Don’t be complacent about your sales skills; learning is ongoing
By Leanne Hoagland-Smith June 2, 2012 7:42AM
Leanne Hoagland-Smith. | Provided photo~Sun-Times Media
Given recent economic data, the economy is still in the doldrums. Maybe now is the time to update your own professional development by filling and closing your knowledge gaps?
To support you in this endeavor, this year’s annual reading list reflects many good books on sales and marketing that I have encountered during the past year. And always remember that knowledge alone is not power, but applied knowledge is where you will find true power.
Here is my fifth annual summer reading list for those wishing to stay ahead of the flow.
1. “Drive” by Daniel Pink
2. “Truth Based Selling: Using Customer Focus and Collaboration to Build Long Term Relationships” by Charles H. Green
3. “Selling is Better than Sex” by Alen Majer
4. “High Profit Selling” by Mark Hunter
5. “Who’s In Your Orbit? Beyond Facebook – Creating Relationships that Matter” by Mike Muhney and Max J. Pucher
6. “Do You Mean Business? Technical/Non Technical Collaboration, Business Development and You” by Babette N. Ten Haken
7. “Zero Time Selling” by Andy Paul
8. “Stop, Ask & Listen – Proven Sales Techniques to Turn Browsers into Buyers” by Kelley Robertson
9. “Go! How to Start and Run Your Own Business Advisory Board” by Terri Dunevant
10. “Shift: Harness Trigger Events that Turn Prospects into Customers” by Tibor Shanto
11. “A Seat at the Table; How Top Salespeople Connect and Drive Decisions at the Executive Level” by Marc Miller
12. “EDGY Conversations” by Daniel Waldschmidt due out late 2012 (The author sent me a pre-release electronic copy.)
Most of these books are available in both hard copies and Kindle editions at Amazon or your favorite online bookstore. What is so great about the Kindle editions is you have the convenience of a book on your smart phone, your iPad without having to cart around the physical book or having that “frazzled moment” and leaving it behind.
I recently gave a presentation to the Indiana Association for Home and Hospice Care of Indianapolis where I asked this question of the 30-plus attendees in the room:
“With a show of hands, how many of you have written personal development plans?”
Only one hand was raised in the entire room. Many of these individuals were quick to say they read and stayed current with continuing education units, but only one person understood the importance of having a written plan. We later talked and exchanged some favorite sales and business book titles.
With knowledge rapidly expanding, having a written professional development plan provides you as the small business owner to sales professional to C Suite executive the opportunity to determine your gaps, how to fill them and subsequently how to close them.
For example, mobile technology appears to be developing at warp speed. I am working with a new customer relationship management system (CRM) that looks at the future of mobile relationship marketing where social media is now part of so many sales people’s daily activities. Relationship selling is very much alive and well as noted in the book, “Who’s In Your Orbit?”
Many sales trainers, sales consultants and sales coaches talk about value. What does that mean for you as a small business owner? In the book, “A Seat at the Table,” Marc Miller probably best demonstrates what value really means to your potential customers.
Motivation is another factor facing individual salespersons as well as those in management. “Drive,” by Daniel Pink probably is one of the most complete and easy to read books on motivation without all that psycho-babble stuff.
Then if you wish to understand how to overcome the negative stereotype of a salesperson, grab “Truth Based Selling.” Learn the importance of integrity, ethics and values as you meet with potential customers especially when your desire is for repeat business.
As long as you gain one snippet, one new idea from any of these books, then I believe the book has value. Of course to secure that one gem of new knowledge or an affirmation of something you already knew but felt in the minority, you must make time to physically read the book.
Maybe sometime in the future, we will all have the ability of Data from “Star Trek Next Generations” and read thousands of words each minute. Until that time comes, make a plan to read just one book each month and then take that one new idea and begin to apply it to your business.
P.S. Annual Shout Out to all libraries in Lake and Porter counties where you can find not only good books, but some quiet time to enjoy reading them.