I’ve always thought that books on sales topics need to be different. The best sales people that I know are consistently high-energy and high-strung—not a great combination for reading your average 250 page book. Brett Clay the author of Selling Change (affiliate link) is a sales guy, so he gets this.
The physical structure of the book was my first delight with this book. It’s a durable hard-back, with sturdy pages to notate, no dust cover to fuss with, and a convenient ribbon bookmark. This book is meant to be a long-term phone-side companion.
Then as I cracked the binding I was again impressed. It’s content is laid out into bite-size chunks of education and actions. I literally skimmed the whole book in about 20-30 minutes and felt like I got the core framework of Clay’s sales approach. I felt like I could do something of value with this book, even with that quick glance.
Then I sat down and read. That is when the little details started to build on the framework. Clay does a nice job of breaking down the Selling Change big idea into chapters that quickly move you through the book and encourage your own sales change.
At Kaleidico, I sell change everyday to Fortune 500 companies (not the most agile folks)—especially with the recent launch of our Eavesdropper social media monitoring software. So here are some of the concepts that applied to me and might interest you.
Why Selling Change is Important?
I think Brett Clay really nails the argument for selling change. His basic premise is that selling a solution is no longer sufficient. The world and technology is simply changing too quickly.
Not convinced? Do you have an Amazon Kindle and wish you had an Apple iPad. Or maybe you have an Apple iPhone and wish you had a Google Nexus? These are simple examples, but accelerated change has overwhelmed our economy and personal lives.
Clay references the “Great Reboot of 2009.” The economy is an entirely different place–Americans save, homes are no longer guaranteed appreciating assets, and two of the big three automakers are owned by the taxpayers. And what about you? Are you doing the same thing as you were pre-2009? Clay cites a prediction made by Charles Handy in his “The Age of Reason”: People will need a “portfolio” of occupations and employers to succeed in the new economy. Is this getting close to your own situation?
The answer to this new business environment is captured in Wayne Gretsky’s quote on why he was one of the greatest hockey players of all time—“I skate to where the puck is going to be.” This is Selling Change.
However, this takes a higher level of selling maturity from peddling solutions to current needs.
Value Creation and Change Actuation
Value creation and change actuation were two of my favorite parts of the book. If you assume that customer satisfaction is impossible, because of accelerating change, then value creation and change actuation is the only sales strategy that will work.
I like how Clay explains the proper execution of these sales concepts.
Shifting your sales to value creation requires becoming a miner, not a prospector. I can’t explain this any simpler or clearer than Clay’s own Action Summary: “Look for opportunities in your account, rather than accounts with opportunities” and “Sell change, rather than products.”
Next step? Adding change actuation to your sales process. In this section, two items really struck home for me and will change how I personally sell:
- Plan ahead, but deliver 1.0
- Leverage critics
Sometimes sales people drift onto the slippery slope of feature dreaming. It’s easy to let our prospects and customers take us there. However, a good sales person has their clients focused on 1.0 and pleasantly dazzled by 2.0 when it delivers.
Leveraging critics may be the hardest to do. It involves swallowing some pride, but Clay’s citation of a Sun Tzu quote makes the power of this clear:
“There is no one in the organization with whom the leader should have a more intimate relationship than the critics. Also, no one in the organization should be more liberally rewarded by the leader.”
This kind of thinking will position you for where the sales will be.
My Final Thoughts
Brett Clay’s Selling Change (affiliate link) does a great job of building a new framework for a new sales environment. It’s handbook style, great content, and simple lay-out gives it a regular spot on my desk. I will certainly return to this book for reference and ideas when my own sales get stuck.