Selling is Caring (or acting as if)


Last week I attended the University of Bradford alumni event where I had the pleasure to meet successful alumni and to listen to a very neat and cohesive presentation on selling, Dynamics of Success: A personal history of selling (Paul Cooper, 2011). The presentation was meant to provide an idea of how successful people sell. It gave a different perspective on selling and helped me view it as an art. And that is how I found out about the SPIN® selling (Situation Problem Implication Need Pay-off) formulated by Neil Rackham. The technique is simple, yet very comprehensive and it focuses on creating value.

The model aims to enable buyers to talk themselves into purchasing a product or service through what seems more like a therapy session, than a simple trade. The beginning point is spotting the gap between current state and ideal state. The core of this technique is recognising the need for change and acting on it. Through asking relevant questions, the salesperson gains insights into the buyer’s situation, enabling themselves to identify the problem and assess how it affects the buyer’s life, followed by the stimulation of their willingness to accept a solution (I just made it sound complex). This way sales people gain their clients’ confidence.

It is actually what every sales consultant should learn to do:

Customizing the offer to clients’ needs.

Focusing more on the features that will satisfy the needs of the buyer (otherwise clients may lose their interest).

Guiding clients to a conclusion and not telling them what to do.

Building up clients purchase decision through asking relevant questions.

Waiting for clients to request a solution and not offering it deliberately.

Ask, listen, and then sell. Ever felt that the salesperson was your friend? That is because they knew what to ask and how to listen. “Rackham points out that one of the easiest ways to identify whether someone has received sales training is by the number of problem questions they ask” (Richard Cross, 2011). From a buyer’s perspective, you realise you have been “SPINned” when you try to reach your estate agent on a Sunday evening to ask whether the price is the real value of that house you are planning to buy. Chances are you will get a positive answer. However, getting you to think you can trust them is what this method is all about. Selling is caring to some extent. As a salesperson you are not expected to attach emotionally to your clients, but to show understanding and desire to help rather than to complete the trade by all means.

Therefore, in my opinion, to be able to sell successfully, you don’t have to be a mind-reader, but an active listener with outstanding communication skills. Having people skills, such as being able to foresee people’s answers and being prepared to turn their disagreements into positives, is probably the key ingredient of an influencer, hence of a complete salesperson. Through thorough research and intensive learning, followed by a fair amount of experience and seasoned with a handful of patience and tact one can come to master “the art of selling” (Cross, 2011).

I wonder frustratingly


Why do most of the celebrities who use social media don’t actually socialize, in the true of the word?

Wonder girl

Time is not the answer, and you’ll see why.

I follow this great singer – I won’t tell her name cause it might ruin her career considering how popular my blog is – and she posted a super-cool picture and not only that I (and the rest of 5,765 people) liked it, but we also expressed in writing our admiration for the splendid voice and looks she has. I also included a little brain teaser for the lady, and expected to demonstrate her analytical thinking in a challenging debate that we were supposed to have.

What happened next? Nothing. No reply, no like back at me, nothing. There I stood, speechless and hurt, in an intense pain caused by numerous checkings of her page and no sign from her.

Call me frustrated, but I think that celebrities have developed a severe narcissistic behaviour through the use of too many social networks. Life was easier when these platforms didn’t exist. We were simple human beings, they were some kind of superior species, say centaurs. But they preferred to mix with the regular beings in this social media whirl. Well, I’ve got news for you celebrities, your hooves are still very noticeable.

Singers especially, could have continued to promote their albums and inform fans of their events and activities through websites, Youtube channels or even Twitter. Instead, they probably hired their cousins to update their tons of profiles, so that thousands of people could laud them to the skies and back. And at the end of the week they would post a teasing status or a picture to thank all those fans who licked the screens. Aren’t celebrities too hungry for groupies? Come on celebrities, use your four legs and walk that walk!

One might say, well, they’re too busy to reply to thousands of fans. No, they aren’t. I’m just saying, if she had the time to upload a picture of her breakfast, couldn’t she take few more seconds to at least like my comment?

Bottom line, celebrities should be more considerate towards their fans cause there is an Unlike button too!  And also, social networks are for socializing.

Peace and love and skittles!

Celebrity Endorsement or Product Placement?


Either way, they don’t seem to be very inspired. Jennifer’s fans may be familiar to the over-directed music video, while Fiat’s fans may have spotted Jennifer (and her magic shoes which interchange several times during the spontaneous dance routine) in this rather flat commercial.



Is it me or the car looks very nice?



The magic cookie had an effect on the coffee shop’s glass which conveniently broke before the guy went into it, and on the singer’s shoes too. Juvenile!  The car is definitely lovely.



What’s a pear to do when it’s not an apple?


In the Summer of  2011 the IAF (International Assembly of  Fruits) conducted a survey which revealed a shocking result: 97% of all fruits wished they were apples. The rest of 3% split as follows: 1.5% wanted to become blackberries, 1% wished they were oranges and 0.5% went bananas because they couldn’t decide whether they were fruits or vegetables.

The question is: What can a fruit do to become an apple?

Let’s take for example pears. The reason for choosing pears is because they are almost similar to apples, biologically speaking (see picture below)

See? Twins. A recent picture of Pear (left) twitting about Apple (right).

However, over the years apples evolved differently and became part of the upper class, hence adopting a more posh lifestyle. While pears fell into anonymity. The differences between the two became more and more obvious.

Apple is crispy. Apple is fresh. Apple is healthy. Apple is spheric. Apple is smart. Apple is notorious.

Pear is different. Not good different, but different different. Pear is mellow. Pear is musty. Pear is round-ISH. Pear is dull.

In an attempt to understand what can a pear do to become as an apple, I observed the evolution of 2 pears over the 3 main life stages: childhood, adolescence and maturity. The subjects, Dennis and Jeremiah, claimed their dreams were to be as famous as apple. They are two best friends, they were born on the same branch, went to the same schools, but have opposite personalities and brains – Jeremiah’s IQ is 132, Dennis’s…

A normal day at school. Dennis (left) trying to figure out what IQ stands for and Jeremiah (right) always active in computer science classes

After they finished school, the two boys remained friends. Jeremiah was headhunted by a big IT firm on the grounds that he was as smart as an apple (rumours say it’s his almost spheric shape that got him the job). Dennis became Denise and married Jeremiah.

The couple was first time seen together as husband and wife at a very famous apple party.

Soon after they got married, a tragic accident happened and Denise lost Jeremiah. The brainy pear was mistakenly chopped, ending up in an apple pie. “I never thought Jerry’s dream of becoming an apple will come true this way”, Denise confessed. The widow was the only inheritor of Jeremiah.

Later this month, Denise uploaded a picture on her Facebook profile showing her enjoying an exotic holiday.

She updated her status: "I was born pear, married a short and fat pear and will die rich"

In conclusion, if you were born an ordinary fruit, unless you are a very smart apple-like fruit or you marry one, you can’t be as famous as an apple.

Courtesy to my very good friend, Adina, who gave me the chance to transform her healthy snack into lively characters.

A dusty Halloween treat


Ronald McDonald is probably the most famous and appreciated clown ever. After Santa’s unique smile, Ronald’s smile is the second most recognisable smile. According to some smart people who conducted a smart survey, 96% of all school kids in the USA  recognise the clown.

He is also to be appreciated for managing to keep a slender silhouette, despite him being the image of a fast-food restaurant. But we all know him in his good days. Too few people have actually seen him when he was…a moron special clown (I ❤ you Rony!).


I give you, via Youtube, the first McDonald’s commercial, when Ronald resembled Hunk, the Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz.


I am Twinings


After more than 10 years of being a coffee addict I’d decided to give up the black potion. I miraculously managed to quit. The power was in my hands, I was stronger than my addiction!

Then I started to drink tea, 2 cups a day, sometimes 3 cups, everyday, even on weekends, not to mention on holidays when I had more time to drink tea. I started with Twinings. It was everything I knew about teas. But I felt I needed to be cooler than that, mainly because I was bullied by my international friends who thought tea was only for people who had a cold. I knew tea was not only a drink, tea was a culture and I needed to learn more about it, to understand it, to get closer to being an expert, rather than simply use it unconsciously. And so I began to read tea labels, tried different brands, different prices, some were exorbitant for unknown reasons – according to the labels they do spend a lot of money to cultivate and bring the tea from India and pack it in fancy boxes. Then I got bored and came back to Twinings. It felt right.

This new advert describes my confusing journey on the rough sea of teas – I drank quite a lot of funny tasting liquids that period – but now I’m back to me.

I am Twinings.

Which brand are you?



Ever had that striking moment when you found out about an idea that looked so simple and cool and thought: “It’s so simple and cool, I wish I came up with this idea first!”? Well, I just had it.

A good friend of mine sent me the link to this simple and cool game commercial! Not only that I am a LEGO fan, but I also fancy the capture-reality app. Slick old-shool – new-day combination. Love it!

Check out the commercial for LEGO Life of George. I find it quite engaging.

Turning a scare into a learning curve


It’s been a while since I’ve started to look for a job in London. I am particularly interested in joining a big organisation for many reasons. Most likely for the same reasons other graduates are interested in applying for the big guys: reputation, training and progress opportunities, money, work environment.  Each day I find myself spending hours in front of my laptop’s screen, reading job descriptions, writing cover letters and sending  emails…also praying to the Almighty that someone would call me.

So, today I got on company A website, clicked on careers and saw that they openned their applications for the 2012 graduate scheme. Oh, the joy! I started to read about the scheme and noticed they also had a one-weekend boot camp. The best thing about it was that successful participants would skip the so many steps in the recruitment process and advance to the final interview for the graduate scheme. Which is not a common thing to find. The more I was reading, the more eager I was to apply. I created myself a nice user and a hard-to-remember password and started the process. I could tick a handful of benefits with such a job: the company is pretty notorious for their consultancy services, they say so too; a boot camp at company A is the cat’s pyjamas in terms of experience, and I would get to learn so many things and meet so many people; salary is enough to feed my 11 unborn kids; work environment…hard to tell from a website…or is it?

As I was starring at the screen reading joyfully, I felt I was no longer on the website of a consultancy organisation, but on the community of people who succeeded in their fight against bad hair (I had a totally different and inappropriate comparison, but let’s stick with bad hair) and are now more confident and found the power to laugh again…and again…and some more…

Obviously, these guys were way too happy. Which got me into thinking. Why do organisations put on their career pages pictures with youngsters laughing their teeth out? They don’t give me any feeling of a fun work environment. Especially if it says, right next to the cracked face: “Your toughest test yet”. It’s rather scary! Do these kinds of pictures have an impact on consumers purchases? Or in this case, are job hunters willing to apply, as a result of these advertising practices?

Well, most of the times, the answer is a certain YES! Like it or not, our brains react to these tricks. It’s the beautiful AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) I’m talking about here.

A: “Simples!”, as the Russian meerkat would say. The fastest way to grab consumers attention is by posting a catchy picture. Happy faces mean happy place.

I: Company A is well known for recruiting only those applicants hungry to be challenged and to prove they are the best. Therefore, they gain their targeted candidates interest through adding a relevant message, for eg: “your toughest test yet” (see the masochist in the upper right).

D: Next, to achieve their desire, some details are given describing how this tough test would meet the candidates needs, precisely their interest in getting a job where they could learn: “turning a challenge into a learning curve”.

A: Finally, action is strongly encouraged and facilitated by the bright “Apply now” button. Ta-da!!

AIDA is beautiful indeed!

In the end I successfully managed to unglue my eyes from the scarily happy faces and didn’t apply, because I was over-qualified to participate in the boot camp. But, it was worth the shot of adrenaline though…