In The Art of the Sale: Learning from the Masters About the Business of Life Philip Delves Broughton provides non-sales folks a glimpse into the world of sales by profiling a range of successful sales professionals ranging from an antiques dealer in Morocco to a global sales rep for a commercial airplane manufacturer. Along the way he provides his perspective on sales seminars – that at the end of the day they serve the purpose of recharging sales people so they can climb back into the trenches.
If an executive reads The Art of the Sale in hopes of findings ways to help their sales force be productive the most useful insight may be simply gaining a general understanding of the day-to-day life of a sales professional and how they view the world. One potentially useful nugget comes from an interview with Dave Stein, author of How Winners Sell: 21 Proven Strategies to Outsell Your Competition and Win the Big Sale, who says that the most useful thing a company can do to help its sales reps is provide them with information about their marketplace. He suggests that what an effective sales force needs is to understand how modern companies and individuals buy, how the buying process is changing, and how prospects view sourcing as a strategic advantage.
The idea of providing more information to the sales force can be misinterpreted by both sides and used to further each side’s agenda. The sales team can interpret this as receiving more information about specific leads; management can interpret this as a win-loss study. Both of these are narrow in focus and both are open to criticism by the other side. The most useful information that a company can provide its sales force is an understanding of the market’s buying triggers, the problems they are seeking to solve, the profile of typical decision makers and influencers, and the dimensions the market uses to differentiate competitors.
The Art of the Sale is worth a read for anyone with a stake in the success of the sales force if for no other reason than it provides a better understanding of what it like to sell. We believe that understanding is the basis of effective communication which leads to successful sales and marketing strategies.