Updated: Jan 19
I am currently on the look out for sales and entrepreneurial books that are revered as pre-requisites for sales people and entrepreneurs. As such, I review a number of sales blogs that refer to the top sales books to read. In the case of, "The little red book of selling," I found it to be listed on multiple sites which include:
Besides these, there are many other forums that list this book as a must read and as such I thought I should acquire it and learn.
A little on the author, Jeffrey Gitomer. Jeffrey Gitomer is a sales consultant, trainer and speaker and refers to himself as the king of sales. With 15 books and a large following it is no wander why he refers to himself as such. His writing career started with a sales column titled: "Sales Moves" which, still to this day, appears in a number of columns notably entrepreneur.com and the Charlotte Business Journal.
It is clear from the start of the book that Jeffrey Gitomer is a no bullsh*t sort of individual that knows what it takes to make a success of ones self in the field of sales. His consistent reference to hard work and persistence is consistent throughout the book ensuring that the reader is paying attention and aware of the dedication required to make a success of oneself. Additionally, his use of clear bullet point lists throughout the book, always ending in *.5, guides the reader to note important step-by-step instructions he/she should follow.
The book is broken down into a 11 principles which earmark each chapter. His use of playful animated graphics and inspiring quotations assure you that, whilst being dedicated to sales, playfulness and enjoyment are key to making a success of ones self in this cut throat industry.
With no further ado , let us get into the principles:
Principle #1: Kick your own ass Sales starts with you. Why are you selling? Do you understand that product/service that you are trying to sell and do you truly believe that the customer, should they buy, benefit from making use of your product/service. Additionally, he discusses personal motivation adding to the point that sales is a tough industry and only the brave will succeed. Are you willing to put yourself out there and have the right attitude to represent yourself and the product /service that you are introducing to your customer.
A self-diagnosed prescription of what to do when you hit a slump in your sales, which include cures such as hanging around positive and successful people and getting to work an hour before everyone else.
Principle #2: Prepare to win, or lose to someone who is Research, Research, Research... Before you meet a client, do what do you know about him/her and her organisation? Is the organisation currently going through tough times or growing? Are you prepared to answer any questions that may come from your customer regarding your product/service and how it will affect their organisation?
My immediate takeaway after reading this was to enforce this principle in my daily sales routine. Before any meeting, I research the person or people that I will be meeting, have they recently published anything, where did they study, what are their hobbies, etc. Some may refer to this as stalking but I rather seeing it as doing my homework. Additionally, I try get my hands on any information regarding the organisation that I will be meeting. Are they a listed entity? What comments does the CEO/C-level make in their integrated reports? Has the organisation recently appeared in the news and why? I ask myself, how can I use this information to my benefit to make my service/product stand out.
Jeffrey refers to the age old saying that: "if you fail to prepare who must be prepared to fail."
A concise 8.5 point list (not too sure why he always makes use of halves but at least he is consistent) of what you should be doing to prepare yourself for your meeting
Principle #3: Personal branding is sales: Its not who you know, its who knows you This theme of personal branding is something that I have read and re-read from multiple well known personalities including the likes of Brian Tracy, Gary Veynerchuck and Tony Robbins. First impressions count and this day and age first impressions are made before you meet face to face. If someone searches your name on Google , what comes up Have you done this research? What can you do to make sure that it is you that makes the list first.
Since reading this, I have started investing in SEO and Google Adwords to make sure that when my name is searched, people immediately find me, be it my LinkedIn account or personal website. Additionally, I have started researching what one needs to do to become a speaker so that when someone searches for someone to assist them grow their business, my name is the first to pop into their head.
Notable takeaways Become known as a person of action. This is my take away because it reverberates to my very core as it is something that I want to be known for - now and in my future.
Principle #4: It’s all about value, it’s all about relationship, it’s not all about price. I found this topic to be a tough one to deal with especially with the current climate in South Africa. Currently price is king, however, Jeffrey make a point of describing why emphasis should not be based on price but on the value you create and the service you offer. This is especially evident when maintaining customer loyalty. What are you currently doing within your organisation to ensure that your customers are satisfied with what you have to offer and not looking elsewhere for similar services. You should never be afraid to charge what you do for your product or services as long as you back it up with a valid service offering that gives you the confidence to ask for that price.
Additionally, have you a relationship with your client? Would you be able to take your client out for a friendly coffee or are you just in the line of doing business. Jeffrey stresses the importance of creating a relationship that is not sorely focused on business.
A line that stuck with me during this chapter: "Sales for the moment. Friends for life. Sales for the commission. Value for the fortune." Another is the 6.5 list for giving value and being valuable, daily tools one should use to add that extra value to your client and thus render price moot.
Principle #5: It’s NOT work, it’s NETwork Jeffrey asks the reader the question as to what he/she is doing to actively expand their network. What events, conference, seminars are you attending to consistently meet new people and are you having fun at these events. Your enjoyment will be evident when you meet people and is not something that can be faked. So... find events that suit your personality and ambitions as your enjoyment will come across in your attitude.
Notable Takeaways A 3 point list on what to do to be successful:
- create a 30 second commercial of yourself
- Willingness to attend and take part in events
- A plan of which events to attend
Another takeaway is Jeffrey's 21.5 best places to network, Number 18 and 19 showcase Jeffrey's fun attitude towards sales and networking.
Principle #6: If you can’t get in front of the real decision maker, you suck Harsh words but true. Again, this points to research. Do you know who is signing the cheques in the organisation that you are visiting? Does your presentation effectively communicate your value proposition to the decision maker? Are you askin g the right questions to turn a No to a one-to-one meeting into a Yes.
This is something that myself and my organisation, Braeven Solutions, specialize in (apologies for the sublte plug). When we consult with our clients the first thing we ask them to do is to try and sell the product/service to us as if we were the client. We then take notes and advise them what needs to be changed to fully engage with the client to make sure that they fully understand what you are trying to sell them and why they should consider taking you on.
Don't let your prospect become a salesman on your behalf. Do what it takes to make sure that you are in front of the decision maker and selling tot hem directly. Jeffrey creates a 2.5 list to prevent being referred to as a salesman but rather as a partner.
Principle #7: Engage me and you can make me convince myself This principle, again, points to the effectiveness of your presentation or "Pitch." What can you do to make sure that you customer will convince himself that your product is superior and is something that should be seriously considered. Being able to read your client, their tone, body language and facial expressions is crucial to know whether he or she is going to forget you as soon as you leave the room or whether they are immediately going to take your idea to their board. Additionally, are you asking the right questions and have you appropriately prepared the questions to make your prospect take you seriously.
Jeffrey advised to create a list of 15 to 25 questions that uncover needs, problems, pains, concerns and objections that you can ask your client.
Principle #8: If you can make them laugh, you can make them buy This point is something that I had never considered before when engaging with my clients. Humour is a powerful tool that I see many a salesman, myself included, completely overlook. The ability to tell a story and make your client laugh will immediately relieve pressure on yourself and create a light hearted atmosphere. An atmosphere that will allow you to fully engage with the client and make them drop their guard. This is something I have particularly noted with my mentor, who has a great knack of stopping his pitch to tell a funny story. Again this is true of notable speakers who will start serious discussions with a humorous story or anecdote that gets the audiences attention and make them want to hear more.
A 15.5 list on what you can do to improve your humour and ability to tell a compelling and humorous story.
Principle #9: Use CREATIVITY to differentiate and dominate Are you a follower or a creator/leader? Are you making use of the same old template or presentation without consistently asking yourself what can be done to amplify the message that I am trying to put across to my client. This principle speaks into your capabilities to differentiate yourself and your product/service from everyone else thats on the market. Personally, I took the advise to change my voicemail to be one that makes a caller laugh so as to leave a lasting impression. Simply yet effective techniques that can slowly but surely push you towards success.
Notable Takeaways Jeffrey's personal 13.5 list of elements that drive his creative process. Number 5, your self-belief, is one that particularly stuck with me.
Principle #10: Reduce their risk and you’ll convert selling to buying What are you doing to make your clients decision less risky. Effective branding testimonials, social proof and trust are all key to make your clients decision making that little bit easier. What obstacles are currently negatively affecting your client's decision making and what can you do to remove them.
Notable Takeaways Jeffrey's list of risks that go through a clients mind are useful when creating your presentation and question list. I have tried to identify these risks with my clients and try negate them when attempting to close the sales and make them feel re-assured that there is little to no risk in going with us.
Principle #11: When you say it about yourself it’s bragging. When someone else says it about you it’s proof Growth strategies such as marketing and public relations are effective in creating leads, however, nothing is more powerful than referrals. Referrals or word of mouth are a powerful tool that most business owners and salesman disregard. Jeffrey emphasizes the point of engaging with your current clients to assist you in getting others. Effective testimonials through whatever medium can be that final push your prospect needs to trust you and make use of your product/services.
Notable Takeaways Be specific and have a clear intention when creating a testimonial.
Principle #12: Antennas up! This principle speaks to a persons ability to stay in the moment and be fully aware. Opportunities are always available and there are definite explanations as to why certain individuals are consistently attaining success and that comes down to their ability to take advantage of opportunities that present themselves. This ability to stay in the moment is one that I personally struggle with and have now made a point to remind myself to pay attention to what I am thinking about. Jack Canfield in his book, "The success Principles" makes a point of advising readers to take note of your thoughts at every moment.
Notable Takeaways 6 Positive sales sensors to actively enforce in your day to day thinking.
Principle #12.5: Resign your position as general manager of the universe
There is a reason as to why humility is an attractive personality trait. It allows people to speak to you without them feeling that you are above them. All distinguished leaders There is a reason as to why humility is an attractive personality trait. Jeffrey advised to take charge of this personality trait as you success to make sure that people will at all times empathize with you and truly listen to what you have to say.
Notable Takeaway His list of "why I"elements of personal development make you stop and think about why you are currently doing what you are doing. Very philosophical but a greaet way to end the book.
In conclusion, as I reflect the principles stated above I take note of the truly accomplished sales people that I have read about or witnessed selling. These traits seem to come naturally to them , however, there is no reason why anyone else looking to have career in sales, cannot gain the knowledge and experience to embody the principles in daily life.