Cornwell Management Consultants gives praise where it’s due

A letter published in a management consultancy newsletter is powerful testimony to the effectiveness of SPIN®.

At Huthwaite, we promise measurable results from our training courses, and we realise that we, too, need to measure our own performance as a business partner. Nowadays, businesses attach a lot of importance to quantitative analysis; sales data, numbers, statistics and econometrics. But qualitative measurement (the anecdotal response, the human reaction) can get overlooked. So it’s always good to hear stories about how our programmes are received.

Mike Poole, a principal consultant at Cornwell Management Consultants plc, attended one in a series of Huthwaite SPIN® programmes. Cornwell is one of the UK’s leading independent consultancies, and works with both public and private sectors at home and overseas, delivering strategic planning and business transformation, information and knowledge management, cost reduction, and change and programme management.

The SPIN® course which Mike attended was delivered by Deane Hitchens of Huthwaite, who was delighted to read the following tribute in the form of a letter Mike submitted to the Cornwell internal newsletter:


Selling SPIN®

Let’s get the message clear up front – this is a great training course. All our people who deal with clients need to go on it, either to learn a lot or a little, or to share their best practice with colleagues.

Have you been on sales training before? I confess I was a bit sceptical when I received the documents about the SPIN® approach.Then again, I have a tendency to be sceptical anyway, and I had asked for training in selling, so even though I shy away from terms like ‘Cornwell’s value propositions’, I decided to just go and see what it was about.

What it is about is codifying and applying common sense, based on years of research into the behaviours of successful salespeople. It’s also a bit of a misnomer as SPIN® has an unethical implication to it these days, whereas this approach is straightforward. I discovered that I was already doing a lot of what was suggested, but that there are a lot of occasions when I could apply it better. As with so many things in life, the principle was easy, and the application more difficult. If you’ve ever doubted this, then think about achieving your perfect weight – you already know how to do it, but…

Do you ever find you don’t get the information or client response you want from a question? Our time was split between classroom learning and roleplaying – recorded on audio, which isn’t as intimidating as video. It’s a sobering experience to hear yourself ask a massive, rambling multiple choice question while the client patiently waits to see if you are going somewhere useful anytime soon... Do you think we might get more business if we didn’t do that?

The tutor was highly professional. He was friendly, knowledgeable and supportive, but he kept us largely to time and to the subject in hand – no mean feat when dealing with management consultants, as you know. We may have brains the size of the planet, but many of us also have the attention span of a fruit fly.

It was also a very sociable occasion, with time for good food, wine and chat.The standard of the venue was generally impressive, with the notable exception of the coffee – but I’m sure Patrick will sort that out in the next iteration.

Wouldn’t you like to go on a fun training course, at a good venue, with friendly people, which will improve your sales ability? SPIN® – you know it makes sense.

Mike Poole Principal consultant

Mike has said it all, really. Perhaps we mayadd – with his blessing – that Cornwell was keen to challenge SPIN® from the outset, looking for a robust academic foundation with a practical delivery.We’re happy to report that SPIN® was not found to be wanting, and achieved real buy-in from the Cornwell consultants.The fact that the programme is deeply and firmly rooted in research, that it is founded on the traits of successful salespeople, and that it is highly customisable, makes SPIN® unassailable. As a group of professed solo heroes, the SPIN® training got them to think smarter about asking the right questions of the right individuals. The SPIN® framework has the structure and flexibility, even for consultants, to perfectly align with the strategy of developing the Cornwell way.