Getting Real - 37signals (sales perspective review)

First let me state that this is not a sales book.  Rather, it is a business-autobiography from a web-based software provider (or cloud app developers, if you prefer).  It charts the journey and ethos of a business that by any measure has been a game-changing financial and social success in the five years since serendipitous launch.

As with all such tomes, it’s necessary to filter out all negativity that the adjective “american” conjurs in a non-US resident’s mind.  Namely, to ignore the screaming vanity, brash ego, unwarranted hyperbole, lack of depth and needless repetition.  But the rewards should you do so are plain to enjoy from the other side of that ‘american’ coin that (like the names of English battleships of yore) are illuminated by four space shuttle names; enterprise, discovery, challenger, endeavour.

The reason why I read (twice at the first sitting) this how-to guide in their field, is that I myself am developing a suite of personal web-based tools to handle a salesperson’s entire non-crm intelligence requirements.  Once I came across these guys’ blog, I knew we shared so much philosophy that I was keen to discover how my Cape Town development team would contribute to the debate.

Even the book alone has, they proudly claim, earned them around $600,000, so here are the seven main sales tips I took from it that could be readily applied to any selling pursuit:

have an enemy, pick a fight“.  Pushing a yawning-wide open door with me, I always maintain that you become more focussed and successful if you can picture who it is you’re trying to beat, and constantly reference this visualisation.

explicitly define your single-point vision“.  It is astounding the number of times I ask a group of reps what it is that a particular product of theirs does and all I get in response are mumbles and mistakes.

do less than your competition to beat them“.  They go on to explain, “solve the simple problems and leave the hairy, difficult, nasty problems to everyone else.  Instead of one-upping, try one-downing.  Instead of outdoing, try underdoing.”

hire the right customers“.  This is especially true when launching a new product, when shoe-horning just one inappropriate prospect into client clothing can derail the entire programme.

avoid preferences, decide on details so customers don’t have to“.  Often too much choice can bedazzle a prospect into looking elsewhere.

make first-run experience stunning“.  Every time you get a brand new customer, this is so essential it’s scary.

tease, preview, launch“.  How often do you talk to your client base or prospects about what’s coming along during the next few months?

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