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Commentary: The Business

Coleby Nicholson: The One and Only Sales Secret



The Business: The One and Only Sales Secret


Published in the April 2012 issue

A struggling business turns to a motivational guru for help.

The story goes like this: A business was struggling to survive in difficult conditions. It had traded very well during better times, but since customers had tightened their belts it was under pressure.

Concerned his sales team had lost motivation, the owner decided to review the business before drastic action was needed. He contacted a sales and motivational expert, one who specialized in training staff to deal with harsh economic conditions. 


All staff were asked to attend a two-hour training course and were given a leaflet that outlined the session: “Thrive and prosper when times are tough.”

It included the expert’s bio and concluded with this pledge: “I promise you that by the end of my two-hour session you’ll know the one and only secret to making money in tough times.”

The staff thought, “Wow, this is going to be amazing. Our problems are solved. Not only will I keep my job, I might start earning commissions again.”

The motivational speaker was inspirational, covering everything from sales and service to marketing and promotions.

The session was a hit. Everyone in the room became upbeat. Even the owner was excited and pleased with his decision to get an external expert to motivate the staff. It ended with the guru offering to answer questions, and after a number of questions Bill spoke up. Bill was known for being shrewd and astute and the room fell silent.

“On behalf of all the staff, I’d like to thank you for your wonderful session. You are certainly inspiring and you have some great advice,” Bill said, but his colleagues could see a “but” coming along, a “Bill’s But,” they called it. As if on cue Bill added, “But … you spoke for two hours and your leaflet said you’ll show us the one and only secret to making money in tough times. You haven’t done that!”


Bill was right, as good as the session was, the guru never once mentioned increasing sales in difficult times. The room was silent again.

The consultant stood and said loudly, “You are absolutely correct, and I apologize. If anyone wants to know the secret to making money in tough times, please stand up behind your chair.”

Everyone in the room stood, and the expert said, “Now turn your chair upside down.”

Bewildered, the staff upturned their chairs only to see an envelope taped to the bottom marked “Secret.” The sales and motivational expert told everyone to open their envelope.

Inside was a crisp $20 note taped to a sheet which read: “There are no secrets in this world but … you just earned $20 by getting off your ass! When times are tough, do it more often.”






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