Saturday, April 6, 2013

A Book Worth Reading

Product Details 

Greetings All:

It is April and with it come certain rites of Spring.  The NIT tournament ended with a disappointing loss for my Hawkeyes, yet it was a good run.  In that "other" tournament you may have heard of, Louisville awaits the winner of the Michigan Syracuse game.  Thursday starts The Masters golf tournament, the first of the Majors.  As my neighbor Mike said earlier today, "That sure smells like a spring rain."  He was right, it did.

Of course, April is tax time and for those of you still waiting to file, you've got a week from Monday.  For those who are self-employed in some capacity, there may be the dreaded brown envelopes stuffed with receipts of sizes, shapes and amounts.  I lived that world once and cannot say I am disappointed to not have that concern.  Then again, it is the self-employed and the commissioned-compensated that make up a huge part of our economy.  I wanted to pay tribute to them and in the process recommend a great book I recently listened to.  More on the book and its author in a moment.

Here are a few facts to keep in mind:  There are 9.9 million self-employed people in our economy, as of September, 2012, according to the Office of Advocacy in the U.S. Small Business Administration, as cited in the American Express Open Forum.  

Now when we look at sales persons, the number is almost 14 million.  (13,835,090).  This comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2012.

The reason I included small business owners is that for the most part, their income comes from their ability to sell either a good or a service.  They likely do not have a salary, they "eat what they kill."  In other words, there is no salary, just a percentage of what comes in the door, thru the till and after bills and taxes, the rest is the salesman or small business owner. 

There are many people who earn their living from sales.  I would also strongly suggest that even if your income is from a salary, there are aspects of "selling" involved with what you do.  Perhaps more than you may realize.

It is for these reasons that I would like to invite you to check out Mr. Bryan Flanagan's book, So, You're New to Sales.   It is available in both audio and print.  I received my copy via and preferred to listen to it.  (As I have mentioned before, when you run as slow as me, you don't need music so I listened to most of it on the treadmill.)

So about the book, why should you listen to it?  If you are one of the almost 24 million people who "eat what you kill" the book will be both immediately valuable and practical.  Bryan began his career with IBM and jokes about still having wing-tip shoes.  He then moved onto the Ziglar Company.  For those of you who do not sell, the stories about Zig Ziglar are amusing and moving.  I believe that I came across the book looking for Ziglar material and Mr. Z does give an introduction.  However, this is Bryan's work and in the audio portion, you get to hear him read his own work.  This, in my opinion, adds to the audio presentation.

The book's message, in my opinion, is this:  Selling is an honorable profession, treat it as one.  Yes, it is hard.  Then again, if it was easy, everyone would do it.  One of the lines I love from the book is, "Timid salespeople have skinny kids."  It is funny and yet sadly, there is truth to it.  After all, if you eat what you kill, if you live (and your family) off of what you sell, then a lack of sales equals a lack of money.  Bryan has a blog post that goes into more detail about this comment:

He discusses the importance of planning out a sales call and doing little things that add up to overall success.  Arrive early, dress appropriately, make appropriate eye contact, don't be a "professional visitor," remember to listen more than you talk and so forth.  As I listened to his book, I thought of former Secretary of State Colin Powell's list of suggestions including, "Check small things," and "Get mad, then get over it."  (For a list of all of these suggestions, please see below:)

For the sales person, here is where the real money maker is (again, in my opinion)- The "POGO" approach.  POGO is a way to address a sales call in a systematic way.  POGO as you may have guessed is an acronym, standing for Person, Organization, Goals and Obstacles.  In the book, Bryan shows you how to take a standard approach and make it your own.  He offered these thoughts on POGO:  "Through POGO questions, you start to find out the potential client’s needs, and also start to get a profile.”  (To read more about POGO, please see the link below:)

If POGO is the method, then Bryan closes with the purpose of sales, to believe in what you are selling.  He tells of how belief and faith are critical to success in sales, and in life.  As I type this, thousands of fans are hoping either Michigan or Syracuse wins tonight's game.  Hope is fine, even important.  However, Bryan discusses the importance of believe in what one is selling.  This has a translation to everyone-you should believe in what you are doing.  If not, then seek another way.  As I listened to Bryan's book, I thought of a book I had listened to years ago, The Science of Getting Rich, by Wallace Wattles.  It is over a hundred years old (1910) and still has meaning today.  I believe it is chapter 13 that discusses the importance of getting out of the wrong business.  What was true then is true today.

Years ago, I worked for a large financial company, in sales.  Although I firmly believe that my calling was not in that field, I cannot help but wonder what would have happened had I utilized the skills offered in this book?  I know that I had some traits and skills but being honest in the brutally clear light of hindsight, I was not a good sales person.  I do not think it had anything to do with the shine on my shoes or the brand-name of my suit.  I think it was because I did not want to do the things I needed to do to be successful.  Notice I did not say, "could not" do.  I simply elected not to do all the steps needed for success.  This book pulls no punches.  It does not say, "Don't worry, it will be fine."  Nope.  Dr. Bryan's prescription is to keep making sales calls and call him in the morning.  However, I think it is the truth. 

I am glad I listened to So, You're New to Sales, and hope you will enjoy it as well.  If you do not want to buy it, then I am confident you can find a copy at your local library.  It is worth both the time and the money.  If you do check it out, please let me know what you think.

Here are a couple of links to Bryan's website, the book and the Ziglar sites.  This probably goes without saying, but I am not plugging this book for any payment or expectation of compensation.  I picked this book to write about because it positively impacted me.

What are you reading or listening to?  Please let me know.  Worthwhile books are good to experience and better to share.

As I close, I think it is only appropriate to do so with a quote from Mr. Ziglar himself from his 1984 book, Closing the Sale:

"You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough people get what they want."

I agree.  Wishing everyone a great coming week and month. 

Best regards,


This post is being updated on April 7, 2013 at 1:52 p.m. to reflect the following:  I obtained permission from Mr. Flanagan to use the cover art of his book.  I neglected to mention this when I published this post last evening.  My apologies to this oversight.  Now, please, go read/listen to this great book!

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