How To Sell When Nobody’s Buying

Did you make your sales quota this month? If not, did you blame the slump on a slow economy?  If so, then you don’t realize that the real reason for the failure is you.

So asserts Dave Lakhani in his latest book, How to Sell When Nobody’s Buying.

Now anyone who recalls the rant of Blake, Alec Baldwin’s hyper-aggressive, always-be-closing character in the movie Glengarry Glen Ross, may feel that blaming the sales team is a rehashed idea.  However, Lakhani vibrantly renews the claim (with a little less intimidation, of course!). He provides solid, actionable advice.  He explains whenever he is speaking to other salespersons that they must “do what it takes”, yet he offers the tools that help making the “doing” possible.  These tools are presented in an a-la-carte fashion, resolving the mother question of typical business questions: “how does a company gain more sales?”.

Tips that Make Sales Easy

Throughout the book Lakhani always assures that following his suggestions will separate the creative professional sales team from those who just follow a cold-call list.   Lakhani’s offerings do not overwhelm readers with a “You must follow XYZ strategy or you will face doom!” feel.  The book simply provides good examples for the reader to use.

And the examples rapidly come, one after the well-organized other.  Lakhani gives a sales process in the opening pages, 7 Days To Selling Successfully When No One Is Buying. This energizes leads and shows proper follow up for older leads gone stale.  He lays out the rote example of offering coffee and discussion to a lead.  He explains without ever insulting the reader’s intelligence.  Buying is a great sales a-la-carte, indeed.

Slump Busters Inspire Sales Teams to Bust the Slump

Buying is peppered with a few short segments called Slump Busters. In each Lakhani interviews a business manager not readily familiar to the public eye.  In most books, additional comments from someone besides the author are probably better served from names more well-known to a mainstream audience to pique reader interest.  But in this book the interviewees provide eye-opening personal perspectives and business insight usable for most scenarios.

A favorite quote is from interviewee Scott Marker, who describes the benefits of sales training.  “There’s a saying in martial arts that ‘The more you bleed in the dojo, the less you bleed in the street.’  What that means to a salesperson is, the more time you invest in training yourself, the more success you have when you compete in the marketplace.”  Comments like this can be informative and inspirational.

Contributing authors offer additional essay segments towards the book’s end, but the additional commentaries feel somewhat out of place rather than enhancing Lakhani’s insights.  A segment on real estate may be better served in a dedicated book on real estate, while a segment on Facebook has too-familiar suggestions.  One good save is the bonus social media training session offered with each book purchase.

Well Organized Introduction on Online Tools

Lakhani enhances his material by offering additional online sources.  The mentioned websites are some of the standard “seen-it-before” social media tools such as Twitter and LinkedIn.  But he also mentions other sites that are specific to the subject matter, be it time management or follow-up to-do actions.  Readers gain new online tools in an organized manner which makes the suggestions more memorable, refreshing in an age of suggestions at every tweet.

Overall I found How to Sell When Nobody’s Buying (book’s website here) a useful resource for any business seeking better selling practices.  Small business owners who love their product or service offering but know nothing about sales could really benefit the most from Lakhani’s examples, and will find the book a satisfying start to understanding sales techniques.


Pierre DeBois Pierre Debois is Associate Book Editor for Small Business Trends. He is the Founder of Zimana, a consultancy providing strategic analysis to small and medium sized businesses that rely on web analytics data. A Gary, Indiana native, Pierre is currently based in Brooklyn. He blogs about marketing, finance, social media, and analytics at Zimana blog.

10 Reactions
  1. it is always so easy to blame somebody else for my own shortcomings – blame the economy, blame the politicians, blame the weather. The sooner I start looking at myself and take responsibility for my faults, the sooner I can find solutions to fix my faults. It is probably a lot easier to fix my own faults than to fix somebody else’s.

  2. We are responsible for our actions – all of them. We are responsible for our thoughts and behavior-whether deliberate or unintentional. A responsible person makes mistakes, but when they do, they take responsibility and make it right.

    You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today – Abraham Lincoln.

  3. Pierre,

    Two questions that I’m not sure I understood from the review: One, if a person’s already familiar with most standard sales practices, and has read tons on the subject already, is this really just repackaging stuff we already know, or are there fresh ideas in here? And two, as I think about whether to suggest it to clients, is it aimed at businesses with a dedicated “sales force” or can small business owners (where everybody on staff has to consider themselves “in sales”) benefit from reading it?

    Thanks. The guy’s got a title anyone could love, that’s for sure!



  4. Hi Kelly,

    To your questions, Dave is not rehashing old concepts necessarily. He spend time explaining how much sales strategy today requires modification, particularly in the face of customer behavior as a result from online media, then he begins to offer his tips. His tips are more along the lines of direct contact with leads, qualifying, etc., so it’s a good book for both small biz owners who have a small staff who is “sales” and for large teams that still need ideas on balancing in person discussions with online/offline follow up. It’s not as much a detailed playbook, so someone with years of experience won’t find an elaborate replacement. But his suggestions are useful enough to augment an establish plan, which I think makes his book helpful.

    I hope my comments helps. Let me know if you find something else that rings with you or your clients if you suggest it.

  5. Pierre DeBois: Could you mention some of the time management and follow-up sites listed in the book?

  6. Thanks for recommending this book. But all the focus is on sales training.

    Let me share with you a libi: In order to catch fish I need to think like a fish and not fisherman. Fish is a warm blooded animal and does not have eye lid. hence they prefer shallow water where in the sun and shade converges. It is not possible to get such an insight about a fish. Someone has to invest time and learn such facts.

    Similarly in order to sell I need to think like a customer. In order to think like a customer we need to research. Research wastes selling time and everyone is not trained in such aspects.

    There has to more books on sales intelligence. I will like to know your view.


    • Hi Sudip,

      I just was your post – I know, a few years late but still a good comment on sales intelligence. We may see more of that now as AI becomes a stronger influence in building a meaningful connection with customers. Will take a stornger look as time goes on to see if these kinds of topics appear in the books we review.

  7. If you doing PPC Campaigns , Marketing and you are not getting conversions it means your website get visitors & traffic and they not show interest to buy your product that is critical you losing your money at ad campaigns because Visitors don’t trust your site and product at first instance.

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