Aug 032015



little red book









To be upfront Little Red Book Of Selling and its author Jeffrey Gitomer came this way with my prejudices built-in. Gitomer had previously endorsed a shallow book called Never Cold Call Again by an author whom moreover many have accused of spamming and shady business practices. Was it guilt by association or was Gitomer’s work in the same league as the aforementioned book?

The claims and standards assigned to the little red book are not trivial. “It’s about how to make sales forever..” Is it hyperbole? Could the book deliver? The author, speaker and sales trainer is obviously a bombastic and forward person with exuberance to spare. Perhaps, and as such, aside from the book’s informal and colloquial style grammar shall be damned. Page twenty one, for example, notes that “the one’s who can’t seem…” Elsewhere, at whom is this book aimed at? On page 28, and on the subject of fear, Gitomer reminds one that external means outside and that internal is inside.
Stylistically, the man and the book are `loud and proud,’ which anecdotally may fit with his having lived and sold in New York City for five years. The book itself has an inventive layout and stands out. The loudness comes through with its red colour. It contains `redbits,’ cartoons and bold fonts to go with its irreverent and conversational tone. The author also drives traffic to his website when answers are not in the book. It is easy to understand the need for self-promotion, but constantly referring readers to the website for content is not offering value to the reader. The author also mention another site, namely, and also references other books.
Is the book an actual sales technique book or more of a motivational tome like the stuff Zig Ziglar used to put out? The answer lies somewhere in the middle. Perhaps the author also is implying strictly sales technique methodologies like SPIN, Sandler or QBS are not wholly thorough or that a combination of sales technique and softer touches are a more rounded approach.

In one respect, Gitomer is like Wal-Mart. He really likes fractions. The book’s message is one of 12.5 Principles Of Sales Greatness. These are:
Kick your own ass.
Prepare to win or lose to someone who is.
Personal branding is sales: It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.
It’s all about value, it’s all about relationship. It’s not all about price.
It’s not work, it’s network.
If you can’t get in front of the real decision maker, you suck.
Engage me and you can make me convince myself.
If you can make them laugh, you can make them buy!
Use creativity to differentiate and dominate.
Reduce their risk, and you’ll convert selling to buying.
When you say it about yourself, it’s bragging. When someone else says it about you, it’s proof.
Antennas Up
Resign your position as general manager of the universe.

Moreover there are 8.5 attributes of success.

The book emphasises fear as the biggest problem. One is his own biggest enemy unless one takes risks. On page forty the book wonders what causes a slump. You do! While this is possible and often so one has to think many other factors contribute and could also be `causes’ … this is another example where one cannot believe in the medicine if the disease has been misdiagnosed. Also on the same page the author implores the reader to make a plan for success, which prompts one to ask “how?” The question is of what is the plan comprised? In the same mould, this reader was not a fan of the “winner versus whiner” anecdotes. Factually speaking, whining is a human defence mechanism. Life is not so black and white. People fall on different spots on a spectrum. Finally, and on the same theme, it is not in good taste to also have charity activities fall under the personal branding umbrella for promotion, material wealth and ego as espoused on page 58.
The book turns more sales-specific around page 72 where Gitomer gets into the discussion of price versus value. The author talks at length about giving value. Give first and give freely. He also mentions something that has been on my mind for years, namely after-sale service. This is a much more important point than the amount of space it is given. Gitomer adds that one is not a commodity, put yourself in front of people, be friendly and network. On the subject of price page 77 offers this quotation to ask customers: “price or profit Mr. Jones. Which would you rather have? Price lasts for a moment Mr. Jones, profit lasts for a life-time.” Adds Gitomer, all executives want more profit and this would be a good acid test of whether one is speaking to the correct person. For early sales stages Gitomer advises one not to sell product and service. Instead, sell the appointment and a profit-driven answer instead of yourself or your product. On the subject of questions Gitomer wants salespeople to ask “power questions,” which sound like SPIN’s Implication and Need Payoff questions, and not closed questions which he calls “dumb questions.” Ask questions, but smart questions that lead to value and to price. Smart questions tell customers you are smart.

Elsewhere Gitomer dedicates space to positive thinking. He claims that thinking you can is 50% of outcome – yes exactly that. He again reiterates that one has to make connections everywhere even in the bathroom (p. 181). He reminds salespeople to have humour and to laugh at oneself. The writer does not forget to address risk reduction: first find out what the risk is and address what is often not explicit. This book exceptionally does not have jacket, or other, testimonials, but it claims strong support for them. There is a noteworthy quote on page 183 (agree or disagree) which is especially interesting. The quotation emphasizes that selling is not about techniques. “Selling is about focus and creative verbal exchange.” Gitomer also encourages you to work at it, although to be precise one wonders why the concepts have to be mutually exclusive in the first place. As an added remark and as something that comes across as a little bit of fatherly advice Gitomer ends his book with the sage advice for us to mind our own business with non-sales issues and instead focus on selling. Remain positive and, for those who want to know which book he recommends (in addition to Never Cold Call Again!), Gitomer suggests we think like (and read) the book The Little Engine That Could: think you can!


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