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    Here's the August  2010 issue of Psyche-Selling TM eNewsletter, and many companies are still looking to hire more experienced sales people, sales managers and even sales trainers.


    Since July and August are typical busy months for us, we have gotten a lot of enquiries asking us to provide sales training and consulting services for all kinds of companies in China and Singapore.  One recurring question that some of these clients asked is how many years of experience do our consultants have in their respective industries. 


     While our consultants have all the relevant experience, it is NOT because of our consultants' experience in the respective industry that deliver results for our clients.  Rather, it is the expertise that our consultants can identify the causes of our clients' problems and challenges, and then provide solutions that deliver results.


     Hence, this month's topics:

  1. Stop Hiring Under-Performing Experienced Sales People, and Start Developing Competent Ones that Deliver Results; and

  2. How do You Know if your Negotiation Adversary is Hiding Something?


     This issue's main article is on  "Stop Hiring Under-Performing Experienced Sales People, and Start Developing Competent Ones that Deliver Results", and the focus is on how many companies insisted on hiring ONLY experienced sales people, only to see those "experienced" sales people NOT performing, and then being asked to leave abruptly.


    In brief:

  • While having the right experience selling in a certain industry helps, most hiring managers blindly hire sales people based on their experience and track records, only to find these sales people under-performing;

  • What hiring managers need to know are what are some of the critical behaviours that separate the winners from the mediocre.  Having experience, a good "feel" during the interview, and even a good track record are no indicators of future success;

  • Some of these critical behaviours have general, and can be applied across different industries.  Others may be very specific right down to the specific customer buying a specific product.  Whatever it is, once the critical behaviours have been identified, they can be taught and further developed as habits for the entire sales force.  Read on... ...  


    To read the rest of this newsletter, pls. newsletter, pls. newsletter, pls. newsletter, pls. click here (


    In the meantime, you can also download c.j.'s PPT on Improving Sales Productivity by Motivating the Sales Force.


Stop Hiring Under-Performing Experienced Sales People, and Start Developing Competent Ones that Deliver Results


by c.j. Ng


     Mark has just finished his day interviewing his 20th potential sales recruit of the day.  Being the Sales Director of the company, he is also responsible to make the final round of interviews of the shortlisted candidates to make sure only the "high-potentials" are being hired.

     Being the Sales Director, Mark has a lot of other things to do besides interviewing sales candidates.  However, due to the extremely high sales staff turnover, Mark has been getting a lot more involved in the sales staff hiring process, sometimes getting involved even in the preliminary interviews.

     Still, despite his best efforts to make sure only the sales people with the relevant experience, the best track records and whom had made the most impressive impression during the sales interviews are hired.  6 months later, most if not all sales hires have failed to deliver according to expectations.


     When Mark asked his Sales Managers why the new sales hires are not performing, the answers somehow centre around the following:

  • "These young people are simply not motivated to work hard enough"

  • "They just don't have the 'sense' to do business with the customers"

  • "They just cannot fit into our kind of business", etc.


     Somehow, Mark feels rather helpless as no matter what he did, his new sales hires are just not performing.  Now Mark needs to find some ways that will give him some indications of future success, or he might as well implement a hiring freeze since his company has been wasting a lot of resources hiring under-performing sales people.


     Mark is not alone in his predicament.  Many companies are making a lot hiring mistakes when hiring new sales people.  If these mistakes can be rectified, these companies can see significant improvements in their sales results.


The Fallacy of Hiring Experienced Sales People

     When most companies hire sales people, the major criteria usually includes having some years of experience selling in the same or a similar industry, and a good track record of good sales results.


     However, if you were to look closer, these are not the critical success factors that will determine if the sales person will deliver results for you.

     One key reason is that the market place that we are operating in is constantly changing.  You will notice that:

  • Customers are getting more and more demanding and knowledgeable;

  • Competition is getting more and more intense;

  • The things you sell are getting more and more complex, etc.


     In some markets, the changes within a 5-year period can be so drastic that it's beyond recognition.

     So if you are hiring based on past experience, how do you know that what worked in the past is going to work in the future?  The same factors that gave you success in the past are getting less and less relevant for today's and the future's challenges.


     What about a good sales track record, you might ask.  Surely, if a sales person has been consistently producing great results will still continue to produce great results.


     Unfortunately, unlike many other professions, the sales profession is one where dealing with failures is essential to becoming a successful sales person.  No successful sales person can claim that he or she has never been rejected by customers, or has never lost deals in an ongoing basis.  In fact, just like in many negotiations, the better sales person knows when to "walk away"  and seek other better prospective customers, while the weaker sales person hangs on too long to customers that are never going to buy.


     Hence, if you see sales people who seem to have "perfect" track records in the sense that they always reach or exceed sales targets could be:

  • Selling in a monopoly where customers have no choice but to buy from them;

  • Entering the market in an early stage so that they got the biggest customers in that market;

  • Selling for a well-established brand to loyal existing customers that really need little persuasion to buy


     This is not to say that having the relevant experience and a good track record is not important to a sales person.  It just means that having some years of sales experience and a track record is no indicator of future performance.


The Critical Behaviours that Drive Sales


     While companies are always looking at sales figures to determine the success of their sales force, most of the time it is the sales process (i.e. how you sell) that determines the results you get.  How well the sales process is being executed depends largely the habits and behaviours of each sales person.


     Different companies will have different sales processes for different customers in different regions who are buying different product lines.  Hence, the critical behaviours that drive sales success will vary from case to case.  The sales processes that companies have can include:

  1. Selling only to a few Strategic Accounts, and sales people will have to work through complex relationships so as to gain buy-in from all levels in the customer's organisation;

  2. Constantly generating new leads and getting new customers to buy frequently; or

  3. Having a balance of new business development and key accounts management so that sales people are getting both new and existing customers to buy from them with varying complexity, etc.


     In reality, sales processes can get a lot more complicated as different customers in different markets have different needs that have to be satisfied in different ways.  So what if you aren't quite sure what is the sales process for the next sales person, here are some "generic" critical behaviours that apply to most sales processes (and which are found lacking in most sales people too):

  • Constant prospecting to make sure the sales person fills up the pipeline.  Most sales people, no matter how experienced, will prefer to deal with existing customers than to look for new ones.  However, if the sales person shows the disciplined behaviour to keep on prospecting for new prospects, that is a sign of a good hire;

  • Constantly exploring what are the customers' "pain" or problem areas, and pro-actively seeking to provide  solutions or suggestions to customers to help them overcome those challenges;

  • Making sure that the relationship with the customer are developed with all major key influencers in the customer's organisations, rather than relying on one single contact.  Such sales people are also usually good developing relationships with less influential "informants" who can provide critical information;

  • Learning from mistakes and customer rejections so as to do better next time.  In a similar vein, knowing when NOT to pursue a customer when it's not worth the time or effort, AND spend time looking for new and better customers instead, etc.


     Hence, during your interviews with candidates, you can ask the following questions:

  • "If I were a prospective customer, and you want to do business with me, how would you go about making that first contact?"  (Do a role play, and also ask the candidate what is his usual modus operandi)

  • "What makes your customers buy from you instead of anybody else?  Why have some other customers chosen NOT to buy from you?"  (Note:  if the candidate gives general answers like  "because I provide good service", probe in deeper by asking "what is good service")

  • "Typically, how many people do you have to communicate with before you can get your sale?  Can you cite an example where you need to work through many contacts before getting the sale?"  (Get the candidate to draw his customer's organisation chart if need be)

  • "Are there any instances that you thought you probably have won the sale, but somehow lost it in the end?  What do you think you can learn from such cases?"  (Beware the candidate who's very confident and tells you he knows his customer real well)

  • "Are there times when you need to give up on a specific sale?  What happened and what did you do then?"  (Watch out for the candidate who claims "I never give up any sale!"  It is a sign of poor priority management and qualifying skills)


Developing Competent Sales People


     It may not be surprising that most if not all of your candidates fail in ALL of the above questions.  It could well possible that even some of your existing experienced sales people fail some of those questions too.  (Or else sales consultancies like us will be out of business very soon!)


     The next question will be: if we then set such high standards that no candidates actually display the required critical behaviours, does that mean we don't hire anyone?


     The good news is that such critical sales behaviours can be taught and learnt.  In fact, high-performing sales people learnt to become high-performers throughout their careers.  Only a handful few high-performers are "naturals".


     Hence, while most candidates are unlikely to display the critical behaviours that will drive sales for you, you can pick those who display some of those behaviours, AND are willing to learn some new ways to make more sales, you then may have a winner in the near future.


     Some companies are unwilling to invest time, effort and money to develop their new sales hires because of the following reasons:

  1. "We expect the new sales hire to perform immediately, that's why we hire them for their experience!";

  2. "We don't have the time and resources to hand-hold these sales people who can't perform";

  3. "If we teach them too much, they may turn around and work for our competitors.“


     What these companies have to realise is that if they could hire the sales people who can produce immediate results, and don't need any form of training or coaching, that's great.  However , such sales people are rare, and those few who are available will probably ask for a very high pay package.  In any case, since prior experience and track records are never guarantee of success, companies might just have to train and develop their new sales hires so that they form critical sales habits and behaviours.


     Need hiring and developing sales people with the critical sales behaviours?  Simply e-mail or call +86-136 7190 2505 or Skype: cydj001 and arrange to buy me a mocha.  All information shall be kept in confidence.

Power Breakfast Hour: 14 September 2010
Stop Hiring Under-Performing Experienced Sales People, and Start Developing Competent Ones that Deliver Results


     Join International Sales Leadership and Performance Coach c.j. Ng in this Power Breakfast Hour in Shanghai where you will find out:

  • Why despite hiring sales people with the right experience and a good track record, they still under-perform?;

  • What are some of the critical sales habits and behaviours that will enable sales people to deliver results;

  • How to develop the critical sales habits and behaviours without spending too much time and money?


VENUE:  Crowne Plaza Shanghai • 400 Panyu Road (near Fahuazhen Road) • 上海银星皇冠酒店 •  番禺路 400 号 (靠法华镇路)

DATE: Tuesday, 14 September 2010

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  You can also download c.j.'s PPT on Improving Sales Productivity by Motivating the Sales Force.


     Pls. check out our web sites and for more inspiration.

Need a Keynote Speaker for your Major Sales Conference?


     Whether you are holding a conference for your regional staff, resellers or even customers, we have the right speaker who can help you deliver the spirit of your conference, and effect positive changes to meet your goals.


   The topics our speakers can speak on include:

    • Why Some Sales People Succeed While Others Fail?;

    • How to Lure Away Your Competitors' Key Accounts, and Make Them Buy from You Instead?;

    • Improving Sales Productivity by Motivating the Sales Force;

    • Sun Tzu and the Art of Strategic Decision Making;

    • The End of Guanxi as We Know It!; and many more!

     Simply e-mail your requests to or call +86-21-6219 0021 for enquiries.  Sample video and audio recordings available upon requests.


Practical Tips for Sales People:

How do You Know if your Negotiation Adversary is Hiding Something?


By c.j. Ng


So you are negotiating with your customer (or adversary) for an important deal.  Somehow, you feel that your adversary may be hiding something from you, or worse, giving you false information.


In many books about body, there are various ways to tell if the person in front of you is lying such as shaking their heads while saying "yes", or not maintaining eye contact.


However, studies from acclaimed psychologist Paul Ekman , you don't just read body language or facial expressions to see if your adversary is lying to you.  You need to first establish a baseline.


The "baseline" is a set of stress-free questions that you know your adversary will be saying the truth.  Things like "isn't it hot today?", or other mundane issues.  If your adversary looks at their toes while giving you some very direct answers, or he covers his mouth even when asked about the most obvious question, perhaps he's not lying when he displays such actions  during your negotiations. 


The key to spotting if someone is lying or hiding something is when your adversary's facial expressions, voice tonality, words or body language displayed a sudden change, especially when a stressful topic is being raised.  Below is an example:


Seller:  so you are saying that your budget is tight, and you need us to give you a discount.  Is that right?


Buyer:  Yes!


Seller:  well if you can guarantee a certain minimum quantity per year, I'm sure we can do something about price.  Is a minimum of 4 shipments a year something you can commit to?


Buyer:  That should be OK for us.


Seller:  So can the first shipment start from early next month?


Buyer:  Err....that, that should be achievable.


In the above conversation, the buyer started out very confident when asked if he wants to have a discount.  However, when asked further if he could commit to a minimum quantity, he became less confident by saying "should be".  When pushed on a start date, he became even more unsure of himself.


Assuming if the Buyer in this scenario had been maintaining eye contact, and when asked if he could make a minimum commitment, he suddenly avoided eye contact, that's a sign of hiding something.


And when asked to make the commitment within a deadline, in addition to sounding unsure, his lips curled and there was some signs that he was being uncomfortable, it's a clear sign that he's saying something that he has no clue.


Still, there are no guarantees that even when someone changes their behaviours or postures when asked stressful questions, that person is lying.  We can only say we suspect that person withholding something or displaying signs of discomfort.  We can't say for sure that person is lying.  You may need to ask more questions at different times to different people in your adversary's organisation to build a more complete picture.


What is more important is the question of, what is your adversary IS really lying and hiding things from you?  What will be your next steps in this negotiation?


There are usually one of a few ways.  One is to seek to communicate or negotiate with other people in your adversary's team.  If the adversary's stance is  that they are not really serious about giving any kinds of commitments, then perhaps your next best step is to walk away.


If you would like to get more and better ideas how to negotiate better with your customers, e-mail or call +86-136 7190 2505 or Skype: cydj001 and arrange to buy me a mocha.  All information shall be kept in confidence.



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 or visit




Mailing Address: Shui Cheng Nan Road 51 Lane No. 9 Suite 202 Shanghai 201103 China