A SALES BOOK OF LITTLE THINGS, WHICH ADD UP
Book number two by Thomas Freese, the author of Secrets of Question Based Selling: How the Most Powerful Tool in Business Can Double Your Sales Results, is not a sales methodology program. Rather, it is a collection of 100 lessons covering sales. Per the title, the idea is that doing so many things just a little better than the competition is a winning proposition – as opposed to being a whole lot better than the completion in one or two things.
The book is rather old now. Take a look at the older book’s picture inside – yes, Thomas is not averse to advertising his other book or services herein – to see what I mean, but the QBS material was good and so is the follow-up. Indeed, this one covers that one and recaps some of it to the benefit of the reader. There is the obvious insistence on asking diagnostic questions. This requires deliberate preparation by the salesperson. Freese is known for his implication questions (a la SPIN Selling) and against pitches. It emphasizes that selling through an internal champion is important. Since they do not have sales training coaching them with positioning statements is as important (a la Sandler). Freese is for creating curiosity and against FAB (Feature, Advantage, Benefit selling). To achieve conversations with higher levels of the customer he suggests saying: over the past months we have talked with a number of your employees but I am concerned we are not addressing the real issue or the big picture. My favourite lesson, however, is about working hard being the best technique..
As a process Freese talks up PAS (in order: Problem, Alternative, Solution) and not SAP, which he believes the competition and traditional selling utilizes. P or Problem is addressed by establishing credibility via those short diagnostic questions. One wonders how he explains that over at SAP if he gets a gig there! He notes that buyers do not have needs, which is why one must transition from presentation to discovery.
Establish needs by asking a few questions to build value against instead – the uncovered needs fuel prospect interest.
Elsewhere on page 131 a lesson advises that if you sell yourself as one smart person whatever you are selling will sell itself. On page 136 there is some counterintuitive advise to not necessarily follow up with prospects, but rather to jot a note on a fax (yes, dated) or other correspondence and ask them to follow up.
On page 155 Freese talks about becoming comfortable at the customers’ by taking the jacket off. This one is noteworthy not only for its advice, but also both because it is the opposite of traditional sales advice and also because it shows that the author is a little bit of a rebel. Who knew? Once at a customer’s office he was prohibited from taking his jacket off. What does he do? In defiance, he stealthily takes his shoes off, which is funny. For the record, my rule of thumb has been to always dress one level more formally than the customer.
Amidst the 100 counsels there are a few obvious ones or information one has seen elsewhere. First, given the format it is reminiscent of compilations like The 25 Sales Habits of Highly Successful Salespeople.
One, for example, is to always offer customers several price options in order to uncover the customer’s budget and also be able to sell more and more often. So here are a few final notes about the book: Thomas Freese has actually been in sales and gets it. The book is slightly dated as times move fast. Either way, the book is easy to read. The writer makes the reader comfortable by telling us he has carried the bag, admitting there are so many sales courses and classes salespersons have probably sat through and that many may have been boring. Of course, he sells himself ad nauseam, which is not so bad, in this case, because one gets anecdotes and recaps from his earlier book.
Finally, who does Tom think is the best salesperson ever? Why, Mrs. Bill Gates of course.