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 It's now Spring, and many companies are doing whatever they can to capitalise in the expected economic recovery.  If you haven't committed more resources to sales and marketing, perhaps it's high-time you should do so now.


Many companies also face the common challenge of how to enable their technical people to become sales or customer relationship professionals. By technical people, we are focusing on engineers of all types, but also include accountants, scientists and programmers as well.


Hence, this month's topics:

  1. Transforming Technical Professionals into Top-Notched Sales Gurus; and

  2. Be More Successful By Learning to Control Your Emotions

This issue's main article is on "Transforming Technical Professionals into Top-Notched Sales Gurus", and we will share with you some tips and insights on what are the main challenges of technical when dealing with customers, and how to overcome that in simple and practical ways.


In brief:

  • How dealing with customers is distinctly different from dealing with machines, which is something that many technical people don't realise;

  • Why sometimes customers can be right when you know that they are wrong;

  • How technical people can leverage on their analytical skills and become top-notched sales people.  Read on... ...

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

By the way, I'll be presenting in a breakfast meeting hosted by China Economic Review @ Hyatt on the Bund, Shanghai on "Do’s & Don’ts of Achieving Business Success in China, with Hard Lessons from eBay, Best Buy & Groupon"  on 9 April 2013.   e-mail  to get more details.


Also, if you're exploring ways on how you can polish your facilitation skills, check out this Facilitating Learning from Experience workshop by Roger Greenaway (the trainer who trained IWNC, a pioneer in Experiential Learning) from 14-17 May 2013 in Shanghai, China.  Contact to get special early-bird offers.

Transforming Technical Professionals into Top-Notched Sales Gurus


by c.j. Ng



Raymond is feeling very frustrated.  He was once the company's best engineer, and was transferred to become a sales engineer because of his seemingly good people skills.  Since Raymond enjoyed dealing with people just as much as doing his engineering work, he accepted the challenge.  After all, he could potentially make more money, not to mention having the chance to progress exponentially in his career.


However, after some months into his work, he found that he faced some unexpected challenges such as:

  • Despite proposing what is objectively the best solution for the customer based on the customer's needs, the customer eventually decided to buy something that is in some ways inferior;

  • Despite being willing to share with his customers all his professional technical knowledge, some customers simply couldn't care less to understand the features and benefits of what they are buying;

  • Despite getting very positive feedback from a customer, that customer just changed their minds at the last minute

To be fair to Raymond, he actually had been through some really good sales training programmes.  So he's really proficient in asking questions and understanding customers' needs.  He's also consciously aware NOT to overwhelm the customer with too much technical details, and focus on the key value and benefits instead.


Still, Raymond felt like he had hit a brick wall, and is feeling very discouraged.  He even thinks of quitting his job, and join another company as an engineer all over again, even though he really likes his current company.


Now what could have gone wrong with such a high-potential sales engineer when dealing with customers?.


Customers are Different from Machines

One of the key things that many engineers don't (consciously) realise is that: dealing with people is actually quite different from dealing with machines.
When you deal with a machine or an equipment, if you have the same inputs and the same processes, you will get the same output every single time.  If you don't, then there's something wrong with the machine.
However, when you deal with people, having the same input and processes is unlikely to give you the same response every time.  This unpredictability is the nature of human beings (in ways more unpredictable than animals), and is somewhat contrary to the expectations of many technical people.
Hence, even when the technical sales engineer could be very outgoing and enjoy dealing with people, he or she might actually not consciously realise that customers can give very unpredictable responses.

Neither You Nor the Customer is Always Right


One of the requirements of a technical person's training and work is to derive at the precise correct answer every time.  In other words, if you can't provide a definitive answer to a technical problem, then perhaps you are not going to be a good technical professional.


However, there may not be definitive answers to a customer's needs.  The reasons could be:

These are just some of the many reasons why customers may not select the best-fit solution that meet their needs.


Many technical sales people and sales engineers will be quick to point out that customers could be irrational when buying consumer products.  However, when it comes to buying multi-million-dollar high-value industrial project items, they will behave a lot more rational.


Well, according to a research by Shipley's (the world's leading consultants on bidding management), only 52% of the technically-superior proposals will win in an open bidding.  That means almost half of the technically-superior proposals will actually lose in an open bidding.


What this means is that buyers, especially industrial or B2B buyers, are a lot less rational than we think they are.  The key message to technical sales people is:


Customers can be right, even when you know they are wrong.


This is something that many technical professionals find hard to accept.  However, if they know the reasons behind such seemingly irrational customer behaviours, they could then use their analytical abilities to improve their sales performance.


From Technical Professional to Sales Guru


While buyers could be less-than-rational when purchasing high-value items or projects, sellers would have to be very rational when it comes to mapping out the right strategy to win the sale.


What technical sales people will then need to do is to analyse the various buyers' motivations, thinking and behaviour, in addition to the technical needs of the customer.  Hence, some of the "buyer" oriented factors to consider could include:

  • Will there be negative consequences if customers don't make a purchase?

  • Is the customer's evaluation criteria favourable to our success?

  • Do we understand the customer's buying decision process?

  • Does the customer have the right budget to fund this purchase?

  • Is it a worthwhile time frame and revenue to pursue this sale?

  • What is the level of resistance of the key buying influencers?

  • What is the level of the relationship strength of our competition with the customer?

  • What is the level of solution strength of our competition? etc.

The moment they understand that customers are not always rational, technical sales people are generally more adept in applying analytical tools to analyse their customers' buying behaviour.  They can then base on such analysis and observations to decide:

  • If a certain sales opportunity or key account is worth pursuing;

  • What needs to be done to drive the sale, in terms of the strength of our solution, relationship with customers or our ability to align internal and external resources;

  • What are the emerging needs of certain customers so we can capitalise on them before they become explicit; etc.

Hence, it's no surprise if a technical sales person who also enjoys interacting with people, could leverage on his or her analytical abilities and training, and become a top-notched sales guru eventually.


Need help in transforming your technical sales professionals into top-notched sales gurus? Simply e-mail info@directions-consulting.comm or call +86-136 7190 2505 or Skype: cydj001

Power Breakfast Hour: 23 Apr 2013

Transforming Technical Professionals into Top-Notched Sales Gurus

  • What are some major challenges that technical people will face, when making the transition into sales professionals;

  • How to define and understand customers rational and not-so-rational buying behaviours, and drive the sales process successfully;

  • How technical sales professionals can leverage on their analytical abilities to deliver outstanding  their sales performance, especially for high-value project sales


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, 23 Apr 2013

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


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

Tips for Managers:

Be More Successful By Learning to Control Your Emotions

Q&A with Mark Murphy

Founder and CEO, Leadership IQ


Q: Why does Emotional IQ matter?


MM: Emotional IQ is one of those touchy-feely kinds of issues that leaves a lot of leaders asking: Why do I even care? And the quick way I would respond to that is this: Would you be even more successful than you already are, if you could control your emotions? I’ve yet to meet a manager, or an executive, who says “No, that wouldn’t help me at all.” Because if you had more control over how your feelings and emotions direct your reactions, and if you could read other people’s emotions more effectively, then of course you’re going to see a big improvement in all your relationships. Leadership is a highly interpersonal endeavour. And if you know how to manage the emotional side of things, you are going get much better results.


Q: What is Emotional IQ?


MM: That’s a big question, but when you distil it down, Emotional IQ is essentially three things:

  1. Self-Awareness, which is the ability to identify and understand our own emotions.

  2. Other-Awareness, which is the ability to identify and understand other people’s emotions. And finally

  3. Emotional Management, which is how we control and influence these emotional states in ourselves and in others.

And, of course we all have different strengths and weaknesses. So we develop our Emotional IQ by determining where in those three areas we have opportunity for improvement. Our upcoming webinar focuses on developing Emotional IQ and includes a downloadable Emotional IQ Assessment that helps determine these strengths and weaknesses..

Q: What if I am strong in Self-Awareness but I’m weak in Other-Awareness?


MM: If you’ve got a pretty clear idea of what makes you tick (and that includes knowing the things that tick you off), then you’re off to a good start at controlling yourself and your own emotions and the reactions you have to those emotions. You also want to have a fairly well-developed emotional vocabulary. But then you really do want to start to develop Other-Awareness. If you just stay with being strong at Self-Awareness, you run the risk of becoming narcissistic. And that’s going to result in some problems when you go to lead and influence and interact with other people.

There are two components to developing other awareness: observation and interpretation. Observation is being able to key in on visual and auditory signals like tone of voice and body language. You notice everything that is going on. Then you take those observed signals and turn them into a correct interpretation. So if, for example, you see a twitch at the corner of somebody’s mouth, you are able to translate that signal into an interpretation that makes sense in the situation. It’s not an interpretation based on assumptions and untestable things, but rather you’ve got a broad database of possible hypothesis, and you test them out to find the right one.

Q: So is Other-Awareness just observing other people?


MM: It does sound pretty simplistic, doesn’t it? And I know most of us think we are pretty darn observant. But the thing is, developing Other-Awareness actually takes some work. For example, consider a quarter, or any coin you handle a lot. I know we have a lot of readers globally, but for this example, I’ll use a quarter. Without actually taking that coin out of your pocket and looking at it, tell me: whose face is on that coin? What direction are they facing? What does it say on the back of the coin? Most people can’t tell you, and yet, this is an object that we handle every day, that we’ve been handling our whole lives. And the same thing happens at work. We stare at our colleagues all day long and we don’t pick up any of the cues that they’re giving to us. This is why it takes practice. And I’ll be sharing some pretty fun exercises, especially if you like watching movies, which you can use to develop Other-Awareness on the upcoming webinar.


Q: Is there any quick hint you can give us now to develop Other-Awareness?


MM: Meetings are great for developing Other-Awareness because there are a wide range of emotions that you can typically observe. Ideally you want to observe someone with whom you can talk with after the meeting and say, “Hey, were my observations right?” The first thing you want to do is to key in on every visual data point you can get your eyes on. Like facial expressions: raised eyebrows, open or closed eyes, startled looks, etc. And gestures: hand ringing, putting the hand over the mouth, rubbing the face, etc. And body display: breathing changes, coughs, are the shoulders up or down, that sort of thing. Make copious mental notes of all of it. Then come up with a few interpretations, some hypotheses, as to why this person is doing these things. And it can’t be “This is why I would do it.” Other-Awareness is about the other person. We have to forget everything we know related to our own Self-Awareness and put ourselves in the other person’s shoes. And this is when we actually start to develop true awareness of what’s going on with other people. And we just get better and better at it the more we do it.


To find out how you develop good emotional IQ and 39 other eLearning topics by Leadership IQ, you can e-mail or call +86-136 7190 2505 or Skype: cydj001


About Directions Management Consulting


Directions Management Consulting is the partner of LeadershipIQ in China and Asia. LeadershipIQ helps more than 125,000 leaders every year through the facts drawn from one of the largest ongoing leadership studies ever conducted is used to help companies apply resources where the best possible results be achieved.


In addition, Directions Management Consulting is a leading provider of sales performance, innovation and experiential learning solutions in China and many parts of Asia. is the sales performance arm of Directions Management Consulting specialising in conducting training, research and consulting services for sales managers and their team.


Raybattle is the strategic partner of Directions Management Consulting specialising in experiential learning events and management retreats.


Currently, Directions Management Consulting has served clients such as InterContinental Hotels Group, Unilever, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Roche, Philips Lighting, Carrier, Ingersoll Rand, Freudenberg etc.


Through collaboration with consultancies such as Forum Corporation, MTI, de Bono China, ProWay etc., the consultants in Directions Management Consulting have served clients such as PwC, Air Products, Evonik, Wacker, Epson amongst others.


Directions Management Consulting will increase its efforts to conduct leadership studies in China and other parts of Asia, so that more companies apply resources where the best possible results be achieved in this part of the world.


Enquiries and suggestions, pls. e-mail or visit

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