A radical reconsideration of sales training that moves away from one-size-fits-all models.
Debut author Reid observes that American businesses spend about $20 billion annually on sales training, but that there’s little reason to believe that it’s very effective. Salesmanship, he says, always combines elements of art and science, but a heavy-handed emphasis on the latter has undermined appreciation of the former. Sales-training firms typically push a general model of sales success, he says, but they’re motivated more by a commitment to their own intellectual property than they are by measurable results. Reid contends that such models are too rigid, and they fatally deprioritize sensitivity to social context. To illustrate this, he begins by discussing how to build a proper relationship with a customer—by establishing rapport and trust, and listening deeply to their needs. “Out-understanding your competition means knowing anything and everything about your customers—their business objectives, their personal objectives in the business, and even their personal objectives in life,” he writes. Reid draws from elements of contemporary neuroscience as he presents his own training strategy—one that focuses less on inelastic pedagogical content and more on participatory exercises. He also offers strategies for overcoming cognitive biases, with an eye toward establishing realistic goals. The author is the founder of his own sales-training firm, JMReid Group, and in this guide, he deftly converts his own experience and research into an empirical, pragmatic approach. His prose style is lucid, anecdotal, and relentlessly commonsensical. Along the way, he provides a running commentary of other literature on his topic, and he bluntly debunks some fashionable theoretical trends. However, by the end of the book, it remains unclear how a training program can teach genuine curiosity, humility, and authenticity, instead of merely an artful pantomime of them. Still, this guide should be a powerful instrument for its intended audience of “medium to high” sales performers.
An accessible and often insightful approach to sales instruction.