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Apr 24 / gary

Top Awards to Objective Assessment!

TOP AWARDS TO OBJECTIVE ASSESSMENT!

Dateline: 12th April 2014

At a glittering international awards ceremony in Boston tonight, the Objective Assessment Team collected the top two awards for Sales Force Development.

The awards were presented by the OMG Group, the world’s leading sales assessment company for the past 3 years. Up against competition from more than 200 global sales force development companies, Objective Assessment took out the Platinum Award for the International “Sales Force Development Company of the Year for 2013”. In addition, Greg Gladman, Objective Assessments head of Business Development took out the prestigious award for “Sales Professional of the Year”.

Gary Delbridge, CEO of Objective Assessment said that while the company had been recognised for their sales development success at past awards, this is the first time the company had picked up the top awards in the two most important
international categories. In his acceptance speech, he thanked his highly professional team for their efforts over the years and most importantly thanked his clients for their continued support and trust.

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Mar 7 / gary

When you think of a salesperson, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?

When you think of a salesperson, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?

Have you ever wondered how some businesses manage to survive in spite of themselves?

It may come as a surprise to you but some people who own or manage businesses actually don’t like salespeople!! Shock, Horror I hear you say but it’s true.

Now, I can almost hear you thinking “I don’t like salespeople either” which is not really surprising. What is surprising is just how many senior executives have this negative mindset about sales yet sales are the most vital part of any business.
In my regular talks to TEC / Vistage executive groups, the very first question I ask is “When you think of a salesperson, what’s the first thing that comes to mind; the very first thing that pops into your head?”
This question tests the subconscious mindset that we have about sales; the reflexive feelings we have about salespeople. Would it surprise you to hear that the first thought about sales that comes into the head of around 70% of those executive is a negative one? The funny thing is that it doesn’t surprise me in the least. You see the salespeople that we remember are those that made the biggest impression on us. The reason they made a big impression on us is that they were so different to us and appeared not to have the values that we see ourselves as having.

We saw them as pushy, sleazy, dishonest, arrogant, ill-informed….etc. All of the things that we are not. They stick in our mind because they were so different to us.

The funny thing is that we deal with salespeople almost every day that don’t stand out to us as salespeople. These are the trusted advisors that we rely upon to assist us in making informed decisions; the people we may have been dealing with for years and whose company we enjoy and advice we trust. We enjoy their company because they’re just like you…..but the fact is they are still salespeople, they’re just better at it.

This negative sales mindset greatly impact how we as leaders interact with our sales organisations. It impacts our view of their worth, our understanding of their issues and our focus on their development. The fact is that we know sales are important but that doesn’t mean we have to like it.

In my experience dealing with hundreds of CEO’s each year, the most successful organisations are those that are led by people who not only understand the importance of sales but also understand that their sales culture must be aligned with their own values.

A positive sales mindset comes from having a positive sales culture. Not only is it possible to have enormous sales success without compromising your values, it’s absolutely necessary. The sooner you shift to a positive sales mindset the sooner you get great sales outcomes.

You’re never going to excel at something you think negatively about!

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Dec 11 / gary

Hiring Decisions – Breaking down our own barriers

Hiring Decisions – Breaking down our own barriers

In recent times, I have watched business owners baulk at hiring, and talk themselves out of hiring strong candidates for fear of taking on someone who did not fully meet their pre conceived ideas around who would best fill the role.

There is a variety of reasons offered for the decision not to hire and often the real reasons are not voiced or perhaps not even fully understood.

At OA recruitment, we specialise in the hiring of sales people and sales managers, and the strengths and characteristics of the applicants are the highest focus for us. We work towards placing the most skilled sales people that meet our criteria to sell in a given environment according to our client’s brief.

It is natural when recruiting to have a tendency to favour people who we “connect with” at interview. The dialogue is easy; we feel comfortable and all is seemingly right with that person. If we go on to employ only these people in our organisation we will end up with everyone like us – thinking the same way and behaving the same way, and while that may make for a happy and stress free culture, is it is best thing for our business?

Diversity of thought –referred to as Diversity’s New Frontier (Deloitte University Press, July 2013) offers us the opportunity to be introduced to new ideas and perspectives, opportunity to connect more effectively with our diverse client base. It helps to guard against “group think”. To build this environment we have to hire differently, to manage in a way that encourages a work culture that supports change, and is open to being challenged. This management style will result in growth and opportunity that would otherwise not be possible. Without it, businesses may find themselves at a competitive disadvantage because the best talent will be seeking situations where they can fully use their capabilities and that may well be with competitors.

Other reasons for last minute hiring fear could stem from the anticipated difficulty of managing strong sales people.

Are we or the sales manager capable of managing a strong sales person? Do we feel threatened by having strong sales people in the team?

Is the HR department reactive and risk adverse?

While we say we want “A” Players, do we really only want C Players who don’t challenge us and just do as they are told. In our busy lives they are easier to handle rather than someone who is high functioning and focused on making their mark, challenging us regularly to think more laterally and who pushes to do things differently?

Is saying that candidates have to have specific product experience, just a way of saying we don’t want to make the effort to effectively train, or make changes to our sales process structure to accommodate providing technical support as required.

Whatever the reasons we tend to stay with what we know, we really need to think long and hard about the barriers that exist in our minds and carry out an honest appraisal of whether those barriers are valid or whether they are simply protecting us from the challenges that will present with thought diversity. Are we the greatest barrier to real growth in our businesses, standing in the way of the success that can only be achieved through our openness and willingness to build and manage a team of high functioning and diverse “A” Players

By: Marion Mather

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Dec 10 / gary

Why do we hang on to what isn’t working?

Why do we hang on to what isn’t working?

I’ve recently put together a training program for CEO’s that looks at how to build a winning sales culture in their organisations. What was facinating for me as I did the research for the program was the role that “Legacy” played in hindering meaningful change.

I found some incredibly compelling of examples of legacy destroying a companies value and the leadership not being able to respond to a critical threat. The first of these was the introduction of the iPhone. When do you think the first iPhone was launched by Apple? 2003? 2005? Would you believe it was the 29th June 2007! Only 6 years ago; they are already ubiquitous as the most recognised and arguably most popular smartphone. When you think about it, Apple created the term “Smartphone” when they launched the iPhone. Until then mobile phones, with the exception of the Blackberry, were more fashion items than universal communicating devices.

What’s facinating about the launch of the iPhone in 2007 is that at that time, Nokia and Motorola the leaders in mobile phones, were in a booming market, growth was stronger than ever and they were very profitable. Then along comes Apple, not a phone company but a computer company, with a vision of a communications device that combines the functi0n of a hand held computer and no keyboard. Here was a company that had no “legacy” in the phone market. They weren’t married to the idea that a mobile phone was simply a mobile phone, they didn’t see why you needed a keyboard, they just gave us a really clever, simply and beautiful piece of technology that changed the way we communicate. What about Nokia and Motorola? For 3 years they stuck to their legacy and brought out new phones with keyboards and small screens. By 2010 Apple had sold 100 million iPhones which was less than 10% of the total mphone market but through their app’s and iTunes store they generated 50% of the profit in the global mobile phone market. Samsung who also didn’t have a mobile phone legacy, decided to do exactly what Apple had done and they made a pretty good imitation of the iPhone.

Here we are in 2013 with Apple and Samsung dominating the smartphone market. Between them they have less than half the mobile phone market globally but they share 99% of the mobile phone markets profit. All the other players, Nokia, Motorola and Blackberry have more than 50% of the market but only 1% of the profit. Their legacy was their downfall. they tried to make incremental changes to their products while Apple and Samsung completely rewrote the rule book.

This is exactly what we find with many companies who have a poor sales culture; they try to make superficial changes without attacking the real underlying cause of their problems and getting rid of their legacy systems, beliefs and behaviours.

A brilliant example of this occured earlier this year. In April, a company used one of our OA partners to help them find a new salesperson. They were successful using the OMG candidate screening tools and placed a high quality salesperson who had very few weaknesses and great strengths. A few months later the CEO of this company contacted me as he was having sales problems. We evaluated his team and found that every member of his team had very severe sales weaknesses in particular Money Weakness and a Non-Supportive Buy Cycle. Given that they were selling high ticket items in a highly competitive market, these weaknesses would greatly hinder their sales efforts. Interestingly, when we presented the findings and the individual evaluation for his team, the CEO notice the OMG format and realised that he had seen the same format when hiring their newest saleperson in April.

The CEO called me a couple of days later to tell me that his new recruit had been evaluated in April using our tools and the results were completely different for the October evaluation. he thought the evaluations didn’t work. When we looked we found that the new salesperson had no Money Weakness in April and his Buy Cycle was very supportive. By October, working in this companies sales environment, he has developed these weaknesses. What was compelling for the CEO was to see that the weaknesses that had been developed in those few months were exactly the same as the weaknesses of his Sales Manager. He had effectively been INFECTED by the companies sales culture.

The CEO decided to start from the beginning, moving his Sales Manager on and rebuilding his sales team from the ground up. He changed his sales process and the way his team was coached and held accountable. He started to get results.

Is your Legacy undermining your sales efforts. Do you need to start with a clean sheet to get the results you really want?

By: Gary Delbridge

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Jan 8 / gary

How to change a good salesperson into a bad one – A cautionary tale!

More than 20 years ago, while working in the area of Corporate Transformation, I came across a fascinating explanation of the nature of Culture within companies. I, like many people saw the culture of a company as something “inherent” in any organisation but until that time I failed to understand how it came into being and underestimated the enormous impact it had on the performance of those within a company.

While studying “Total Quality Management” in 1992, I came to understand that a company’s culture is like a virus, good or bad it invariably infects all of those within the company including all new people that join the company. It fascinates me that companies often seek to “bring in new blood” when they recognise that they have a problem with their culture only to find that the anticipated changes and improvements haven’t been effective and in fact the resistance to change was so great that either the “new blood” has left the company or they have succumbed to the path of least resistance; the existing company culture. In short they have been assimilated.

I recently came across a perfect example of this principle as it relates to salespeople. We were asked by a CEO to conduct an evaluation of his Sales Force. Our findings were fascinating as they showed that every member of the sales team from the Sales Manager down had the same significant sales weaknesses, those being a “Non-Supportive Buy Cycle” and “Money Weakness”. These are two of the most serious sales weaknesses as they impact on the ability of salespeople to close sales as it makes them highly vulnerable to put offs from prospects.

In discussing this with the CEO during my debrief of the findings, he began to understand why they had the sales problems that they did and committed to taking steps to address these issues with our assistance. What happened next was fascinating; the CEO called me 3 weeks after the debrief to challenge the findings of the evaluations. As good fortune would have it, the company had employed their most recent salesperson only 6 months before we evaluated the team and the company they had used to recruit this person used our OMG candidate screening tools to identify suitable sales candidates. The successful candidate had no significant sales weaknesses according to the pre-employment evaluation; in fact he had a very supportive buy cycle and no money weakness at all. This candidate was recommended to the CEO and was subsequently employed. When we evaluated the team 6 months later, including the new guy, the findings were significantly different which led to the call from the CEO. His first comments to me were “I’m beginning to doubt the accuracy of your sales evaluations” after which he proceeded to tell me the story of the two different findings 6 months apart.

In looking at the original pre-employment evaluation and comparing it with the findings 6 months later, it became clear to me that the new salesperson had become infected by the company’s sales culture. Having started out with very strong sales capabilities and beliefs; in fact in his first 4 months he outsold everyone else in the company, over time picked up the major sales weaknesses from his Sales Manager as had the rest of the team. He now was vulnerable to resistance from prospects and had developed a belief that price was a major issue with their product; something he didn’t believe 6 months previous. He had been on sales calls with the sales manager and had started to adopt his style and beliefs and why wouldn’t he, it was the path of least resistance and meant that he didn’t have to try; failure was seem as being acceptable.

You can imagine how the knowledge of this devastated the CEO. The discovery that they had brought in a gun salesperson and within 6 months they had turned him into a failure.

This is a cautionary tale for all CEO’s; before you hire new sales talent, evaluate your existing team. Any existing hidden weaknesses in your sales culture will infect all new team members. It is vital to act to eliminate these weaknesses as the first step of instilling a successful sales culture otherwise you run the risk of turning good salespeople into bad which is tragic for you and the saleperson.

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Oct 4 / gary

Think yourself into a sale

I have a pretty specific view of sales success; above everything else it is all about how you think.

For the past 12 months I have spoken to over 25 senior business groups around Australia on “The Psychology of Sales” – How and why people make buying decisions and how to influence them.  This has won me the award as the “Best New Speaker of the Year 2012”.

What has fascinated me during this time are the differing reactions I get from people based on their own self-limiting beliefs. While most have embraced these new ideas and concepts, it has become clear to me that some of these CEO’s and senior executives are filtering this critical message based on how they perceive the world. In an area as critical as sales, new insights and innovations are vital to achieving long term success yet some choose not to act based on their own internal filter…their self-limiting beliefs.

I recall a time around 20 years ago, when I was a much younger and more impulsive person, I saw sales as a field of endeavour full of crooks and snake oil salespeople. It was not a field that I aspired to be in, but as fate would have it, it was something in which I found myself becoming more and more involved. To be honest, if I hadn’t been forced to become more capable at sales I would never have chosen this path; fortunately I was.

In the early days of building my current business, sales was something that you had to do if you wanted to generate the business that would pay the bills. I didn’t enjoy it, but I knew I had to do it. How good do you think I was at sales? How enthusiastic do you think I was about making a sales call? Not very is the short answer to both questions….in fact I was bloody awful at it.

It was at that time, when I spent more time looking for business rather than doing business, that I had a real revelation. It was at this time that I was in regular contact with a group of highly professional salespeople who saw sales as a highly skilled profession; one that delivered great value to their clients and enabled them to help people. Getting to know these people I was able to understand what made them different and it came down to two things:

  1. It was never ever about them, it was always about the client.
  2. They ALWAYS expected to get the sale.

These two fundamental shifts in thinking made these people the successes they were and enabled them to help so many people achieve the outcomes they wanted. This was ground-breaking stuff for me. I realised that my attitude to sales was the one thing holding me back; how I thought about the sales call and what my expectations were when I was on a sales call were vital to success.

Change didn’t happen overnight but it did come.

My first “One Call Close” came on the same day that I was wearing a new grey suit. I felt good in it and when I came back to the office and announced that I made the sale on my first visit with the client, one of my colleagues commented that it must be my lucky new suit…..and you know what they were right…it was. That suit made me feel confident and, more importantly, it created an image, a perception in the mind of the prospect that I was a serious person and someone that they could relate to. When I spoke, they listened. When I asked them questions, they gave good answers. This new grey lucky suit put both me and my prospect in the right frame of mind. It set me up for a sale.

Well, as luck would have it I closed the next sale on my first call, again in the grey lucky suit and from that time on, whenever I went on a sales call I wore that suit; in fact whenever I wore it into work everyone knew I was going to visit a new prospect AND they all expected that I would get the sale.

That was a lot of years ago now and I have progresses through my ever growing wardrobe to the current black “Super Suit”….the same principle and almost always the same outcome…a closed sale.

So what has changed with me over the years:

  • An absolute faith that I can help people, but only if I am capable enough to close the sale.
  • My frame of mind is one of expecting to close the sale.
  • My sales process gives me a proven framework to ask good questions and find the compelling reasons why people will buy from me.
  • I really look forward to making sales calls. They make my day.

It really is all about how you think about sales; your expectations when on a sales call. You need to find your own “Lucky Suit”.

Sales confidence comes when you have a sales process that prepares you for anything that happens in a sale. Once you have this, you will have the confidence to take your prospect on the journey that they need to take. You will go into every sales opportunity expecting to close it.

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Aug 31 / gary

The Key to Real Leadership: Stop Managing “Events”

I was having lunch yesterday with a good friend and business colleague when the conversation turned to “Leadership” and in particular what characteristic best defined a true leader. The subject arose because both of us had recently been frustrated while working with CEO’s who just didn’t get what it takes to be a strong leader.

In my view great leaders do one thing better than anybody else, they manage people and their behaviours, not events. I realise that this sounds simple and in fact simplistic but it is surprising how rarely people do this. The problem for most managers is that “Events” tend to dominate their life; “things” constantly happen and they are drawn into fixing the “things” that need to be fixed. These are the events that they spend most of their time managing. It reminds me of the old saying “When you’re up to your arse in Crocodiles, it’s hard to remember that you’re there to drain the swamp.”

There are 2 problems with managing events.

First, it’s always reactive not proactive. The event has already occurred and you are simply treating the visible symptoms.

Second, you are not getting to the underlying cause of the event. There is a wonderful saying that I heard years ago that perfectly describes this effect. “Cause and Effect are never related in time and space.” This means that the symptom you are treating (the event) is never directly linked to the underlying cause.

Great leaders understand this and are able to look beyond the obvious to find the underlying cause of events. These events could be high staff churn, poor sales performance, significant quality issues  or a host of others but the one common factor is that they are symptoms nothing more.

If you continue to treat the symptoms, you may get some temporary relief but the underlying problems remain untreated and the situation will always get worst. Like my dad used to tell me, treating symptoms is like having a guy with a gun shooting holes in your water tank and you keep running around patching up the holes. He told me to forget about the holes, just get the guy with the gun; that’s the only way to fix it.

True leadership is about getting the guy with the gun and stop managing events. Manage people and their behaviours and the events will no longer happen.

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May 18 / gary

Football Coaches and Gordon Ramsey! How are they linked?

As the head of a Sales Force Development company, I spend most of my time working with CEO’s who are addressing major sales issues in their business. Anyone who has run a sales force will know that sales issues are some of the hardest to address. As CEO’s we find it much easier to implement changes in production, administration or other operational areas where there is a very clear link between cause and effect; waste is easier to identify and eliminate in these areas.

The problem with sales is that to many CEO’s it appears to be a “Black Art”; it is often almost impossible to understand why the sales team are not performing. You can provide them with training or you can incentivise them with big commissions but often this makes no difference to their performance. The question that they need the answer to is WHY DOESN’T THIS WORK?

Whenever I talk with CEO’s about these sales issues my mind goes to two things, Australian Rules Football & Gordon Ramsay. It sounds an odd combination but I will try to show you how they fit together.

Having grown up in Melbourne I am a huge fan of the AFL and I have enormous respect for AFL Coaches and the impossibly difficult job that they have to do. The success or failure of their team is open to scrutiny every week. The results are up on the scoreboard for all to see. You either won or you lost; no argument. During the 2 hour passage of a game of football, every player on the field has a job to do; the job of the coach is to ensure that he has the right players in the right roles. If he sees that one of his players is being beaten by his opponent, the first thing he does is pull him off the field, talk to him to find out why he is not succeeding on the field, find out what he could do better and then send him back on. If the player still can’t cut it against his opponent, the coach has no choice but to pull the player out of the game and replace him in the best interests of the team.

From my perspective as a supporter, I want to see my side win. I know that a good coach cannot and will not tolerate poor performance on the field and I would be furous if he did. You only have 2 hours to win the game, I couldn’t care less if an underperforming player has his feelings hurt by being pulled off the field; tough luck, it’s not about you, it’s about the team winning.

Top coaches will trade players that are not performing or simply drop them from their lists. They may trade very good players that simply don’t fit into their plans in order to get a player who does fill a vital gap. Given the absolute nature of football success or failure, sentimentality cannot enter into it. You are being paid for success and every week that success is measured not only by you but by millions of fans.

Now, Gordon Ramsey. Ramsey has an excellent TV show called “Kitchen Nightmares” where he is brought into a failing restaurant with the sole purpose of turning it around. In one of the earlier episodes of the show he made a point that has stuck with me since. He said that the restaurant business has the clearest possible measure of success or failure and that is the number of people every night that come to your restaurant and pay for a meal. If they don’t come, you have failed and you go broke… really fast. You get it right, they do come and you make money. This is the ultimate accountability.

Football teams and restaurants are held accountable every single day by those that are prepared to pay to be there; it’s their ultimate measure of accountability.

Now if we go back to the business world, we find that most companies don’t have such clear measures of success. The initial signs of failure are not as transparent as they are on a football scoreboard or a restaurant cash register. This allows many CEO’s to delay making hard decisions and tolerate mediocrity or poor performance in the name of maintaining harmony within the company. They are more accepting of excuses from their Sales Managers as to why sales are slow and tend to accept the “Jam Tomorrow” predictions that they are given.

The truth is that they are on the same slippery slope towards failure as a bad restaurant or rubbish football team except without the transparency.

Just as coaches do, CEO’s must hold their players absolutely accountable for their performance, no excuses. They need to fill their company with “A” players and never accept mediocrity. CEO’s need to have outstanding metrics in place that measure LEAD indicators such as workrate, conversion rate etc. rather than just LAG indicators such as revenue and profit. Revenue and profit are outcomes, like the scoreboard at the end of a game; it tells you WHAT happened, not WHY.

Great CEO’s have an intimate knowledge of what is happening within their organisations at all times. They hold their leadership accountable and expect this at every level within their company. They know their players strengths and weaknesses and work with them to develop their potential. Above all else they field the best possible team with the greatest chance of success and are uncompromising in their performance expectations. They raise the bar and hold their people accountable.

Does this describe you?

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May 14 / gary

Working with CEO’s

I was recently in Boston attending the Objective Management Groups annual conference. This is an event that I look forward to all year as it brings me into contact with some of the best sales professionals in the world. The opportunity to talk with these people and learn from them is worth the time and effort.

A highlight of my time in Boston is the opportunity to catch up with some good friends and share our experiences in the world of sales. As usual, one of the most stimulating converations was with my great friend Frank Belzer from Dave Kurlan and Associates. Both Frank and I work almost exclusively with CEO’s and our conversations always lead us to a better understanding of those things that are important to CEO’s. Frank posted a Blog the day after our conversation which I highly recommend to anyone selling to “C” level executives.

Of all of the factors for success when working with CEO’s in a sales environment, the most important I have found is the ability to take the CEO on a journey through your discussions. CEO’s simply don’t have time for someone trying to “sell them something”, they’ve got a lot on and simply want to find solutions to the problems that must face every day and find someone they can trust to help them.

Having been a CEO for over 20 years I have a good understanding of pressures and priorities of a CEO which makes it a little easier to relate to them. I talked about taking the CEO on a journey when you are in discussions with them. By this I mean that you need to get the CEO to think deeply about the thinks you are discussing and the impact that they are having on him and his business. You don’t achieve this by asking superficial questions or doing a “salesy” presentation, you only get to this point by caring deeply about the problems that they are facing and wanting to gain a greater understanding of the impact of these problems. You need to ask relevant and sometimes difficult questions that gets the CEO thinking and take them on a mental journey to the heart of the problem.

Like most of us, CEO’s often don’t want to look beyond the surface of a problem particularly if they don’t have a solution at hand but it is vital that they do go beyond the superficial if they are to find a solution.

Following a recent presentation to a large group of CEO’s, I was approached by one of the group who told me that I had “Scared the living daylights out of him” because I had exactly described his company when I described a dysfunctional sales organisation and the damamge it does to a company. He told me that he hesitated in approaching me because the problem may be bigger than he could handle and he really didn’t want to know this. I asked him what would happen if the problem continued to get worst and he realised that would mean his job. Needless to say he didn’t want to go to that place so we started to work together to reverse the damage that had been done.

The fact is that it’s hard to go beyond the superficial when you have big problems but it is vital that you do. Too many CEO’s treat the symptoms of their problems rather than the underlying cause simply because they don’t want to look deeply enough. My job when working with CEO’s is to create enough trust that they will go on that journey with me and gain the understanding that they need to solve their problems. That is why I truly believe that there is nothing more important that taking the CEO on a journey to where their problems live and helping them gain the understanding they need to work towards a solution.

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Jan 6 / admin

Bridal Clones

Recently I had the great pleasure of sharing a shopping day with my daughter, looking for potential wedding dresses for her big day later this year.

My daughter has very definite ideas of what she wants to wear and the style and type of dress that will best suit her, and in which she will feel fantastic. As she is not a traditionalist, we knew that we would have to investigate the type of opportunities that would most likely provide the outcomes we were seeking.  We did some research and then set out optimistically to see what our day would uncover.

As we went from outlet to outlet, it was obvious that the sales people had been “trained” to deal with only one type of potential bride, one that was looking for the same type of style as other brides or bridal magazines currently depict, and not one that sought any individuality. Although many of the sales people were very pleasant, they completely failed to identify what my daughter was looking for and only questioned her on which of the “generally used” styles she preferred. In fact, she did not prefer any of them. As they did not attempt to uncover her preferences, they continually showed us the standard products, and then tried to “sell them” by saying that this is what everyone is wearing! I gasped as one sales person propped a veil on her head, clearly expecting us to get more excited as a result. This approach of ignoring her preference for non-traditional options  had the opposite effect and we left that store as fast as we could!

We all know that the wedding industry is a huge money making industry where item prices do not in any way reflect the cost of producing the product. It clearly survives by marketing a set number of styles then selling them on the basis of “that is what everyone has”. Salespeople then tell potential brides that of course the latest trend is perfect for them regardless of age or size. They follow that with the appropriate number of “how wonderful you look” type comments to get the sale over the line.

From my perspective, working in the area of sales force development, I was astounded at the lack of true selling skill being demonstrated in every outlet we visited, as well as the lack of product variety. At the end of the day, we returned home without a purchase. We knew that it was not going to be easy, but we had not anticipated the “bridal cloning” – an expectation that whoever walks in the door will want the same thing. In this environment the salespeople are oblivious to, and disinterested in, what will motivate an individual to buy.

How often does this type of situation occur, not only in the bridal industry? Do we as consumers simply “give in” and purchase the popular or latest trend products because it is too difficult or time consuming to seek out those that are more tailored to our actual needs, and because we cannot find anyone who is interested or flexible in their sales process to really understand what our needs are and try to meet them?

I have no doubt that we will find the dress that my daughter is seeking, it will just take more effort and time than it should. I do know that the final decision definitely won’t be as a result of a sales person or outlet that works on the assumption that every bride will want what they are told to want.

 

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