When I received Competitive Selling: Out-Plan, Out-Think, Out-Sell To Win Every Time from the publisher, I wasn’t exactly eager to pick it up. After all, I feel like they should have paid me for all the sales training courses I’ve taken in the last 20-plus years.
I’m not going to bore you here with the myriad sales role-plays and sometimes ridiculous models and processes that I’ve been subjected to and tried, because you probably have your very own history that’s left you lukewarm on the whole sales thing.
Not only that, but the world has changed so much, who knows anymore what works and what doesn’t when it comes to sales?
An Upfront, no-B.S. Book About What Works
Well, it seems that Landy Chase knows how to sell successfully. He has taken an upfront, no-B.S. stand on what it takes to sell today. I’ve never met Landy Chase, and I haven’t talked to him as of this writing. But his writing style and tone in this book left me thinking that this is a guy who has been there, done that and decided to not let the rest of us continue making fools of ourselves.
Chase starts the book with a personal and embarrassing story about how a competitor completely outperformed him in a selling situation. That takes guts. So he got my attention and my respect within the first few pages. Then he goes on to so completely “tell it like it is” that I didn’t know if I was getting spanked or coached for my own good.
Chase is a successful sales trainer and professional speaker who lives in North Carolina. Don’t look to the bio for much information or reasons why you should read this book. All the reasons are given inside the pages in the form of tips and how-to’s from someone who has tried, failed and honed in on a process and system that works.
Reading This Book Felt Like a Coaching Session
There are 12 chapters in 255 pages, written from the problem- or event-driven perspective of a salesperson. In fact, I wonder if Chase thought the trigger for purchasing this book might be the loss of a big account or opportunity, because the introduction and the first chapter start with his personal story of a failed sales call and “The Real Reason You Lose to Competition.”
In many ways, this book feels like a conversation with a coach or with your dad after you’ve made some kind of mistake. As I was reading this, I couldn’t help but feel a sort of invisible arm around my shoulder and a confident, knowing voice saying something like, “OK, so here’s how it really goes down. When you get into this situation, you’re going to see these people and they will say this and that. That’s when you ask them these questions.”
Predator Points and Other Interesting Insights
Every few pages, you’ll see a gray box entitled “Predator Point.” These are quick-and-dirty tips to help you navigate those pesky surprises that crop up during the selling process. Here are a few examples:
- “Callers will sometimes ask for a price over the phone. Respond by saying, “I will not be in a position to quote fees until after our initial meeting.”
- “The influencer’s reasons for denying you access are completely legitimate to them and must be respected.”
- “Handing out your proposal at the start of the meeting surrenders your control of the meeting.”
- “When presenting to one or two people, use your laptop. For groups of three or more, use an overhead projector and screen.”
See? These are terrific little tips that you can literally write down on an index card and carry with you.
One of my favorite chapters is “Role Call: Identifying the Inner Circle.” If you read only one chapter (and you’ll want to read them all, trust me), this should be the one. Chase lays out the roles you will run into on your competitive selling journey. You’ll meet “Spock” – the person who is second to the decision-maker, but takes over when particular situations present themselves. Then there’s the “Mole” –the person within a selling opportunity who is on your side. Maybe you worked with them in a previous situation; maybe they have a vested interest in your success. The important point is to develop a mole relationship within your target company.
Who Should Read This Book
If you are the person responsible for bringing in the business, you should read this book — you can’t afford not to. Forget what you’ve learned in past sales trainings or even if you are currently working with a sales coach and trainer. The advice in this book is solid.
If you’re a business owner and have a salesperson or team, you’ll want to get a copy for everyone on the sales team. Depending on the size of your business or whether you get involved in sales calls, it may not be a bad idea to work through the book together as you strategize around your next big opportunity.
Marketing people will find this book extremely helpful as they work to develop materials and marketing strategies that focus on what the customer needs to know rather than tooting their own horn. For example, put a picture of your competitive advantage on a selling sheet, not a picture of your building (unless the building is your competitive advantage).
As much as I’d like to say that marketing is the most important function of any business, we all know that unless there are paying, profitable customers, there’s no chance of creating cool marketing strategies. And if landing more, better, more profitable customers is your goal, then Competitive Selling has your answer.