CJNg _ 2.jpgHi!


    My name is c.j., and here's the October 2008 issue of Psyche-Selling TM eNewsletter.      


    September was supposed to be the month of harvesting, but for me it seems to be the month of sowing the seeds for next year.  Seems like I should be living in the Southern Hemisphere.  The best news is that I've been invited to speak at the 2009 American Society for Training & Development (ASTD) conference in May/ June next year. 


   Anyhow, from my conversations with some prospective clients, a number of them asked the same question, "how do you proceed with the sales, when you have no access whatsoever with the key decision maker?"  This is especially so, given the tough economic situation that we are facing.


    The good news is, we do have such experiences in the past, and we are still overcoming such challenges today, and are we glad to share our insights with you today!


    Hence, this month's topics:

  1. How to Win More Sales in Tough Times, when You don't Even Know the Key Decision Makers?; and

  2. How to Lead Your Sales Force through Tough Times?

    This issue's main article is on  "How to Win More Sales in Tough Times, when You don't Even Know the Key Decision Makers?", and as the title says, it's a common challenge faced by sales people in China, and the key strategies can be applied worldwide.


    In brief:

  • The higher the value of your products and services, the more complex your sales situation you will have, and it is unlikely for the client to make such complex buying decisions by just 1 person;

  • When you don't know any of their key decision maker, go look for someone who has some bits of influence, willing to listen to you and willing to feed information to you;

  • Instead of just trashing sales leads that do not provide decision makers' contacts, sales people could probably access if such leads may actually lead to some very big deals.

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


    In the meantime, I'll also be conducting public seminars on related topics. 

How to Win More Sales in Tough Times, when You don't Even Know the Key Decision Makers?


by c.j. Ng

As the story goes, about 10-15 years ago, if you want to do business in China, all you need to do is to find out who the Key Decision Maker is (in terms of making buying decisions), buy him some gifts, bring him for some extravagant meals, have a great time at a KTV and them offer some generous kick-backs.  Once you go through this "standard operating procedure", you will get the sale. 


    Unfortunately, that's just a myth.  It's a myth simply because before you get to the Key Decision Maker, you'd have to "pay" your way past all the layers of gatekeepers and other kinds of people, before you finally get to see your target.


    While selling in China is relying a lot lesser on kick-backs and KTV trips these days, sales people will still have to find innovative ways to deal with gatekeepers, influencers and a host of other people whom may make or break your deal.


     Even when you are given the mobile number of a Key Decision Maker and called her, chances are that she will ask you to speak with one of her staff first.  Key Decision Makers or senior executives are so busy these days that they will ask their staff (also known as gatekeepers) to handle your calls, especially when it is your first time calling them.


     In most cases, unless you have limitless connections with Key Decision Makers in the market, there will be many times that you will have to seek for new business, without even knowing who the Key Decision Makers are.

Gaining the Advantage with the Grassroots

The first things to ask yourself when you are given a lead that is nowhere near the Key Decision Maker are:

  • Is this deal big or strategic enough to worth my while for a pro-longed approach to closing it? and

  • Is this lead (the contact person) influential enough to understand what's going on and feed me with vital information?

      The most precious resource a sales person has is time, as you can spend time with good prospects, and you can also waste it on rotten ones.  Hence, you will have to judge if this deal is worth your time to pursue in the first place.   

Once you establish that this is a deal that is worth your while, then the next thing is to evaluate the quality of the first contact person.  Huthwaite calls this your Focus of Receptivity, that is to find out who in your prospect's information are receptive to you, and are willing to provide you with the necessary information that points to the right direction.


       One experience we had was to know this branch manager of a company during a networking event.  The branch manager feels that what we do may be useful for them, but decision-making is made at their corporate office in Beijing.  The branch manager then gave us details on whom to contact, BUT more importantly, information about what's happening in their company with regards to sales performance, and what kinds of help the company may need.  The latter information gave us the Valid Business Reasons to address the critical areas of concern of these decision makers.

your Informants

       You will also need to give a very good reason your your Focus of Receptivity, i.e. your "informants", to provide you with vital information.


       Conventional thinking will be you treat them nice, and buy them gifts and offer "kickbacks" if need be.  Unfortunately, most "informants" CANNOT be cultivated in this way.  Here's why:

  • Most of your target "informants", especially if they are middle management, are likely to be people with great career prospects and are focused on their careers.  As such, they would like to be perceived to be acting in the best interests of their companies at ALL times;

  • Most of your target "informants" are also very concerned about whether you can help them move to greater heights.  Hence, they'd like to have both assurances (that you won't jeopardise their careers) AND you can help them make greater contributions to their companies at ALL times;

  • Most of your target "informants" are professionals (or at least so in their own minds), and would feel at ease if they know they are dealing with other professionals as well.  Hence, the offering of kick-backs or other material favours will just backfire your plan

       Ultimately, whether or not you can cultivate your "informants" depend on your ability to build trust, and your sincere intention to add value to your customers.  According to a 14-year study conducted with 80,000 customers by HR Chally, customers would like sales people to:

  • Understand how their business operate;

  • Substantiate the value these customers can get;

  • Focus on providing a solution that works rather than just ;

  • Be available whenever they need you;

  • Provide innovative ways to solve their problems; etc.

        As such, the personal interests of your "informants" are entwined with their corporate ones.  That means you'd have to address both personal AND corporate interests when you cultivate your "informants".  China has progressed enough to be so sophisticated, that most middle managers are emphasizing more at their career paths than the usual kick-backs and KTV sessions.  Sure, there will be those who will sacrifice their organisation's well-being for their personal greed, but these are getting lesser each day.


        If you are making the initial contact with a new customer, be prepared to call them 3-4 times before they are willing to see you.  When making the first call, be prepared that they will say no, but at the same time give a good Valid Business Reason so that you can still call the second, third or fourth time.  Even then, you will still need to invest in time and your sincerity to win your contacts, so that they become your "informants".


       The exception to the rule at times is when you are dealing with specialised frontline staff that hold key information, e.g.: 

  • Personal chauffeurs of the Key Decision Makers; or

  • Personal assistants of the Key Decision Makers

       However, getting the access and building trust with such people will be much tougher than getting to the Key Decision Makers directly, and perhaps you can build relationships with them AFTER getting to know the Key Decision Makers.  However, such people are also well-trusted by their bosses, and whatever you request for must NOT conflict with the interests of their bosses.

The Myth of the Sole Key Decision Maker

Traditionally, most sales people will just trash any lead that does not have a close resemblance of a Key Decision Maker, i.e. the person who calls the shots and is in charge of buying whatever you are selling.

      Unfortunately, unless you are selling some low-value retail product, chances are there will NOT be a sole, singular Key Decision Maker to make the buying decision.  It is made rather by a group of people.

      According to the 2008 Best Practices study of Winning Sales Organisations by Millier Heiman, about 65% of all sales people will have to contact between 3-5 people in the customers' organisations before closing.  Another 34% will have to contact 6 or more people to do so.

 Relying on one sole contact person to close the sale, or manage the account, is at best vulnerable, and usually won't win deals for you.  In tough times like these, the supposed Key Decision Maker today may end up jobless tomorrow.  (In China, sometimes they end up in jail!)

The question then will be, will talking to non-Key Decision Makers lengthen the sales cycle?  Wouldn't it still be better if we can somehow approach the Key Decision Makers directly?

The reality is that Key Decision Makers would like you to know more about their situation, challenges and objectives first, so that you can suggest solutions that works when you see them.  The sales cycle has already been lengthen due to changes in buying behaviours, and what you can do is just to match your sales process with their buying processes.

 With increasing  all round competition and decreasing purchasing power due to tough times, sales people cannot afford to just trash non-Key Decision maker leads, as ALL qualified leads are important.  Sales people will have to make judgements on whether certain leads are worth the time and effort to pursue, but such judgements will be based on the economic and strategic value of the deals, and NOT whether they are handed Key Decision Makers' contacts as leads.

For more information on how you can gain the upper hand even when you don't know the Key Decision Makers, please 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.

Power Breakfast Hour: 18 November 2008

How to Win More Sales in Tough Times, when You Don't Even Know the Key Decision Makers?


     Join China Sales Leadership and Performance Coach c.j. Ng in this one-hour breakfast meeting where he will be sharing with you the following insights:

  • What are some of things a sales person can do when they don't know who the Key Decision Makers are;
  • How to get vital information in your customers' organisations that will bring you closer to the sale; and
  • Why non-Key Decision Maker leads are just as, if not more, important

VENUE: Le Equilles Restaurant, Ground Floor, Xin Jin Qiao Plaza, 23 Beijing West Road (by Xizang Middle Road), Shanghai.  Pls. enter via Citadines Apart'Hotel at 55 Beijing West Road.

DATE: Tuesday, 18 November 2008


TIME: from 08:00 a.m. - 09:00 a.m.

PRICE: Just Pay for your Own Breakfast (Est. RMB 50-100)

     To make this a more conducive discussion, we are expecting a small group of about 15 people only. The previous Power Breakfast Hour session was a sold-out and over-booked event within a week of notice. Please e-mail your registrations to sales@directions-consulting.com

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

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When you engage The Rapping Professor for your event, you can even take home a DVD with the songs and pictures or video on it.


The Rapping Professor can MC alone, with a professional partner or with a guest MC from your company. Any other kind of event you desire, The Rapping Professor can plan it for you. Call The Rapping Professor now before his schedule fills up.


See The Rapping Professor in action, as well as details of his recent performances and testimonials.  The Rapping Professor can be reached by phone: +86-13817899178, or via email : matthew@rappingprofessor.com.

Practical Tips for Managers:
How to Lead Your Sales Force through Tough Times?

by c.j. Ng

Given the current financial crisis, it seems that the global economy may be heading for some tough times in 2009.  The negative impact for some companies may be even much sooner than that.  Oh yes, the future is bleak, and it starts tonight!

Generally, when most companies face tough economic and financial outlooks, here's what they will do to their sales force:

  • Increase in sales targets with a reduction in sales incentives;

  • Reduction in reimbursable sales expenses;

  • Hiring freeze for the sales force (i.e. less people will have to achieve an even higher target with even lesser incentives);

  • Cuts in sales training budgets

While tough times will definitely call for some belt-tightening measures, such measures will have to be aligned with the strategic objectives of companies.  When most companies tighten their budgets, they forget that tough times too, will pass.  In fact, tough times are probably the best times to solidify your relationships with current customers and start loosening the grips of your competitors when winning new ones.  Companies who are just focused on short-term reduction of costs maybe forgoing their long-term gains.


Here are some brief pointers for companies that want to lead its sales force through bad times, so that it's well-prepared when the good times return:

  • Tie sales incentives with margins.  Since most people will start cutting prices during tough times, tie incentives towards protecting your margins.  No point achieving sales targets if margins are too thin

  • Make an audit of all reimbursable expenses and decide which are the "must haves" vs. the "like to haves".  As the boss, you'd probably may have to take the lead in this aspect

  • Instead of adopting an across-the-board hiring freeze, make your hiring process more stringent, so that you could really hire the best-fit.  In fact, you may even get some very high-calibre people at rock-bottom prices in tough times

  • Since 87% of all sales training may be evaporated within 1 month, you might want to be careful about how you can get the "biggest bang" out of every sales training.  If you are paying high licensing fees per sales person for some off-the-shelf sales training, perhaps you can move to a generic one that can be customised to your needs.

Before implementing any changes however, companies would have to communicate the reasons why such changes are necessary, and what's in it for them if they cooperate, in terms of future earnings and career development.  One cardinal rule of sales people is that they absolutely HATE to do more work, bearing more pressure and and getting paid less.  Even with the best communication efforts, some of your sales force members may choose to leave.  However, if you don't communicate enough, they will be sitting targets for your competitors to poach.


The Chinese phrase for "crisis" is made of 2 words: "risk 危" and "opportunity 机".   Most of us may just want to reduce costs and avoid risks in tough times, but only the wise can see the opportunities therein. While the sales force may need to trim some fat and get lean during tough times, their ability to win new sales, protect margins and retain currents customers should be further emphasized.  This also a great opportunity to capitalise on the mistakes of  your competitors, and diminish their influence in the long-term.  After all, besides R&D, sales is the only other profit centre you've got.


If you need to find out more about how you too can lead your sales force through tough times, you can send your queries to info@psycheselling.com .  We look forward to getting your inputs. 

About PsycheSelling.com

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.   

Directions Management Consulting Pte Ltd is a Human Capital Integrator that helps companies to improve business performances through people.

Psyche-Selling TM is currently a co-affiliate of the  HR Chally Group, together with  Shi Bisset & Associates, to help you identify gaps in your current sales force, and then formulate ways to help you get better results.

The HR Chally Group is a talent management, leadership development, and sales improvement corporation providing personnel assessment and research services for over 35 years.  Chally is recognised as an international technology leader in scientific assessment and prediction for selection, job alignment and leadership development, and for management assessment.  For more information about implementing Total Quality Sales Management in your company, pls. log on to http://www.psycheselling.com/TQSM-ExecBrief_email.pdf to get more insights.

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