Required Reading: Proven Sales Warfare Strategies
Author Steve Martin introduced the concept of the heavy hitter in his first book, Heavy Hitter Selling: How Successful Salespeople Use Language and Intuition to Persuade Customers to Buy
. Now, in the follow-up to that sales primer comes Heavy Hitter Sales Wisdom: Proven Warfare Strategies, Secrets of Persuasion, and Common-Sense Tips for Success
. The book teaches salespeople how to master the three components of sales wisdom and how to apply them. CRM magazine's Colin Beasty spoke with Martin about his new book.
In the book you gain insight from "some of the world's heaviest hitters of all time," people from Sun Tzu to George Patton, Jesus Christ to Siddhartha Gautama. How do their characteristics relate to selling and what did they all have in common?
Martin: Selling is a mentor-based profession. It can't be taught, it has to be learned. The best way to learn is by watching somebody who is a successful practitioner. I wanted a broad swath of people who had learned to communicate in very difficult, pressure-filled situations. I used a lot of generals as examples because I wanted to emphasize what made them great and how they approached warfare. They all subscribed to the idea of indirect attack, which is surprise, finesse, and going where the enemy doesn't think they'll go.
That's the way we should sell, approaching clients where they least expect it, and differently from the competition. On the persuasion side, people such as Jesus Christ and President Reagan are examples of people who have been in tough situations and had to convince others to do something they didn't buy into. They understood the importance of communication and persuasion, attributes that many salespeople don't understand.
You talk about the importance of having an indirect strategy when selling to a client. What do you mean by that?
: There are two ways to approach an account. One is without a strategy. That's going to a customer and simply reciting the features, facts, and functions. The problem is that's what the competition is doing. Customers are much more sophisticated than before. You need a strategy that takes into account their sophistication and approaches them from an indirect angle, something that takes them by surprise, but also grabs their attention. Today, salespeople need to package information differently than we did five years ago. The consumption of information has changed. USA Today is a perfect example of this. A paragraph in that paper doesn't have more than three or four sentences and they're engaging the audience with graphics and visuals. A lot of salespeople just aren't doing that when they sell to their clients.
magazine: What will readers find most interesting about your book?
The concept of the indirect sales strategy. If you took a look at every major war, from ancient times up until the Gulf War, the winner has always chosen to battle indirectly. Whether it was the Greeks conquering Troy via the Trojan horse, or the Allies landing at Normandy instead of Calais, it's always an indirect strategy. The indirect strategy should be studied by all business warriors and adopted because that's how you grab the attention of the customer.
Secondly, understanding the concept of communication and persuasion. Salespeople talk for a living, but they don't understand the nuance of words. In the book I study the words of Buddha and Christ, and I think readers will understand how they formulated their messages to get skeptical people to follow them.
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