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on October 22, 1999
Neil Rackham, along with various co-contributors, has written six excellent and thought-provoking books on different aspects of sales and sales effectiveness. If your business involves selling and you haven't read these books, your revenues and profits are not where they could be! This latest one, "Rethinking the Sales Force" reinforces that. I learned that first hand.
In June of 1996, I was asked by my company to join a cross-functional team whose major responsibility was to re-engineer the company's selling processes. It took ten of us - along with countless consultants, many from Big Six firms - and a LOT of money over two years to complete that process. The ideas in this book could have saved us months and probably hundreds of thousands! Unfortunately it wasn't written then. But that's no longer a valid excuse, so if you haven't read "Rethinking the Sales Force", I'd go to One-Click on this page and order it right away.
Early in the book, the authors point out that while many aspects of business have changed, many sales managers and sales people are still following the precepts first referred to in a book written in 1925 by E.K. Strong called "The Psychology of Selling". A nice way of saying that selling hasn't kept up with the times. The ideas in this book can help any company begin this "catching up" process.
Like the five previous books, this one is very well written. Rackham has the ability to present new ideas or new perspectives in an entertaining manner reinforced with real world examples.
Many books on selling and the sales process have one or two decent ideas explained in one or two pages and surrounded by 240 pages of filler. None of Rackham's books will ever be accused of that.
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on January 15, 2000
Some of the books addressing the Internet's effect on business are so buried in futurist fantasy, that it's appliaction for selling today is limited. Rackham and De Vincentis do an excellent job of building a framework for viewing today's selling in an atmosphere of radical change including, but not limited to the Internet's effect on business. Filled with relevant examples, and clear advice about what works and what doesn't; I found the book very valuable in thinking how to apply new age selling to old work products. The premise of the book is that Sales must be about creating value for the customer and not just communicating it. How this is done is dependent on the nature of the sale: transactional, consultive, or enterprise and the structure of the sales channel. They warn against the ctitcal mistakes of applying the wrong solution for the wrong type of sale: If you are in a transactional situation (cost and price driven) it would be disastrous to apply a consultive or enterprise solution. They also warn that while our egos may want us to think that we want a consultive or enterprise relationship, that these types of sales are much tougher that we think, and that enterprise sales specifically are rarely successful for both parties. This is solid usable information. It should be a part of your thinking on sales strategy.
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on June 16, 2003
I really came prepared to read a terrific book. I think a great deal of Rackham's book SPIN Selling; it was based in some surprising research, and offered a detailed "how to" for those interested in mastering complex sales. Based on my strong endorsement as a marketing professor and later as a manager, I have doubtless sold many hundreds of copies of SPIN selling for Rackham. But this one is not very good.
This new book is disappointing because it reads like boilerplate McKinsey stuff. It is superficial, weakly case-based (I say weakly because they aren't cases per se but little illustrative vignettes or examples from the authors' consulting experience, or reading, or both), and even in some cases already out of date. Wordy, too.
I can see some use for the book, especially if you are fairly new to the world of sales force management. For example, if you have never really thought about whether your clients are seeking "transactional," "consultative," or "enterprise" selling processes, this will define them for you and point out that what is appropriate for one is not appropriate for another.
If you want some advice on how to organize and deliver one or the other of those strategies, the book offers some guidance, again in a fairly general and superficial way.
Rackham is an author whose knowledge I respect, and from whom I would have expected something new to say. That is why, although I don't like to say it, I cannot recommend this book to anyone with more than a passing knowledge of salesforce management.
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When an organization's sales are flat or declining, it is understandable for those responsible to ask "What to do about sales?" Here is a book which addresses a much more important question: "How to think about sales?" In a previous book, Rackham correctly stressed the importance of asking questions according to an acronym, SPIN: Situation, Problem, Implication, and Need-Fulfillment. In this book, he and Devincentis differentiate among three different categories of customer (Intrinsic Value, Extrinsic Value, and Strategic Value), explaining why (and how) the cultivation and solicitation process for each must be "customized" (pun intended) in direct response to their respective needs and interests. The common element (as always) is value. What is it? How can it be verified? How can it be increased? And perhaps one of the most important but least understood questions: So what?
What Rackham and Devincentis correctly assert is that when sales are flat, declining or even increasing, it is imperative to "re-think" whatever sales strategies and tactics are now used. (Here's a situation in which the SPIN framework can be especially helpful.), And do so in terms of HOW value is pereceived by each customer. Those perceptions are the most urgent sales realities. It is also important to remember that today's Intrinsic Value Customer may soon be motivated primarily by extrinsic or strategic considerations. The authors offer an intellectual infrastructure within which to ask the most important questions about sales. Although the same questions must continue to be asked, many (most?) answers which are correct today may soon be inadequate, if not flat-out wrong. How well you think and then re-think will determine how well you do.
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on November 10, 2000
I would have named the book: Buying Styles, how to approach them. The book details how buying processes are made and suggests how to approach them, but as a sales rep stand point it leaves a lot of details out, such as, defining strategies, identifiying unique business value, compelling reasons and so forth. Still, you can consider it good material, if you are looking for something on the surface; if you want to drill down you'll have to look elsewhere.
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on July 8, 2006
Having grown up on Rackham's sales models, I have huge respect for him and his work. When I was a sales rep at HP in the 1980s, Rackham's book changed my career and life, catapulting me from junior rep to SVP Global Sales (different company now). SPIN Selling is dead on the money in terms of what true sales pro's need to make the big bucks; it's still the best book in its field. I saw this new book from Rackham a month ago (note: it's been out there for 7 or 8 years) and bought it. I was very disappointed. Every great author/guru deserves one pass so I guess this is Rackham's. Rethinking The Sales Force is pedantic and tedious, filled with "consultant-speak" and the tired old models from McKinsey & Co (mgmt consultants) that every sales professional has had to labor through in internal process meetings. The "case studies" are mostly quips and 3 to 5 sentence anecdotes few of which are genuinely interesting or helpful. My real criticism of the book is it takes over 200 pages to say something that deserves one paragraph: some customers want a low-cost product and a low-end relationship, other customers want a more consultative, deeper relationship, and, pretty much, you have to know which is which to be successful. Makes sense. Worth an article in a magazine, but not a whole book. Summary: this is just not a strong sales book. LIke I said though, Rackham is a great figure in the sales field and his ideas have done a lot for me personally. I hope in his next book he shakes off the ennui so apparent in this last one and delves back into the original thinking.
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on April 25, 1999
I have always been impressed with how Neil Rackham has a hand on the pulse of what is going on in the current marketplace. In reading his latest book I could have sworn that he has inside information about our company and some of the struggles we are having with keeping customer margins at acceptable levels. His examples about instrinsic and extrinsic customers is right on target and the type of sales organizations you should consider to go after each of these customer segments. Creating customer value is essential in keeping profit margins elevated. Enterprise sales was also an interesting topic, but it did not offer much value to me at this time. Great reading for any sales or marketing person around the world.
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In this new classic and hot-seller, Neil Rackham and John DeVincentis write convincingly about the need for sales forces to change with the rapidly changing times, and about how they can successfully adapt. Devoid of cutesy gimmicks, the book takes a solid look at what it takes to sell in today�s market (no matter what your product or service). It gives plenty of strategies and corporate examples, all focused on the new imperative of creating value, as opposed to just communicating it. We [...] recommend this thorough, intelligent, and conversational book to executives, managers and everyone involved in sales and marketing.
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on May 20, 2002
Neil Rackham and John R. De Vincentis masterfully divide their examination of selling into transactional sales, consultative sales, and enterprise sales that coexist in many organizations. Enterprise sales are also known under such terms as partnership and strategic alliance. Rackham and De Vincentis concisely look at the key challenges that sales forces face in dealing with increasingly sophisticated buying consumers and businesses that are "ruthless" in the definition of their value scale and options. Rackham and De Vincentis then examine the fundamental pillars that characterize each type of selling and how to be successful in each type of sales, even in times of drastic changes observed in the buying landscape. Rackham and De Vincentis rightly warn their audience against the temptation to move up from either transactional selling to consultative selling or from consultative selling to enterprise selling. Most consumers and businesses will not pay for what they perceive as beyond the value provided to them. In their examination of the sales process, Rackham and De Vincentis stress the importance of removing boundaries from product management to technical support that stymie the efficiency of both transactional and enterprise selling. In their analysis of the sales process behind consultative selling, Rackham and De Vincentis counter-intuitively but rightly observe that improvement lies in the creation of milestones reflecting results and not activities. They logically note that salespeople tend to do what is compensated rather than what is effective. Rackham and De Vincentis also help their readers rethink their channels of distribution for creating and capturing value as well as deal with channel conflict. Finally, Rackham and De Vincentis explore how to change a sales force for improving its performance in each type of selling and how to migrate that sales force from one type of selling to another following changes in buying patterns. Ultimately, the key value of "Rethinking of the Sales Force" lies in its mental combination with books like "SPIN Selling", "Major Account Sales Strategy", "Managing Major Sales", and "The New Strategic Selling." That combination is indeed powerful in devising a strategy that is actionable in the field to help differentiate one organization from its competition.
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on March 25, 1999
This book is for people who are serious about sales force transformation (be it strategy, automation or process ...)
Before you adopt any decision about your salespeole, this book will provide you with a great roadmap and various models (the 3 selling types, process analysis, management and training type, ...) with respect to your current situation and to the direction you should go : beware, there is no free lunch ...
It is a "general" sales book but it's very rich in detail about all the main area of focus of sales management
It's clear, well written and well documented : bravo !
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