“Sales Manifesto” written by Sales King Jeffrey Gitomer, published earlier this year, marks one of the latest books to hit shelves in the sales category. It presents a crisp and concise overview of “directives and answers that lead to real world success” for the sales professional.
It’s value lies in sharing a slew of insights specific to the digital age, with a reader walking away likely adding 3-5 manifesto directives to their sales approach. Caution to the reader as Gitomer rightfully says, these will only become effective through practice or as he says –
“You don’t get great at sales in a day — you get great at sales day by day.”
What does it take to be great? Research has shown that in an analog example, learning a new word can take up to 17 repetitions; in sales learning a new approach likely takes just as many rounds. It is this fact that makes sales easy to grasp, but hard to master. And greatness remains far and few, certainly for those not able to dedicate themselves fully to the profession.
The book loses 1.5 stars in its overall rating as it falls somewhat short through a certain repetitiveness of points, lack of focus (I would argue less directives is more directives; most points are valid, but Gitomer could have chosen to dive in and flush out a few), and finally the absence of substantiation of his claims through numbers and evidence that would demonstrate their empirical impact. In the beloved Wilt Chamberlain example in his book, it is exactly this (numbers and facts) he provides to underscore his belief in him being the greatest basketball player of all time.
The book nevertheless remains a useful resource and read I would recommend to the sales representative.
Top sales 3 directives from the Sales Manifesto
Reading through the Sales Manifesto, 3 themes emerged that I wanted to expand on.
1. Embrace the digital age
Physicist William Pollard may have said it best –
“Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.”
The last decade has shown that if you are not going to become digitally disruptive, then you will become the disrupted. We all know the famous examples of Blockbuster versus Netflix, or taxi companies versus Uber/Lyft–the epitome of a long list of companies who believed their past could determine their future.
While we have generally applied this concept to those companies, the phrase by Pollard could not be more fitting for the sales professional. A sales professional has, and needs, to maintain a brand themselves, and while there is no one way to being a great sales representative some methods on average are more effective than others–I wholeheartedly agree with Gitomer that digital and social presence are a prerequisite to greatness. There are varying degrees of how intensely you do it, but not embracing it in a day where the social activity continues to accelerate across all age groups would indeed be arrogant.
As the blog Sociabble showed some four years ago –
“According to the report of 524 B2B sales professionals, 74% of sales representatives who beat their 2014 quota by 10% or more described themselves as “highly effective” or “better than most” at leveraging social media.”
Our Xtatio Tip: Identify ways you can embrace a digital presence, set yourself a set of personal KPIs to follow, and measure and monitor them. This could be as simple as posting one piece of content every week on LinkedIn that you believe has value for your customers and peers.
2. Data and social proof is the new gold
If you agree with Gitomer that “in sales, it’s not who you know — in sales it’s who knows you”, then there is no denying social proof is the new gold and success enabler in sales. The proliferation of social networks, especially in the B2B environment, has changed interactions and the sales landscape dramatically. And as Gitomer rightfully says, “Perception of value and online attraction are inextricably linked”.
Statistics show that social media is growing in terms of reach and impact. 54% of social browsers use social media to research products (Global WebIndex, 2018). More buyers are joining social media networks and looking for reviews and recommendations.
Sales representatives who are well prepared stand to gain significantly. The decade of the 2010 saw many promises, many of which remained unfulfilled and turned out to be vapor. The demand for proof is therefore higher than before and will continue to grow. As Gitomer writes,
“When you bring video testimonials of other customers corroborating your story and your statements, it’s PROOF”.
But it’s bigger than this – testimonials are one, but everything used in a social context should add to your authenticity and credibility as an individual (and therefore linked to your product and company).
Our Xtatio Tip: Define a brand for yourself and determine who your audience is and how to best reach them (as a B2B business LinkedIn or Twitter may often be sufficient). Then, develop content; namely articles, blogs, images from events/meetings, conference participation, interviews, reviews and more. Make sure this always ties back to your personal brand.
3. Focus on the interaction
While many in the sales profession would claim to focus on the customer, I would argue it’s more about focusing on the interaction itself and being present in the moment (with the customer in mind). Doing so will inevitably bring a customer focus with it, but ensure you are focused on the interaction itself versus obsessing about your objectives. For example, some sales representatives may be so fanatically focused on achieving their objectives in a meeting with a customer (e.g., understanding their needs, scheduling the next meeting, going through their slides), they actually forget to properly listen to what is being said and not said. Therein lies the power of focusing on the interaction. One of the most powerful byproducts of such an approach is authenticity and genuineness.
One of the directives Gitomer called out which resonated is “discover the motive to buy, offer ideas not a sales pitch”. Others refer to this as discovery or qualification where you understand a customer or client’s needs, but I like the nuance of “motive to buy”. It takes the needs further, and gets one to understand what a buy needs, which inherently brings with it an element of priority. Sales representatives often forget to understand the needs of those across from them, but even of those that do, often don’t fully understand the motive to buy.
And this is a critical development opportunity for many, if not most. Sales representatives often find themselves pitching (it’s an easy trap to fall into). Research by Gong shows the average talk-to-listen ratio of B2B sales representatives is 72:28–shocking. As Gitomer says later on –
“The customer is expecting intelligent engaging questions, knowledge about them and their issues, and an idea or two to help differentiate you from your competitors. Slides lose. Ideas rule.”
This is perhaps one of the best points in the book. It is not new or novel, but it is a reminder to all in the sales profession what a good sales meeting and relationship is all about, and the current talk ratio shows it is desperately needed.
Xtatio Tip: Don’t bring a presentation to your next meeting. Instead, bring only questions and ideas.