Author: Julian Clay
Reviewer: Goke Ilesanmi
Some businesses thrive better than others not because they produce better products or services but because they sell more than others through unique sales strategies. It is not out of place therefore to X-ray this text christened “Successful Selling Solutions”.
It is written by Julian Clay, a management consultant that specialises in selling techniques. After a successful career with Kodak, Clay developed his own consultancy, and his clients include the James McNaughton Group, ICI, Racal, Gillette and Novartis. He is the co-author of “The Sales Manager’s Desktop Guide”.
Clay says what would you not give for the expertise of your own coach who followed each stage of your sales campaigns, unlocked problems whenever you got stuck and ensured that you got from almost there to actually making the sale? He adds that this text gives you the equivalent, using self-assessment models which he has developed over many years with major international clients.
Clay assures that the text will show you how to track your progress in your sales campaigns as well as how to identify where you may be going wrong and how to build a successful sales path of development.
According to this author, unlike many books that simply list prescribed techniques and leave readers to interpret them, “Successful Selling Solutions” is different in that it offers clear, practical advice on every aspect of making a sale.
Clay says this text is aimed at people who have begun a career in sales as well as those that want to refresh themselves on some of the main issues. By developing a sale well, you stand a better chance of gaining genuine commitment and maintaining good profit margins, reflects this author. Clay adds that it will also help middle and senior managers to have a better understanding of the sales process. Clay stresses that although each reader’s market and level of experience will be different, many of the disciplines will be the same.
This text contains ten chapters. Chapter one is entitled “Preparation and sales development”. According to this consultant here, before you begin selling to any target account, it is worth preparing yourself. This can involve knowing something about your market, your products and those of your competitors, educates Clay.
He says by doing this, you will find it easier to manage each stage of a sale correctly. “This can be made easier by having sales models in place to help you develop a sale well…Knowing your products and services well, how they compare with your competitors and their strengths and weakness, is part of the preparation process,” stresses the author.
Clay says as you target new and existing accounts, the two key areas in which you should continually update yourself are the strengths and weaknesses of your company and the products/services you sell; and your competitors and products/services they sell. He educates that this knowledge will gain you credibility in the eyes of a buyer and give you confidence that you are offering the right solution when you get a requirement.
Clay explains that another way of preparing well is to ensure that you ask the right questions in a call and record the right type of information. He adds that by doing this, you will increase your chances of developing the sale properly, and keep the buyers’ interest. Getting the correct information will also help you turn interest into commitment more easily, submits the author.
Chapter two is based on the subject matter of targeting new accounts. Here, Clay says knowing your products, your competitors and having a forecasting model to help you develop a sale will make it easier to target new accounts. He stresses that breaking into accounts is harder than maintaining existing ones. Clay educates that acquisition of this knowledge will make it easier to build new business relationships.
According to him, having good information about a target account before you meet a buyer will help you build your credibility, confidence and knowledge. Clay says to do this, you will need to find out something about the account.
He expatiates that some of the information you will need to find out should include something about the target account’s products and services; company history; competitors; turnover and profit; current challenges; core business objectives; strategic direction; company structure; and buying cycle/behaviour/attitude.
The author explains that with this knowledge, you will show buyers respect and make it easier to begin a dialogue with them. Most of the information listed above can be found in a company’s annual report; a company’s sales literature; on the Internet, etc., adds Clay.
The author says it can take you time to learn about your target accounts, but it will help you to develop a good understanding of the accounts. In his words, “You will need to decide which ones to spend time researching. A company’s annual report and accounts will give a greater insight into their products, services and most importantly – their cultures! It will help you to know how much value they put on the products and services you sell.”
Clay says this has a number of benefits as it will enable you to assess the account’s potential; develop a good/better relationship with the buyer/decision-maker; decide how much to spend pursuing the account; differentiate yourself against your competitors. Clay adds that the effort you put in has to be compared with the results you get.
This consultant stresses that by doing, this you can assess the value of the time spent on each account.
He educates that you can also look at the type of relationship you have with each account contact, explaining that this will help to ensure that your relationship develops in the way you want it to. Clay says when you first meet someone in a target account, it is a good idea to discuss any stated goals/intentions/policies that the organisation has. “This will help to give the impression that you are interested in them and their company. You can then look to link the benefits your company has to offer with the target account information,” adds the author.
In chapters three to six, this author looks at concepts such as telephone and personal introductions; turning interest into commitment; developing a sale correctly; and presentation.
Chapter seven is entitled “The sales proposal”. According to Clay here, presenting your solution to a target account will confirm that it can meet its needs. He says this is a stage that a buyer will often need a more detailed confirmation of the financial investment in your product and service.
The author educates that deciding when to put something in writing or in an email will depend on the price of your products, the type of relationship you have with a buyer and the length of your sales cycle. Clay says for low-cost, fast-turnover products, you might need to send written confirmation after a first meeting. If you sell high-cost products, you will take longer to gain genuine commitment, meaning that a detailed proposal will be needed to link your solution to the target account’s needs, adds the author.
He says the timing of any written confirmation can be a key factor in a buyer making a decision in your favour. Clay explains that for high-cost products that have a longer sales cycle, this decision might not happen until after a presentation has been done on the product and is likely to include a number of key players, not only the buyer. It is this point, in many cases where target accounts actually make their buying decisions, educates Clay.
Chapters eight to ten are based on the subject matters of negotiation; closing the sale; and managing your accounts and sales performance.
Stylistically, this text is able to score a pass mark as a result of the inclusion of segments such as “Chapter summary”, “Practical pointer”, as well as graphics to achieve conceptual amplification and ensure concrete understanding on readers’ part. The language of the text is standard and simple, while the subject matters are brilliantly articulated. What’s more, the title is short, assertive and arouses potential readers’ interest.
However, errors of punctuation, technically called graphological errors are noticed, e.g., “By doing this you can assess the value….” (page 44), instead of “By doing this, you can assess the value….”; “When you first meet someone in a target account it is a good idea….” (page 44) instead of “When you first meet someone in a target account, it is a good idea….” There is another one on page 149 line five.
In spite of these errors, the text still passes for a masterpiece. Are you determined to surpass your sales target this year? If you are responding in the affirmative, part of what you need to achieve this is this text. It is very fantastic.
GOKE ILESANMI, Editor-in-Chief/CEO of https://www.gokeilesanmi.com.ng and Managing Consultant/CEO of Gokmar Communication Consulting, is a Certified Public Speaker/Emcee, (Business) Communication Specialist, Motivational Speaker, Career Management Coach, Renowned Book Reviewer, Corporate Leadership Expert and Editorial Consultant. Tel: +234(0)8056030424; +234(0)8187499425
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