Improve Your Selling Skills Create Your Competitive Advantage
To be successful in life you have to be able to sell. This skill is of vital importance not only for sales and marketing people but also for all other professionals whether you are a Controller, a Vice President of Information Technology or R & D, an HR professional, a Plant Manager, a lawyer, a chiropractor or a parent. The late Ted Rogers, the mythical visionary for Rogers Communications, always carried a business card with the title of “Senior Sales Person.” Ted Rogers learned at an early age that if he couldn’t sell his leading edge ideas, products and services to his Board, to his wife, to his bankers, to his executives, to his employees, to the government regulators and most importantly to his clients then his company would not have grown and been able to take on and win against the established Telco giants.
The One Minute Sales Person by Spencer Johnson and Larry Wilson. 106 pages. ISBN 13 978-0-06-051492-1
Originally published in 1984, the One Minute Sales Person was re-released in 1991 and is readily available. This book can be easily read on a flight or in an evening. Spencer Johnson, the author of the number one best seller “Who Moved My Cheese”, co-authored this classic book with Larry Wilson a noted sales trainer. This book shows you how to sell your ideas, products or services successfully with integrity and respect for the buyer! This is a book that has proved a must-have for the business people, professionals and even parents and spouses who are looking to become better sales people within their respective roles.
Johnson has created a hypothetical situation in which a very successful sales person reflects back on his career and recalls specific people from whom he learned how to succeed. They include a wealthy and respected “salesman” who became the Chairman of the Board and CEO of a major corporation. This Chairman mastered a concept that he calls the one minute sales person and he offers to teach this concept to this hypothetical sales person by having him call on several other fictional characters, who had also become “One Minute Sales People.” Through the guidance of these characters our fictional hero learned the secrets of sales success. The core principles which Johnson advocates are relevant to any situation in which the objective is communication or providing a service to others to solve problems and fill their client’s needs.
Johnson introduces the concept of “selling on purpose”, that involves helping people to get good feelings they want about why they bought an idea, a product or a service. Johnson states that success begins for sales people when they stop trying to get what they want and start helping the customer to get what the customer wants. In doing so we take a complete different perspective of the selling process from one of trying to convince people to buy, sometimes against their will or through exaggerated benefits, to helping people get what they want. As our fictional hero states, “When I sell on purpose, it’s like swimming downstream.”
The One Minute Sales Person provides the reader with a template for how to manage the sales process from pre-call preparation through the sale itself and right through to managing activities after the sale. The theme consistently returns to the importance of looking at the process from the customer’s perspective thus the template is a valuable tool for those who would like to tailor this template to their own situation. For example, in pre-call preparation, the reader is asked to visualize how their products or services can be applied to the buyer’s advantage. If no advantage is apparent then the seller should not waste the buyer’s valuable time unless they can help the buyer by advising how they can meet their needs by using other products or people. Also, through the characters in the story, Johnson provides a good model to help the reader set meaningful goals, follow-up regularly, reward progress and address problem areas.
Some notable quotes and ideas from this book include:
“The most important reason for sales success is respect for the buyer as an individual.”
“Behind every sale is a PERSON not a buyer.”
“Production minus sales equals scrap.”
“Valuable ideas can end up in the scrap pile if they aren’t sold.”
“Twenty percent of the people on most sales forces make almost eighty percent of the total sales. The key understanding for a Sales Manager is to discover what the best twenty percent do differently.”
“I have more fun and enjoy more financial success when I stop trying to get what I want and start helping other people get what they want.”
“Before I can walk in another person’s shoes, I must first take off my own. It’s like parents who successfully sell their ideas to their children because they also take a minute to see things from their children’s point of view.”
“What would you like to have written on your tombstone? That you sold millions of dollars of widgets or that you helped hundreds or thousands of people succeed through purposeful selling.”
“With a product you believe in, selling is inherently purposeful. You add value. You help people solve problems, seize opportunities and feel better about themselves.”
“People hate to be sold but love to buy if it means solving their problems or fulfilling a need.”
“if I am consistently making money, it is almost always a sure sign I am adding value to the other person –to the buyer.”
“The buyer not the seller will close the sale when he or she sees that he or she gets the maximum benefits with a minimum of personal risks.”
Furthermore, if you are a President, business owner, a sales VP or a sales manager this book will provide you with new ideas to increase the effectiveness of your sales force during these difficult times. This is through a concept that Johnson calls “self-managed” selling which results in the manager of the sales force not having to baby-sit sales people to ensure that sales results are met. This will allow the sales manager to spend more time on added value work.
In conclusion, I totally agree with Johnson that everyone is a sales person, that the seller and buyer are interdependent and that the most important pay-off for the seller is the spiritual rather than the material gain. The One Minute Manager is not only an easy read but it is also a classic for the strong contribution it has made to selling with integrity and in respecting the buyer’s needs. The allegoric message in this book is tied to the liberating paradox of helping others to get what they want so that you can get what you need. What a productive nation Canada could be if everyone took this “givers are gainers” concept rather than the zero sum game that is played with sales people trying to push their products or services onto buyers who resent being sold things they don’t need because the sales person didn’t take the time or understand what the buyer needs to be successful. This “givers are gainers” belief is one of the core concepts upon which Mastermind Solutions was founded 10 years ago.
I strongly recommend that this book be read by young or seasoned business people and it is a must read for those involved in sales or customer service. Mastermind would like to wish everyone a wonderful 2009 and great success in selling to your stakeholders throughout the year.
Mastermind Solutions is a multi-disciplined consulting firm comprising of highly experienced professionals. We are committed to attaining the highest customer satisfaction by providing accelerated solutions to your business challenges.
We specialize in Business Growth. We deliver to clients' a sustainable future by helping them define where and how they wish to grow. And then we make that happen, together with you.