The Little Red Book of Selling: 12.5 Principles of Sales Greatness

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9780743572545: The Little Red Book of Selling: 12.5 Principles of Sales Greatness

Salespeople hate to read. That's why Little Red Book of Selling is short, sweet, and to the point. It's packed with answers that people are searching for in order to help them make sales for the moment—and the rest of their lives.

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From the Publisher:

How to Make Them Want to Buy

By DAVID DORSEY

Wall Street Journal; May 3, 2006; Page D10

If you're in sales and you quote from "the little red book," you probably won't be mistaken for a communist these days. Jeffrey Gitomer's "The Little Red Book of Selling" is itself selling: more than a half-million copies world-wide since it was published.

It's not hard to see why. This isn't just a red book; it's a Red Bull of high-energy sales tips and counsel. The author's personality comes through with blunt wit he's part personal trainer, part standup comic. (If his advice doesn't work, Mr. Gitomer says, "don't be blaming me. Not only do these principles work, they work in the Northeast, where people eat their young.") The pages have plenty of white space, color-coded tips and Dilbertesque cartoons offering instruction on how to tackle complaints that would keep you from making sales FOREVER! (This sort of type treatment looms large in more ways than one.) You could read the entire book on a coast-to-coast flight, with time to spare, but it's probably better approached like a box of chocolates: Consume a few bullet points a day, because more than that is going to feel excessive.

As you read "The Little Red Book of Selling," one thing becomes clear: Ecclesiastes was right there is nothing new under the sun. Work hard! Be prepared! Ask good questions! Make friends! Does anyone need to be told these things? Well, it can't hurt. Mr. Gitomer's admonitions to get out and network, meet decision makers, use creativity and (his central principle) don't sell, make people want to buy!!! are advice that, if you're in sales, you've heard a thousand times.

Yet when Mr. Gitomer gets into details, his thinking is fresh and amusing. He offers five pages on crafting a good voicemail greeting. My favorite, though its facetiousness could wear thin after a few hearings: "Hi, this is Jeffrey Gitomer. I wish I could talk to you but I can't. Please leave your American Express number with expiration date, and I'll get right back to you." He claims three people a day dutifully recite the information into the phone and then hang up.

Now Mr. Gitomer has followed up "Selling" with "The Little Red Book of Sales Answers." Subtitle: "99.5 Real World Answers That Make Sense, Make Sales, and Make Money." The sequel is just as red (outside) and white (inside) as its predecessor. And it, too, is a best seller, having spent the past two weeks on the Journal's business-books list. There's less bite-sized philosophizing, though, and more practical tips. Mr. Gitomer goes straight to tactics: How do you control a phone conversation? Ask questions. In doing so, you set the direction and begin to learn what you need to know in order to offer something of value. "If you ask enough of the right questions, you don't have to make many statements," he writes. Easier said than done, but you can put the book down, pick up the phone and see if it works.

On some matters, Mr. Gitomer is nearly useless. His suggestions for how to get over a fear of failure and a sense of inadequacy following an incident of rejection all boil down to: Think positive! But then, a few paragraphs later, he produces a wise response, gleaned from years of experience, to the question "Should I sign a non-compete?" If you're a new hire, there may be no other option, he says, but have a lawyer look at the agreement to make sure it's fair. If you're an established employee and your employer suddenly springs a non-compete agreement on you, he writes, "then something is drastically wrong."

Mr. Gitomer is at his most engaging when drawing on electronic newsletter, or e-zine, and produce material that is useful to prospective customers. (Minor problem: You have to come up with the mailing list yourself. Mr. Gitomer offers no tips here. At this point, if he were your boss, he'd be your worst nightmare: "Here's a great idea, kid! But first go out and find 5,000 people who are dying to hear what you have to say!") Now notify the person whom you would otherwise be cold-calling that you want to do an interview for your e-zine and that you will be bringing a photographer. Conduct the interview (without bringing up your product or service), publish the prospect's comments and photo, and send the e-zine to him. Not only will you get that face-to-face appointment, you've probably already made your sale.

This is where Mr. Gitomer is best: taking a problem and setting it within a startling and often uncomfortably assertive context. How do you get better leads than your competition? Network, of course. But don't just show up at an event, down a few drinks and collect a few business cards. Wrangle an invitation to be the featured speaker. Offer so much value in your talk that prospective customers will be cold-calling you.

What's especially solid about Mr. Gitomer's books is their grounding in ethics (his e-zine suggestion isn't devious; it's just smart). Success, for him, comes from the heart. He concludes his new book with the idea that you must love what you do and do it honestly. If you don't love it, you'll just be in it for the money, and that leads to short-cuts and pressure selling not to long-term friendships based on an actual exchange of value. He reminds us that top sales reps don't peddle; they solve problems and make customers laugh while offering them something they genuinely need. The highest-achieving sales folks work harder than everyone else because their job is their passion. In the end, it's hard to argue with a consultant whose guiding principle is: "If you want to be the best salesperson, first you must be the best person."

Mr. Dorsey is the author of "The Force" (1994), about a year in the lives of a top Xerox sales manager and his team.

About the Author:

Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of the syndicated column, Sales Moves, which appears in 90 business publications across the United States and is read by more than 4 million people weekly. His books, including The Sales Bible, Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless, and The Patterson Principles of Selling have sold more than 500,000 copies. He presents more than 100 seminars annually to public audiences and Fortune 500 companies.

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