THINK OF A NUMBER – Best Sales and Marketing Ideas #29

101 Best Sales and Marketing Ideas

IDEA 29:


Sales people need many skills, not simply because selling is itself a complex process, but also because it must often work in conjunction with other skill such as negotiation. A prime one is numeracy. It once heard of a salesman having rings run round him by buyer who kept tapping things out on a desktop calculator and making financial statements that were hard to rebut. He then discovered it was pure bluff- the machine was not switched on!


A story told at Henley Management College (and originally recounted in my book Hook Your Audience, published by Management Pocketbooks)….

A delegated on a management program at this renowned college by the River Thames could not get anything right regarding finance. By the time the course concluded, he was very much the class dune. As attendees dispersed back to their respective companies the group agreed to meet up a year later to see how everyone was faring, and in due a dinner was arranged at a smart restaurant. The “dunce” arrived a little late, but as he did so it was clear to all from the Porsche he parked outside, the suit he wore, and a dozen other signs of affluence, that he was doing very well for himself.

“I would never have thought it possible”, said the course tutor. “Tell us, what are you doing?”

“It wasn’t easy”, he replied. “I was made redundant soon after the course finished. I then tried various things without much success, so I finally started up in business myself – in the import/export business in Africa. I discovered that I could buy things for $2 on one side of the border and sell them for $4 on other.  Its gone well- I’m still amazed at how that 2 per cent adds up.”

Digressing into financial techniques is beyond my remit here. Suffice to say that is an area that some readers may feel it prudent to explore further. Instinct may not make up for lack of understanding, as it did in the tale above! It is always annoying to lose a sale, all the more so if you know that the ability to come up with the right calculation quickly enough would have saved the day.

In practice

  • Consider what things you might need to work out in advance of a meeting so that you can produce figures apparently without effort.
  • If you are not sure, never plough on hoping it will be all right. Always check you’re costing, and if necessary say you need to do so. Get out the calculator and get it right!

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