Have you ever finished reading a professional development book and said to yourself: “Where was this book 10 years ago!?”. This is what happened this morning when I finished up New Sales. Simplified. by Mike Weinberg. It was sent to me by one of my sales mentors and once I got into it, I simply couldn’t put it down (which is rare for a business book).
Who is this book for? Honestly, anyone in B2B sales in any industry that is looking for (as the name suggests) a simple strategic and tactical approach to maximizing their sales efforts – with a specific focus around generating new business.
Weinberg uses a refreshing, anecdotal approach to describing his proven sales methodology…which in many ways is close to the approach I have used within my technology businesses, but I still highlighted quite a few sections of this book as solid value-bombs. It also made me question a few of the approaches I have used in the past, and I am definitely going to try a few new things thanks to Weinberg.
Some of the key takeaways you will have from New Sales. Simplified. include:
The Sales Story
I see so many technology companies today ‘pitching’ features and functions that it makes me cringe. Any company can benefit from internalizing Weinberg’s chapter on refining their sales story, which places the focus of the sales process around the prospect and what issues you can solve for them. As Weinberg bluntly puts it: no issues = no sale.
In short, people won’t bang down your door to buy neat things with cool features…they will if you are offering real solutions to their problems.
So many companies have never thought of why their clients buy from them, but this is absolutely key to understand, as this should guide you in how you sell to new customers.
Subtle Tweaks to Cold Calling (Sorry…Proactive Telephone Calling)
I loved Weinberg’s framework for making (as he refers to them) proactive telephone calls. This is something that so many salespeople struggle with…not only because it’s difficult, but because it is the least-desirable task on the to do list of everyone in sales.
The simple mindset shift that Weinberg proposes makes a huge difference when you are about to pick up the phone to dial for dollars. Telling yourself that your target customers have problems, and you are offering real business value will make you forget your fear of being hung up on and approach the call with a whole new positive outlook that your prospect will find palpable.
Weinberg also gives some great tactical tips on handling the call that I am definitely throwing in my tool belt. Many sales reps actually struggle with what to say when the prospect first picks up (the 10% of time you don’t get voicemail!). Weinberg suggests the line “let me steal a minute” which is only slightly different than “do you have a minute” but doesn’t leave the door open for the prospect to exit stage left.
The other gem was in how the salesperson should introduce themselves. This is especially important when calling higher ranking executives, and Weinberg suggests using “I head up…” when describing your role with the company. Even if you are a lowly sales rep, you head up something, right? Even if all you head up is south-west region business development, it gets their attention and makes them more likely to engage.
It’s funny…some people may think these are tiny points, but for anyone who has done any decent amount of phone prospecting in their careers, they will appreciate how these small techniques can make or break your ability to connect with your prospect.
Premature Presentation Syndrome
I have written before about the problems which stem from skipping the discovery stage with a new prospect during your sales process. Weinberg absolutely hammers this point home in New Sales. Simplified. as he states: “By sales law, a first meeting cannot be a presentation. Ever.” The book provides a great framework for probing to the heart of your buyer’s motivations which is an absolute must in order to not only get the deal done, but also to be able to utilize your limited time wisely in order to maximize your output.
My personal favourite probing question in the book was: “Along with yourself, who else really cares about this issue?”. It’s often very awkward trying to figure out if the buyer you are dealing with actually has any authority in making a deal happen, so asking this non-intrusive question would be a great way to find out (while not looking like you want to go around them or over their head).
He also provides a useful reminder for overzealous sales reps that like to monopolize sales calls with prospects – we have two ears and one mouth, so use them in that proportion. Great advice…and I know more than a few fast-talking sales people who could really benefit from taking this to heart!
What’s so funny about this book is that nothing in it is revolutionary, but in today’s sales world, so many people are doing things so wrong that when someone does it right, it’s so obvious and can be such a differentiator.
If you couldn’t tell, I highly recommend New Sales. Simplified. for anyone in B2b sales.