What They Don't Teach You At Harvard

Mark McCormack, as he likes to point out on every other page of this best-selling memoir, is the man ‘who made Arnold Palmer rich’. Indeed, Mark McCormack covets credit for founding the entire sports management industry.

He wrote many books aimed at telling a general business audience what you need to pick up, that is not to be found at Harvard Business School, Yale Law School (where he himself went), or on the Internet.

The one that’s of interest to winning salesreps is the first; ‘Harvard’. Another unashamed airport book, yet it manages to keep your interest throughout the heavily anecdote laden text, mainly because you get a feel for the fact that he actually appears to have lived his life according to the edicts he printed.

If you’re not into the sporting life, then most of the tales will leave you cold. Luckily, there is an absence of American-only “sport” stories. Golf provides the bulk of the material.

Also, of the business examples, there’s often not a clear relationship between the point being made and the actual story itself. Compounding this, many of these examples do not tell you the names of those involved. Both are frustrating flaws.

What is great though, is that McCormack clearly revels in the selling sphere. And of the three main sections, some of the first and all of the second are thankfully devoted to sales.

This 1984 book is considered to have weathered well, so time for a refresher:

  • Persistence is vital.
  • ‘No’ may just mean now is bad timing.
  • Extend, Renew, Renegotiate a contract when the other party is at their happiest. Not when the thing is about to run its course. And remember that Happiness may have nothing to do with your product.
  • Make venues work for you. Why do all your deals in the buyer’s office?
  • Don’t be a victim of the ‘your own worst enemy syndrome’. Don’t alienate people who may help you. Remember the people situations it always comes down to.
  • Watch your Listen/Talk ratio.
  • Beware giving buyers deadlines. At the end of the month, they know the deal will still be open tomorrow and you will lose credibility and probably the order itself. Don’t be definite, say ‘it’ll be tricky to keep this open…’
  • A lot of reminders to use Silence to your advantage. Make others speak by shutting up.
  • Think about why people feel good about using what you provide and sell on those emotions and values.
  • Know your product, believe in it and sell it with total enthusiasm.
  • Don’t be misled by titles printed on business cards whilst determining the decision making process.
  • Find a Star in the buying company and make them shine brightly.
  • “Get them a little bit pregnant” by getting them visualising life with your product.
  • “Unite and Conquer” – Ask two people the same question and when both like the idea, get them together working for their common goal.

There are also some decent snippets on Negotiating, the top 3 pointers here are:

1. “The point of negotiation is to reach an agreement that is mutually advantageous to both parties”
2. Don’t Deal In Round Numbers. $100K is crying out to be reduced. Make it $98,450 or better, $104,379.
3. Remove ambiguity. Eg: when dealing with Time if you talk about a ‘day’, what does this actually mean? The full 24-hour period? 9 to 5? What exactly?

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