Over the last 10 months or so, not surprisingly, I have started to enjoy reading books about sales. I find that, even if I don’t put every last detail into practice, while I’m reading them, I get a buzz of enthusiasm for the task of selling in the first place.
This particular book is put out by the Miller Heiman firm, who specialise in training salespeople to sell to large companies. The reason for this specialty is that it seems to be the case that salespeople who sell well on small things (like, say, vacuum cleaners) don’t always make the best salespeople for something much larger (like, say, arts sponsorship).
One of the issues that this book is trying to address is the dilemma of salespeople who consistently try “tricks” and “techniques” to convince the prospective customer to buy whatever they are selling.
Not surprisingly, while this kind of thing might work well if you’re down at Harvey Norman looking for a vacuum cleaner, you’re much less likely to get away with this kind of thing with the Marketing Manager of one of Australia’s leading banks. (Actually, I hate all salespeople that try hard-sell tactics – and charity salespeople, the worst of all, because they’re the on-the-street face of organisations that are supposed to be making the world a better place.)
This particular book (which, available from Amazon, is a heck of a lot cheaper than the Heiman Miller training course of the same name) deals specifically with what you say when you’re actually in the face-to-face sales meeting and is half of the Heiman Miller sales process. (The other half is in The New Strategic Selling, which I shall review in due course.) Or, more specifically, how to plan out your sales calls so that you actually have something sensible to say to move the sale along.
I’ll definitely be utilising some of the insights in this book when planning sales visits in the future, but this book breaks things down into so much detail, that I’m not sure that any salesperson would have the time to analyse their potential sales calls in this way. I’m pretty confident that if they did, they would have very good conversations, and know exactly where the conversation is going when they’re talking to their customer – but it would be a lot of work.
But then again, if you practised these techniques (such as thinking specifically about what information you need to uncover, what information you need to offer, etc), they would probably start to become second nature to you. So maybe it only appears clunky at a first reading.
My favourite book of this type is Neil Rackham’s SPIN Selling, which offers a far simpler methodology, which has also been backed up by extensive statistical testing of thousands of salespeople (bound to appeal to an old statistician like myself). But this Conceptual Selling book is light years ahead of learning about closing techniques, cold calling skills and psychological pressure points – and that can only be a good thing in the selling world.
4 out of 5.