Here’s a book that cost me thirteen quid in an airport bookstore, not long after it was published in 2007. (The cover also says US$25). As the saying often goes, you pays your twenty dollars, spend your half-dozen hours and hope for one key must-do to take into the field.
I’m pleased to say I did get that one lovely idea triggered from my read.
Much of the rest of the book though found me muttering grumbly to myself.
For a start, the title. As explained early, the author rails against the vast majority of people that talk as if they have a bucket of jelly and lob it in the vague direction of their audience in the hope some will stick. Everyone in Sales I am sure knows this metaphor. Often framed as ‘chuck enough mud at the wall and…’ Or in it’s more recognisable form of thrown substance matter. Which, let’s face it would have been a brave title; The (ahem) Excrement Effect. Not a smooth start. If you’re going to use a metaphor, best make it a new funky one, rather than take a lame synonym.
Then there’s an overcoming-hardship backstory to contend with. Like most people I know, I also turn off from this kind of Simon Cowell reality show approved script. The implication here is that your ability to see things from another’s viewpoint is heightened by enduring familial blindness. As someone myself with an impairment in this regard, this just didn’t sit right with me. Still, he makes his point and we move on.
He chooses four fields to help us in; networking events, how to sell more, referrals & presentations.
His main thrust is that you must focus on what will be left with the audience “after” you’ve pitched. And in true self-help fashion, an omnipresent acronym for this keyword of his slots neatly into place.
Whilst not really game-changing I do of course applaud someone promoting the same kind of concepts as I hold dear.
There are issues though. His target readership is too broad. I don’t find the all-things-to-all-reps slant works. Then there’s the obvious flaw that all the ‘sell’ advice is for the one-on-one type only. Not that such should be ignored, but it can whiff of the trite hookline syndrome. A good example of this is how he recounts a price objection handle. He staves off discount by saying a conference talk is free, they’re rather paying for the resultant sales, but hardly in a plausible manner.
And the final, presentation tip section does not hold together well. Again, trying to be universally prescriptive.
I also struggled with how someone so attuned to the visual interface could allow such wholly horrible chapter summaries to exist. Like typical 90s powerpoints, they’re practically illegible and demonstrate zero usable design literacy.
Then the positives, I liked the guy. A case of his surname influencing his life. He does ‘bound’ enthusiastically through his subject. And as I’ve said already, he happily pushes at my open door on many areas. For instance, this pair of lines that sum up his philosophy;
“The most important, most interesting, most critical fact to tell a customer, is what they’ll be left with after you’ve done your work.”
(adaptation of a George Bernard Shaw quote) ‘what prospects seek is not knowledge on your business operations, but certainty you can deliver an amazing legacy’
As well as knowing;
- that when you’ve sold, you must shut up,
- facts tell stories sell,
- connect with how your audience is judged,
- usp is infuriating and should be unique buying point, and
- your customers want problem solvers not technicians.
Plus two borrowed quotes;
“The grass isn’t greener on the other side. It’s greener where you water it” and
“if you think hiring a professional is expensive, try hiring an amateur”.
So, what of my main takeaway personally? Well. I’ve long both practiced and preached going well beyond the signature when talking to your prospects.
Every Prop I write has a section on expectations further down the line. I do smile with pride when constructing the timeline for all these. This has tended to include both eventual benefits realised as well as how they are achieved. So I loved his chat on legacies. So much, that it made me realise that I can bring this out more. Whether in conversation, slidedeck or proposal.
A separate piece, especially entitled Legacy, strikes me as excellent. It may well be already in the mix, but to explicitly bring it out is a real winner.
Six years on and now there’s a follow-up, The Snowball Effect. I did wonder what slang that’s a replacement for…If I ever get through my shelves and folders of more Solution orientated sales books I may find out …