The American Theory of Selling states that the salesperson closes the sale.

The American doctrine of selling or salesmanship says that ‘the salesperson‘ NOT ‘the customer‘ closes the sale.

This old-fashioned strategy of selling has caused many grievous problems in the marketplace. It is not only counter-productive for shareholders but also is a flawed strategy as it is unscientific because there is no evidence to support the theory.

Because it has a religious door-to-door, bible-selling provenance it is called the American Theory. I have called it oldsell. The bottom line is: oldsell sucks!


“……And finally I’d like to thank my 5 brothers, 4 sisters, 3 uncles, 2 aunts, 23 nephews and nieces and 37 cousins.”

Currently, big banks in Australia are being criticised for their oldsell tactics with their salesperson ‘closing-the-sale’ manipulation training and a range of oldsell deceptions including grave-stoning and false advice.

There is even a Royal Commission into the oldsell culture, something that would never happen in America!

FACT: Bank leadership has spent millions of Australian dollars on importing the American Doctrine into Australia in the form of sales training, compensation and motivation programs, meetings and Amway-style evangelical, sales conventions.

Customers hate oldsell. Families, friends and strangers hate being the target of oldsell importuning and dodgy bullying tactics.

Yet, oldsell has been around for quite a while. It was first written about in the 1920s. Oldsell is a recognised part of the culture by the word-of-mouth spreading of salesman’s jokes and reflected in the arts with the tragedy of Willy Loman’s neurosis in Miller’s Death of a Salesman and in Broadway plays like Glengarry Glen Ross, TV binge-worthies like Billions and widely-acclaimed movies like Tin Men, Wolf of Wall Street and Sorentino’s epic Loro.

But my favourite is this classic scene in Woody Allen‘s movie Take The Money and Run where the ultimate punishment in prison is to be put in solitary confinement … with an insurance salesman …

Of course, everyone in the movie audience gets the joke. In 2016, I played this clip to an audience of senior insurance managers at a sales conference in Japan and they all laughed, too. So, I challenged them, “Why are you laughing! This is YOUR profession you are laughing at!”

There was an uncomfortable silence.

This Yankee carpet-bagger strategy has proven very costly to shareholders because it is difficult to recruit, to teach, to manage and to retain salespeople using this strategy. In America 80% of salespeople get only 20% of sales using this method. Most salespeople fail and leave the profession. This is very costly to shareholders and gives the sales profession a very poor reputation.

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The American method is also costly to shareholders because it is difficult to gain and retain satisfied and loyal customers using this pre-social media method. Why? Because customers do not like this strategy and they tell their friends by word-of-mouth and so brands and reputations become damaged at great expense to the shareholders.

For example, recently the CEO of a major Australian bank had to apologise to the Parliament of Australia for how badly its sales culture has been mistreating Australian customers. Mr Ian Narev, CEO of the CBA apologised by saying,

I have said before how sorry I am for the pain that we have caused them. I say so again today. Our goal is to uncover any cases where the customer has not had the right experience and to put it right. We understand we need to be fair and seen to be fair. We have done wrong by some customers in that business (Comminsure) and our other businesses.

Yet, at AUD$12million annual compensation for his efforts Mr Narev was the highest paid bank boss in Australia.

American salesmanship is about winners and losers. It’s a zero sum game. Although many Australian businesses have imported American sales training “close-the-sale” methods into their culture there is plenty of evidence to show that Australian customers prefer win/win to win/lose strategies.

In Australia, customers widely reject the ploys and tricks and games that salespeople play using the American method of “closing the sale”.

What it is further off-putting is that books on the American method have a strong evangelistic subtext (convert the sinner/close the sale) written by American preachers such as Zig Ziglar, Norman Vincent Peale and others and the method is often taught at revival-style, rah-rah meetings.

Most notorious are those accused of being pyramid-like schemes such as Amway and Herbalife. Oldsell, in America, has even been voted into the White House!

However, Australian customers have made their preferences clear. In dozens of Gallup Polls and many other polls conducted annually (since 1980) customers have rated American-style sales practitioners at the bottom of all the various professions in terms of professional and ethical practices.

I have called this American Theory of Selling “OLDSELL” and have written at length both about the theory and practise of selling in a range of books over the last 30 years (eg NewSell (1984) and WOMBAT SELLING: how to sell by word of mouth (2006).

While many CEOs have indeed switched to newsell many, many more are still stuck with oldsell. Their customers are still punishing them for it by word-of-mouth and defection to competitive brands.

Image of Professions 2017 – (note bottom four lowest ratings)

Image of Professions 2017


How can you tell if a sales culture is dominated by OLDSELL?

One straightforward way you can discern the kind of sales culture that exists in a business is by recording the question habitually asked by the sales manager of the salesperson.

If, whenever a salesperson returns from a customer visit, the sales manager always asks, “Did you get the deal?” or “Did you close the sale?” etc then the focus of the salesperson is cued on the deal rather than on the customer … aka OLDSELL!

There is an alternative strategy that works ten times better than oldsell. Here the sales manager always asks, “Did you serve the customer?” or “Did you escape from uncheck?”

It is called NEWSELL.


Oldsell references:

Close That Sale!: The 24 Best Sales Closing Techniques Ever Discovered

The Secrets of Closing the Sale

The Sales Bible

Close the Deal

Tom Hopkins 16 Power Closes

Trump: The Art of the Deal

Newsell references:

The NewSell Switch (2015)

WOMBAT SELLING: how to sell by word of mouth (2006) 

The X10 Memeplex: multiply your business by 10! (2000)  

SELL: the lateral thinkers’ guide to selling and leadership (1993) 

NewSell Australia (1990) 

How To Sell Without Working (1990) 

NewSell America (1984)


It’s because better thinkers are creating value.

They are getting the job done without creating a fuss. They are getting on with others. They are co-operating and solving problems.

They are mindful of creating opportunities. They use their brainpower to give their employer a much better return on payroll.

Better thinkers are more job-friendly. Employers prefer better thinkers.

On any given day in any given business there are value fountains and value drains.

That day the value fountains created value for the shareholders.

The value drains depleted shareholder value on that day.

The job of the CEO is to multiply the number of value fountains by ten. That’s why CEOs offer better jobs to better thinkers.

water funnel

Current references:

“What everyone in the world wants is a good job. A good job is a job with a paycheck from a steady employer with 30+ hours per week … however, in many cases there is no hope of getting one.”  – Jim Clifton, Chairman of Gallup



“We have no idea what the jobs market will look like in 2050.”   – Professor Yuval Harari




NEW COURSE: Ten Mindful Emojis

To sign up for this streaming course

just click here and say “ten emojis please”.


NOTE: When you SMS or text, you can put the magnifying glass emoji at the beginning of your message to show that you are deliberately being forensic. This deliberateness is important and is called 'being mindful' or metacognition. Be forensic

Is it true? Fact check. Search more information. Be attentive to facts and figures. Be aware of true news or fake news? When you text or SMS this emoji you just give neutral information. You are not polarised or biased. You are a sort of wikipedia. Just get the facts out. Be alert to all the information you can on the current situation. Be judgmental

Be Negative. Think inside the box. Use Black Hat thinking. Be conscious of the fact that you are being deliberately judgmental. Say why you think it’s wrong. Why it won’t work. Why it’s not true. Why you do not believe it or do not agree with it. Note that if you’re simply being emotional then that comes under another emoji.

Image result for emoji comedy tragedy masks Be emotional

This is the emotional emoji. Feelings. The full range from comedy to tragedy. Emotions are important. It is better when they are informing your thinking not just controlling your thinking. Moods are part of life. Are you in an up mood or a down mood? Just say what you feel about the situation without bothering to explain. You hate it. You love it. Say, “I’m being emotional”. Feelings and personal values are part of every situation. Be emotional. generous

American thinker, Mark Twain, said, “Kindness is a language the blind can see and the deaf can hear”. Of course, just because the generous emoji is a bag of cash doesn’t mean it has to be cash. It’s symbolic. It can be time. An attentive ten minute visit with a friend. It can be energy. A thoughtful good deed or a chosen kind word. Share the good things, pass them on. Offer kindness first. Maybe even twice. But, no need to be a sucker. Be innovative

This emoji is for creative ideas. The ideas do not have to be sensible or logical. You can use provocations. You can try things out. You can use x10 thinking to escape from the box! The purpose is to be awake to new ideas. Your career, business, investment and commercial success is directly related to the quality of your decisions. Every day you make decisions that will either increase your wealth or decrease your wealth. Every day you will do things that either create value or drain value. Your choice.

Image result for emojis  Be cool

This is strategic and laid back. This is detached and objective. Here you are organising your thinking about the situation. Cool is for thinking about your thinking and we call this being mindful or metacognition. Strategy is for giving instructions to yourself and others. Cool is neutral. You can be deliberately exploring the subject through the use of the other thinking emojis: Be forensic. Be emotional. Be judgmental etc. The possibilities, options, strategies, tactics, pathways, trajectories, networks and proximities that are available for you to think about can accelerate your own personal productivity and results. Don’t be stupid. Be strategic.

Image result for whatsapp emoji umbrella  Be wise

Use the crown emoji for The Wisdom of King Solomon or the Wisdom of Queen Elizabeth or any wise person you can find. Where can we find wisdom? Who has the most knowledge? Who has the most experience?


At least 50+ years. Who has seen it all before? Who was there in history? First-hand knowledge? Skin in the game? Consequences? Survival? Avoid the mindless, inattentive and careless ones.


Be happy

Modern song lyrics like Pharrell Williams “Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth” and Bobby McFerrins’ “Don’t worry Be Happy” are not new ways of thinking. Deliberately choosing a positive mindset goes back at least 2500 years as far as the Epicureans of Ancient Greece. But humans haven’t changed much since then so it’s still very good advice. Don’t worry.


Be healthy

R&R. Rest & Recuperation. Recharge the batteries. Take-it-easy. Your brain is the biggest engine in your body. It consumes more fuel and generates more energy. Give it a rest and a time to recover. Give it a holiday from your screens and your gadgets. Your physical, mental and emotional health cannot be separated from the pattern of choices you make. Every hour of every day you are designing your future. If your designs are tired or weak your future cannot be strong. Be mindful.

Image result for whatsapp emoji umbrella rain  Be careful

In today’s world there are BIG issues of privacy and security. Your own privacy. Your own security is at constant risk in the crackling chaos of the internet–the 24/7/365 whirling, howling, cacophonous wilderness of the greedy grasping global marketplace with its siren songs, ferocious fads and hoaxes, toxic wastes and vicious moods, its callous explosions, its viral plagues and epidemics and cruel and sudden extinctions. Your own survival and growth, in a Darwinian sense, cannot be separated from the pattern of how you make your decisions over time. If you don’t do your own better thinking others will do it for you. These other people, institutions or authorities may not do it well at all or even in your best interests.


Easy instructions on how to use the Ten Mindful Emojis:

• Mindful emojis are always put at the beginning of the text message, not the end.

• Mindful emojis are a powerful thinking software for the brain. For example, the looking glass mindful emoji “BE FORENSIC” is a software algorithm for the deliberate use of forensic thinking. 

• Mindful emojis can be sent to yourself, to others or to groups.
Copyright © School of Thinking. 2017. All rights reserved.

Spend A Day with Michael …

I usually consult with ASX/F500 corporate and government clients but I’ve recently been asked to provide an opportunity to work with innovators, entrepreneurs and small business owners who are also interested in x10 strategy. So, this is it.

This elite event will be for five participants only and will be in Melbourne on 11th September.

Michael will help design a bespoke plan for each of the selected participants. The **consulting fee for each participant is AUD$885.00.

HOW TO APPLY: If you would like to be considered apply directly to Michael here and please answer the following two questions in your message:

• Who are your target customers?

• What is your target offer?

**On the day Michael will do three things all included in the $885 consulting fee:

  1. Conduct an x10 Thinking Masterclass

  2. Conduct an x10 Selling Masterclass

  3. Design a bespoke Ten Day Plan for each individual participant to get started immediately following the event which he will personally monitor on a daily basis for the next ten days.


Visit the x10 website: