The Art of the Sale

I was at the Kauffman foundation a few weeks back to hear Philip Delves Broughton present on sales and touch on his book, “The Art of the Sale”.  Beforehand, I had never heard of the book. After meeting Broughton and listening to his demeanor, I knew it was a book I had to read.  He wasn’t a salesman, but had been through business school and was never put through any academic sales training.

My small company, instin, is right now at a position where it needs sales more than ever so this has been a timely read.  I’m pretty much a sales rookie in terms of experience but I have grown up with a father as a salesman and read quite of bit of sales literature.

I found this book to be quite informative and a welcome change from the other sales books I’ve read.  Most other books focus on selling as a means to get rich.  From the onset, Broughton establishes his purpose for researching and writing to be to discover what really drives great salesmen.  And while he finds examples of both those who are fooling themselves in order to sell a product they don’t care deeply about (i.e. life insurance reps), there are many more examples of those who are out there selling in order to help the client.

Since sales is a necessary part of any economy and in some ways every single life, deciding how and why we sale is integral in determining whether or not we’ll be successful.  In my situation, I am selling advertising to students so that we can continue to offer great products directly for students and now teachers without sacrificing any of the user experience.

All in all I found this a great read and would recommend it to others.  The only part of the book I disliked was when Broughton tried to explain or break down a few of the success stories scientifically.

The Biggest Reason Not to Read “The $100 Startup”

The tagline on the front of the book reads…“Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future”

This sounds fabulous, but what it doesn’t tell you is that – The entire book is focused on creating micro-businesses.  

What’s a micro-business?  Simply put, a micro-business is intended to provide maximum freedom by keeping a business as small as possible but still providing enough income for a nice lifestyle.  Every business discussed in the book is small both in terms of revenue and in terms of company size.

If you’re interested in building a nice scalable business, then the focus on micro-businesses is the biggest reason to pass on this read.

After reading this, I’m surprised it was chosen for a handout at Big Omaha since most of the attendees there are interested in trying to be one of the next successful tech startups.  The other book, Delivering Happiness, which I reviewed previously was a better fit.

That said, Chris Guillebeau did a nice job laying out many of the creative approaches that micro-businesses are using to be successful.  Some of these tips and approaches would apply to a tech startup and others would not.

Overall, I liked most of the advice on staying small and using some ingenuity in the way we market and produce our services/products.  I plan to go back and do some of the exercises that were a part of the book to review my sales pitch and work on a pricing model among other things.

I would recommend this book for someone who is unhappy with their day job or has recently become unemployed.  

And I’ll leave you with a couple of my favorite quotes:

“I spent some of my time learning how a real business works, but I didn’t let it interfere with a busy schedule of reading in cafès during the day and freelancing as a jazz musician at night.”

“To start a business, you need three things: a product or service, a group of people willing to pay for it, and a way to get paid. Everything else is completely optional.”

Quick Review of Delivering Happiness by Round Table Comics

I just got finished reading the comic book version of Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose.

This was one of the two books given out to everyone at Big Omaha this year.

Quick and Entertaining Read

Front to back, this book only took me a little over an hour to finish.  The comic book layout makes it fun to read and makes the story flow quickly.

Lacking in Depth and Explanations

As you might expect to happen with a book this short, there wasn’t much detailed information about the what’s and why’s regarding most of the decisions.  You get a high level story of Tony Hsieh, the zappos CEO, and then the book ends with an overview of some of the simple lessons he’s learned.

Each of three different happiness frameworks is explained on a single page.

This is a Great Book for Business Leadership & Management Classes

The succinct nature of the book would make it ideal for reading with a class and then being able to go into more detail as groups on the different pieces of the book.

If you’re purchasing a book to read on your own, I’d say you can find something better…perhaps just go with the text version of the same story.

My Favorite Quote

After he’d already made millions of dollars on the sale of Link Exchange, and before fully committing himself to Zappos, he found himself asking his friends “What do we want to be when we grow up?”

I’m not sure why that particular piece stuck with me but it does have some strong parallels to some of the questions I was asking that ultimately led me to quit my day job.