This time it’s personal!

A few days ago, my coach (yes, even coaches need coaches) suggested to me that my website was, possibly, confusing its audience – given that it often referred to “we” when it should clearly refer to “I” when I myself, Malcolm Duffield, propose to do something, be something, or have an opinion on something. Of course, I do work with associates when it makes sense – when I can combine their passion and experience with mine to get a more powerful outcome – so ‘we’ is occasionally grammatically correct. But mostly I work alone, so he may have a point.

Now, you have to understand that my coach, Andre Burki, is Swiss (as is my wife by strange coincidence) and they can at times be pedantic; they tend not to take the more ‘freeform’ approach to the English language that many native speakers adopt. But his pedantry (which I suspect he deliberately targeted to drive my thinking) initiated this thought-train: “why do I seek the safety of the herd (collective ‘we’) when I actually believe passionately and personally (and occasionally, seemingly uniquely) in what I offer, in what I have observed and in what I write?”. (Yes, I use ‘Jazz’ punctuation, too – my English teacher, Fred Plater, may be saddened by it – but he wouldn’t be surprised.)

However, that train of thought has rattled around my head for over a week now, with occasional pause to refuel and add mass it has become effectively unstoppable. Hence I have come to the conclusion that whilst it may well be easier to follow the ‘conventional wisdom’ proposed by the majority of sales training and coaching practitioners – I just flat out don’t agree with it and should have the courage of my convictions to say so!

This conclusion has a number of consequences of course: abandoning the comfort of even the notion of my own tiny herd (my ‘associates’) puts me out there singularly and wholly accountable (actually something I usually seek); it allows me to truly declare a “Blue Ocean” of opportunity (read the book “Blue Ocean Strategy” by Kim and Mauborgne to appreciate just how important this is); it means that my freshly minted web-site will need some further subtle editing, and; it removes a whole chunk of potential prospects (i.e. those who follow ‘conventional wisdom’) which may well represent over 90% of the market. This last point is particularly pertinent – as removing such a large but essentially specious list of ‘suspects’ allows me to put more accurately targeted sales effort into the remaining enlightened 10% (I accept that these estimates may be wildly generous – it could well be more like 1%).

Still, pure sales hunters know that ‘big game’ isn’t caught with a net!

So, from now on it’s all about me; what I do, and what I can do for you.


Published by Malcolm Duffield

Malcolm Duffield provides advanced high-level sales coaching, ‘basic sales training’ and sales training for pre-sales and post-sales engineering staff. In ways markedly different to the typical classroom lecture approach. Like the game of ‘Go’ – selling is strategically complex, nuanced and more dependent on intuition than process. Sales – process alone is no guarantee of success because customers are humans, are fiendishly complex, intuitive and need to be met on their terms. Humans need to interact rather than merely transact. They have many needs, wants and aspirations – not all clearly stated. Having a proposal that is a good fit to the stated need is a start. Having a price that’s in the ball park will also help – but what will invariably make the difference between success and failure will be our ability to understand, connect with and provide value to the customer as a person. Focused primarily on IT sales, where solution and value, but above all human connection through respect, integrity and empathy, have to be brought together to win high-value deals - it would appear that other 'capital acquisitions' benefit from a similar approach. I have 30 years experience in such sales, and know what works and what doesn't work.