A self-help book

that challenged

the selling stereotype

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Mark Coster

Founder of Pixooma

Are you a fan of self-help books? I’m not a super fan, but I do like practical guides that show you in a sensible and easy way how to improve yourself and/or your business. I don’t like the ones that:

are full of false promises that never work out

detail complicated tips and tricks which take too much dedication and effort

offer a tantalising quick-fix approach

make you feel like a failure if you’re not on it 24/7

fail to appreciate you are busy and are already juggling a thousand things at once

But if the writer is kind, empathetic and writes in an engaging, easy to understand way and what they suggest makes sense, then you can count me in.

…his take on how both parties need to profit is interesting

As a member of Julie Futcher’s Sales Club, I was encouraged to read ‘The Secret of Selling Anything’ by Harry Browne.  As it made an impression on me, I wanted to do a quick review of it, so if like me you dislike sales, then a quick read of this might have you thinking about the process differently.

Dated but still relevant

It’s worth pointing out that the book was written a good few decades ago and is quite dated in its approaches to the roles men and women have. Plus, it was clearly self-published as it contains quite a few typographical errors and it’s obviously written for the American market, so be prepared for some U.S. references.

I didn’t read it all in one go, but if I had it would probably only have taken a few hours as it’s not a long book. Aimed at anyone with a sales role and by that I don’t just mean a dedicated salesperson, it’s also highly relevant to a business owner (like me), or perhaps someone who has a sales element to their role.  OK you might say, so far so good, but why are you sharing your experiences with me?

Listen and understand

Well, it all comes back to the word sales. I have never felt comfortable in that role, as I have never considered myself to me a salesperson. But in this book Harry pitches the ideas that you need to find people to BUY from you, not find people you can SELL to, and that subtle distinction is quite revealing.

According to Browne, a person will never buy something unless they feel it will make their life better. As a seller, you’re wasting your time if you try to sell something that doesn’t appeal to a person’s self-interest. Your job when selling is to ask questions, listen, and understand the needs and motivations of the customer.

Everyone can profit

To back this up, Harry talks about the fact that this approach requires more thought, but less effort. Essentially, you aren’t running furiously on a treadmill trying to sell, sell, sell. Instead, you’re being honest and taking your time to find people who could benefit from what you are offering, so they can reap the benefits and improve their lives. And his take on how both parties need to profit is interesting. He says that profit is not simply about money, but about what you and your customer get out of the relationship.

I loved the fact that it blew the traditional salesperson stereotype apart. It was reassuring and made me happy to know that the mindset I have and the approach I use is the right one. At Pixooma it’s always been about listening to understand and make things better, rather than listening to sell. Because as I know, not every person will benefit from every service/product that I offer.

If you’re struggling with the concept of sales, then read this book. It will certainly open your eyes to a different process. Remember nobody buys a product or service, they buy what it can help them accomplish. By listening carefully, and asking good questions, you can find out what your customer’s most urgent need is and what they want to accomplish in a far less pressurised way than you ever thought possible.

All of this approach is endorsed by Julie in her Sales Club as she does not follow the stereotypical heavy-sales approach in her own business. The Sales Ace. However, I find it helpful to have ideas reinforced by a new approach to a subject and this did just that.

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