Several weeks ago I sat in on the 2015 Virtual Sales Kickoff hosted by S. Anthony Iannarino and Jeb Blount. It was an excellent session overall, but I was particularly blown-away by the first speaker, Mike Weinberg, author of the book published by AMA entitled New Sales. Simplified.: The Essential Handbook for Prospecting and New Business Development.
Following the kickoff I corresponded with Mike, and he was nice enough to send me two copies of his book (autographed, of course)—one for me and another for a friend. Great!
Mike’s style is no-nonsense. He doesn’t pull any punches. I get the impression that he is passionate about everything he believes in. The fact that we agree on many things helps, I guess.
Over the years I’ve been sent a lot of books. While I read them all, I only review the ones I like, or the ones that I feel add substance to the discussion. I liked Mike’s book and it is definitely NOT lacking in substance.
My friend S. Anthony Iannarino who wrote the foreword for the book sums it up perfectly: “This isn’t an academic treatise on sales. It’s not full of theories. It’s an action-oriented guide for sales people, sales managers and executives.” And, the fact that it is focused on prospecting and new business development is timely. What the world needs now (in addition to love) is lots of prospecting and business development. Read Mike’s book and you will know what to do, and what not to do.
And now for an overview of some of my favorite chapters…
At the core of Mike’s philosophy is this quote from Chapter 1: “Many in what’s called the Sales 2.0 movement harshly declare that proactive targeting and prospecting for new business is dead. These so-called experts proclaim that cold-calling is ineffective and pursuing prospects that aren’t coming to you is a waste of time. These false pronouncements are having a severe negative impact on sales performance.” I couldn’t agree more.
Chapter 2 presents a list of 16 reasons sales executives fail at business development—some of which include: attitude, style, aptitude (they just can’t sell) and, my personal favorite, they are too busy babysitting existing accounts. I have a perfect example from my own experience. A while back we dealt with a sales rep whose territory was Warner Robins Air Force base. He told us he is there every day and there was no sense in our calling into Warner Robins. The first week we uncovered a $1,000,000 opportunity he knew nothing about. He was probably having coffee with the same buyer he met with every week for years.
I like that Mike places responsibility for arming sales executives with what they need on CEO’s shoulders. He specifically uses the word “clarity” to describe how the CEO should articulate the company’s strategy. He also points out that sales reps and organizations fail when they have poor targeting, lame weapons, and lack of execution. He spends a lot of time on this framework, but I can’t begin to do it justice. All the more reason you should read the book for yourself!
In Chapter 5 Mike explains why you should sell higher up in organizations. I agree with his view that the executive suite is filled with nicer, smarter, more professional and bigger thinking people than lower levels in the organization. I believe this is why senior executives are about 2.5 times more responsive to quality voicemail and email than their juniors. Mike is very pro-email and pro-voicemail. (Chapter 6 does a great job of explaining why.) C-level executives aren’t likely to respond to marketing automation; however, if you approach them with something of interest to them they will talk to you almost every time.
Mike presents the idea of “building an arsenal of weapons” to strategically and successfully conquer chosen targets: the sales story, the proactive telephone call, and the face-to-face sales call. How is the “sales story” a weapon? He explains: “It’s the verbal explanation of your brand, the value you create and the experience you deliver. We should be enhancing, not diminishing the value of what we sell.” He provides examples of “power statements” he has developed for clients that are powerful examples of how to pack your own sales story with a punch. I like Mike’s sales story advice a lot. He quotes Charles Revson, founder of Revlon, who said: “We don’t sell cosmetics, we sell hope.”
My favorite chapter is Chapter 9: Your Friend the Phone. In it he writes: “Trust me. If inbound marketing was a magic bullet and perfect panacea for creating demand, then we could stop proactively pursuing target accounts. But it isn’t…. Inbound marketing is a magnificent supplement to, but not a replacement for, one of our most potent sales weapons—the outbound proactive telephone call.” This chapter provides step-by-step directions on how to use the telephone for outbound prospecting that I have to say is spot on!
Other chapters you might be interested in are: “Structuring Winning Sales Calls,” “I Thought I Was Supposed to Make a Presentation (spoiler alert: Mike hates presentations), and “New Business Development Selling is Not Complicated.”
There’s a plethora of account managers and customer-service people filling sales roles, but “true sales hunters,” as Mike refers to them, are few and far between. Sure, this book is about practical steps to become better at prospecting for new business. That, in and of itself, makes it a valuable read. But what sets this book apart from all other books on sales is the passion imbedded in its pages. Mike is genuinely passionate about sales and reviving the art of prospecting for new business. You’ll not only walk away fully equipped—I guarantee you will also be fully inspired.