Seviour Books

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I don’t know your reason for looking at my book, but before going any further, I do hope it’s not because you or a person close to you has cancer; it’s a horrible disease. My story is about my own experience of stage 4 throat cancer and what I have learned by researching – I’m not an expert; this isn’t a medical textbook and my description won’t necessarily match how things go for other people, but it should give you some insight and forewarning of what to expect. Some of it was frustrating, some painful and surprisingly other parts which went far better than I expected. This book is what I would have been very happy to read before the start of my encounter with cancer. Despite the serious nature of the topic, I think you’ll find plenty of moments which make you laugh.

Charming and enlightening.

“Not the most cheerful of topics – cancer – but Robert is able to put a lighter spin on the whole experience, without losing any of the gravitas.

For anyone who has just received a cancer diagnosis – or is fearful of one – reading Roberts story may well answer many questions and worries they have. Of course, everyone’s cancer journey will be different but it is heartening to read how Robert faces up to the more unpleasant aspects of his treatment with cheerful resilience. I never thought a book about cancer could be funny!

It is not just a narrative about his illness, however. There are fascinating facts and figures that certainly opened my eyes. Robert is never shy of giving his opinion (see ‘Robert’s Rants’!) and is the kind of person who is forthright enough to ask the doctor the questions we all want answering!!

Some may say it’s not for everyone. But I disagree. Considering about half of us will experience cancer in our lifetime – with the rest knowing someone who has – I would argue that it makes essential reading.”

Please note that this book is not about self-anger management.It is for persons who encounter angry people in their work. It explains how to reduce the problem and stay safe.

Here’s an armoury of witty, crude, lewd, sharp and nasty put-downs. Comebacks you can draw on for next time you are in an argument. A resource for writers, speakers, jokers, those who love language and have time on their hands. A certain type of reader will enjoy these humorous, witty, insults and irreverent quotations, others will be appalled. NOT FOR CHILDREN or sensitive flowers.

Thoroughly recommended for all companies who have engineers in the field! “I am an engineer, and also an entrepreneur, and I have always struggled with how to approach sales. “Selling” is against the nature of most engineers. I find that Roberts approach is a handy guide for nerds and geeks like myself. Following his simple steps takes away the fear and uncertainty of how to approach a sale, and even to close a deal. I will buy a copy for all my engineers! They are the ones closest to my customers’ pains and, since their opinions are trusted, are ideally placed to pitch solutions.”

Sales-led companies use prospecting as their standard way of winning business because it is simple and has been proven effective over decades. But very few technical organisations have followed this example. That’s a shame because  Continue reading

“It was comprehensive. I can see prospecting as being a positive way in which we as a company can further promote our business.”

Finding the right parking, spot if you want to camp, takes time. You need a place where ….

Hello, my name is Hans, I am coming from Tschermanny. Oh you guessed?I vont to …..

In this town there’s not much to do after dark if you’re trying to stay sober. And …..

It was Terry Chan who suggested that I get into carpet cleaning, the idea had never …..

I’m not a terrorist, I just want to tell you something that will help you get more of what you want during this brief life. 

Good and steady’ beats occasional greatness in the race for big earnings. Do the simple basics right and you will be the top

Some salespeople seem to have a special magic, they are always bringing in new, big deals. But if you have not.

Some salespeople seem to have a special magic, they are always bringing in new, big deals. But if you have not.

Some salespeople seem to have a special magic, they are always bringing in new, big deals. But if you have not.

Some salespeople seem to have a special magic, they are always bringing in new, big 

I’m not a terrorist, I just want to tell you something that will help you get more of what you want during this brief life.

Good and steady’ beats occasional greatness in the race for big earnings. Do the simple basics right and you will be the top. performer

Some salespeople seem to have a special magic, they are always bringing in new, big deals. But if you have not.

Copyright © 2022 Seviour Books

Finding the right parking, spot if you want to camp, takes time. You need a place where the neighbours are not going to feel intruded upon, and, at the other end of the spectrum, where the locals have some inhibition about putting a brick thru your window to snatch the change from outa the ashtray.

That said, I thought I done good. Nice spot, away from the residential, coupla other vans, dark. Yes!

So I tidy up the day’s chaos and sort out my sleeping arrangements; any wise man will tell you; ‘Make your bed well, before you get really drunk’.

Time to relax, there’s enough alcohol in the fridge to keep a convent happy for a year. And I just bought a litre of fruit juice for 99 cents.

Drink and refill X 3, then a nasty moment.

A sleek black car pulls in alongside. OOOOh I am not sure if I like this, could be cop in some form or other. Just this morning, a nice gentleman with an automatic pistol, asked us if we were camping – ‘because that is illegal’.

As an experienced neurotic, I feast with the possibilities; the minimum; ‘drinking while in a parked car’, thru ‘death by lethal injection’, perhaps with Guantanamo torture.

I keep it right down, no lights, move silently – like a trained killer. Open the fridge, take out the 1.75 litres of vodka like a man who does this for a living. Glug and repeat, splasha juice and down the hatch. Yeeha! Que Bueno!

15 maybe 20 minutes pass. Did they leave without me noticing? Couldbe / maybe. Thanks to the wonder of C2H5OH this no longer seems so germane. Fuck it, why worry, bee happy – (lucky species).

And at this exact moment, the entertainment starts. No violin tuning, opera-style; the black luxo vehicle starts to jigger, (The correct technical term).

Relax; it’s only a couple, without anywhere better to go, playing, ‘Where does your zucchini want to visit today?’

Jiggy, jiggy, with many repeats, and the car rocks to the fundamental harmonic of its springs. Nice demonstration for physics students.

The jigginess briefly changes to a faster frequency; I’m taking notes because at my age it would be easy to think that the young bucks were so much better that my opportunities were all over. But no!

Maximum 2 mins of spring fibrilation and we are back to nuttin, nada, finished, kerfuckt, (sprechen Sie Deutsch?).

My little dilemma is resolved; they did what nature wills, then motor on.Only question in my mind; what do you say, after the volcanics?I’d really like to know.

Oh man,you don’t wanna know that one.Ok, I was doing a James Brown rendition on stage, in front of about five hundred and fifty people. And I did a spin and I said, ‘Hey_ee_uh’. . . and my wig fell off.Never forgot that, man.And everybody jumped up and started screamin. And I looked down and I said, ‘Oh man, ma wig fell off. Ma wig. Ma wig fell off.How I’m gonna get ma wig back on ma head?’

So I said, ‘I just can’t reach down and get it, ah’l look like a clown’.So what ah  did, I said, ‘I gotta be creative, so ah spinned around, did the splits an’ ah grabbed it on my way down. And on my way up, ah put it back on my head.Ah said, ‘Yaaa_heey_ee’.And they just fell out, man. The whole crowd, pandemonium. An’ I jus’ kept on dancin’. Doin ma thing . . . got outta the situation.

It was Terry Chan who suggested that I get into carpet cleaning, the idea had never occurred to me. Thinking back, perhaps I should have been less impetuous. When I first met Terry and his wife Priscilla, he had a pizza outlet and a little later his wife opened a fashion boutique. Both shops failed. It was a curious thing, Terry thought about very little other than how to make money, and he already had plenty from his parents, but he didn’t seem to be much of a businessman.

Anyway, he’d bought the necessary gear and in the evening when he’d finished serving up slices of dough-with-cheese, he’d go out with a helper or two on carpet cleaning missions. He told me about this one day when we went skiing together. He was enthusiastic, ‘Easy money’, he said.

I decided to give it a try, but out of caution, I thought I’d attempt to sell a couple of jobs before spending money on equipment. At this point I knew nothing about how you clean a carpet, but I did have a lot of experience of making sales calls. My philosophy was (still is), ‘They can’t punch you on the nose over the phone’. So I got a local directory and started making calls;

‘My name is Robert, I’m a carpet cleaner. Do you have any carpets or rugs you’d like to have cleaned?’

That isn’t too hard is it? Guess what, it didn’t take long before someone asked, ‘When can you do it?’ And if you’ve spent any time in sales, you’ll know that a good way to answer a question like that is with another one. ‘When would you like to have it done?’ The lady was looking to have her whole house cleaned the next day and I agreed that I would come and do it.

Not having a carpet cleaning machine was, of course, a bit of a problem. But there was a big Janitor’s Warehouse store on Marine Drive so I went down there and spoke to the boss. ‘I know nothing about cleaning a carpet but I’ve sold a job and I need a machine’.

Lyle, the owner, seemed impressed by this and promptly signed me up for a hire-purchase agreement on a portable machine. He threw in five minutes of instruction too. ‘Use the hottest water you can get, a couple of scoops of detergent, then one wet pass and two dry’. Not exactly a three year university course, but enough to be able to make a thousand bucks a week.

Next morning, at the appointed time, Adam, my assistant, and I are at the lady’s house. There is some trepidation about how we are going to do the job, but, glory be, she says, ‘I’ve got to go out. Can I pay you now?’

So, she’s away and Adam and I put our new equipment together. Not that complicated actually. What it comprises is a tank which we fill with hot water from the tap, and a long hose which connects a vacuum pump to the ‘wand’.I liked that word right from the beginning. Not many trades use a wand. As far as I know, it’s limited to magicians and carpet cleaners. I’d sooner be a magician, but there’s a little problem with talent and practice.

The gear’s ready, so power on and blast-off. It’s fun; hot soapy water squirts out of the jets within the wand and once you’ve gone over a stripe of carpet pulling the trigger for the water, you dry the same area using just the vacuum. That sucks the dirty water out of the carpet. It definitely works, the proof is to be seen when you empty the dirty-water tank; very unappetizing dark, dark, grey water, with added nasty bits.

The logic is: if the dirt’s in the water, the carpet must be cleaner. Sometimes you can’t really tell, though and that’s a shame because if the difference is dramatic, it really impresses the customer. The most spectacular example we ever had was a Chinese restaurant on Lower Lonsdale. It was quite a big place and it took us most of the morning to do, what made it memorable was that the carpet, which on our arrival was brown, was sky blue when we left. The owner expressed his astonishment; he’d been there for a long time with a gravy-coloured carpet. That got us pay and a Chinese meal. A few years later I found myself in the neighbourhood and looked out for the place, but it had burnt down.

We scrubbed merrily at filthy carpets for two or three seasons. It was making money, but nothing special, and there is one aspect of the work that wouldn’t occur to you unless you try it; the machine fills the room you are in with moisture-saturated air. If you are exerting yourself agitating carpet with wand, this is as good a way to sweat out body water as a Turkish bath. We worked in white cotton coveralls, after twenty minutes they were soaked.

With an eye forever open for additional business, we thought up the idea of using dry-cleaning stores as our sales force. I laminated some notices saying, ‘We clean rugs’ and went round the mostly Iranian establishments which offered dry cleaning. They liked the idea; they took in the rug, we cleaned it, and they got paid by the customer. So far, so good.

But the blithe confidence in being able to do our part of the bargain was ill-founded. One day I was given a rug to work on and I attacked it the way we always did, with the machine and hot soapy water. This, I can tell you with authority, is not a good idea on a delicate, hand-woven, silk carpet. Can you guess what happened? The reds, bled into the blues, the blues into the yellows. If it had been in the sixties, you might have got away with explaining that melting colours was groovy. Thirty years on, I didn’t have the face to try that one. So then it was a rather forlorn and desperate series of bleaching operations to try and recreate something like what we had first been handed. In the end I convinced myself that it wasn’t too bad, dried the rug and went back to the merchant. Next time I saw him he went nuts, and that was only a shadow of the performance that the rug-owner had treated him to.

Didn’t get paid on that one.

Nor did we see any money for our efforts on another exotic item of underfoot padding. This one was some kind of Afghan, shaggy white special. The reason we got it to clean was that the owner’s shaggy white Afghan doggy had peed on it. Men, if you’ve ever written your initials in the snow with the warm and yellow, you have some idea of what it looked like.

At that time Juan, a Peruvian was working for me; I took him to this job and left him to get on with it. When I got back later on the lady of the house was having puppies. ‘You’ve destroyed my rug’. That was a bit of an exaggeration; there were still quite a few square feet of ruggy substance remaining. But she did have a point; there was a conspicuous bald patch – formerly the yellow area. ‘Juan, what have you done?’ ‘Robert, I worked on it until the yellow was gone’. Couldn’t fault that; definitely no yellow, unfortunately, no white, shaggy pile either.

Tried thinking of a brilliant excuse to cover this. Standard procedure, for workers, of course, is to blame another trade, failing that, the customer. This, I have to admit, is one area that I’ve never managed a pass mark in. The old mea culpa tends to slip out with very little prompting. Fat lot of good it does, though. In the end I think I issued a hundred or so, ‘Sorry’s’ and then we did a very speedy runner. Although threatened, didn’t get sued, yeeha.

I told another carpet-cleaner about our incident and he recounted his worst moment in the game. He’d had to clean up the rather dirty premises of a printer. It was on an upper floor and there had been enough ink spilled over the years for the cleaner to spray out a lot of soapy water in an effort to get a good result. So he’s conscientiously scrubbing away, well into the job, when there is a knock at the door. It’s the guy from the suite below. He’s pretty mad, ‘Do you know what you’ve done?’ Daft question of course, but understandable; inky water was flowing in some volume out of the ceiling light fittings in his apartment. And from there, all over the fashionable white carpet and furnishings.

Later on, my various assistants had found other employment and I was going out doing the work on my own. It’s harder of course, but you don’t have to split the money. There was one downside I hadn’t thought of though.

On this very sunny day, I’ve got an appointment at the top of Lynn Valley, It’s an unusual house, most of the front is glass and it’s blindingly bright inside; pretty straightforward cleaning job though. And I set up, fill the tank, plug in the electric lead and switch on.

I liked to start at the far end of a place and work back towards the front door. So I’m in a bedroom on the third floor and using long hoses, I’ve left the machine one level down. It’s the usual, energetic scrub action. By now, I’ve done so many homes, there’s no thinking needed, my head is on holiday. But now I dimly register something intruding on my dream. It’s the homeowner, she’s saying something, but I doubt it matters much, so I pretend I haven’t heard. Now she’s tapping me on the shoulder, urgently.

‘Your machine . . .’ something or other which I couldn’t make out over the noise.

So I go and have a look. She wasn’t wrong to call me, there’s flames coming up from out of the base. Never seen that before.

She’s screaming now – quite appropriately. And I am trying to think what the hell to do. I dash to the kitchen, grab a big bowl, fill it with water and chuck that over the fiery carpet sucker. Doesn’t achieve a bloody thing, flames not impressed. With courage which comes to the valiant in dire times, I now grab the blazing machine, dirty water and all and dash for the stairs, through the door and out on to the grass. It’s still burning nicely, and one more bucket of water doesn’t change that. Finally a little logic creeps in and I realise that I have to turn the thing upside down so that water can actually get at what is on fire. That does the trick, now there’s just a stink of flame-grilled rubber and plastic.

I did a post mortem; an electrical connection that I had made when installing a replacement pressure pump wasn’t waterproof. It had started sparking and one little thing lead to bigger, hotter ones.

The lady was still wailing and shaking. I stuffed my gear in the van and shoved off quick . Didn’t even charge her.

Took it as a sign to quit carpet cleaning though.

I’m not a terrorist, I just want to tell you something that will help you get more of what you want during this brief life.

Can you handle the fact that one day it’s all going to be over? – No more you; all the systems, thoughts, hopes and dreams, switched off – leaving just an ugly load of flesh for the next worm party?

Nothing lives forever; neither pyramids nor people, from galaxies to gamma radiation everything decays and then is gone.

Did someone tell you otherwise? I’ve heard those weird pitches too. And you’ve got to admit that thinking so big is impressive. To spot a market with billions of consumers craving a solution to a scary problem – that’s smart. Even neater, what’s promised is intangible, so no production worries either.

Ok, sales may be down occasionally in some locations but world-wide it’s never been better. A great business – it’s kept a whole class of people eating well and getting respect for at least five thousand years.

Viewed like that, it’s little churlish to ask how those outfits rate on customer service. But you know the saying – ‘If it’s too good to be true, it’s too good to be true’. Did you ever hear of anyone getting a refund when the mystery ride didn’t match up to the commercial?

There is an alternative. If you ask a wise man, for example one of those realist clairvoyants, the bookies, what the smart money is on, then making the most of what we’ve got, while we are here has to be the clear favourite.

‘Do you fancy a fiver on ‘Go for it, then dead forever’, in the 3:30?You do?’ Well a very good starting point is to know what you want.

Excellent – some very fine and clear choices!

Can you spit out your life’s ambitions in 21 words too?

Oops, we’ll have to take a break for necessary maintenance, my hypocrisimeter has just burst.

Sorry folks, I’m a fraud; if there’s one thing I’ve personally been consistent in, it’s not knowing what I really want. If you are different and can state, in a sentence without hesitation, repetition or deviation what the focus of your life is, I say ‘Congratulations . . . and do you give lessons?’

For everyone else, plan B is to just take a look at everything that you hate, which should be really easy and then turn each of those items upside down.

In my case a couple of minutes’ worth would be; rude people, cruelty, boredom, being broke, hangovers, voice-mail, call centres, nasty registered letters, getting old, drivers who tailgate.

Those items are a compound of serious and jokey, but inside they contain the core values alright. By the way, I’d much prefer to do this with your data, but since you aren’t here, I’m using my own to show you what I mean.

Let’s dissect item #1 ‘rude people’. What’s that about? Me listing it means that somewhere, sometime along the way I’ve had some unpleasant feelings as a result of an interaction with ‘rude people’. The feelings; lack of respect, possibly dislike or anger.

Using the formula; 1/(what you hate) = (what you want), we get; (What I want) = (respect, and to be liked and loved). Phew, is that deep or what?

Do you get the point? There isn’t the space here to work right through my list. What you are going to find, though, if you try this exercise is that within the items of your ‘I hate’ list most themes recur frequently. The outward package varies but inside what matters to you is mostly the same.

What’s the reason for doing this?

I’ll use a metaphor to explain; suppose you need an item you haven’t used in a while and you know it’s somewhere in your garage. But the place is a mess with ten years of accumulated junk piled up inside. To find what you are looking for is going to take the whole morning and along the way, as you’ll know if you ever tried this, you get distracted by finding an interesting old item you haven’t seen in a while. Then, before you know it lunchtime arrives; you haven’t located what you were looking for and the afternoon is already reserved for taxiing the kids to their activities.

Moral: when what you seek is buried in a lot of clutter, even though some of it is interesting stuff, your chances of getting your hands on what you are looking for are poor.

I don’t believe in miracles, because that word means getting something you desire without doing anything constructive towards achieving it, simply hoping. But let’s not get into a semantics battle. For only a teeny-weeny bit of effort you can have a lot of the things you want, through a simple non-miracle.

All you have to do is, part one; post a note of what you really want in places where you are going to see it frequently. The mechanism is elegantly simple, which is a problem because more complicated ideas are easier to take seriously. What happens when you see a message frequently, signposting something you care about, is that part of your brain understands that this is job that has to be worked on relentlessly until you get the required result.

There’s a part two; having given standing orders to the lookout, we’ve got to bring in some data for him/her/it to scan. So you need to talk to people, go places, see things, read, do things – be active. But not necessarily with a constant focus on what you imagine to be the most likely location of what you are after. That’s because if you’ve longed for something for ages but not got it, you are probably not searching in the right places. So don’t try to target any particular location, just look at your posted ‘Miracle wish list’ frequently and make sure you get a large and varied input of data – translate that word into ‘life’ or ‘experiences’.

Now what happens is Archimedes in the bath, Newton under the apple tree and Einstein in an alpine meadow. Bingo, out of nowhere the idea, thing, person or opportunity materialises. Not because you’ve hunted it consciously; you’ve done something far more intense by setting your brain the colossal task of sifting jillions of bytes of data, day and night, until it finds the cluster you are after.

That’s not the same as hoping; the distinction, the active part, was looking frequently at your Miracle List and taking actions which produced a strong, varied data input. With those ingredients it’s only a matter of time – if what you want exists in the real world, you will get it. If you give enough monkeys, enough typewriters for long enough, they’ll write the sonnets of Shakespeare, sort of thing.

OK that’s pushing it. Here’s more believable example; have you ever had one of those bicycle combination locks with the rings you have to rotate in order to undo it? What if you forget the code? Easy, you just apply a little tension to the lock mechanism by trying to pull the two halves apart lightly. Then you gently rotate the lock disks one at a time. After a while, you feel a faint click and the lock moves apart by a barely perceptible amount. Then you rotate the next disk and after a while the same thing happens with that one. Now there are only couple more disks to go and it gets easier with each one. In a short while the lock busts apart as you hit the final combination.

I’ve done that dozens of times, if you have also, you’ll know that it works. What’s the most important part of that procedure? It’s not rotating the lock rings. You could do that for a lifetime and the lock wouldn’t open if you didn’t apply a small force in the right direction – that’s the essential bit.

And in life, the critical thing is the tension pulling you towards what you want. That’s what your Miracle List is doing for you. Post it where you’ll see it many times a day and particularly before you go to sleep. Then make sure your life is active and varied and you will get what you want.

Before you die, have a nice life*

* No exchanges, refunds or replacements.

Things getting on top of you? Read this unusual approach to handling problems

This technique gets difficult things done and Beats Procrastination

There once was a speedy hare who bragged about how fast he could run. Tired of hearing him boast, Slow and Steady, the tortoise, challenged him to a race. All the animals in the forest gathered to watch.

Hare ran down the road for a while and then and paused to rest. He looked back at Slow and Steady and cried out, “How do you expect to win this race when you are walking along at your slow, slow pace?”

Hare stretched himself out alongside the road and fell asleep, thinking, “There is plenty of time to relax.”

Slow and Steady walked and walked. He never, ever stopped until he came to the finish line.

The animals who were watching cheered so loudly for Tortoise, they woke up Hare.

Hare stretched and yawned and began to run again, but it was too late. Tortoise was over the line.

What more do I need to say?

Do the things which matter in sales (contact lots of prospects, make good presentations, close and deal with objections). Just keep at it steadily every day and you’ll beat the big dogs who are good on the occasions when they bother to get their rear-ends into gear.

The secret to long-term success is to set a sustainable work-rate and stick to it. That’s true of every activity, sales is no exception. Think about it. Call just one new prospect every day and in a year you’ll have talked to 200 new potential clients. Even with a low closing rate that’s bound to be 20 to 30 new customers and pay for you. How difficult is that? Try the one-a-day system, this approach worked for Mr Tortoise.

Some salespeople seem to have a special magic, they are always bringing in new, big deals.But if you have not been one of them so far, instead of feeling jealous and inadequate, let me show you how you can make as much money as them or more.

Here’s the principle – sales is a numbers game, so more attempts produces more sales.

Let’s assume that a really good salesperson closes 2 deals out of 5 presentations and that you feel that you are struggling, closing only half of that. Logically, to get more orders all you have to do is present more often. And that becomes possible if you are more effective at gaining appointments and seeing prospects.

How to do more of the work

Multiply more attempts and increased effectiveness together and you will soon be the new sales star – it doesn’t take any special gift, just do the basics well.

1. Ahead of any other requirement is your personal motivation. If you want ‘it’, you can have ‘it’ (whatever ‘it’ is) if you will do enough of the right things. But without burning desire, neither ability nor knowledge will get you what you want.

2. If your level of ‘want’ is high enough, the next step is action. Thinking without doing won’t achieve what you long for. Action truly is the key.

3. Use Pareto’s Principle to choose how to use your time. 80% of our actions do not contribute to achieving our goals, 20% do. So identify the ‘thieves of time’ and reduce them so that you don’t find yourself saying, ‘If only I had more time’. Remember, successful or not, everybody gets only 24 hours a day. It’s what you choose to do in that period that determines your outcomes.

4. Many objectives cannot be reached without concentrated effort, so focus your energies. Massive action will achieve massive results. Diffused efforts leave you with a discouraging array of uncompleted projects.

5. Develop a confident persona. Others will respect your opinions and advice if you deliver them with confidence; a diffident manner invites disbelief.

6. Establish yourself as an expert in your field. Become an author, write articles and reports, post them on the internet, give talks on your topic. As an expert you have credibility and influence.

7. There is a challenge which comes with increasing authority and success, you must always be alert for arrogance. It is insidious and damaging. The truly great are humble with it. When you know a lot, you realise that it’s actually only a very little.

8. Treat everyone with respect. Every single individual on this planet knows more about something than you do. Respect generates respect. Arrogance does the opposite.

9. Listen actively. Don’t just wait for your chance to talk, hear what other people are saying and attune yourself to the emotion behind the words. This is how empathy is generated. It’s a thousand times easier to obtain what you want when empathy is working with you.

10. Sometimes your ideas are going to turn out to be wrong. Accept that this can happen, learn what you can from the experience and then move on. Sincere belief that you are right does not mean that you are. Even Albert Einstein had to face this truth.

11. Build your ‘sales’ skills. If you cannot make a convincing case for your ideas, you are doomed to a life of implementing those of other people.

12. Give your plans a ‘reality check’ early on. Try and sell the idea to someone, you’ll quickly learn what the constraints are. The real world feedback will allow you to adjust and focus your concept.

#1 On a short, direct flight, the airline loses my bag. I wait until 10pm to see if it will turn up. Next day I have to attend the meeting in the casual clothes I’m wearing now. But despite my worries, I’m lucky, when the others hear about it two of them tell me that the same thing happened to them also.

#2 My colleague will be making an important presentation to invite investors to participate in a new project. When he clicks the mouse on his laptop computer, it refuses to work and he can’t make the presentation he had intended. He tries to improvise what he was going to say, but the meeting is a total failure. It was expensive in both money and time to arrange and now he’s blown it. Don’t get into this situation yourself. Work out how to make a presentation which you can give with no sales aids.

#3 Before I bought a digital projector, I used an OHP supplied by the venues. Guess how often it was out of order! As a result I made it my practice to travel earlier so I could have time to check the meeting room the evening before the event.

#4 Allow for the unexpected. Get to the meeting place early in case some disaster has struck.

* A pipe has burst in the room above where we will be meeting and everything is dripping wet.

* A rugby club has had a party the night before and no one cleaned up.

* On a hot summer’s day the heating was stuck on and the windows wouldn’t open.

* The meeting is scheduled for 8.00 and twenty minutes after that time the staff member who should have unlocked the meeting room has failed to turn up.

* The meeting is intended to start promptly; at 8.00 the delegates begin to drift in gradually and do so for another an hour and a half.

* The projector bulb has blown and there is no replacement.

* The meeting room is right next to the staff restaurant and there is a the noise of dishes and peoples’ conversations intruding into my meeting.

* Go for a beer the night before the meeting, and discover that a business companion is a raging alcoholic who leads you astray. Wake up the next morning with a thundering headache.

* Assume that your meeting attendees have been told the wrong start time or was expecting you to talk about a different topic. And that they will have to leave early to catch a flight. So check and then check again.

* My bags have been lost by the airline 3 times and once someone took my case by mistake and I picked up his identical one and didn’t reaize it until I unpacked at the hotel.

* A construction crew begins noisily outside of the meeting room.

* Following the midday break a member of your audience is obviously drunk and starts to heckle.

* You finish the event and go to settle up with the hotel for the use of the meeting room only to find that your credit card is declined, there is no balance on your other one and you don’t have a check book with you. (This happened to me twice. On one occasion, my client helped by coming round with my fee in cash, in an envelope).

* The flight I’m waiting for is delayed, then it’s announced that when the plane leaves it will be diverted to another airport 200 miles from my destination. The only onwards transport at that time being a taxi.

* We wait for 3 hours in the terminal because all landings in the London area are cancelled because of a snowfall. Finally we embark the aircraft, and then have two more hours wait before finally departing. On arrival at the destination it is so late that I miss my train connection, wait all night in a railway station, eventually reaching my hotel at 6 in the morning, sleep until 7.30 and go to meeting for 9.00.

* I’ve been stuck on a busy road miles from the meeting place, no taxis available, no buses and no signal on my cellular phone.

To make a sales presentation persuasive and apparently effortless – ironically what is required is lots of preparation and practice. And a constant awareness of

Murphy’s Law. ‘If it can go wrong, it will’. So be prepared for all eventualities.

ou’ve managed to get an appointment with the big boss, the top dog, the big cheese, the head honcho and you are a little nervous about how you will deal with somebody so important and powerful.

#1 Ask ‘How did you get started in this business?’

Frequently the people at the top have had a struggle to get there and rather surprisingly many of them don’t have close friends they can really share their glory with. If you inquire and show interest, it is highly likely that they will take pleasure in sharing their story with you.

Don’t interrupt while they are doing so; no remarks such as, ‘I’ve done that too.’ Let their tale shine a spotlight on the central character – the man or woman themselves.

This idea can transform, ‘You’ve got two minutes’ into ten times that much and generate something close to empathy for you.

#2 Take back control by asking questions.

If you have been subjected to a cross examination by the big guy and hardly had a chance to make your presentation, the way to get back control is to ask questions.

A good one to start with is, ‘May I ask you a question?’ This generally halts the other party’s monologue. You can take this further with, ‘May I explain some things to you about our company and the product / service?’

#3 Ask about the things that they are proud of.

There is a wide range of possibilities; children, home, career, yacht, travel destinations, ability at sport etc. In other words give the person a chance to boast. Even if they talk about their accomplishment in a modest way, the psychological force still works positively for you.

#4 Present yourself as being in the same mould as him or her.

These dominant types only really like people who are similar to themselves, so the ideal persona to project is ‘just like them, but younger or less powerful’.

Whichever tactic you use, don’t make your approach too obvious, though. A technique spotted is a technique neutralized.

These avoidance strategies achieve nothing, of course. They are moments of your life where you feel uncomfortable and if you are paid by results, you aren’t earning anything either.

So my suggestion is, switch off the negative self-talk and start. That’s all, just do it.

The surprising thing is that once you get started your mindset changes and the task doesn’t seem anything like as horrible as you thought it was going to be.

Getting to appointments on timeAre you a chronic late-arriver? I know many people who are. Perhaps you don’t realise the effect that not being there when you say you will has on prospects, so let me tell you. It’s annoying and it makes them think that if you can’t even manage to be on time then it’s likely that you aren’t to be trusted in other ways.

What’s more, it has the secondary effect of making you feel bad too. You get to your meeting and have to begin by apologising. That is not a good way to start.

The biggest part of the cure is to understand that even if punctuality seems unimportant to you, many other people think differently and if you turn up late it is going to spoil your chances of doing business.

Practical things you can do are;

Underlying many objections is the fear of spending a lot of money. A good strategy to deal with this is to discover, by asking appropriate questions, what the cost of the ‘problem’ is and how long it has been going on.

Then you can calculate how much the problem has already cost the customer. Now demonstrate that purchasing from you will save money over the long-term and thus represents a sensible investment.

Writing up activity reportsIt seems a chore to do this at the time but by comparing what you did when things were going well with what your activity is when it isn’t, you get a clear indication of what is necessary in order to get back to the good times.Nearly always the driver of good sales results is a period of energetic prospecting which you did some while before.

Referring to your customer notes before a call or a visit lets you create the (correct) impression that you are on the ball – another good reason for keeping good records.

Even if you don’t feel like it, make your notes immediately after customer contact. The details are rapidly forgotten otherwise.

Getting samples and literature from your companyThis shouldn’t be a problem, but it often is. You ask for a decent sample and a stock of company brochures and you are told, ‘Make do with what you’ve got, we’re waiting for new ones to come in’.

So either make your own samples, if that is feasible or should there be a manufacturing facility in your company, you may be able to obtain some items directly from them.

For brochures, you may be able to create either documents which you print out on a colour laser printer (for a professional appearance) or with some web-knowledge, you can achieve the same in a web page you build yourself.

Either way it’s better than using nth generation photocopies. That’s what I was offered in some companies I’ve worked for.

Building up a portfolio of references and testimonials takes time, so always be on the lookout for items you can put into your collection.

Things getting on top of you? Read this unusual approach to handling problems

This technique gets difficult things done and Beats Procrastination

Before we get started, let me state that you need to think carefully about whether using this technique is really in your long term-interest.

With that out of the way, here’s the classic ‘First-Call Discount’.

Let me explain the reason for it.

As you can appreciate, it takes considerable time to meet with customers, discuss their requirements and develop a proposal / plans / report etc.

That means that the number of customers I can see in a week is limited.

For that reason, we offer a first-call discount so that if you feel you are able to decide while I am with you now, you can save a lot of money and I am able to see more customers.

Does that make sense to you, Mr and Mrs Jones?’

A typical discount is 10% of the purchase price for big-ticket items.

This close commonly brings out such objections as:

A device that is used to neutralise these objections is a letter on company letterhead, from the Sales Manager, CEO or other big boss, saying,

You are permitted to offer a 10% discount to customers as an incentive for them to purchase during your first call.

The purpose of the incentive is to increase company efficiency and make your time more effective. This discount is not to be applied in any other situation.

The disadvantage of pressure-closing in this manner is that some well-informed prospects will recognise this as a sales tactic, which may impact adversely on your credibility.

For a sale to occur the buyer has to have a more powerful desire to purchase than he or she has to resist and not spend their money. The salesperson therefore must present arguments that increase the customer’s desire and reduce their reluctance to spend.

To increase desire, you can draw inspiration from the seven deadly sins; Pride, Envy, Gluttony, Lust, Anger, Greed and Sloth

Wow, there is an infinity of possibilities with that collection. You can see the connection between items in the list and most consumer adverts. I’m not religious, but if I were, I’d say that the devil has it made if these inducements are his tools of work.

So if you wish to persuade, make the promise in your message take its power from one of the 7 deadly sins.

Addressing the other side of the equation,

Selling is like a seesaw or teeter-totter, on one side there is a substantial weight, representing the reluctance to take a decision and spend money. On the other side you have to pile the arguments which make purchasing attractive. When the attraction is greater than the resistance a sale will occur.

Finding and keeping an outstanding sales producer isn’t easy. My experience is that many technology companies, perhaps most, don’t set about hiring a salesperson in an effective way. You are going to need the right strategies and, be warned, they may clash with the ideas you hold now. Have you have tried hiring salespeople in the past and failed to get a good one? Then you’ll know the cost and frustrations of getting it wrong. Perhaps you have never needed to hire a salesperson before, but want to now. Much of the first part of this manual is about the problems you may face if you give the wrong person the job. But if they are already sickeningly familiar, you’ll find the later sections describe steps you can take to improve your chances. It’s worth doing properly, there’s a big pay-back. In a hurry? If you need to hire a technical sales person quickly, go straight to the section: Hiring Checklist for a step-by-step process. Are you wondering, ‘Can I be confident that your advice is right?’ It’s based on my 27+ years of selling and recruiting and managing salespeople for my own businesses and the experience of sales managers and company owners I’ve met. In the last 13 years I’ve trained sales teams for technology companies large and small worldwide. During that time I’ve had the opportunity of meeting some excellent sales-people and seeing which companies are able to recruit them and how, and which businesses fail to and why. I think you’ll agree once you see the reasoning behind the process that it’s common sense and it leads to predictably good results. Read this manual, with an open mind, and you’ll get an understanding of what it takes to find your own champion salesperson.• You’ll get a strong flow of profitable orders• Leads are turned into business, not wasted• Your company grows• You don’t have to invest much of your own time, which frees you up to develop other parts of your business• It inspires your other employees by demonstrating that excellent sales results are possible. • By the same token they render invalid the usual excuses.

You don’t need me to tell you that having a team of energetic, capable and motivated salespeople is going to be good for your business. An effective sales force is a huge competitive advantage. You may make great products or provide fine professional services but without enough customers, your company won’t last long. If you are reading this because your sales team’s performance is disappointing, that’s usually a symptom of weak leadership or inadequate support. And be aware that for the company, firing the sales manager might look like a quick solution. As business owner or sales manager it’s your responsibility to maintain and increase sales volume, motivating the sales people is one of the main methods of achieving this. Money is the conventionally assumed to be the key stimulant – but there’s less of it around right now and it’s not the only, or even the best way to incentivise to produce a really strong sales force. As long as pay is sufficient for normal needs, appealing to and satisfying each individual’s internal drives is a more effective motivator. That’s mostly what this manual is about, understanding and creating the conditions which catalyse strongly positive motivation.To succeed at motivating your sales team, you need to possess appropriate personal characteristics and your own efforts must also be supported by people with other roles in your organisation. The extent to which that will occur depends very much on the style of the company and the personalities of those who direct it. Achieving change in this area may involve you in some challenging negotiations.Since effective salespeople tend to be independently-minded, strong characters – they have to be or they wouldn’t put up with the harder parts of sales work for long – they don’t take kindly to being told what to do. Unlike the army, you can’t issue an order and get unquestioning compliance. If only!No, you have to employ carrot, stick and a good deal of psychology to lead a squad of big, tough egos. On the way you’ll need an open mind, self-discipline and persistence.Got those ingredients in stock? Then read on.

Sales-led companies use prospecting as their standard way of winning business because it is simple and has been proven effective over decades. But very few technical organisations have followed this example. That’s a shame because the method works for any activity and it can deal with some otherwise difficult problems:• If your business has times when there’s too much work and others when there isn’t enough, prospecting can regulate the workflow and make it more manageable• It can improve the profitability of the jobs you win and increase the proportion of quotes that turn into orders• If you are in a competitive market, competent prospecting gives you a potent advantage.The reason ‘techie’ companies don’t do much prospecting is mostly because they don’t realise its potential and they are deterred by an inaccurate view of what it entails. If you have been reluctant to start prospecting, I sympathise. There was a time when the idea had little appeal for me, but after having done a lot of it, I’ve changed my mind completely. It really does work extremely well and if you go about it professionally, it’s not hard.I won’t wish you good luck, because if ever there was a field where it’s true, in prospecting, you make your own. This manual explains how.


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