July 1, 2011

Selling in Tough Times by Tom Hopkins

Times are tough.  People are watching their budgets and spending less money, which is challenging for people in sales.  In “Selling in Tough Times”, Hopkins reminds salespeople to look at the reasons they went into the field - new situations, new people, and an opportunity for great rewards - in order to stay focused during tough times and motivated to move ahead.  However, doing what’s needed doesn’t mean resorting to aggressive sales tactics or putting down the competition.  It’s about knowing your product/service, believing in it, and most importantly, listing to your customers or clients.  

Frankly, I didn’t expect this book to be particularly interesting.  I thought there would be some sales good tips that required digging through jargon and theory to get there.  I was pleasantly surprised to have it read almost as quickly as a novel.  It was very clear, easy to follow, and had practical take-aways for people in all fields.  

Hopkins gets you thinking about the way you approach customers regardless of your role and stresses the importance of personalized service.  We need to talk to customers using their preferred method of communication.  Don’t constantly send emails when customers prefer a phone call.  And if you’re not really listening to them, you’ll never meet their needs. View your job as serving the needs of people, rather than selling to them, and make sure you provide personal attention.

Hopkins refrained from going over-board with the positive self-talk cliches and had a good message about being positive.  A negative attitude brings us down and impacts our effectiveness.  Hopkins encourages readers to not waste time worrying about the next sale.  Some clients simply won’t qualify or need what you’re selling.  Learn from it before you approach your next prospect and focus on finding qualified clients.  One of his best lines is “Negativity is nothing more than a way to justify being average.”

Whether or not you are an independent salesperson or find yourself in another role working for a company, operate like a business and look back at your motivation for getting in your chosen field.   If you don’t believe in the product or service you’re promoting, it may be time to consider a career change.  But if you find yourself in the right place, but just in a tough time, read and apply his principles.  Things will begin to look up for you.

Disclaimer:  I received this book for free from the Hachette Book Group.

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