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Friday, June 27, 2008

The Four Best Sales Books of All Time

Frankly, most sales skills books are poor. They contain scripts from the 1950s or focus on “closing techniques.” What I’ve learned is that when a sales conversation is done correctly, you don’t need closing techniques; the prospect wants to buy. They also focus on objection handling and when the lessons from the books below are mastered, objections disappear.

If you are just starting in sales, read “The Closers.” This is an old book with some older advice but it made a big impression on me and taught me that selling is not just a conversation about features and benefits. Selling is a science.

Next is SPIN Selling. Rather than repeat opinions (most of what you get about sales), this book is the research results of 35,000 sales presentations and details exactly what works. The books conclusions:

“Investigating is the most important of all selling skills and it’s particularly crucial in larger sales.”

“There is a clear statistical association between the use of questions and the successes of the interaction. The more you ask questions, the more successful the interaction is likely to be.”

The next book, Question Based Selling reiterates the same major conclusions—it’s all about asking questions.

Note that the two books above are written by authors involved in large ticket industrial sales. But the lessons are easily applicable to the one-call-close or the sale to individuals (insurance, securities, mortgages, law and accounting services, etc.)

Some sellers may think that they ask questions but not to the degree these books illustrate. In our company, we have even taken this one step further with a rule, “Never say anything that does not end in a question mark.” This prevents the me-focused selling so prevalent in America and insists that if the seller makes a statement about the features and benefits of his product, that the statement must still end in a question to the prospect, inquiring about how this stated benefit fits the PROSPECT’s desires.

David Sandler’s book “You Can’t Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike in a Seminar” is awesome but please don’t even read it unless you already rank yourself a very skilled sales person. Sandler’s techniques for uncovering pain will be difficult to use unless you’ve mastered the tools of the previously mentioned books.

From the lessons learned, we’ve adopted two definitions of sales at Javelin Marketing:

“Selling is the asking of appropriate questions so that the prospect sees for himself that he wants to buy your product (service)”

“Selling is a conversation where the seller enrolls the prospect in the prospect’s vision.”

When you really learn how to sell, you realize that the notions of convincing, persuading and handling objections have nothing to do with sales when done by a master. Sales is about what the prospect wants, nut what you want. Will you be a sales master or do what others struggle to do?

Read and grow rich.


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