Seven Bad Sales Development Tools

There is a lot of ‘get good quick’ type sales development advice about. We thought we’d share with you 7 we have come across being peddled recently.


  1. Understand The Secrets Of Effective Time Management. There are no secrets, simply work out what really matters to you and prioritise accordingly. It’s like effective weight loss; eat less and exercise more, the rest is propaganda.
  2. How To Get Past Secretaries To Speak to Decision Makers. This is a redundant concept, who even has a secretary these days? Make the effort to find the decision makers’ email addresses, mobile or DDI numbers, all being direct, unmediated channels. PA’s don’t count, they are people with real power, you don’t get past a PA, you work with them.
  3. Become More Self Motivated Through Gurus Books, CDs, And Rah Rah Conferences. Peter Drucker’s definition still stands. A guru is somebody so called because the writer can’t spell charlatan. Instead, read a proper business book, think about understanding your own needs profile more, and find somebody you really respect to act as a mentor.
  4. (Expensively) Train In Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP). Something often evangelised about by people who believe it to be a substitute for real emotional sensitivity. Being bored by an expert in NLP should by definition never happen, but it does.
  5. Ask Open Questions. This is far too crude as a major communication technique. Effective selling practice creates a real need/want, placing the client or their organisation in a comfortable place (firstly imagined and then for real), of using the product/service. The types of questions asked to achieve this understanding are more about context and insight than whether they happen to be open or closed.
  6. Learn The Twenty (Or More) Ways To Close A Sale. These are really no more than different ways of asking the same question “Will you buy it?” Salespeople who have the courage to ask directly, professionally and early, will always outperform those who are debating whether to employ the Benjamin Franklin or Fear close etc.
  7. Appoint An (Any) Executive Coach. We see no correlation between people who have a coach and their effectiveness. There are some very good performance coaches working (we can put you in touch with one or two), but the majority seem to add no value at all. If you don’t see your performance, behaviour, self awareness or contribution improving, stop the coaching.