As World Book Day is once again upon us it seemed logical to prepare a quick piece on a couple of sales books I’ve just finished going through:
- The System by Eric Lofholm
- From Impossible to Inevitable by Aaron Ross and Jason Lemkin
With a special mention for Lofholm’s “The System” (an absolutely cracking read) both these titles offer something unique that we can take away and apply to our sales strategy. So if you’ve got a spare dollar or two lying around, head over to amazon and grab a virtual copy.
Let’s dive in shall we?
Starting with what has to be one of the sharpest sales books I’ve come across to date, Lofholm’s The System sets out to debunk the myth that sales reps are born, not made.
Starting out as a sort of failure himself in his first sales role (I believe he missed his quota for the first two consecutive months) Lofholm quickly developed a 3 step system: inner game, outer game and action to tackle these lowly figures.
The first area he targets is goal setting. For me this is too oft overlooked by sales managers and yet can be extremely effective in focusing a sales teams’ efforts.
For example, a goal for myself this week could be to show 5 potential customers how they can they can increase their sales by showing them a demo of our product. It’s important to note that it’s got be measurable – this is a good example as I either hit my 5 demos bookings or I don’t. Success can be measured in numbers.
Now I’ve picked out a goal the next step is to write down it down and make it visible. Post-it notes, screen savers, planted across the sales whiteboard – whatever it may be, just make sure you can see it. That way every day you come into work you are immediately reminded of what it is you have to do.
Next identify reasons you want this goal. Unfortunately if the majority us can’t see or understand why it is we are doing what is asked of us, we tend not to take it too seriously. This is especially true of sales.
Once this is done, establish a definite date for accomplishment of your goal and write down the actions you need to take in order to achieve it. Create an action plan, take action and do something every day or as often as possible to get closer to this goal.
The second area I want to highlight (and for me the strongest section of the book) focuses on sales pitching. Here I feel Lofholm uses a lot of tangible examples to support his ideas, making it easy to apply his advice to real sales situation.
Although it’s been stressed so much to the point that it’s ingrained into almost every living sales rep, it must be touched upon again – a client first mentality. It’s absolutely key to remember you are offering a service that will help potential customers. As such you have to think from their point of view.
And make sure to keep this question to the forefront before dialing down on a sales call - what value does the customer get from your product or service? Are they tangible such as saving money? Intangible such as a greater peace of mind? You have to highlight the benefits of taking action and the subsequent consequence failing to do so.
Also Lofholm suggests using the word imagine. It helps potential clients to visualize situations where your product or service helps them to achieve their goals.
Using mobile CRM as an example, imagine your field sales reps visiting an extra client per day because of ForceManager mobile CRM. Or that time can be drastically reduced on team meetings each week and redirected and focused towards sales training.
The second sales book I’d like to quickly run through is From Impossible to Inevitable by serial entrepreneurs Aaron Ross and Jason Lemkin.
A highly engaging and thought out read, this sales book is considered the staple to any start-up/SaaS CEO bookshelf. It’s that good. Ross and Lemkin develop several ideas on how to optimize growth not from theory, but from real-life sales scenarios that have been tried, tested and proven successful in the field.
But what I’d like to focus on is the first part of their 7 steps to success referred to as “nailing your niche” or in other words, finding the perfect scenario where your product or service is THE must-have solution.
Often start-ups find themselves trying to appeal to the widest audience possible. The hope being that the wider the net, the bigger the haul. However, as Ross and Lemkin demonstrate this sales strategy is often detrimental to the business. Trying to scale your sales pipeline without first building a solid foundation of loyal, targeted customers could cause the whole thing to collapse.
Again, let’s use mobile CRM as an example. It caters perfectly for the needs of field sales teams with reps working out of the office. That’s its niche.
It is not built and designed for mass outbound cold calling centers with zero boots on the ground. The system would work, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not its optimum target or use case.
Working on or offline, native OS applications and a simple, quick and easy to use design answer a lot of the pain points of facing field sales teams. Hence companies operating these field sales teams are the ones to be targeted.
By doing this you will be able to craft a message that resonates strongly with potential customers and clients when walking them through your service and, as a result, secure more business.
Unfortunately due to space constraints I can’t go through all the sales strategies and techniques littered throughout these sales books – you’ll have to check them out for yourselves! And seeing as its World Book Day, well, why not…