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    My name is c.j., your trusted Sales Advisor, and here's the August 2009 issue of Psyche-Selling TM eNewsletter. 


    It’s good news that the economy seems to be recovering, and many companies are looking to hiring more sales staff, or getting their sales staff trained.  This is to make sure that the sales force is well-prepared for the “lift-off” that occurs in many recoveries.


    However, merely increasing the size of the sales force, or merely providing selling skills training, may not be sufficient for you to improve sales performance.  You will need strong and effective sales leadership to lead your sales team to greater success.  Once again, we borrow some ideas from one of the earliest “consultants” in history, Sun Tzu (孙子).


             Hence, this month's topics:

  1. Sun Tzu and the Art of Sales Leadership; and

  2. Confronting Poor Performance


    This issue's main article is on  "Sun Tzu and the Art of Sales Leadership", and it gives sales managers and leaders a framework on how they can get optimal sales results from their teams.


    In brief:

  • As a leader, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail for your entire team;

  • Why being overly nice or overly strict with your team are just as bad, and how you can strike a balance between Intelligence, Trust, Compassion, Courage and Discipline;

  • Why the sales leader will have a profound impact on the sales team, and MUST be held accountable for the team’s performance.   Read on... ...


    To read the rest of this newsletter, pls. click here (http://www.psycheselling.com/page4.html).



Sun Tzu and the Art of Sales Leadership


by c.j. Ng


     As the saying goes, if you fail to plan, you have planned to fail (多算胜少算,而况于无算乎).  This is especially true for sales leaders who are looking to boost performances of their sales teams.


     While most sales managers do implement some level of planning, most of such planning involve the day-to-day scheduling of meeting customers (i.e. the sales activities) so as to achieve the numbers.  There is little or no planning, in many cases, in the areas of strategising, competitive anaylsis, leadership and skills upgrading of their respective sales teams.


     To achieve better sales performances, Sun Tzu (or Sūn Zǐ in pinyin, 孙子 in simplied Chinese, or 孫子 in traditional Chinese) offer some insights on how we can plan better to become effective leaders for our teams.  After all, if today’s business is akin to war, then there’s much we can learn from the Art of War.


The Elements of Strategy


Long before we have strategic planning tools such as PEST (Political, Economic, Social, Technological) analysis or SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis, Sun Tzu had devised 5 elements in strategic planning that helped many generals to gain victories in battles.  These are:

  •  The Way (or Vision)     

  •  The Climate                   

  •  The Ground                   

  • The Leadership             

  •  The Methods                  


These 5 elements can be adapted into today’s business environment, and can also incorporate modern strategic planning tools such as the PEST and SWOT analysis.


     In ancient times, going to war is risky business – you risk losing your lives, and those of your loved ones, along with your properties and resources.  It may be easy to coerce some peasants to form an army for you to conquer foreign lands.  However, the best armies are those with soldiers and generals who are committed to the Way (or Vision or Goal in today’s terminology).  If the goals of the rulers (or management) and the objectives of the soldiers (or sales people) are aligned, you win (上下同欲者胜).


     Hence, as a sales leader or manager, you may have to communicate your expectations and align your goals with your sales teams frequently to make sure everybody is moving in the same direction (the same Way).  Many a time, companies experience high staff turnover in the sales force largely due to sales staff NOT buying into management’s vision and goals.  And in most cases, this was caused by sales leaders not communicating their vision and goals to their team enough.


     It is insufficient to just have a common goal to win battles and improve performances.  You will also have to be aware of your surrounding environment.  Sun Tzu categorised the environment into the Climate and the Ground .


     While the Climate in ancient times mean just the weather, the Climate in today’s business terms can also mean the economic climate, market trends and technological improvements.  It is important that sales leaders take into account of the Climate when setting sales targets such that targets are set high in good times, and then can be adjusted when times are bad.  Sales leaders will also have to identify emerging trends to capitalize on market opportunities.


     The Ground in ancient times mean the terrain of which armies will travel upon.  For today’s businesses, the Ground means all that is happening on the ground, in the market place.  This includes specific customer behaviours and responses, pressure from competition, our strengths and weaknesses with responding to such situations.  When sales leaders understand the Ground, they can provide adequate coaching and mentoring to their teams, and guide them to greater successes.


The Qualities of a Leader


     Sun Tzu also provided a set of qualities that leaders (将) should have.  These are:

  1. Intelligence        智

  2. Trust                  

  3. Compassion     

  4. Courage            

  5. Discipline         


     According to HR Chally, the 2 aspects of intelligence that a sales leader should have are: 

  • Analytical intelligence; and

  • Practical intelligence


     Analytical intelligence refers to how a sales leader can analyse issues ranging from market trends to individual sales situations, and then formulate strategies to overcome challenges.  Practical intelligence refers to how the sales leader can apply concepts learnt from other fields and industries onto their sales teams to generate better results.  Both aspects of intelligence are critical in enabling the sales leader to plan ahead and beat competitive pressures.  Sales leaders will have to balance the discipline of getting things done with the creativity to think out-of-the-box to beat the competition (以正合,以奇胜)


     Sun Tzu mentioned that winning armies have capable generals whose actions their lords (their bosses) don’t interfere with (将能而君不御者胜).  This applies to the sales leaders’ bosses, just as it applies to how sales leaders treat their subordinates as well.  In most cases, the reason that sales leaders are not able to empower their team members to perform their best independently are due to a lack of clear expectations.  That is to say, many sales leaders don’t communicate their expectations with their team members clearly enough, and hence team members don’t really know what the sales leaders want.  As a result, sales leaders will have to constantly monitor and control team members, giving team members an impression that their leaders don’t trust them.  If team members don’t feel they are trusted, they will not perform at their best.


     Having compassion doesn’t mean being “nice”.  Rather, it means how the sales leader sincerely has the interests of the team member at heart, and works hard to help the team member achieve her full potential.  Being “nice” may mean giving the team member better leads or preferential treatment.  At best, this may be just giving the team member the “fish”, rather than teaching her “how to fish”.  In worse situations, this may lead to favouritism, and may divide rather than unite your team.  Team members may thus lose their trust in you as a leader.


       However, if you are driving you team to greater performances, you are developing them to be better sales people.  While this means that you will achieve better sales performances, it also means that each team member will become better sales people in their own right.


     In war, generals need courage to face surmounting adversity.  The same applies to today’s sales leaders.  If the sales leader does not show confidence and self-belief in face of tough challenges, the team will easily lose their morale.


       Courage also means making tough or unpopular decisions.  Many sales leaders are afraid to take corrective actions against their top sales people, fearing that these top sales people may bring their customers to a competitor.  In doing so, other sales people will feel they have been unfairly treated, and will lose their trust as respect in you as their leader.


     Finally, discipline is NOT always about catching what your team members have done wrong.  It is just as important, if not more important, to give recognition and sincere praises when your team have perform to expectations too.  In fact, the focus of “discipline” isn’t so much about avoiding mistakes, but rather it’s about achieving optimal performances.


Being Accountable as a Leader


     When a sales team is not achieving its targets, chances are some members of the team will be fired to make room for new and hopefully better performing sales people.


     However, in sports (especially in team sports such as football or basketball), if the team is not performing well, the manager or coach gets fired first!  In ancient times, when an army loses a battle, the general might be executed too.


     While it is easy to blame a few non-performing team members for not performing to expectations, the leader has a great amount of influence over the team that may well determine the success or failure of the team.  In short, just like in ancient times, sales leaders must be held accountable for their teams’ performances.  That should be one of the disciplines that a sales leader must have.


     To paraphrase how Sun Tzu’s core beliefs about war can be applied to business, here’s the modern-day version:


     “Sales... ...the lifeblood of a company, a matter of ‘life and death’, survival or extinction. Indeed, something that needs to be studied, applied and re-modified consistently”       (业绩……企业之命脉,死生之地,存亡之道,不可不察也).


     To understand how Sun Tzu's observations can help you improve sales leadership, e-mail info@directions-consulting.com or call +86-136 7190 2505 or Skype: cydj001 and arrange to buy me a some Chinese tea.  All information shall be kept in confidence.

Power Breakfast Hour: 9 September 2009

Sun Tzu and the Art of Sales Leadership


     Join International Sales Leadership and Performance Coach c.j. Ng in this Power Breakfast Hour in Shanghai where he will be sharing with you how to apply the concepts of Sun Tzu's Art of War (孙子兵法) onto how we lead our sales teams to greater results:

  • How to strategise for your sales team's performance as a leader;
  • The do's and don'ts as a leader if you want to get the best performance from your team; and
  • Why you need to be accountable for your team's performance, and how you can make a difference.

VENUE: 567 Tianyaoqiao Road (near Xietu Road, Near Metro Line 4 Shanghai Indoor Stadium Station), Level 3, Senben Plaza, Shanghai  上海天钥桥路567号(靠斜土路,地铁4号线 上海体育馆站)3楼 森本大厦

DATE: Wednesday, 9 September 2009

TIME: 08:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.


     To make this a more conducive discussion, we are expecting a small group of about 15 people only. The room can only take in 18, so please register early to avoid disappointments. Please e-mail your registrations to sales@directions-consulting.com

     Pls. check out our web sites www.directions-consulting.com and www.psycheselling.com/page4.html for more inspiration.

How to Motivate Your Sales People According to Their Selling Styles?


     As you may know, different people have different communication styles, and different communication styles will lead to different selling styles.   Sales people with different selling styles will you to motivate them in different ways, so that they perform their best to you.


     So how do you know what are your sales people's selling styles?  How do you know how best to communicate with them, and motivate them?


     Contact us sales@directions-consulting.com or call +86-13671902505 to get the link, username and password to your complimentary Psycho-Geometrics TM online assessment now!


Practical Tips for Managers:
Confronting Poor Performance

by Al Switzler

(excerpt from www.crucialskills.com)


Question:     Dear Crucial Skills,

I supervise an employee who appears to be struggling with her responsibilities. We upgraded our software systems several years ago, and she still does not understand how the software works. In the past two years, I have received many phone calls and e-mails from customers and coworkers regarding their concerns with her. I have addressed these problems with her and have also written up a performance improvement plan. However, she still hovers on the line between employment and unemployment. What more can I do?

Struggling with Responsibility


Answer:     Dear Struggling,

What a question! There are levels and flavors within this question that are intriguing (and ever so pervasive) at work and at home. Of course, the main issue here is accountability.

Over the years, as we've consulted with managers to work on accountability skills and with teams to build a culture of accountability, we've noted the following:

  • In low performing cultures, people don't hold others accountable.

  • In good performing cultures, supervisors (or people with power) hold others accountable.

In the best performing cultures, everyone can and does hold everyone else accountable.

That distinction is key for a couple of reasons. When even a few low performers are not held accountable, the standard drops for everyone. "Oh yeah," say colleagues, "Our written standards are A, but our real standards are A minus twenty percent." Also, performance management systems alone cannot deal with performance gaps. Systems are necessary, but not sufficient. Real-time accountability is the responsibility of every person and is done the moment it's needed. High, clear standards and real-time accountability from everyone is the key to a healthy culture.

Your direct report has a performance gap. You have followed a process. You have talked to her and even written her up. Given what you've shared in your question, here are a couple of suggestions.

  • Make sure the expectations are clear. Clarity is needed on the process, steps or behaviors, and on the outcomes and results.

  • Don't underestimate people's need for training. People are excellent at masking ability problems. Does this employee need additional skill building? Are there any other barriers that are causing her to not perform? Too often, managers try to motivate employees when the real problem is an issue of ability. So make sure you've looked at her skills and knowledge. Make sure she can do the process is essential.

  • Clarify the consequences and then follow through. One of the biggest concerns I had as I read your question is this statement: "In the past two years..." This problem has gone on for too long. People often assume that to be nice they need to work on an issue for a long time. Not so. If you've clarified expectations, made sure she is capable, and removed barriers, then you need to help motivate her.

  • Motivate with natural consequences. After you have shared with her what her low performance has done to suppliers, customers, colleagues and to you, you need to start a discipline process. This process often includes probation, suspension without pay, and then termination. A fair and patient process gives people the clarity, the support, and the time they need to improve. If they don't improve, they need to be let go.  Avoiding the consequences is not positive for you, the company, or for your direct report. When people do not perform, when they feel stressed because they can't do the job, it's not helpful to them to keep that job. It is better for them to find a job that matches their abilities and their motivation. So this last step is often not only essential for the company, it is the best step for the employee.

Thank you for your question. And best wishes to all who are working to improve accountability, at work and at home.



Pls. refer to www.crucialskills.com for more insights.


Alternatively, you can also e-mail info@directions-consulting.com or call +86-136 7190 2505 or Skype: cydj001 and arrange to buy me a mocha.  All information shall be kept in confidence.

About PsycheSelling.com


Sales... ...the lifeblood of a company, a matter of "life and death", survival or extinction.  Indeed, something that needs to be studied, applied and re-modified consistently.


Yet today,

  • many companies still don't have a coherent approach as to how they can generate more sales and achieve better margins;

  • many sales people are still lying to their customers so that they can meet their targets at the end of the month;

  • many customers are still waiting ethical and professional sales people to help them find out their real needs, and provide solutions that work 

Psyche-Selling TM is set up so that companies and sales people can make healthy profits and STILL provide genuine solutions to customers.


Psyche-Selling TM would like to create an environment where customers can trust sales people to give them what they want, and NOT be pushed with all kinds of products and services.  In return, customers will become loyal fans of these ethical and professional sales people, and repay them many fold for the long-term.


Psyche-Selling TM will not rest, until the above is achieved.  Not just in China. Not just in Asia.  But everywhere where buying and selling takes place.


Psyche-Selling TM is a wholly-owned brand of Directions Management Consulting Pte Ltd that specialises in the field of improving sales performance by enhancing the performance of the entire sales team.  Apart from the regular "selling skills training", Psyche-Selling TM conducts pre- and post-training analysis, interviews, monitoring and reviews, working closely with managers and even senior management, to deliver real improvements in sales leadership and performance.   


Hence, Psyche-Selling TM would like to be known as the preferred choice of outstanding and remarkable clients, and pride ourselves as such.  We will also be continuing to assist our clients achieve greater heights in 2009 and beyond.


Enquiries and suggestions, pls. e-mail info@psycheselling.com or visit www.psycheselling.com