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Elliot Epstein

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A Midsummer Night’s Sales Dream

Friday, 27 January 2017 05:06
27 01, 2017

A Midsummer Night’s Sales Dream


Nick is an enterprise sales guy, married to Helena, a clinical psychologist.

It is a Thursday, 5.13 am at their house, 14 Theseus Court in the heart of a suburb with 15 organic coffee shops.

Nick wakes up screaming.

Helena: Hey, hey, hey…what’s wrong with you…it’s still early.

Nick: I had a shocking dream…did you turn the air-con off?…it’s 38 degrees.

Helena: I was cold…so, come on, you know I love a good nightmare…what happened?

Nick: I was meeting with a CEO and it was just me and him in a really small office and I couldn’t shut up. I just kept talking and pitching idea after idea and sharing all the new product updates. It went on for what seemed like hours.

Helena: So, what did he do?

Nick: He said I was very knowledgeable and that he was very interested….and then he rang me straight after this ridiculously long meeting and told me he was giving the business to another company whose Sales Director was a mute.

Helena: A mute?… as in couldn’t speak?

Nick: Yeah, apparently he had his tongue cut out by his first boss after talking too much in his initial calls with clients….it was awful.

Helena: Then what happened?

Nick: The CEO said ‘But I want you to come back tomorrow for a de-brief’….I did and we walked into an even smaller room and he said ‘Watch this!’

Helena: Watch what?

Nick: He made me sit through 325,000 slides, the same number as my monthly target, going on about the history of his company and all their divisions and departments. It was excruciating. When I got home you greeted me with a Zimmer frame and said ‘Well, aren’t you going to give me a kiss for my hundredth birthday?’

Helena: How’d I look?

Nick: Like your mother…only with no teeth.

Helena: Charming! So do you want me to unravel the dream for you?

Nick: I suppose it’s just the constant feed of how not to sell on LinkedIn, which I already know anyway… and that leftover goat’s cheese from last night.

Helena: Not quite, Nick. It’s actually a bit deeper than that.

You do indeed know how to have a conversation with senior executives, listen and let the discussion unfold… that’s why you’ve been successful…plus you’ve picked up all of my clinical psychology techniques that encourage people to reveal themselves.

But recently, you’ve been inundated with mixed messages from Head Office. You had the Regional Sales Kick-Off with a whole day of product updates and the cult-like fervour of what you should now be pitching with the new system. You then had the divisional off-site function where the product gurus pummelled you with even more slides and a director who told you and the team to lead all calls with the new presentation.

It’s called cognitive dissonance – the disconnect between your attitude and your behaviour. Your dream simply highlights that you have a choice to make. Be true to yourself in the brilliantly conversational way you engage clients or become some weird hybrid that flips between what you do well and the information dumping approach to which you’ve been exposed.

I guess, your dream is telling you to choose.

Nick: Thanks, honey…don’t worry, I’ve made my choice. I know who I am and what works.

You know we still have an hour before we have to get up…cuddle?

Helena: It’s too hot.

Elliot Epstein is a leading Sales Expert, Pitch Consultant, Keynote Speaker, and Corporate Trainer who gets sales results rapidly and is the author of #1 International Best Seller, ‘Confessions of a Pitch Consultant’

Also available in hard copy for $15 +P&H…just DM or email here.

He has coached and trained high profile executives globally in master level presenting, selling, negotiating and pitching and has spoken at over 1500 conferences and workshops for leading companies such as HP, SEEK, EMC, Hitachi , Computershare, Lend Lease and Asciano.

This article first appeared in Linkedin Pulse.

Published in   Blog, Executive Level Selling

Holiday Sales Reading Guide

Sunday, 11 December 2016 06:56
11 12, 2016

Holiday Sales Reading Guide



Like the wafting smell of a barbecue at your neighbour’s house, you can sense the holiday season is not far away.

Many people ask me ‘What’s a good book to read over the break on selling or negotiating or presenting?’

Usually, the response is ‘Give it a rest, go sit on a beach or read something else like the fascinating ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ or a dark Danish crime thriller’.

However, if you are keen to keep the business brain cells alive after they’ve been bashed by food, wine and New Year’s Eve, here is my holiday sales reading guide for you to check out.

Pre-Suasion by Robert Cialdini. His long awaited sequel to the seminal Influence is a great read on what to do before traditional persuasion takes place.

To Sell is Human by Dan Pink, This #1 New York Times Business Best Seller is still excellent reading for technical sales, pre-sales, project managers as well as sales managers that reinforces many of the key points of engaging people.

The Go-Giver (Expanded Edition) by Bob Burg and John David Mann is a lovely parable worth reading after a massage on the beach with an espresso martini. It might even re-frame your thoughts after a year of global division.

Negotiating the Impossible by Deepak Malhotra has some great stories if you anticipate coming back to work facing contract renewals or tough negotiation situations.

3-D Negotiation by Lax and Sebenius is also a significant tome on fresh ways to grow the pie so that both parties can get more than they might have imagined.

Slide-ology by Nancy Duarte has some clearly articulated ideas on how to make your presentations look and feel great for all audiences.

Storytelling with data by Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic is even more focused on how pre-sales and technical sales people can present data without making the client feel that they’re listening to their drunk Uncle at Christmas re-telling the same boring stories about fly-fishing in the 1960’s.

Story Theater Method – Strategic Storytelling in Business by Doug Stevenson contains the seven stories we all need to tell in business and how to tell them.

Finally, click here for ‘Confessions of a Pitch Consultant’ which gets a favourable rating here because I wrote it.

Now a #1 International Best Seller these sales stories are perfect for a poolside beer or champagne, served with mini-burgers. Just a thought.

Also available in hard copy for $15 +P&H…just DM or email me.

Have a safe, happy, well rested and well read holiday season


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, EMC, Hitachi , Computershare, Lend Lease and Asciano.

More wins,  better deals at www.salesversusprocurement.com


Published in   Executive Level Selling, Negotiation, Presentations

Bad Sales

Saturday, 27 August 2016 06:22
27 08, 2016

Bad Sales


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 elliote@salientcommunication.com.au

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

Thursday, 04 August 2016 04:58
4 08, 2016

The Greatest Decision Maker of All Time


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.

E: elliote@salientcommunication.com.au


Published in   Executive Level Selling

22 02, 2016

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


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.


E: elliote@salientcommunication.com.au

Published in   Blog, Executive Level Selling, Sales Management

The Scary Sixth Sense of Selling

Tuesday, 12 January 2016 05:48
12 01, 2016

The Scary Sixth Sense of Selling


It’s been over 15 years since Bruce Willis walked around in The Sixth Sense not realising he was already dead. (Apologies to anyone under 25 who may not have seen one of the most famous twists in movie history).

In that time, an eerie sixth sense has developed.

‘I see dead deals…’

Deals that have all the persuasion of a local government councillor discussing bin night, deals that involve an audience as big as Carols by Candlelight but not the real decision maker and deals that are really exciting for the seller but are on par with cleaning the oven for the client.

But, one of the key reasons for new business dropping off like the Aussie Dollar is related to another sense.

It’s not taste, sight, hearing, smell or touch.

It’s the sense ….of entitlement.

Despite 400 Petabytes of data being written about how true persuasion puts the client at the centre of the call, there are still a lot of people who feel entitled to drive, pitch and talk a lot in client meetings.

It’s not about you. Get over it. Sell your ego on eBay while it’s still got currency.

Here’s a true story that crossed my desk (everyone says that – nothing actually crosses my desk except coffee stains).

It happened a few weeks ago on Remembrance Day – November 11.

A client in the middle of a 10.30 meeting with a potential supplier mentioned that he had family ties back to World War One and would like to observe a minute’s silence at 11.00 am to remember the fallen who had fought for our country.

At precisely 11.00 am they stopped talking, bowed their heads slightly and remained silent.

As the client’s head came up a minute later, our intrepid sales guy said ‘So, given you’ve had time to reflect for a bit just now, did you think about the proposal we were discussing?’

I believe that guy is now working for NASA circumnavigating Pluto without a space suit… or shuttle.

The initial reaction to such insensitive crappery is to laugh it off with incredulity and a side order of ‘What a moron’.

But hang on a second….

How did it even occur to him that his proposal was the central theme of the meeting?

Perhaps, because he felt he was entitled. After all the client agreed to meet him.

Granted, this idiot is off the scale but how many of us are keen to steer the conversation back to our company, our proposal, our story, regardless of what the client says.

We are all taught and told to listen to the point where the word itself sounds trite and there are eye-rolling sighs of ‘Yeah, yeah…listen to the client’s needs and then find something of value back- Wow, you’re a guru, Elliot, what an original concept’.

But time after time we don’t, because:

  • We’re keen to get our own three messages across
  • We think we’ve only got one meeting to tell them everything
  • We don’t like what the client is saying
  • We were taught to look for buying signals and jump in at the first opportunity to present our ideas
  • We want to qualify them and ask them our prescriptive questions.
  • We’ve got budget to get and I need to talk to tell the client what I want him/her to buy

We are not entitled to NOT listen.

Deeply, conversationally, with empathy, with pauses, with care and without an agenda

.I see people on 240% of budget because they genuinely listen to everything the client says, every single time.

I see dead deals because the client doesn’t feel heard.

Elliot Epstein is a leading Pitch Consultant, Keynote Speaker, Sales Expert and Corporate Trainer who gets results rapidly through innovative sales training.

  He has coached and trained high profile corporates globally in presentation skills, selling, negotiation skills and pitching. He has spoken at over 1500 conferences and workshops for leading companies such as HP, SEEK, Avaya, Hitachi , Computershare and Lend Lease.

 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 listens to his wife and two children


E: elliote@salientcommunication.com.au



Published in   Executive Level Selling

Sales Gain from Jarryd Hayne

Sunday, 06 September 2015 11:50
6 09, 2015

Sales Gain from Jarryd Hayne


Many people have both succeeded and failed at reinvention.

Tony Abbott and Bill Shorten have unsuccessfully tried to morph into leaders.

Bruce Jenner successfully transitioned into Caitlyn Jenner.

Now, Jarryd Hayne has achieved success with his monumental reinvention from Rugby League to American Football (NFL).

But in our wonderful world of business development the opportunities for reinvention are taken about as often as Donald Trump’s Mastering Humility Classes.

There are three key areas from which we could gain a lot of revenue and growth.

1. Stop controlling the sale

Controlling the sale was invented by a bunch of narcissists and perfectionists around the time your grandfather was receiving corporal punishment for not completing his cursive writing correctly.

‘Tell the client this, steer them here, deliver these three key messages, ask a few questions, then qualify them hard, ask for the order, overcome their objections, did I mention three key messages yet and make sure it’s in the system by Friday or the CRM fairy will visit you at midnight and sprinkle soot in your mouth’.

The only people who want to be controlled are paid up members of Masochists Anonymous and British Tory MPs.

Nobody else wants to be steered and controlled, least of all by a person with the title of BDM, Sales Manager, Account Director or even Intergalactic Head of Sales.

How about we just have a professional business conversation with all its imperfections and see where it goes.

2. Role Blindness

Apparently we can’t promote or hire Stacey or Ashley because they haven’t specifically sold 4mm elongated grey gronks and flanks to enterprise level clients, especially in Financial services on Wednesdays.

I’ve seen 23 year olds and 53 year olds with a huge variety of skills and experience being overlooked for sales roles because they didn’t meet perceived exacting criteria – the same criteria that has led to stagnant growth for the past two years.

The next comment is ‘ Why can’t we find good people and get some fresh thinking in here’

Er..perhaps you need to hire, promote and train them to find out.

3. Selling to the same people the same way

 OK, so you’ve sold your widget to a particular industry and they like it so you decide to target more clients in that industry.

By all means, go your hardest and you’ll probably win some new deals.

But what if the rectum falls out of that industry (see Mining) or the sales cycle ends up being longer than the US Primaries.

There are loads of new opportunities out there like:

  • Go Direct/Channel or vice versa
  • If you’re SMB focused, try Enterprise and vice versa
  • Change the mix of your solutions so it appeals to different markets
  • Change the inside sales/field sales model
  • Change your suppliers/vendors/channel partners – you’re not married to them and divorce is legal anyway

Rather than deciding for yourself who your clients should be, ask one important question ‘Who needs you right now’ Go there first.

Jarryd Hayne threw away a million dollar NRL contract to pursue a career that had a greater chance of failure than success.

You don’t have to have the same appetite for risk but take a look at what you could change as to what you sell, who sells it and who buys it.

It’s not that scary, the rewards are huge and anyway helmets are available on eBay.

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 and CUB.

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

Elliot is based in Melbourne where he lives with his wife and children who are subjected to reading this blog before you.

Published in   Executive Level Selling