Review: The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need
When I first saw the title of this book I knew that I had to read it. Making such a claim publicly about a book you have written yourself illustrates more self-confidence that we Europeans in general express. We may also think that we are great, but we mostly leave it for others to decide. I was curious to see if the content of the book really could deliver on the promise of the title.
The first thing that stunned me reading the book was the numerous references to other books. If this is the only guide you would ever need then why make references to other books? It took me a while to realize that the title is not “The Only Sales Book You’ll Ever Need” but precisely “The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need.” I had to forgive the author and blame myself for the mistake. Have other readers made the same error?
Anthony Iannarino’s book is a based on his experience, books that he has read and an analysis of the environment in which salespeople must operate today. The book will not pass the Neil Rackham test since it is not based on a scientific approach verifying which sales behavior shows statistically significant results. Rather it is based on the author’s experience which apparently has made him a top performing sales person.
Transactions or value?
Anthony Iannarino divides the approach of salespeople (and their companies, for that sake, too) into two categories:
- Transactional business
- Value adding business
In this category companies and their salespeople focus on their product (and service), the features, the pricing and some universal value claims. Getting value out of the product is left for the customer to figure out for herself.
Value adding business
In this category companies and their salespeople use their products and services to build a solution for the customer, and the focus is on the outcome of implementing the solution. The ratio between the price of the solution and the value to the client should be 1:10 in the customer’s favor.
The book is exclusively about applying the value adding approach and what it takes to go down that road. When you take the value adding approach then you will have a smaller market (you are more careful in selecting you core market segment), you will do fewer deals (you say no more often), but each deal will yield a much higher gross profit (customer lifetime value) and carry less average customer acquisition cost.
If you choose the value adding approach, then you need to understand the customer’s business, the details of the situation in which your solution is the core element and you must take ownership of the outcome – in addition to all the other skills you need to help manage the sales process. Anthony Iannarino summarizes the additional skills as business acumen and I support that claim.
Let me give you a fresh example.
Just the other day I was sitting in a meeting with an agency that would like to help me bring my forthcoming book to the market. They were doing a very detailed and colorful presentation of all the things they could and would do and the associated cost. When they finished the presentation, there was silence, and the head of the agency asked, “what do you think?” and I responded, “I am thinking how each of your suggestions will affect the number of units sold?” And then there was silence again. They hadn’t thought about that. I know that the relationship between marketing and sales is a hard one to crack, but since the Internet became the primary channel for book-marketing, we do have benchmark data for the types of books I write. And if we don’t then we can still set some expectations that we can then discuss how to monitor and measure and then later analyze. And we can do small pilot projects to see the outcome before we decide which initiatives to scale. What the head of the agency lacked was business acumen. He didn’t know how to see the business from the author’s point of view. He didn’t present a solution with a focus on the outcome. He was trying to sell me his products and services leaving the value creation to me.
I fully agree with Anthony Iannarino that the world is separating itself into the two categories: transactions and value creation. You must decide in which of them you want to operate. If you are undecided, then Anthony Iannarino’s book will give a very detailed introduction to what it takes, and if you have chosen value creation, then it may well be the only guide you’ll ever need.
It is a great book that I can recommend to any sales person selling anything of value.