Bäuerin Frühstück* as a sales review tool, why not… it works


*(Farmers wife breakfast)

Talking last month to a sales director of my acquaintance who raised two issues, not necessarily linked but I thought that the solution might be…

Firstly he found it tricky to get his sales folk together in a social sense, the traditional pub gathering or team dinner didn’t seem to gel with a group of lone hunters, with lives of their own, young families and already working long days.

Secondly he found the regular sales reviews to which he summoned them were transactional, factual, data-driven, defensive.

The team were performing well but he just didn’t feel they were a team, working together and he wasn’t sure how to change that.
I remembered a couple of things, well three, my father-in-law telling me how as a young farmer, after milking, as the sun rose, the farmer, the family, the workers would all gather for a big breakfast, discuss the forthcoming day, share laughs, banter and good food, start the day in a positive way.

I recalled, from a former life, running a series of high level events for senior execs, breakfast-based briefings on critical subjects but the key was that these busy folk turned up, they could enjoy an excellent meal, learn, teach, share and network and still be in the office at start of play, they loved it.

iStock_000018247691_DoubleI remember working for a great consultancy  where one of the founders decided to turn the interminable board meetings into a breakfast event, one of the management team cooking for the others, taking it in turns, it got competitive, it became fun, it engaged everyone, the meetings were better attended, better natured, more constructive.

So I suggested that my chum rebadge his sales reviews as a breakfast meet, schedule them early, restructure them as a way to start the day in a positive way, conversation amongst peers, a round table not a star chamber, an opportunity to help each other, we’re social animals.

He tried it, they liked it, it worked.

He found that decisions and actions got done (or at least started) that day, and that it’s hard to be defensive with a mouthful of bacon.

Go on, try it, get your team to go to work on an egg.

Here you go, history, power plays, philosophy, emotion and relationship based selling.. enjoy

A long time ago a very clever chap called Adam Smith came to the conclusion that, inherent in almost all humans was a desire to make others happy, to feel good because somebody else does.

I was reminded of this during a recent meeting with a chap who needed my help, who wanted my help, but also wanted me to very clearly understand how important, powerful and impressive he was, I felt no rapport with him, couldn’t get past his performance, for performance it was, and ego. I left the room feeling sorry for his staff, his suppliers, his customers and probably his family. I won’t be helping him.


It’s an interesting (but rarely considered) measure for how well a meeting, a conversation, an interview has gone, I’ve observed that as someone is leaving, a room, a workshop, a meeting, shaking their hand, making eye contact and asking “did you enjoy that?” produces some really interesting reactions. It’s not what people expect, they’re primed for a platitude, a “we’ll be in touch”, a “thanks for coming”. A genuine query about their happiness invariably produces a slightly startled pause, a quick self-assessment and (mostly) a genuine reaction.

Crucially they leave actually thinking about how they feel, not their performance, not the next steps. And if I enjoyed it I tell them so.

We’re quite simple creatures, you and I, we may be awesome intellectual giants, (Well, you may be) but we still evaluate and build our relationships based on emotional responses, and I don’t know about you but happy works better for me.

Did you enjoy that?

Paint a propositional picture

William Sidney Mount [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I’m prompted to put digital pen to digital paper by a challenge surfaced recently by a couple of valued but disparate clients, but in truth this is a conversation which pops up on a pretty regular basis.

Both asked for our help in addressing what one might think would be a pretty basic business task, described, by them, in terms such as “defining our unique go to market proposition” or articulating our differentiated client value offering”. Can you see the problem?
Personally I’d prefer to describe the task as “showing clients what you can do for them
But that seems a bit simple, after all we’re really clever people, we need to show just how clever to potential clients, so we tend to use big words, lots of them, and we find ourselves unable to agree internally on which big words we should use.
Even if we can agree on the words, even if we invest valuable time in producing collateral it’s typically ‘thoughtpieces’, ‘white-papers’, ‘position pieces’ and frankly it’s really hard to get busy clients and prospects to find the time for us to share these world-changing truths with them.
Time is precious, attention spans are short and getting shorter, it’s hard to grab attention, let alone keep it long enough to explain something really complicated.
So what’s the alternative?
Well, let’s make it simple…
Don’t spend a day workshopping a new market-changing paradigm with your brightest and best, instead…
  1. Choose a client engagement that went really well
  2. Tell us what you did, we’ll question you all the way back to simple.
  3. Tell us why you did it, again we’ll question you back to simple.
  4. Tell us what the result was, for the client, firstly in financial terms, (if you can’t do that, no-one will give you the time of day), next identify the side effects, the “unquantifiable benefits”
  5. Then we turn that into a storyboard, 6 or 7 slides, minimal words, powerful graphics, understandable, linear, a story, that all can tell, all can agree upon, and all can understand.

That’s it, we’re not trying to change the world, we’re grabbing attention, we’re not explaining every aspect of our paradigm-shifting approach, we’re creating just enough interest to get the permission to have a conversation.

Get the picture?