Guerrilla Teleselling 1998 Levinson Smith Wilson


Offshoot of an established series labelled with the guerrilla brand, this book claims it’s not designed to teach you to sell, but fine-tune how you do already for successful teleselling. A contradiction surely coming…

I was immediately put off by the first example used to highlight their hallowed ‘guerrilla’ mindset.

A rep that couldn’t get through sent a living, breathing carrier pigeon in a box. With instructions to attach the name of their target’s favourite restaurant, release the bird then meet for lunch there the next day.

He apparently got a letter of intent after 40 minutes at the eaterie for his business-running software.

There’s so much wrong with this.

Bud Fox finally landed his desired call after sending a personalised birthday gift to his whale, Gordon Gekko. That is, Charlie Sheen with Michael Douglas in the movie Wall Street.

Perhaps the only good thing to take from this isn’t fully drawn out by the authors, namely that cold calling is about more than merely dialling a number.

Subtitled New Unconventional Weapons and Tactics to Sell When You Can’t Be There In Person, I was pleased by how they set out to encompass all of telephone-based sales. Not just the obvious cold calling aspect.

Yet the sections not on cold calling were a little threadbare for my desires:

How to maintain a client relationship, genuine upselling (and its siblings) and how you both achieve progress and back this up sorely needed closer attention.

I’m all in favour of a bit of humour, but I prefer it not to take over from attitude and rely on gimmickry. A trio from just one section to illustrate my ire:

Sending helium balloons to prospect office, getting your child to call and say “my Dad’s going crazy, please call back as then when you do, daddy can take me for ice-cream” and the exchange;
[you] “tell him he’s a cold call waiting”
[gatekeeper] “what’s it about?”
[you] “if I told you what it’s about then it wouldn’t be a cold call!”.

Having said that, hidden in their 250 pages were the odd concept that triggered further thoughts for me (such as how you must cultivate a “spy” clientside, “kick off party” challenges and the merits of their “37 magic selling questions”). And a handful of one liners I particularly like.

“salespeople need to understand that even good prospects will say ‘no’ several times before they say ‘yes’ “
“finding someone ready [to buy] on the first call will happen less than 4% of the time”
“according to a 15-yr study conducted by the sales-training firm VASS, 67% of salespeople will volunteer to cut their price without being asked”
“we have no argument with people that sell for less – they know best what their products are worth”
“we’ll be the most expensive”

These help compensate for the truly outdated voicemail ideas and so called “ten-second commercial” of your cold call starter, for which they provide their own real world example;

“We’re the people who help organisations like yours increase their sales and profits with unconventional sales and marketing weapons and tactics. Who in your organisation is most responsible for developing your sales team?”

Sadly for me the book didn’t keep true to its titular promise. A Guerrilla – whether freedom fighter or terrorist – turns convention on its head to succeed. The ideas here don’t do that.

You can still read this book and take a couple of neat tactics that can contribute towards (greater) sales. But it’s more a standard sales instructional with their preceding marketing thoughts added as bookend filler. And that is both a shame and wasted opportunity.

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