September 30, 2014

Winning the Battle for Sales: A Sales Book for History Buffs

sales bookI have a very interesting review for you today.  I received a review copy of Winning the Battle for Sales: Lessons on Closing Every Deal from the World’s Greatest Military Victories by John Golden (@JohncGolden), President and CEO, Huthwaite.

While this is not a book I would purchase for myself (I’ll tell you why a little later), it is a book that you might miss out on if I didn’t review it, and in so doing, would deny the target audience for this book a very satisfying read.

Finally!  A Sales Book for History Buffs

We all know them (I just happened to be married to one) — the history buff.  Yes, these are the folks (usually guys) who can spend eight hours hiking the Gettysburg battlefield, who read every war book they can get their hands on, who analyze and strategize what might have been if Pickett did this or Alexander the Great did that.

If this is you – or if it sounds like someone you know, love or work with who is responsible for selling, this is the book to pick up. If not for the great selling advice, at least for the sheer uniqueness of subject matter.

This is a sales book that uses references to sometimes obscure battles in history. Does the Battle of Clontar in 1014 ring a bell?  It’s used to illustrate essential information on turning unforeseen opportunities into a value driver.  Another example is Pyrrhus of Epirus vs. the Romans, which gives vital points on avoiding the pursuit of victory at all costs.

Golden has chosen to create an association between war and sales as a method of remembering by association.  And this is why I say that this is such a great read for the sales person who happens to be a history buff.  They will eat this up on a stick.

Inside the Structure of Winning the Battle for Sales

This is a substantial book – not so much in length, but in terms of serious content.  It has more than two hundred pages and is divided up into three main parts:

  • PART 1: The Sales Call
  • PART 2: Account Strategy
  • PART 3: Sales Management

Each chapter is dedicated to a specific battle and includes the following sections:

  • WHAT HAPPENED: Golden gives the background story for each battle. While history tends to award a winner and a loser, Golden works hard to look at both sides and be as impartial as possible.
  • WHAT IT MEANT: In this part of the chapter, Golden gives context to the battle.  He’s chosen battles that were significant for their time, that took place all over the world, on land and sea, and he explains the importance and meaning of each.
  • SALES LESSON: Here, Golden gives the sales lesson from history.  He draws heavily on Huthwait’s research in sales (from SPIN® Selling) and applies them to these historic encounters with the intention to teach.

Who is John Golden?

John Golden is the CEO of Huthwaite, one of the world’s leading sales performance improvement organizations.  If you’re like me, you may not have heard of Huthwaite as a company, but you’ve probably heard of their scientifically validated behavioral research that includes the renowned SPIN® Selling program for sales and marketing professionals.

Great Sales Lessons for Today’s Marketplace

I am not going to lie to you.  I did not read every page of this book.  I did, however read several of the chapters with great interest.  Let me share my take on just one of them; Chapter 24 on David and Goliath.  I picked this one because we all know the story and I won’t have to retell it and because I think you’ll resonate with the lesson it teaches.

David and Goliath’s battle is used to teach the lesson that you don’t have to use the latest technology to win.  This is an apropos lesson in today’s overwhelming world of gadgets, Internet tools, bells and whistles that sometimes masquerade as sales tools but actually serve to kill the deal.

So, back to David and Goliath.  What you may not have known (or forgot) is that David was actually given access to all the best armor that the king had to offer, chainmail, bronze sword, bronze helmet — the latest in fighting technology at the time.  Yet David  chose not to use those tools because they would just weigh him down.  Instead, as we know, he chose a simple sling and a stone and got the job done.

In this chapter, Golden puts his focus on CRM (customer relationship management) tools and how they are often overkill for getting the job done.

Hopefully, this example gives you enough of a flavor for Winning the Battle for Sales so that you can either get it for yourself – or the history buff sales professional in your life.

I will say that even though I really do not like history or war as a topic, I have to give Golden credit for writing this excellent book and so skillfully weaving valuable sales lessons into a historic context that works in today’s markets.

4 Comments ▼

Ivana Taylor - Book Editor


Ivana Taylor Ivana Taylor is Book Editor for Small Business Trends and publisher of DIYMarketers , where she shares daily do-it-yourself marketing tips, and is the President of Third Force, Inc., a marketing firm that specializes in getting your ideal customer to choose you. Ivana is the book editor for Small Business Trends and co-author of the book "Excel for Marketing Managers."

4 Reactions

  1. Unfortunately, I am no history buff. In fact, the cover is enough to push me away. But then again, I may not be the target market of this book but it is quite interesting since it teaches a thing or two about sales and marketing.

  2. Huthwaite is a respected organization. Using history as a metaphor for sales makes sense. I wonder though it might be more relevant to give examples of early sales mentioned in history.

  3. What a creative concept. I’m sure the same strategies that were used in battle could be used in business.

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