What is Sales – A View From An Expert?

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I’m reading a good book called Zero to One, written by Peter Thiel, one the guys who founded PayPal. My life was changed by that app – my wife would agree.

Peter includes a chapter on sales which looks like it’s written for people in business who don’t understand sales – to the extent that in their business sales does not exist.

For instance:

“The most fundamental reason that even businesspeople underestimate the importance of sales is the systematic effort to hide it at every level of every field in a world secretly driven by it.”

Wow! A very elegant statement of a phenomenon that, after many years in sales, I continue to run into.

“The engineer’s grail is a product great enough that “it sells itself.” But anyone who would actually say this about a real product must be lying: either he’s delusional (lying to himself) or he’s selling something (and thereby contradicting himself).”

Engineering companies hate to admit they have salespeople. A consultant friend of mine in Germany has a large contract to help ease a large construction company into the idea that they should build a sales department. They realized this after too many competing companies taking business from them.

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Book Review – Mastering Major Account Selling

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Mastering Major Account Selling

Mastering Major Account Selling is a free e-book by Richard Ruff and Janet Spirer of Sales Momentum, a sales training company, and it is available at their website, along with a smartphone app.

The title is an imposing agenda for any book, and immediately my mind went to a 400-page text with research and examples and lessons and case studies that would take a semester in college to read and understand and absorb, to say nothing of writing a review of it.

Instead, I found a 25-page expanded list of things to do in major account selling – a very complete and valuable list, at that. Think of it as the condensed version of the 400-page text. If I were highlighting all of the important points as I read that textbook, this would be my compilation of the yellow lines. It would be in my briefcase, and I would review it from time to time and try to better understand and apply the principles.

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Book Review – The Birth of a Salesman by Walter Friedman

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Birth of a Salesman

I often mention the book The Birth of a Salesman by Walter Friedman in my articles on professional sales and selling, and I believe the time has come to thank the author for these many references by writing a review about this fantastic book and making more people aware of it.

I didn´t know of Walter Friedman until a few months ago when I was researching the learning of sales through the history and reading another interesting book, The Art of The Sale by Philip Broughton. I came across a quote from Professor Friedman that caught my attention. It said, “While business schools continue to offer some kind of sales management instruction, usually in larger contexts of marketing courses, they do not offer programs aiming at salesmanship skills. The topic remains as in 1910, more suitable to ‘how to’ or ‘memories of a successful salesman’ books than for academic courses.”

Among other things, what caught my attention and led me to read Friedman´s book was the word ‘salesmanship’. Although it is not exactly a new word, I had not yet seen that word being used in the same way as the common ‘entrepreneurship’.

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Book Review: Cracking the LinkedIn Sales Code

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Cracking The Linkedin Sales Code

I’ll keep this short. I have to, otherwise it would take you longer to read this review than to read the actual e-book.

This is a very useful book. Download it. Read it. Use it. There, all done. Everything after this is filler. I get paid by the word. (Not really. If I were, I’d be reviewing Cryptonomicon, 1,168 pages.)

This is an e-book, you download it for free and there are eighteen very short pages of actual text, so there is no excuse not to read it except you’re being obtuse. LinkedIn is one of the most important sales tools available to us, and when you read the book, you’ll find out that people aren’t using it! You know what that is, don’t you? An advantage. A head start. A boost. Who would have thought that this far into its history, LinkedIn would still be underutilized by professionals who have something to gain from it?

This is a what-to-do book, not a how-to-do it. You’re on your own there, but its inconsequential because the LinkedIn site is pretty intuitive, and if you do what Jill Konrath and Ardath Albee (the authors) tell you to, the how is pretty obvious and easy.

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Yes – That The Economist

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Today we’re re-publishing an article that we thought merits a second look, or a first one if you missed it last time around.

I read The Economist a lot. I subscribe to it and find that it provides nice summary articles about what’s going on in world affairs and in politics and in commerce, with a bit of culture thrown in for good measure.

In the business book section of the April 7th – 13th 2012 issue is an article reviewing two recent books about sales. The title of the article is “Salesmanship – Ice to the Eskimos.” Here are my observations on what the venerable journal has to say about our profession.

“Without sales, companies would not exist.”

So why is selling essentially ignored in academia? The Economist says that Mark Benioff, the founder of Salesforce.com, complains that the sales profession is ignored by business schools and hardly even considered as a management subject. That’s good, because if Benioff feels like this, he has some power and the tool to change things. How about the Mark Benioff Department of Professional Sales at USC, where he went to school?

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My Detractor

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Sales Automation Done Right I was glad to see Meryl Streep take away an Oscar for her performance as Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady.” She is wonderful at turning herself into a totally plausible character such as Thatcher, and a while back, Julia Child.

People were not so thrilled about the Thatcher film itself. A bit thin, and too much emphasis on Mrs. Thatcher’s health issues in later life. It must be tough for the team that wrote, produced and directed the film, when your leading lady does an Oscar performance but reviewers don’t think that your work cut it.

It’s tough to take criticism, no one likes it. My book, Sales Automation Done Right has never gone mainstream, but it has gathered some enthusiastic support and is being used as a college-level text. Before I published, I got a few early positive comments for it which are referenced on the outer cover of the book.

The thing is, whenever I Google “sales automation done right” I can only come up with one review by someone named Tab. This is how I felt when I read it:

Tab: All I can say is wow.

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Yes – That ‘The Economist’

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I read The Economist a lot. I subscribe to it and find that it provides nice summary articles about what’s going on in world affairs and in politics and in commerce, with a bit of culture thrown in for good measure.

In the business book section of the April 7th – 13th 2012 issue is an article reviewing two recent books about sales. The title of the article is “Salesmanship – Ice to the Eskimos.” Here are my observations on what the venerable journal has to say about our profession.

“Without sales, companies would not exist.”

So why is selling essentially ignored in academia? The Economist says that Mark Benioff, the founder of Salesforce.com, complains that the sales profession is ignored by business schools and hardly even considered as a management subject. That’s good, because if Benioff feels like this, he has some power and the tool to change things. How about the Mark Benioff Department of Professional Sales at USC, where he went to school?

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What’s Not In Books About Sales

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I once bought four books about sales … in one week. They were all quite new at the time, and very different. If I have a glance around my bookshelves, I have about a hundred books devoted to sales, salespeople and sales management. The reason I am thinking about them now is that I am writing my second book. It is, like my first book (Sales Automation Done Right, SalesWays Press, 2005), devoted to sales methodology, although the first one mixed in a bit of technology. When writing, it’s good to see what has already been said before you embark on a project that you feel has something new to say about a subject.

When I review books on the sales process, it strikes me that the human interplay between customer and salesperson must be complex; if that wasn’t the case, how could so much be written about it? The first thing that comes to mind is that almost all of these books targeting salespeople are tactical. I use the word tactical to describe the actions of the salesperson as they are in front of the customer, whether it is what questions to ask, what to listen for, what information to retrieve, and the like. The emphasis is on the interaction with the customer as it happens in these few minutes or hours, on this day in time.

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How to Sell Anything to Anybody (Except Me)

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I don’t know who Joe Girard is, although I probably should. According to his website, he is the Deloitte & Touche-certified, Guinness Book of World Records designated “World’s Best Salesman.” I wouldn’t know that if I hadn’t been waiting in line at FedEx while sending off a package.

FedEx sells books in their stores. Yes, they do. Talk about an impulse buy. No one goes to FedEx to shop for books, so the titles had better resonate with those of us standing in line with nothing to do but scan the book rack. And the title that set me to vibrating was Joe’s book How to Sell Anything to Anybody.

Not vibrating in a good way, but shaking with irritation and frustration. The title is simply offensive to me. It demeans sales as a profession and makes us all look like sleazy tricksters who mesmerize unsuspecting people into spending their money on something they don’t want or need. In my case, Joe’s book. This is like Tolstoy deciding to call War and Peace ‘Bloody Love’ to sell more copies. Actually, he kind of did that. The first version of War and Peace was titled 1805. By comparison. War and Peace sounds downright Ludlum-ian (or Clancy-esque or Gresham-rific, take your pick).

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