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It’s Not WHAT You Do But WHY & HOW You Do It

January 27, 2012 in Attitudes & Behaviours, Ethics & Values, Mindful selling, Sales Culture

In December 2011 we published The 12 Sales Trends of 2012 and invited readers to vote on what they thought would be the most important trends in sales for this year. ‘It’s not WHAT you do but WHY & HOW you do it’ topped the rankings.

It seems that having a Purpose, the WHY, which is more than just making a profit, is becoming a key focus as businesses, leaders and employees alike seek to find more meaning in their work and each other and most importantly their customers and community.


too much choice

Too much choice on the consumer landscape is now driving people to seek real connections and deeper meaning – a spiritual, psychological connection in their dealing with others if you will. Restlessness is emerging among consumers about who they want to connect with and buy from – they want to simplify and make every moment count. Businesses leaders are coming to realize, slowly, that it’s not WHAT you do that differentiates themselves from their competitors but WHY & HOW you do it. Many, however are still blinded by the Profit motive – the EBIT, especially publicly listed companies conditioned to meet ‘share holder value’. Losing sight of WHY you are in business in the first place and replacing it with Profit only is a very risky strategy.

Having a purpose, defining your WHY factor, encapsulates the very essence of why clients and customers want to associate with a business and how they can align with its values.

With increased consumer choice, people are becoming more business savvy. People are now assessing organisations, through their consumer, supplier, investor, employee and community filters sizing up the real reason and motives for being and doing business.


using a crystal ball to find the why

Despite this public assessment, many organisations still struggle to explain why they exist and how they do what they do, in a way that is easily understood and generates a curiosity to know more. WHY you do what you do and HOW you make a difference must be front and center. In the wake of consumer disquiet at corporate greed, business’ cost management obsession, outsourcing and the move away from product as the focal point, what you do is not enough anymore.

In 2012 if we can’t communicate our story to our employees, customers, prospects, suppliers, investors, media, and the broader community then they simply can’t communicate our story to others or make informed decisions about how to engage with us.

A great example of a company really bringing this concept to life and getting it right is outdoor clothing and equipment company, Patagonia. Here is their reason for being, their purpose, their ‘WHY’:

Our Reason for Being: Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.
-Patagonia’s Mission Statement

Patagonia grew out of a small company that made tools for climbers. Alpinism remains at the heart of a worldwide business that still makes clothes for climbing – as well as for skiing, snowboarding, surfing, fly fishing, paddling and trail running. These are all silent sports. None requires a motor; none delivers the cheers of a crowd. In each sport, reward comes in the form of hard-won grace and moments of connection between us and nature.

Our values reflect those of a business started by a band of climbers and surfers, and the minimalist style they promoted. The approach we take towards product design demonstrates a bias for simplicity and utility.

For us at Patagonia, a love of wild and beautiful places demands participation in the fight to save them, and to help reverse the steep decline in the overall environmental health of our planet. We donate our time, services and at least 1% for our sales to hundreds of grassroots environmental groups all over the world who work to help reverse the tide.

We know that our business activity – from lighting stores to dyeing shirts – creates pollution as a by-product. So we work steadily to reduce those harms. We use recycled polyester in many of our clothes and only organic, rather than pesticide-intensive, cotton.

Staying true to our core values during thirty-plus years in business has helped us create a company we’re proud to run and work for. And our focus on making the best products possible has brought us success in the marketplace.

engaged employees

engaged employees

Patagonia demonstrates that to engage with employees, customers, investors, media and community you need to work from the heart, not just the head. Pursuing profit at the expense of these other things is shortsighted at best.

How do you create an integrated organisation that engages heart and head? Here are some questions to get you started:

  • What is your story? How did you come to be in existence?
  • What do you stand for?
  • Why do you do what you do?
  • How do you do what you do?
  • How do contribute to the greater good?
  • What are you giving back to your community?
  • How do you make others feel?

These questions will give you a start but to really make progress, the concept needs wholehearted commitment. Don’t even attempt this process if you’re not willing to be honest about your intentions as a business because your insincerity will be obvious and in today’s world reputation is critical.

With consumers now better educated, techno-savvy and better connected than ever before, the need to articulate WHY you do what you do and HOW you do what you do is critical for differentiating your business in 2012 and beyond.

Remember everybody lives by selling something.

Author: Sue Barrett, MD of www.barrett.com.au

Athletes Chase Olympic Gold in UK and Business Success Back Home

January 19, 2012 in Attitudes & Behaviours, Sales Skills, Success

It’s an Olympic year and many of our elite athletes are rightly focusing their efforts on the London 2012 Olympic Games. There are a certain number of gold medals on offer and everyone knows their worth in terms of the honour and glory and even more so in terms of ensuing publicity, product endorsements, speaking engagement and the like.

pin the future

pin the future

However, with limited gold medals available, pure focus on winning one will leave many athletes short-changed if they have nothing in reserve. Smart athletes leave nothing to chance. Just like good sales people and business owners they make sure there is always a contingency plan because they know that pinning your future on a gold medal pay day is putting all your eggs into one basket.

It may surprise you that besides preparing for the Olympic Games, a number of the VIS (Victorian Institute of Sport) elite athletes have been developing their own businesses and are participating in the Barrett VIS Business Education Scholarship Program via the VIS ACE (Athlete Career & Education) Program to sure up their future success.

I’ve had the privilege of being associated with the VIS and the ACE program since 1992. This is where I cut my teeth as a trainer and facilitator before I began making these skills a key part of my career. During this time I’ve met a wide and wonderful range of people, mostly talented elite athletes pursing their dreams as well as the wonderful staff at the VIS, many of whom I now proudly call friends.

As my career and subsequent business evolved I found so many similarities between elite sport and business. I therefore wanted to find a way to continue to work with these athletes as they transitioned from their elite sporting careers to their own business careers. Many don’t win that elusive gold medal but simply by being an elite athlete, have gone on to win a plethora of life lessons. These athletes bring so much to the table when it comes to running a business. They start their businesses with in-built focus, stamina, determination and the courage to have a go.

Similarities of sport and business

Similarities of sport and business

It therefore is a great pleasure that after many iterations we have developed and implemented the VIS Barrett Business Education Scholarship Program which was launched in 2010. The program was developed off the back of research conducted by the ACE Program regarding relevance of ACE Services to athletes in different stages of their sport, career and life. This initiative enables athletes to prepare for their life after sport as an entrepreneur, business owner and manager while continuing their training and participation at an elite level of sport. Barrett‘s scholarship initiative is designed to assist athletes who are serious about starting a business or looking to grow their current business and wish to gain access to industry leaders, resources and professional development.

The scholarship program works via Barrett’s partnership with the Victorian Institute of Sport and an annual invitation to VIS athletes to submit their applications for the Barrett Business Education Scholarship Program. Each athlete must already have a business idea or business in development to access the program. Those who are accepted attend a series of workshops across the year to build and test their business ideas. They cover such topics as Building a Business Strategy and Sales & Marketing Plan, Prospecting, Sales Communication, Social Media, Resilience and Sales Neuroscience and begin to apply their new knowledge and skills to their emerging businesses.

At the end of the year, athletes who have successfully taken their business to a commercial reality then proceed to pitch their idea and business plans to the Judging Panel: Anne Marie Harrison, CEO of VIS; Kate Palmer, Chairperson of VIS and CEO of Netball Australia and myself. Under the Scholarship parameters the successful athlete receives one-on-one coaching/mentor sessions with me throughout the following year to further develop their business as well as receive funding from the VIS ACE Program to support the growth of their business.

The standard of the 2011 finalists was extremely high. All three athletes presented well developed and clever business plans. All knew their purpose and reason for being in business; all had compelling messages; all were ready to go to market with actionable go-to-market action plans.

Finalists of the 2011 Barrett Business Education Scholarship Program were:

* Christian Williams (Archery – Australian Rep)
* Sarah Wall (Netball – Vixens / Australian Rep)
* Alli van Omnen (Water polo – Australian Rep)

Each has a compelling story that drives them and each knows where they want to be. It was a very hard decision but the scholarship was awarded to Alli van Omnen who has set up her own Osteopath business called Without Limits. I’ll be coaching Alli this year to help her with her business growth.

So what can we learn from these amazing young people? We can learn heaps.

dedicated bike rider on training

dedicated bike rider on training

Their dedication to their sporting and business careers is second to none and each is driven to succeed and be their best. It’s a joy to be in company with these people and inspiring to work with them. Their open mindedness, willingness to learn, clarity of purpose and courage to have a go is what I would love to see in everyone.

So how can we take these examples and replicate them in our business world?

Rather than management be the only ones to present their business and sales plans to their teams, I propose that all sales people take a leaf out of these smart athletes’ books and present their go-to-market action plans each year to senior management and their teams. It is a very rewarding experience and develops a whole range of skills that come in very handy every day i.e. public speaking and presenting, business thinking and planning, strategising, collaborating and so on. Applying ourselves this way will bring home the gold and business success.

Sport is a great teacher especially when you are actively involved. It tests you, challenges you and makes you stand up and go for it even when all you want to do is lie down. The synergies between sport and selling are many as I mentioned. So it is a great honour to bring the two together in the Barrett Business Education Scholarship Program.

We wish all the VIS athletes and all of our Australian Representatives great success at the London 2012 Olympics.

Remember everybody lives by selling something.

Author: Sue Barrett, MD of www.barrett.com.au

No Sales Leadership + No Accountability = No Sales Results

January 12, 2012 in Coaching, Sales Leadership, Sales Results, Success

Companies spend billions each year on sales training, organisational development, leadership training and other efforts to ultimately boost sales results. Often this is a waste of money because nothing changes for the better. Too busy looking for a short term boost, magic bullet or quick fix, i.e. the 1-3 day motivational sales training event, many business and sales leaders miss the vital point that sales training, more correctly termed sales fitness and evolution, is a long term investment. Smart business and sales leaders know that clarity, leadership and accountability are the cornerstones of any business. So what can we learn from them?

Click on image for larger version

Before you spend your hard earned money on a learning and development training budget and embark on your Sales Transformation Project have you done the following?

  • Established and/or communicated the reason ‘why’ the vision, sales strategy, sales processes and sales transformation project is important to the sales team and the whole business?
  • Engaged business and sales leaders and gained their commitment to the vision, sales strategy, sales processes and sales transformation project from the outset?
  • Set sales performance criteria, milestones and clear individual accountabilities?
  • Created ongoing learning opportunities where regular reflection, review, coaching and refined application of the sales principles and tools learned is a regular activity?
  • Integrated the tools, knowledge, language, and principles into CRM and other business processes?
business vigilance and discipline

business vigilance and discipline

The truth is to improve sales performance and achieve better sales results business leaders, sales leaders and their teams all need continued vigilance and discipline. There is no quick fix! There never was. Why the perception that a 1-3 day sales training event is going fix your sales problems and improve sales performance ever got air time is beyond me.

Smart sales leaders know they are in it for the long haul and they make sure that, besides their vision, strategy, and processes being in place; clear, unambiguous, performance expectations are established and communicated to everyone in the business. Their sales people, sales managers and other key stakeholders are held personally accountable for their part in the plan and know the consequences if they do not deliver.

The best business and sales leaders have planned ahead and consider every part of their business to see where they can seed the new sales way. They have a plan that integrates their sales transformation project across the whole business. They include everyone in their regular communication and do not let up on the core message. They know shifting old behaviours, beliefs, judgments and mindsets can be really tough and takes time; they are realistic and look at a minimum of 12 months to get the sales essential foundations in place and then build on these to continue the evolution and transformation. They set rewards and recognition around participation and completion of key learnings and milestones as well as sales input and output measures; they make sure that Sales Managers can and do coach, train, plan and measure performance and are held accountable for their actions. They control what they can control and leave nothing to chance.

sales transformation journey

sales transformation journey

They are committed to leading and migrating their sales teams and the broader business to a better, healthier, profitable place.


So if you are thinking about embarking on a sales transformation journey, make sure that you are committed, organised and well equipped to be in it for the long term. If you need a partner to help you make sure they are passionate, knowledgeable, skillful, and determined to be in it with you for the long term. If you are offered any quick fixes that promise you the world then remember the old saying ‘if it is too good to be true; it is too good to be true’.

Remember everybody lives by selling something.

Author: Sue Barrett, MD of www.barrett.com.au

Celebrating ‘Clarity’ After 17 Years In Business

January 9, 2012 in Uncategorized

This year I am celebrating ‘Clarity’ as my cornerstone in business. I believe Clarity is the most important idea in any business. Vision, strategy, purpose, product, plans, people and all factors of successful business stem from clarity.

with $3000 as seed capital

$3000 as seed capital

It has taken me many (frustrating) years to clarify and define my true goals and intentions when I launched Barrett Consulting Group, 17 years ago on Monday 9 January 1995. With just $3,000 as my seed capital, a home office with phone and computer and an idea based purely on a strong feeling, a hunch and passion, I set out to build a business that would ultimately aim to reshape and reform the profession of Selling for the 21st Century.

In the late 1980′s and early 1990′s I saw signs and glimpses of how Selling was undergoing changes and how businesses and sales people needed to rethink selling and working with customers. At this time there was no documented evidence I could use to reference and confirm my hunch that things needed to change. No evidence I could use to show and validate my findings to business leaders. I could only rely on my own (unofficial) references.

I individually screened tens of thousands of phone calls and resumes from sales people and managers and conducted over 8,000 face-to-face recruitment interviews with sales people and sales managers. My previous experience as a recruitment consultant (what I call my unofficial PhD into sales people) and my large network of senior managers with their individual insights and difficulties finding good sales people helped me to build my own research and prove that my hunch was real and warranted effort in to reshaping the sales world.

to a better place ...

... to a better place ...

I knew something was there but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I couldn’t clarify it. I had to simply rely on my gut instinct and trust that a need and desire for change in the sales profession was emerging and that this was worth building a business around. Thinking back now, 17 years later, I see that I started Barrett Consulting Group on a hunch, stabbing in the dark, hoping I was moving in the right direction and here we are with a business that has achieved Clarity.

Our Clarity of Purpose did not come about quickly or easily. It has taken years of experimentation and refinement, learning from our successes, setbacks, and mistakes. It was frustrating and difficult to cultivate because I didn’t want us to be trapped into a linear framework that would see us become redundant.

I know that over the years I too have frustrated people with my own desire to achieve clarity; a sense of clear purpose that would not box us in and limit us. I knew Barrett needed clarity of purpose that wouldn’t narrow our vision but would widen our awareness and horizons while remaining sure of our target. Some of those people over the years clearly thought I was nuts.

But, I’m not alone in this need for clarity; many businesses, business leaders, their teams and especially their sales teams struggle with achieving their sense of Clarity. They struggle to answer the following questions:

  • Why do we do what we do?
  • Who we do it for?
  • How we do it?

This is precisely what we all need to do: ask and answer questions to uncover our real intentions, our real talents, our real desires and our goals. Without the answers to these questions, little else matters in business because anything we try to do without knowing these answers will lack clarity of purpose. The retiring CEO of IBM, Samuel J. Palmisano, turned the corporate giant around to be the success it is today, by focusing his team on some simple yet critical questions. The answers to these questions changed the course of IBM forever. He says his guiding framework boils down to four questions:

  1. “Why would someone spend their money with you – so what is unique about you?”
  2. “Why would somebody work for you?”
  3. “Why would society allow you to operate in their defined geography – their country?”
  4. “And why would somebody invest their money with you?

In a recent Age article (3/1/12) Mr Palmisano stated that his four questions focused thinking and prodded the company beyond its comfort zone to make IBM pre-eminent again.

He presented the four-question framework to the company’s top 300 managers at a meeting in early 2003 in Florida. “The hardest thing is answering those four questions,” Palmisano says. “You’ve got to answer all four and work at answering all four to really execute with excellence.”

Besides our own business, the Barrett team has found that we are working more and more with companies, their leaders and sales teams to help them answer these and other questions and bring about a sense of clarity in everything we (and they) especially before they begin their sales transformation journey. It’s truly impressive to see the results of your efforts and actions when you start to focus and gain clarity of purpose. By asking these questions and being prepared to listen to the answers we can all begin to unearth the essential ingredients that give us clarity of purpose. It will not happen overnight and once you have the answers you then need to work out how you are going to implement your clarity of purpose.

Usain Bolt's purpose is very clear

Usain Bolt's purpose is very clear

At Barrett and other organisations where Clarity of Purpose exists, a new energy emerges, the inner flames of purpose are fanned and a real desire to get out there and contribute honestly and constructively comes alive and becomes the new reality. It’s a continuous work in progress but worth every moment.

So wherever you are at in your business journey, start 2012 by finding, defining or refining your Clarity of Purpose; it’s a liberating experience.

For what it is worth here is Barrett’s Clarity of Purpose highlights and if you would like to read more about what we believe go to www.barrett.com.au.

Our Philosophy: We live by the philosophy ‘That Selling is everybody’s business and everybody lives by selling something‘. We believe that selling is about the fair exchange of value.

Our Vision & Purpose: To create a seismic shift in the way people sell, communicate, lead and do business with each other. We aim to give everybody access to life skills, tools, knowledge, and personal insights so that we are all able to clearly communicate and proactively sell ourselves effectively, ethically and confidently in any situation – offering and exchanging our talents with the world.

How We Do It: We instill the belief that in a 21st Century world selling is everybody’s business and everybody lives by selling something. We challenge thinking and create compelling reasons and continuous learning pathways for people and organisations to develop their skills, knowledge and mindsets to create the shifts they want and ensure they are well informed and equipped for the journey ahead.

Our Goal: To positively transform the culture, capability and continuous learning of leaders and teams by developing sales driven organisations which are equipped for the 21st Century.

What We Do: Barrett produces and provides people with access to 21st Century Sales Knowledge, Resources, Education, Tools, Expertise, Philosophies and Wisdom. We consult, assess, train and coach across the complete lifecycle of an employee in sales, sales leadership and internal stakeholder roles where genuine communication and exchange of real value are critical to business success.

Let us know how you have gone in achieving your own Clarity of Purpose or if you would like us to help you create your own Clarity of Purpose; it would be our pleasure to assist you. Contact us on 03 95330000 or here.

Remember everybody lives by selling something.

Author: Sue Barrett, MD of www.barrett.com.au

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