I’ve long enjoyed travelling around America accompanied by magazines like Fast Company and Inc. Yet I’m baffled as to how such a pair of publications so embedded in promoting our new connected digital age can fail to come alive on the screen. Their online servings can bewilderingly lack the imagination and impact that courses through the subjects of their articles.
Sadly Inc’s Sales Source blog ably demonstrates this shortcoming.
Maybe I’m disappointed because I approached the blog with keen anticipation. Anyone posting on the ‘right’ ways of selling naturally pushes at my open door.
Writer Geoffrey James appears to have a strong track record. A long-time blogger on Sales by all accounts. And even a published author. But this is where it started to get a touch smelly for me. Although they can provide a useful service, I’ve never been too fond of those focused on collation of others’ performance.
His latest book reminds me of recent ones by the likes of Philip Delves Broughton and Dan Pink. They claim that by watching ‘sales masters’ in action they can disseminate their secrets to you. Yet I always prefer to hear from an actual protagonist. Not only do I want to learn what they themselves believe they do differently, I also want to know what they think is good about someone else’s ways.
I’m not saying for instance, that an article on entrepreneurship is only valid if written by a Branson. Or one on say cricket if only penned by a Gower. Far from it. But I personally yearn for some practical experience to come across. Journalism for its own sake is worthy, but a journalistic opinion alone rarely is. Not all practitioners make great pundits, but articulate practitioners make better pundits.
A case in point on Sales Source is the content topics. The week during which I read through scores of postings, I classed a damning nine out of every ten posts as either a re-hash of previous postings, ‘summly’-style regurgitation of so-called guru writing elsewhere or, most damagingly, as if the author simply picks a random sales book off the shelf, opens it at any old page, then decides ‘today I’ll write about that’. What ignites any passion for a posting remains opaque. As does any specific relevance.
And that this is such a shame gets compounded the deeper you go.
Let’s take the actual content itself. Well. For me, it just scratches the surface. Pretty much every post I read leaves me feeling the same way. I struggle to see evidence of where the writer has ever sold anything to anyone. There’s no undercurrent of experience from running a campaign, let alone a territory. And certainly none that managing people to achieve a common quota has taken place. It’s the typically derided American self-help bottle of sunshine, with precious little substance.
By way of example, I collapsed when reading his cold call advice. (“Here’s a classic, and classically effective, cold calling script“). It’s not just that it’s so last century. His recommended approach hardly brought success then and certainly doesn’t now. We’ve come such a long way since that stuff was the accepted norm. What he posts just plain does not work.
Yet if you want to know his real strengths, then this musing on Microsoft and their Blue strategy is head and shoulders the most insightful. (Has Microsoft gone insane?) There’s much to admire here. Passion abounds. He also reveals his true cv, taken up with what appears to be entirely technical and Microsoft analysis roles. This is clearly where his real interest and expertise lies. He should focus on this.
Not in Sales.
The blog describes itself as “the world’s most visited sales-oriented blog”. If this is true, then that tells you all you need to know about the calibre of it’s messages. The BBC keeps saying that it is the world’s most visited news site. Yet I know no-one that rates the quality of it’s journalism higher than that of their favourite news outlet. Which is always not the Beeb’s. Most visited usually really means merely glanced at, lacking in depth, and not really standing for anything.
In short, this author has a sparkling true calling, but alas, not for sales writings.