This article was originally published on April 23rd 2008. Sales skills are still a critical component of career success, no matter your title, position, or role!
It’s pretty obvious that there are a lot of sales books on the market. If there is any doubt in your mind, just look at the bookshelf full of them at your local Barnes and Noble. I tend to read less and less of them, because once you’ve read twenty, you realize they all say the same thing. I picked up Jim’s book because I was recommended to it by a client.
Most of my work is focused on improving the person beyond the sales process, but it’s still important to look at the process itself. Written in 1990, this book would have been in the forefront of the evolution of sales from a transactional process to a relationship process (it’s called Relationship Selling, but it’s hard to say that this was the seminal book). Even though relationship selling is a buzzword that has been and gone, the concept remains incredibly valuable.
Implications, Ideas, and Questions
- A powerful concept Jim talks about is how both customers and salespeople have different personalities. This is pretty much a given, but he points out that often salespeople expect the customer to adjust to their personality, and not the other way around. This is backwards – a sales rep should adjust to their customer.
- He talks about using questions and he created some categories for questions that were very effective (pg 61–62):
- Clarifying – to bring your information together to see if you’re on target
- Verifying – to check your conclusions, data, or facts or to confirm an existing conclusion
- Expanding – to seek new information on a subject you are already discussing
- Directing – changing the direction of the conversation or bringing up a new subject
- I teach my clients about how to find an individual’s “hot button”, or what’s most important to them in their decision making process. Jim calls this hot button the dominant buying motive (pg 67) and I think that’s a fantastic name.
Should you Read this Book
If you are looking to refine or define your sales process, yes. A lot of the material seems obvious in most current sales cultures, but when this book first came out, it was probably a little more on the edge. The marketing and prospecting material is a little basic and not as helpful, but it’s a great foundation if you are trying to build more relationships through your sales process.
A great quote from his concluding thoughts (pg 119):
“We judge ourselves by our intentions, but others judge us by our actions.”