Most business books only teach half of what you need to know to start and run a successful business. And guess what? It’s the wrong half.
That’s right, you can learn how to set up a corporation, how to lease space, track inventory, and all the other things that cost you money in most business books. They teach the “buying” side of business. And very few books have much to say about the “selling” side. And selling is far more important. At least, it is if you want to create a successful business that makes money.
Jeffrey Gitomer’s Little Red Book of Selling IS that other half of business you need to know.
It’s a must-have book for any entrepreneur or business owner. And in it, Jeffrey outlines 12.5 (catchy huh?) principles to help you sell anything. Let’s take a look at them …
1. Kick your own ass. At the end of the day, there is no truer motivation than YOU … wanting it. Selling is hard; not selling is why most businesses fail. And the only way to push the excuses aside and not get caught in the blame game is to take ownership of the situation and not allow YOU to fail. A riding instructor once said to a friend of mine “you have to fall off your horse 5 times before you can be a real cowboy”. Well, part of that is getting back on that horse every time you fall off. Yippee ki-yay cowboy.
2. Prepare to win, or lose to someone who is. What do you know about what you’re selling? About what the competition is offering? About who you’re selling to? Knowledge is power and having good answers to the hard questions is often the difference between making a sale and going home empty handed. Preparedness means you have the solutions to your customer’s problems. It means you’ve done your homework and you’re two steps ahead of everyone else.
3. Personal branding IS sales: It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you. There’s no easier way to sell than when the customer comes to you. And they come to you because they know YOU. They know your brand. And they trust it. What people think about you is what they think about what you’re selling so don’t tarnish your personal brand. If you build a solid personal brand, you’ll be the first thing people think of when they think about your products and services. And you’re the first person they’ll call when they want to buy.
4. It’s all about value, it’s all about relationship, it’s not all about price. Competing on price is a hard game to play, and it doesn’t cultivate customer loyalty. Only value and relationship building can do that. And rather than “adding” value, you want to give it away up front. The more value you give away freely, the higher the perceived value willl be for the stuff you sell. And cultivating relationships will open doors that are guarded by “trust”; something that great pricing alone can never push past.
5. It’s NOT work, it’s NETwork. You know those people who have everything come to them easily. It’s not luck, it’s networking. The more tentacles you have reaching out into every corner of the universe, the easier it is to find what you need. Or rather, have it find you. One of the biggest things that stops people from networking is the time it takes. You have to make it fun and not a chore. The best salespeople I know are always out having a blast. And they invite along the people they want to network with. Good networking is never “work”.
6. If you can’t get in front of the real decision maker, you suck. Learning the language of the people who sign the checks is critical. Often you’ve got one small window to grab their attention so you can make a broader pitch, and if you blow it, your amazing pitch doesn’t matter. I met a brilliant programmer a couple years ago who was trying to start his own business. His ideas were absolutely cutting edge. The problem was, you needed an engineering degree to understand him. And it didn’t matter what other engineers thought about his ideas, it’s the CEOs he needed to excite. Because they write the checks.
7. Engage me and you can make me convince myself. From a leadership perspective, I know if you can get someone to take ownership of a task, the rest is easy. It’s all about providing direction rather than micro-managing. And the same goes for selling. If you can guide your customers in the right direction so they find their own way to making a purchase, the rest is easy.
8. If you can make them laugh, you can make them buy. How many funny commercials do you remember vs dramatic ones? Laughter is viral. It reduces our stress hormones and puts us in that “feelgood” mood that makes us more receptive to the ideas in front of us. Comedy can be tricky, but making people laugh is the quickest way to create an atmosphere of trust and goodwill. So, slay them with a smile if you wanna rack up the sales.
9. Use CREATIVITY to differentiate and dominate. When something is proven to work, we tend to emulate it to create the same successful results for ourselves. The problem is, whatever it was, probably worked because it was different. It was new. It was fresh. It got attention. If you want to be good, you can follow a proven formula. But if you want to be great, you have to get creative and do something different. You have to create the next big thing that everyone else copies.
10. Reduce their risk and you’ll convert selling to buying. This principle is 100% risk-free guaranteed to increase your sales! See how easy it is to eliminate risk? Risk is a hurdle every buyer has to get over. That’s why things like branding, trust, and social proof are so important; they eliminate certain unknowns. But there are all kinds of risks a buyer can face. Know the risks to your customers and find ways to reduce or eliminate them. Now you’re changing the dynamic from push to pull; rather than “selling” to them, they’re “buying” from you because you’ve removed the obstacles that were in THEIR way.
11. When you say it about yourself it’s bragging. When someone else says it about you it’s proof. This principle is a testament to testimonials. The essence of social proof is that other people believe in your products and services. They rave about them. And the more people that believe, the more people that will. Testimonials are so powerful that most of the best companies in the world spend millions every year getting celebrities and sports figures to market their stuff. On a smaller scale, that proof comes from your previous customers and from media buzz.
12. Antennas up! There are opportunities all around you. Opportunities to make a sale, to change the dynamic of a pitch that’s going badly, to project confidence instead of doubt. All of those opportunities can slip right by unnoticed if you’re not paying attention. Great opportunities can be large or small and they’re doors that are only open for a short time. Always be aware of what’s going on around you and be ready to jump through those doors when they open.
12.5. Resign your position as general manager of the universe. Sales success has one downside: you’re good, and you know it. And other people know it. In reality, you can’t solve every problem and you can’t start thinking you can. You don’t know better than everyone else, and you can’t start thinking you do. It’s easy to get “above” yourself. It’s human, and I’ve done it plenty of times. We all have and we all will. And it’s the best way to put people off and start a downward spiral of sales failure. Let someone else rule the universe. And just focus on selling.
So there you have it; 12.5 principles for being a great salesperson. The Little Red Book of Selling is truly one of those definitive books on its subject. I can go through these principles and think about the best salespeople I know and check them all off as things they practice.
It’s the other half of business all those other business books don’t talk about. The right half. The better half.
The profitable half.