If you haven’t already taken time off this summer, we hope this month sees you with the opportunity to slow down and recharge.
Like many folks, we take books with us on vacation. And because we can’t completely leave work behind (sound familiar?), one of our books is likely to be business related.
Sales is a topic that always comes up in our conversations with agency leaders, and we believe many leaders would benefit from making it a practice to become better at sales.
We came to leadership from operations positions, never holding sales roles before becoming responsible for managing a P&L and revenue. For our own success and the success of our businesses, we needed to develop a sales mindset and gain perspective beyond our own anecdotal experience.
So, we read. We spoke with people who sold successfully. We debriefed and analyzed what was, or wasn’t, working. Like good ops people, we applied process to the sales effort. And we read some more. We won’t say we became The Great and Powerful Oz of Sales, but we got smarter and successfully helped our business development staff target the right companies and create sales plans that worked.
If sales is an area you feel the need to get better at, we’d like to suggest you consider one of these books for your vacation reading (with Amazon links for your convenience):
Selling The Invisible: A Field Guide to Modern Marketing by Harry Beckwith bit.ly/3rW4NsQ
Historically agency people have said they sell a service, though we would argue we really are selling our expertise. But this book was invaluable early in our careers by helping us understand the fundamentals of bringing a non-product based business to market.
The Win Without Pitching Manifesto by Blair Enns bit.ly/3DCt1Lj
We once led an agency with the market dominant position. We had very low unrecovered proposal costs because we didn’t pitch often: we won new business as a result of our reputation, differentiation, insights and client experience. It wasn’t until years later that we realized we had followed a lot of what Blair is recommending.
One thing we see people get wrong about this book is thinking it’s an absolute – you will never pitch again. That would be wonderful, but you can’t escape pitching these days. What you can do is use the principals outlined in this book to reconsider how you engage with your prospects and create an “unfair advantage” for your firm.
The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation by Brent Adamson and Matthew Dixon bit.ly/44PxMNA
We experienced a client transitioning their entire sales force to the Challenger Sales Model – over 1200 salespeople – and it paid off handsomely. B2B service sales is competitive and difficult, and one of the book's key components - to provide your prospect with a unique insight on their business and how you can help them -- will ensure you stand out.
Demand: How To Build A Smarter Sales Funnel So You Can Turn Down Better Business by Tom Stimson bit.ly/4553KoT
Tom writes about developing the ability to be selective about who your firm works with by using marketing to help build a robust pipeline of the right clients. Tom is a good friend and an exceptionally smart guy, and he’s seen this play out firsthand for the firms he’s worked with in the event technology sector.
Even if you’re not at the beach this month, we believe each of these books will provide insights that will help you become better at sales, making your firm the one everyone hates to compete against.
Tonic Consulting Group works with live event agencies and related companies providing the insights, expertise and direction necessary to create enduring competitive advantage. We work with leaders to build new pathways to growth, create high-performing operations and develop companies people love working for.