you have’

Back in the coffee shop

James: ‘I don’t get it. We put months into this, it covered their projected growth over three years and gave them a chance to get ahead of their competitors.

Sophie: ’ Yes, James …but there’s one thing you didn’t uncover….Selfin is moving back to the Netherlands next month and he doesn’t believe his team here is capable of such a transition, regardless of the merits of the solution. The last thing he wants is to be jumping on planes to sort out a new implementation that he is still accountable for in his global role out of Amsterdam’.

James: ‘How the hell do you know all that?’

Sophie: ‘ While you were working on the proposal I was working on Selfin and questioning his every move, pattern of decision making, career objectives and immediate goals. That’s how I found out about his family’s decision to move back. We both know how underqualified his team are, so I knew we were dead in the water with our so-called ‘innovative solution’. I didn’t tell you because I wanted you to go through it yourself…and besides, I’ve sandbagged another deal for you anyway’.

James: ‘Bloody Selfin Terest’

Sophie: ‘Exactly, James – the greatest decision maker of all time’

James: ‘Thanks Sophie …anyway, good news is there’s a PokeStop at this café and I think there’s a Pikachu nearby’.

Elliot Epstein is a leading Sales Expert, Pitch Consultant, Keynote Speaker, and Corporate Trainer who gets sales results rapidly. He has coached and trained high profile corporates globally in presenting, selling, negotiating and pitching. He has spoken at over 1500 conferences and workshops for leading companies such as HP, SEEK, Avaya, Hitachi , Computershare, Lend Lease and Asciano.

He is internationally renowned for ensuring sessions are fresh, engaging, interactive and relevant to winning business in competitive markets.



Published in   Executive Level Selling

Is Your Manager Donald, Hillary, Bernie, Marco or Ted?

Written by Elliot Epstein Monday, 22 February 2016 11:16
2202, 2016

Your manager is running for US President right now.

Without political preference, prejudice or bias of any kind whatsoever, let’s take a look at your manager’s key attributes and see how they lead a sales team.


The Donald is the greatest deal-maker, sales guy, rainmaker that has ever lived in human history.

Just ask him.

He drives the team by the sheer force of his blustering personality. His only affliction is conjunctivitis – an eye disorder because every sentence starts with I. ‘I did this, I was great at that, I blew them away’

He doesn’t let facts get in the way of a bad story, let alone a good one and his successes are ‘Yuge’ (according to his LinkedIn profile).

Donald wants to build a wall between sales and marketing/operations/engineering and in fact, the rest of the entire organisation because they’re just losers who prevent deals from being done.

He constantly reminds the team that all competitors are idiots with lousy products and blames everyone but himself if a deal is lost.

(Also see Disdainful Squint)


Hillary is married to the former CEO who left after allegedly not watching all the Sexual Harassment videos supplied by HR.

She is very experienced both in managing domestic and global deals and in administration.

However, her female staff under 30 mostly dismiss her approach and tend to form their own views on how to win, rather than follow Hillary’s often uninspiring speeches about how clients should behave.

Hillary seems very concerned about her own image, rather than that of her clients. Her sales people are reluctant to take her out on calls because of that disconnect and her love of flat MBA style presentations banging on about how great her company is.

(Also see Entitlement)


Bernie was a sales manager in a remote region for decades and rarely even turned up to join in the festivities at President’s Club (no pun intended).

He believes sales people are paid too much and wants to share the accounts and commissions across the entire team, especially the newbies as it seems fairer.

He is about to introduce House Accounts where Account Directors maintain a quota for an account but all commissions go into a pool for Bernie to distribute at the end of the financial year including to sales support, inside sales, the receptionist and the outsourced cleaning company who cleaned the bins of the sales people every night.

(Also see Idealism)


Marco worked his way up from an Inside Sales rep role to being a young, upcoming manager.

Good looks and charm have won him over 5000 LinkedIn contacts but he’s only ever won a small deal in his own state.

He has no national or global account experience and hopes the team isn’t able to recognise this when he presents his weekly Work In Progress meeting.

When asked his opinions on how to creatively win new business, he tends to repeat himself.

(Also see Big Fish, Small Pond)


Ted read one book on sales in 1968 and has followed its teaching to the letter ever since.

He demands every sales person has an agenda for the meeting, follows the 7 step process regardless of the client’s needs and insists on the CRM being updated every 9 minutes.

He also has a bedside copy of Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People’ written in 1936 which he views as a beacon of modern 20th century thinking.

(Also listen to ‘My Way’ by Frank Sinatra)

Apologies to Jeb who has since retired to run a weekend bed and breakfast with his brother.

Wish your manager good luck. We’re all counting on him/her. (See Airplane/Flying High)

Elliot Epstein is CEO of Salient Communication and is a sought after keynote speaker, pitch consultant and corporate sales coach who gets sales results rapidly. He has coached and trained high profile corporates globally in presenting, selling, negotiating and pitching. 

He is internationally renowned for coaching leaders, sales professionals and subject matter experts to win high stakes deals.

Elliot is based in Melbourne, Victoria and is not entitled to vote outside Australia.



Published in   Blog, Executive Level Selling, Sales Management