Ali Ghaemi

Dec 052023

Photograph Credit: Markus Spiske

Did you know that email existed in the 1970s? I consider myself fairly tech-savvy and this was news to me. This post is not about email’s incept date however. It is about spam email. Like many nowadays, my primary email address is a Gmail one. Looking at my Inbox, my Gmail address has been with me for almost twenty years. Google, which runs Gmail, purchased an anti-spam company years ago and has kept its users’ Inboxes largely free of junk email a.k.a. Spam. Not so, with Hotmail, which was purchased by Microsoft more than two decades ago. Hotmail, which has evolved into and, still has a spam problem. It famously had an open directory of addresses in the early days. My Hotmail account, which is largely ignored, predates my Gmail account by a couple of years. Logging into it this morning, what were the top emails in my Inbox? The most recent one’s subject line read, “The..Best..Gifts..on..Oprah’s…Favorite…Things..List” followed by “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Savings! Get 16×20 Canvas Prints for $14.99.” Mind you, these were emails that Hotmail had not caught as spam despite all these years of my clicking that most useless of buttons, namely ‘Report Junk’ in the menu. Nevermind that someone out there managed to equate purported savings for a trinket with life and liberty!


The preamble grew long in order to give context and paint a picture, but when confronted with the aforementioned spam emails and coming across an article about the very first spam message (and subsequently finding another and more detailed one here) it got me thinking.

Why can’t we stop spam? Who are the people who perpetuate this menace (surely someone must be buying those Oprah favourite things to keep spammers in business) and what could be done about this menace, which at best is a waste of time and at worst could lead to phishing, ransomware, malware? Many spammers use our Inboxes to steal banking information, identities or to take down organizations. To do so they may even take over servers not belonging to them.

Photograph Credit: Diego PH

Then it occurred to me. The reason why, according to one online source, “60 billion spam emails are forecasted to be sent daily from 2019-2023,” is that it is almost free to send. Indeed, someone is buying into the spam messages, but sending spam emails by the millions is easy and low cost. Governments do not follow up or enforce anti-spam laws and perpetrators have no shame or care, but most of all it is done because it can be done so cheaply. The answer therefore has to be that email should not be free. Sending an email has to be analogous to sending a snail mail letter and has to cost something. Think about it. Any amount associated with sending an email would work.

Photograph Credit: Philipp Katzenberger

Let’s say we assign a cost of one cent to an email. This would be payable to the ISP or hosting provider or even the company that controls the gateway. Let’s say that I send 10 emails a week to friends and family. It would cost me 10 cents. Even if I send 100 personal emails a week a one dollar bill – or equivalent value in your part of the world – would not break the bank. At work, if 100 employees send 200 emails a week or even 1,000 emails a month the cost incurred would be $10 (1,000 * 0.01)/month/person, which the company would shoulder or reimburse. Surely, most people think of this amount as reasonable – especially to slay the scourge that is unwanted email.


Let’s go back to the world of spammers now. Remember that 60 billion daily spam count? Well, it would cost spammers $600 million a day. They would be out of business. Many spammers send out millions of emails weekly or daily. Could that be the end of that? Searching the net to see if anyone else had come up with a similar notion the first two pages were full of advice on how to handle spam, ironically including this one from Microsoft, but not much detail or discussion on making email cost-based. The idea has been thought of before as evidenced by this page. Still, and apparently, not enough


Things That Need To Go Away: Anyone Who Buys Something From A Spam Email

Oct 062023


Corporate Visions is a provider of corporate sales training. My team members, and I, participated in a two-day CVI training session last month. It was applicable and systematic. With that said, here are a few instructions from the course:

  • Executives’ business is their business and not your products. Talk in terms they care about.
  • The seller will get delegated down to who he or she sounds like. Sellers need to speak to something the person cares about personally. If not, they would delegate you to someone whose job it is to do that specific thing.
  • Be specific to your customers. We can save you $ a year based on this/that calculation, which itself is based on research you have done on them. This shows your competency and your compelling proposal.
  • Do the math and show them the numbers that are specific to line items they care about as proof of what you have just told them or asked them. “I saw your presentation and specific to you we can deliver ROE of/a market share of x%…”
  • Ask yourself whether what you are saying is what your competitor is probably also saying.
  • A lack of budget does not mean a budget cannot be made available if the problem is worth it and seller can create a buying vision. Get executives involved early on.
  • You don’t need a complete answer. You need to create the custom answer alongside the customer.
  • You need to know more about their business than about your products (elsewhere and outside of the training the salesperson needs to know enough to generate credibility).


CVI has done executive research and advises that the framework for a conversation is DIQ. This stands for Data, Insight and Question.

  1. Share Data related to an external factor e.g. a relevant research stat
  2. Share Insight e.g. problem or opportunity or risk they may not be aware of and
  3. Ask a Question that may be hypothetical, comparative or prioritization type that provokes a conversation and leads to your solution without directly ringing up your solution because customers care about their business not what you are pitching. For example, “A customer on one channel may be the same customer on another channel. In fact, research from ABC shows that is the case 20% of the time. Yet, you think the earlier customer has left your site. Why would you limit yourself to not following customers through unique IDs even if they are guests? How are you preparing for monetization in an omni-channel world?”

Things That Need To Go Away: Being generic, not citing $ or % regarding the customer and not personalizing for your customer.




Oct 022023

My team and I attended sales training by Corporate Visions recently. The pitch was that the training is backed by science and delivered by former C or V-level (persons with titles like CEO, CFO or CMO or vice-presidents) instructors. The instructors who deliver the training have personal experience holding upper management roles and are the type of folks sellers like to reach.

It was instructive.

The outline for selling to the c-suite:

Highlight External Factors: Sharing problems that are out of their control and unconsidered frames the conversation and establishes your expertise. This may include global changes, regulatory affairs, technology advancements and more.

Examples: 44% of customers leave after just one bad experience (improve your CX), new Asian competitors like XYZ are entering the market (compete in the ‘green’ material market and blunt them by re-gearing and retraining your team) or the forecast now is that the economy will crawl to 0.5% meaning… (save money by improving margin by 2% since saving 833 hours on… is saving on the payroll line items). Executives react with initiatives in order to change.

Identify Business Initiatives: Relate these to the company’s or executives initiatives that you have dug up or that you are prescribing to them based on their competitors known action items if you cannot find theirs.

Introduce Unconsidered Needs: Telling them something they have not thought of is more valuable than sharing something they know. This will make you less of a commodity. Be sure you are specific to them. Do they have an opportunity or an exposure or a risk or problem they did not know they have or did not fully appreciate? Even if they do not find your assessment an epiphany they may be introduced to a risk in their execution. Risk is theirs and cannot be passed on.

Provide A Solution: Tell them a story of how you have removed the problem or addressed the issue elsewhere. How will the future look like with your help? Again, be specific about how you can help and impact their business. Your value track: Outcome (what) + Impact ($).

Give Them The Financial Impact: Even though they are not being personally measured by ROI they do need financial justification. Look up, or assume based on their role, how they are compensated and measured and make it specific to them. It is much better to speak to their line item as opposed to generalities like ‘revenue ‘ or ‘profits.’ The financial metrics are comprised of ‘why I care?’ (which is emotional) followed by ‘why it makes sense’ (the logical side).

Two related notes:

  • Sellers should not be afraid of walking into the conversation with a perspective
  • It is alright that not every answer is bolted down and things are locked down. Things do change and that is part of the calculation.

The CVI training was useful and the insights relevant.


Things That Need To Go Away: Training that is too general to be followed and training that is not followed up on and practiced by the trainees.

Sep 142023

And you have AI. My friend Bhuvan and I were chatting last night and the conversation drifted to the topic of AI (Artificial Intelligence). Owing to several movies in the last few years, OpenAI and its already mainstream ChatGPT, and the general proliferation of the concept and technology the acronym has become a buzzword. We were remarking on the tech and its usefulness versus hype when Bhuvan joked that taking the ‘l’ out of my name may be a neat idea.

In all seriousness, we have all begun working with, or at least seen mentions of and read about, Artificial Intelligence recently. To be exact and lucid, AI is serious business with a serious utility (in more ways than one). Persons who do not learn to use it are falling behind. Companies that do not adopt it will be at a disadvantage.

With that said, at this moment in time, hype is overtaking both the utility and reality of the state of AI. Like any other concept, humanity tends to overdo everything. Everyone hires at the same time, fires at the same time, buys stock in tandem and sells at the same time. AI is not a FAD, but its idea is being abused today.

Artificial Intelligence came up because while travelling last week my home airport was displaying advertisements regarding AI. Then upon landing (and later returning) digital billboards advertising companies with ‘AI’ products were ubiquitous. Walking around San Francisco my eyes caught glimpses of an ‘AI’ dry cleaner and an ‘AI’ cafe. Being short on time, and probably cynical, I kept going, but should have otherwise taken a moment to step in and find out more. Perhaps folks are confusing AI with mere automation the same way the new name for the software industry seems to have become ‘SAAS.’ On the other hand, perhaps there was true AI at work at these businesses, although my doubt lingers.

What do you folks think?


Things That Need To Go Away: Confused taxonomy around hip technologies

From The Best Of Technology Times To The Not So Best Of Technology Times

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Aug 272023

When various stock markets entered a bear market in Q3, and into Q4, of 2022 technology companies that had grown even more rapidly in the previous two to three years than was normal were caught flatfooted. The need for technology to replace in-person interactions had propelled revenue growth. By virtue of their rapid rise and need for being intrepid these companies are also sensitive to interest rates and cost and availability of borrowing. The inevitable interest rate hikes in reaction to soaring inflation rates would trigger a drop in stock markets (as they make bank deposits and bonds more attractive) while slowing demand due to society opening up compounded the problem for the technology sector.

Technology companies had overhired and layoffs resulted and continue. Companies large and small began laying off employees (to avoid depression do not click here or here or here or here).

How companies with access to state of the art technology and sophisticated analysts and analytics did not see this coming is fodder for some head scratching.

Photograph Credit: Mohammed Hassan

Pivot To Interviewing

With people out of jobs and companies enacting hiring freezes the pool of job seekers swelled. In such a situation it is normal to drop one’s standards and become more flexible when applying no matter the type of job, nature of the company or income requirements. To work in order to feel valued, remain productive and put food on the table is natural.

With that said, jobseekers should always ask themselves if the job they are applying for is the right one. Is the company offering a fit? Do you feel happy or motivated to work on the company’s product? Are they in an industry that is, if not inspirational, at least something akin to interesting? Are their requirements in tune with what you are comfortable with? Does the salary, and entire package, work for you?

You have to know yourself before you get to know them. Take a little time.

An employer-employee relationship should begin with some requirements’ gathering, introspection and be a conversation before it is an interview.

The company is relying on you to be successful and you are going to spend more time with them than you would with your family.

Photograph Credit: Danymena88

Things That Need To Go Away: Interviewing at random everywhere

Aug 072023

Challenger Selling



There is a Mandarin saying that rhymes nicely. It is, “Bu zuo, bu cuo.” It translates into English as, “I won’t do anything wrong if I do nothing.” That, in a sentence, is the summary of what the newest ‘Challenger’ book addresses. Millions of salespeople, knowingly or unknowingly, face that dilemma during the course of their work and The JOLT Effect makes the problem its subject matter.

As it turns out the calamity that befell the planet in 2020 became an opportunity for the authors and researchers behind the book. Matthew Dixon and Ted McKenna took the transformation that occurred in the sales world when all interactions went virtual and threw AI at it in order to use the words, information and structures to figure out what makes a customer move from inaction to action. In the process, to structure the data across millions of sales calls, the writers tagged more than 8,300 unique factors across the recorded sales calls and marked the sales that closed versus those that ended up in a loss.


Earlier, the first book of the two writers, The Challenger Sale of 2011, found that whereas 5.4 people were involved in modern B2B sales the number of stakeholders has ballooned to 6.8 now. It discussed how the best salespeople make customers see themselves differently.

The Challenger Customer of 2015 spoke of mobilizers and how to get customers moving.

The latest book is called The JOLT Effect and addresses the issue with customers who cannot decide. Resulting in ‘no decision’ losses, the conundrum translates into months of wasted time for both sides in B2B sales. In fact, 40 (for more complex sales) to 60% of sales are lost to a check-mate when the customer does nothing because making a decision is difficult.


It is often said, and JOLT repeats it, that today’s buyers are 60% through the buying journey by the time they connect with sale. They are learning on their own. Sales needs to reframe the customer’s journey.


Customers know they must do something, but still do nothing. What do the salespersons do? They dial up the fear to overcome the status quo. Yet the book argues that overcoming indecision needs sellers to instead dial down the fear of purchase. Customers fall into omission bias mode. The book points at loss aversion and how people prefer to minimise losses rather than maximise gain. It is better to miss out than mess up. This is termed as FOMU (Fear Of Messing Up) and FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and the former, which is a fear of personal failure and responsibility, is mightier and more dominant than the latter.


FOMU occurs because the buyer suffers from:

  • Fear of picking the wrong thing
  • Fear of not having done adequate research or
  • Fear of not getting the expected benefits

So the seller is instructed to instil the need for change and address 1, 2 and 3 in order to bestow confidence to the buyer.


By the way, what does ‘JOLT’ stand for?

J is for Judge The Indecision. People are indecisive and sellers need to use SONAR to understand and actively hear if the customer is conveying something akin to, “help me, what should we include in the first phase?” Remember that some people are more comfortable with the level of ambiguity than others. Pages 46 and 47 help the salesperson diagnose the source of indecision and the book’s website helps in grading and lending the sale a probability score! Sellers need to understand whether the concern is a. valuation problems, b. Lack of information or 3. outcome uncertainty and, as a result, gauge the ability of the prospect to decide and to buy.


O is for Offer Your Recommendation. Prospects are overwhelmed with choice. Limit choice and recommend strongly. This is something that has preoccupied this reviewer for years: how choice is bad and has the opposite effect to freeing folk. Offer your recommendation with confidence as the customer is overwhelmed!


L is for Limit The Exploration. Sales should deconflict information by stopping the flow of it and also inserting what customers don’t need into the flow as well. Discourage customers from spinning their wheels! Data is clear: limit it


1 – Owning the flow of information

2- Anticipate need + objections

3- Practise radical candour

Ask why and find out what the questions behind the question is.


T is for Taking Risk Off The Table. Start small and add insurance. For example, get Professional Services involved. This may be counterintuitive because it makes the sales more expensive money-wise, but in fact this piece of insurance allows buyers to gain confidence in their eventual success with the product or solution. Manage expectations!


Indecision could be due to:

1- Value

2- Lack of information or

3-  Fearing that purported benefits are unreal.

These concerns are addressed through the JOLT process.


To start, convince customers candidly that a change of status quo is needed. The purchase will be a success and it will get over the line. Be the soother that counsels that failure will not occur.


High performers in sales do not go for fear, but plan and share proudly with the customer. They may, for example, map out the first three months for customers inclusive of quick wins and expected long-term outcomes after that.


While presenting research-based facts and anecdotes, including all of the above, the authors shatter a couple of myths along the way. Good sellers talk more and, in fact, interrupt customers (who are on the wrong track). Having said that, I did laugh at the “cooperative overlapping” phrase, which is when one talks along with someone, as it sounds like such a euphemism.


Customers are always thinking about it more, need more information and resources, have more questions and require proof. What does sales do: introduce FUD. Customer has outcome uncertainty and the salesperson begins to scare them! Here the customer is afraid that a decision will make them lose, is afraid of the cost; is afraid of looking foolish and then…  the sales team begins to frighten them. It does not make sense, right? Often it is not missing out on winning that the buyer is concerned with (perhaps they have been burnt before?), but the aforementioned issues. Don’t make them feel bad, make them feel good and outline a plan. For example, offer multiple options or paths forward. Starting small also could build relationships.


The book expands into foretelling how employing JOLT actually builds customer loyalty and also offers a chapter on how sales managers could make the right hiring decision by bringing on folks who will do the right thing for the sales process. This is specifically relevant to hiring managers.

The JOLT Effect is a good read and more valuable than the average sales books because it comes at you courtesy of empirical data.

Jan 032023

Photograph Credit: Stephen Brown

A couple of posts here have discussed and expanded on curiosity, energy, working hard, courtesy and more as desirable traits for successful salespersons. One more has been gnawing at me since those posts and I have been reminded that, as people have heard me say, good salespeople disqualify as much as qualify. In other words, good salespeople know where to spend their time.


There is a proverb that goes like this:

The Way We Spend Our Time Defines Who We Are.

It is obviously true. It is also true that this resource is limited and, for us mere mortals, is precious.

It is crucial that salespeople spend time, spend time doing the right things and spend time understanding where they spend time. Yes, scrolling through TikTok or your Facebook feed is off (and moreover the future of civilization says ‘thank-you’).

Picture Credit: Mohamed Hassan

Good salespeople control their time, use it for productive endeavours and do not get sidetracked. Good salespeople are also the ones who admit when something unexpected has happened to sidetrack them and feel discomfort. The discomfort propels them to make up for the lost time and get back on track of consistency (of doing the right things and not doing the things that do not help with their goals and success).


Things That Need To Go Away: Not Automating Tasks That Can Be Automated, Not Knowing What Is Unproductive And Promptly Eliminating It And Above All Not Preparing For Effectiveness



Nov 202022


Many readers of my posts are probably among the people who think a great deal about sales and what makes a good salesperson. It is a constant source for thought and observation. Personally, being a hard worker has always struck me as being the key ingredient to sales success – even over ‘smart work’ or product knowledge. This belief stems from personal experience and my own observations over the years (as well as published research).


What made the topic top-of-mind again was a new article on BBC’s website, which posited that curiosity is a trait that drives success. The story pointed out that those who are curious, and show patient inquisitiveness, are more likely to experience academic success, boost earnings and boost memory. These are useful traits for a salesperson and, should help with complex enterprise sales as well, since they enhance the desire for discovery and engagement. Who could argue with those vaunted traits?

My caveat – there is always one – is regarding when curiosity is misdirected and unproductive. Scrolling through Twitter or one’s Facebook feed does not count. Sparking one’s curiosity is important (as is the employer sparking employees’ curiosity), but it has to be directed at the right activities.


If sales is the lifeblood of a company and salespeople lead the sales then what other skills are desirable?  How about consistency and focus? How about desire and desire to learn and teach? Well, perhaps ‘desire’ falls into the ‘hard work’ category. I would add presentation skills and sympathy and care to the list. Sympathy and care apply to the salesperson’s feelings towards both the customer and one’s own company. The last quality may encompass this, but let us call out interpersonal and people skills of course. Perhaps these are all fit for individual posts, but what do you think?


Things That Need To Go Away: Salespersons Who Do Not Care

Oct 092022

Had you heard the phrase “ghost job” before? I had not even if its meaning should be obvious.

It is sadly stupefying that such a concept exists. First, though, let me travel back in time to a previous life when I was personally job hunting. A former VP of mine was employed at a company on my target list so, noticing an opening, I pinged him for an internal referral. His answer? That position was filled some time ago. Why was the job posting active and marked as open?

Whether as a team manager or VP Of Sales I had been open with my direct reports, human resources and larger team that we should always be recruiting and keeping an eye out for good candidates. Things happen. people leave, promotions create openings or more good staff is needed due to expansion. That, however, is distinct and different from actually having job listings for positions that do not exist.

According to a survey of over 1,000 managers involved in the hiring process by lending company Clarify Capital 43% of hiring managers kept job postings active to “give the impression that the company is growing.” Moreover, also 43% kept job posting open in order to “keep current employees motivated.” 39% admitted that the job posted was already filled. Among other statistics 34% said it was done to placate overworked employees.

How many euphemisms for lying are there? Ethics of leading people on aside, one wonders how the marketplace and existing employees (including overworked ones) reacts to a company and its management that is not honest when one reason the ghost jobs exist (or don’t exist) is to impress that same market. 27% of employers with active job postings even claimed they forgot to delete the job requisition, which begs the question whether anyone is even looking at the incoming job applications. This comes on top of a survey earlier that found that 77% of job seekers say they have been ghosted by prospective employers. Astoundingly, 10% of job seekers say they have been ghosted by employers after they have been offered a position!

This lack of courtesy surely has business implications in terms of creating distrust, ill will and, one wonders, whether the barrage of statistics claiming millions of unfilled positions in the economy is accurate.

The recommendation to look at the date of the job posting is sound. Jobs posted for 30 days or longer are likely ghost jobs. Moreover, companies that repeatedly post the same jobs on their career page and pop up on job sites with the same position month after month are also clearly suspect.

My request and advice is for everyone to take responsibility and treat one another with more dignity, integrity and honesty.


Things That Need To Go Away: Untruths, Half-Truths And Toying With People