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.

A couple more quotes from Peter:

All salesmen are actors: their priority is persuasion, not sincerity.


What nerds miss is that it takes hard work to make sales easy.

Zero to Run makes a great read. It is developed from a student’s notes of Peter’s lectures at Stanford in 2012. It’s skimmable  (always a factor for me) and has some great views on running a business startup (as you would expect from a guy who has been extraordinarily successful at doing it himself)

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