This debut guide encourages business-to-business tech salespeople to practice human-to-human selling.
Sales performance consultant Nielsen sees her clients struggle on a daily basis with the commoditization of IT products and services. Acknowledging the rise of robots, artificial intelligence, and sophisticated online purchasing, she issues a warning of sorts in this book: “Long-term success in a B2B tech sales career depends on your ability to focus on the exact opposite of technology’s value; you have to master human value.” It’s a point well taken, expressed with verve and passion by an author with relevant experience on the B2B battlefield. Nielsen’s premise—human-to-human, or “H2H,” selling creates value that can’t be duplicated by “bots”—is timely, relevant, and, for some sales professionals, sobering. She finely hones her argument by demonstrating, through examples of right and wrong techniques, the importance of truly understanding each customer’s needs and customizing the sales approach to meet them. Mastery of H2H involves making a commitment to delivering “personalized value,” which, Nielsen writes, is “the main reason why high performers consistently outperform everyone else.” Not surprisingly, this is no easy task, so the author offers authoritative counsel on the psychology behind H2H selling. Perhaps the most striking metaphor in the manual, borrowed from a social psychologist, is “the rider, elephant, and path,” in which the rider signifies the rational mind, the elephant represents emotion, and the path denotes the customer’s road to value (or, for the salesperson, a signed contract). Nielsen does a superb job relating this recurring metaphor, which anchors her own training approach to the complex nature of B2B selling. But the inspirational book goes beyond the metaphor, exploring how to ask effective, “high impact,” open-ended questions; discussing ways to engender the customer’s trust; reinforcing the concept of authenticity; and suggesting strategies for becoming indispensable. While some of the material in the guide is unduly repetitive, the core message of becoming “a purveyor of value” probably can’t be stated often enough. If getting B2B salespeople to think differently is her goal, Nielsen brilliantly succeeds.
Candid, compassionate, and brimming with pertinent, practical sales advice.