And so the CHAS 6 Peaks Challenge begins…

So I was having a think the other night about how in my position as Team Scotland blabberer I could help make all the other participants be more at ease with the task they are about to undertake. I decided the best way to do this was bite the bullet and get down there for a little reccy myself and see what the fuss was all about. So here’s a little video I took of the beautiful scenery we’ll be taking in on our ramble in the brambles:

Play video

The big question is… which one of us is going to be Jon Snow?

Just an interim shout out to some friends and colleagues who have made a difference to this challenge in the last couple of days… A full, and frank mission briefing will be given at 09:00 on Monday morning.

The big man (Gavin) was obviously feeling very generous this week due to the absolutely STUPENDOUS, STONKING AND FANTASMAGORICAL performances that have bestowed Real and Smooth Radio in Scotland this October – as such, he dug deep into his own commission for the month and donated us the princely sum of £100. Thank you so much, makes a huge difference.

Also, massive thanks to Ross Williamson, Vic Paterson, Karen Hodgson, Sue Donaldson, Michelle Hextall, Suzanne Waters, Lisa Wilkinson and Ali Bally Bing Bong for their kind donation to the cause (every single penny counts). If you haven’t already donated… please make it your priority to do so: or text REAL66 £x to 70070

Oh, and all my family and friends too… but this post isn’t really aimed at them!


The guys at CHAS really need your help – they do such amazing work and even a donation of a fiver can make all the difference.

However, that’s not where the good work ends. I would also like to give a huge bit of encouragement to the guys around the country who are raising money for the charities that are so close to their hearts. They are Noah’s Ark Childrens Charity in Wales: When you Wish Upon a Star in the North West: Zoe’s Place in the North East: and the Yorkshire Air Ambulance:

And that leads me on to the next part…

… wait, I’ll have to leave that till Monday – my new equipment for the walk has just arrived from Go Outdoors!


balaclava Crampon Flare Gun goggles pick


So… sent out an email a couple of weeks ago looking for volunteers for the next installment of Michael McIntyre’s stonking ideas story book – and silly me… thought I’d perhaps start with asking the hardy souls that formed Team Scotland on the Five Peaks last time. In no particular order… here’s the response I got.


Lynn Proudfoot: Eehhhhh, I’m sure I’m washing my hair that day.

Karen Hodgson: James (Husband) says I can’t go so I’m not allowed to (*yes Karen, I’m only joking*)

Gerry Burke: Hmm, no. It’s really not my cup of tea.

Then we had James Stephens’ response which I recorded for posterity (PLEASE CLICK ON THE PICTURE OF JAMES FOR THE VIDEO):


Seems as though I was the only one actually up for doing the challenge… I don’t think there’s any coincidence in the fact that I’m getting married in a little under six months though and will do anything to get away from organisation!

So that then led me on to my next trick.

Get everyone bladdered on Tequila at the recent RAJAR night and put a highlighter/crayon in their hand and then masquerade it as a signed testimony on Sunday Morning. This appears to have worked on both Stuart ‘MasterChef’ Stott and Shiona ‘Roving Reporter’ McCallum. Both of which have tried to pull out kicking and screaming at a couple of opportunities – however are both now resigned to the fact that it’s the only way I’ll ever leave them alone (EVER AGAIN).

Team Scotland is now made up of: Myself, James Stephens (in Miami, returns day before challenge), Stuart Stott, Shiona McCallum and the rest are representatives of our charity.


… given the fact that I’m probably the only freak in the entire business that’s actually looking forward to doing this (us White Walkers North of the Wall love the cold) – I guess it now falls upon me to yet again become official Team Scotland blabberer… sorry, blogger-er for the Real and Smooth Six Peaks Challenge.

Up here in Scotland we are raising money for a charity called CHAS: CHAS is a charity that provides the only hospice services in Scotland for children and young people who have life-shortening conditions for which there is no known cure. CHAS runs two children’s hospices, Rachel House in Kinross and Robin House in Balloch, and a home care service called CHAS at Home. – See more at: – I’m sure you’ll all agree, a great cause. We are fortunate enough to be getting joined by 5 others from CHAS and sister organisations who intend to help us out on the way.

But I don’t want to do any of the serious stuff today… I want to do the fun parts. A big shout out to my favourite peakers and bloggers from last time out who I hope will joining us (either physically or in spirit):

Helen ‘Mother Hen’ Walledge: I’m sure Jamie, Callum and I will make huge use out of your cooking skills. Cold sausages ahoy! I’ll provide the Hot Chocolate

Alison McDonald: Wuss. ‘Nuff said 😉

Steve Dunbobbin: You will finish this. You will not moan. You will savour that beer at the end!

Charley Schmarley Dwyer: Shame you can’t go… hope your colleagues chat is half as amusing as your own!

Gemma Mainprize: Dara da da da da… I’m lovin’ it!

Mark Lee: Bet you’re looking forward to not having to share a car with the man that can’t shut up for 4.5hrs!

Caroline Parker: Looking forward to seeing you ther…oh wait, you’re on the wrong side of the fence now! ;o)

Michael McIntyre / Army Man Dan: No excuses about your ‘Knees giving way’ this time ;o)

And many more I haven’t mentioned yet (but I will, don’t worry!)

Above all – let’s just make sure we all push ourselves and each other to get over the line… make some stonking money for our respective charities and then have a few beers to celebrate at the end of the day. You are collectively the best bunch of people I’ve ever worked with and I’m really looking forward to having another opportunity to have a get together pre whatever may happen in the near future.

Also, big thanks to Andy and Mark for agreeing to cover the costs of the charity participants in this endeavour – a very warm and welcome gesture and one which I’m sure we’ll all pass on our gratitude for.

Finally – Team Scotland now has it’s own Just Giving page for everyone taking part – please visit our page

or text REAL66 £x to 70070 if you’d prefer.

solution selling is dead - 2013 is the year of insight selling

Many B2B sales managers and executives assume that things like customer relationship building and a solution sales-based strategy are the key to B2B sales success. Unfortunately, those people are mostly wrong.

The reason? According to CEB executive director Matt Dixon, author of the The Challenger Sale, relationships and solution-based pitches are far less relevant in the information age. Today, rather than relying on B2B sellers to perform a needs diagnosis and problem assessment for them, B2B buyers are doing much of that research themselves. And while relationships still matter, the currency of what constitutes a valued relationship has changed dramatically.

As a result, Dixon explains, B2B sales has devolved into little more than a price war. And if your sales team isn’t comprised of salespeople who are willing to challenge buyers’ perceptions and deliver fresh insight that they haven’t yet considered, it’s a war that your company may very well lose.

In this roundtable interview, Dixon joins fellow B2B sales expert Steve Richard, co-founder of sales consultancy Vorsight, to define “challenger sales,” talk about why insight selling – not solution selling – reigns supreme in B2B sales, and share tips for converting customer-centric salespeople into thought-provoking challengers.

OpenView: Can you give us a quick overview of what “challenger sales” is all about?

Matt-DixonMatt Dixon: I think it’s important to start with what prompted the transition from solution selling to insight sellingin the first place. There are a lot of ancillary causes, but the obvious culprit is the sheer volume of information that buyers have access to today.

By the time the average B2B customer reaches out to a company or is contacted by a sales rep, that customer’s purchase decision is almost over. They’ve started to benchmark price and develop a list of detailed capabilities. Essentially, those customers have done the work that salespeople have long been trained to do for them.

Ultimately, that’s made B2B selling more of a fulfillment process than anything else.

Steve Richard of VorsightSteve Richard: Unless, of course, those salespeople fit the challenger sales persona. Those types of salespeople have figured out that B2B sales is now all about not just engaging customers where they’re buying, but where they’re learning, as well.

MD: That’s exactly right. One thing that we found in the challenger research for CEB’s membership is that the best salespeople are engaging customers where and how they learn – social media, social groups, web forums, online communities, blogs, etc. Doing that allows salespeople to position themselves as sources of unique insight, and gives them the opportunity to assertively challenge what customers think they know.


What are the general characteristics of challenger salespeople, and how can non-challenger salespeople get better at it?

Matt-DixonMD: When we designed the challenger sales study, we tried to examine things that were more about nurture than nature. There have been numerous studies done on personality typesand how they relate to B2B sales. We wanted to look at specific skills and competencies that can be taught or coached to help people get better over time.

We’ve studied almost 20,000 salespeople now, and what we’ve found is that salespeople generally fit into a few different profiles. Traditional wisdom would have you believe that relationship builders would be the highest quota attainers, but we’ve found that’s not true. The highest performers – at least according to our research – were the challenger salespeople. Those people are marked by their ability to politely and professionally challenge their prospects’ status quo and bring fresh insight to their businesses.

As for how I’d define the challenger sale, I think because of the word “challenger” a lot of people assume that we’re talking about the old-school idea of the unnecessarily pushy or provocative used car salesmen. But that’s not it. The challenger sale is really about finding a happy medium between being passive and assertive, and pushing prospects to think more critically or analytically about their needs or options.

Steve Richard of VorsightSR: What I found really interesting about Matt and (The Challenger Sale co-author) Brent Adamson’s research, was that challenger salespeople do not rely solely on the traditional solution sales question-and-answer routine. They might ask questions to identify a problem and match their solution to it, but that process is de-emphasized.

Instead, challenger salespeople prefer an insight selling strategy. They understand that B2B buyers today don’t want to be interviewed, and those buyers certainly don’t want to waste their time educating you on their business so you can sell to them.

MD: Steve hit the nail on the head. Buyers expect you to be prepared, especially as you get to the more senior level. Yes, buyers have access to more information than ever before, but so do sellers. And the onus is on those sellers to research basic information about a company before they call.

So by the time a challenger salesperson calls a prospect, he or she is prepared to intelligently and assertively deliver a point-of-view that the prospect may not have considered. For instance, they might call the CEO and say, “This is what I know about your company, these are the hypotheses I’ve formed, these are some trends that I’m seeing in your market, and this is how I think I can help.”

SR: Exactly. You earn the business value that you bring to the table. The challenger salesperson is still a relationship person, but they also have the ability to do “insight selling,” which is the hot new sales term. It used to be solution selling or customer-centric selling, but those sales philosophies are quickly losing their power.

In order to engage in insight selling, salespeople need to ask themselves some key questions:

  • Are you bringing fresh insight to your customers and prospects that they didn’t have before?
  • Are you teaching them something new about their business, industry, or competitors?
  • Are you causing fear, uncertainty, and doubt, to the point that prospects are worried that if they don’t do something, they might fail?

MD: That’s really what the challenger sales idea is all about. Does it mean that relationship selling is dead? Absolutely not. It just means that the currency of the relationship has changed. Whereas it was once defined by the salesperson’s willingness and ability to acquiesce to customer needs, it’s now defined by the unique insights that the salesperson can bring to the table.

Can sales managers take their existing salespeople and convert them into challenger salespeople, or do they need to proactively recruit salespeople who already have challenger sales qualities?

Matt-DixonMD: That’s a really interesting question and I don’t think there’s a simple answer. What we’ve found in our research is that the vast majority of salespeople have at least trace amounts of the challenger sales persona in them. It’s like an unused muscle that’s atrophied over time.

The truth is that salespeople who fail to convert to challenger sales or insight sales typically do so because they don’t want to change. It’s more of a will issue than a skill issue. Some salespeople simply dislike tension-laden conversations, and are unwilling to present potentially controversial hypotheses or viewpoints.

Steve Richard of VorsightSR: I agree with Matt. You can convert salespeople to challenger salespeople, but it’s definitely difficult. You needpeople who are willing and able to change. They have to possess a certain genetic code and be open to change, and the reality is a lot of salespeople are too set in their ways to change.

For people who already have the core challenger skills, the transition can be relatively painless. You just need to be willing to work closely with them and coach them in a way that fine-tunes their talents and tendencies. Building a team of rock star sales hunters requires a lot of effort, but it’s not impossible to do.

Ultimately, if a business is going to make a commitment to being an insight sales organization, it requires a big commitment from the CEO and executive team. They have to support and promote insight selling with their sales process, and the tools, content, collateral, and coaching they give their teams.

MD: Our data shows that roughly 70 percent of salespeople can learn and get better at challenger sales, so there’s no question that it’s possible to convert people from traditional solution selling to insight selling. For the salespeople who opt into the journey, we’ve seen marked improvement in their performance.

As Steve mentioned, it’s not an overnight transition and the conversion to challenger or insight selling must be supported by continuous teaching and coaching. If your sales managers or executives aren’t good coaches or teachers, then it won’t really matter how open those salespeople are to change. And in that scenario, it might make more sense to actively recruit salespeople with challenger competencies than to try to convert non-challenger salespeople.

It also requires active support of the organization — specifically, marketing — to generate the insights salespeople need to effectively challenge customer thinking.  So, it’s definitely a journey and a significant commitment from the company to get it right.


Nothing to do with either Advertising, social media or hiking!
I’m currently sat in the Horseshoe Pub in Glasgow City Centre enjoying a Peroni.

Normally I’d be stuck in the office with a large dose of Monday blues at this point but no, praise be to the big man for Bank Holidays!!

I’ve been dragged around the shops kicking and screaming my my good lady whilst she’s been looking at dresses and all kinds of assorted nonsense for her beautiful bridesmaids. Unfortunately I’m a stand in bridesmaid it seems… Fiona is in New Zealand, Angela is in London and my own sister is getting married in less than six weeks… Frick!

Ever get the feeling you’re going to get asked to try on a dress?

Someone come rescue me – quick smart!

Note how I’ve changed the title from Team Scotland Blog to Team Five Peaks Challenge? I think we can all now officially say that we were a 46 person strong team that undertook this challenge on Friday. Not the seven from Scotland or however many from all the other centres.

I’m lucky in that I already know quite a few people from Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle – but it was great to finally put faces to the names of a number of others from around the group I hadn’t had the privilege of meeting yet. I’m sure I’m not the only one who took this great positive away from Wasdale Head campsite.

APART that is, from my colleague and friend, James Stephens’ who may very well be cursing me for my lack of help! Not only did I pitch up an hour late and laugh at him and everyone else being like drowned rats from putting the tents up in the rain – I also got up and buggered off 2hrs before him and left him to take down the tent by himself… again, in the pissing rain! Sorry James… pint on it’s way to you soon, I promise!

I’m not going to dwell too much on the ins and outs of the challenge itself, as it’s covered in far better detail elsewhere… I’d rather concentrate on the feats of mental strength and camaraderie that people showed on the day and talk about that – as these to me were the real challenges that some had to overcome.

So let’s start with dinner on Thursday night. I got thrown in at the deep end to a group of 4. Imagine me, Helen Walledge, Jamie Griffiths and Callum Marks trying to make haute cuisine from some pasta, dolmio sauce, frankfurter sausages, sweetcorn and a tin of mushrooms (in brine). In Scotland we would use a certain word to describe the result of our hard work…


IMG_2016 IMG_2017 IMG_2018 Ummm






It got to the stage (particularly after we had wedged a tin open with a pen knife) that Jamie and I were seriously beginning to hatch a plan to kill, skin and slow boil one of the little lambs that were gamboling so playfully nearby. But we decided against it – but only because Helen is a vegetarian. Damn you.

I have to single Helen out for praise as without her I wouldn’t have made it through the challenge. She made my lunch rolls you see. And mighty fine ham and cheese rolls they were too. I was so impressed with her roll making ability, that I even offered to share my hot (tepid) chocolate with her at the top of Scafell pike, and anyone that knows me… knows that I don’t like to share! Thanks Helen 🙂

Next up is Gemma Mainprize. We found ourselves bizarrely whistling and singing the McDonald’s theme tune more than once throughout the day – not entirely sure how this came about – but at one point… going down the third peak, it stopped me from going every so slightly mental. So, durra da da da! I’m lovin’ it Gemma!

I also have to mention the kind soul (whom I cannot remember) who came to my aid with painkillers somewhere between the 2nd and 3rd peaks. Those that don’t know, I’ve had a number of issues with my knee in the past and it can give me some real pain on occasion. I didn’t have any painkillers, and the UTD team weren’t allowed to hand out – so thank you for passing them to me. Probably couldn’t have finished the challenge without them. I have a feeling it was Dan or Alex in the digital team – but as I spent most of the day staring at their footwear I’m not entirely sure. Help me track down the kind soul!

Speaking of the digital team. It was great to meet you all. Dan and Alex – you guys were helpful for the motivation of keeping up – I’m sorry we only got to finally chat in detail in the pub later! Kat… well, it was all going so swimmingly until you beat me at an arm wrestle… I’m not so sure I want to talk to you anymore… sniff. Ha!

But, before I finally say well done to my own team I want to finally name check a few of the guys who made a significant impression on me at the challenge due to their determination and sense of adventure. In no particular order:

Charley Dwyer, Julie Hainsworth, Linda Bailey, Steve Dunbobbin and Michael McIntyre.

You guys in particular inspired me throughout the day. What grit. What determination and well – what a feat! I single you guys out in particular as I know some of you weren’t sure even if you could complete the challenge at certain stages – so I’m so ridiculously proud of you all for doing it.

When it comes to Michael, I’m singling him out because the sod had been pretending he was tired all day – but was in fact keeping a bit in reserve to make sure he crossed the line first in a sprint finish. Hope the cramp wasn’t too bad in the end Michael. And I’m sure you took a huge amount of satisfaction out of pipping Hitler (sorry, Dan) to the finish!

Well done to LP, James, Gerry, Karen and Rob for overcoming the adversity of the challenge and completing it – a huge well done from me.

Last, but not least. Alison McDonald. Poor Aldo. My jumper and shoulder is still wet from all the tears we had at the end when she crossed the line. Her knees were shot, her legs were shot, her emotions were shot. But she went and bloody did it you know. And I think everyone, particularly our own Ewen Cameron should be praising her for a monumentous feat of achievement. To say she’ll be feeling a sense of achievement at this is a massive understatement.

I’ll leave you with some pictures of the challenge and sign off with the fact that, as of this morning, we raised an impressive £11,344.80 for Duchenne Now – an amazing charity, one of which I’d love to fundraise for again.

BUT YOU CAN STILL HELP! Donate via or text RSSC plus your donation to 70070 (i,e. RSSC £10)

You guys. All forty six of you, are absolutely amazing. I wish I could talk about all of you who pushed your own personal boundaries, but I tried to set a 1000 word limit and have already failed! Thank you so much to Laura Mather for coordinating this to make such a great trip for everyone. And also to you, Michael, Rob, LP and Tom from London for making such an entertaining trip back to the campsite from the pub on Friday night!