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Frankly, I began to read this book with some skepticism because I had already read dozens (hundreds?) of books about sales - including Anthony Parinello's Selling to VITO and Getting to VITO - and doubted that there would be much (if anything) left for Jill Konrath to discuss. I soon realized that I was wrong. True, Konrath offers few head-snapping revelations but her extensive personal experience (especially with rejection and failure) is rigorously examined, her advice is eminently practical, and the material is rock-solid, enhanced by the direct and conversational rapport she immediately establishes and then sustains with her reader. So many books about sales resemble a series of formal presentations at a conference or lectures by a business school professor. Not so with Konrath who understands that competition (with one's self as well as with others) is "the name of the game" in the business world, and, success there can be achieved only in the "trenches" of thorough preparation and styrategic (but prudent) persistence.

Appropriately, in Part One, she first explains what is required of those who attempt to sell to "big(ger)" companies. There are many challenges to avoid or overcome, several the result of misconceptions which Konrath summarily repudiates. This is a uniquely valuable section of the book because it makes crystal clear what experienced salespersons must "un-learn" about what they have assumed to be true thus far, and by doing so, Konrath makes it crystal clear to others what simply doesn't work...and why. Those in the latter group will probably find it easier to apply her advice which is at all times practical...and immediately actionable.

In Part Two, Konrath explains how to "build a foundation" for what eventually should become a cohesive, comprehensive, and cost-effective system for effective preparation, cultivation, and solicitation. What she is talking about really is a high-stakes "game" played against formidable opponents according to rules which can sometimes change suddenly. Some of the most important material in this Part focuses on the imperative need for a strong value proposition. There's good news and there's bad news. First the bad news: Most value propositions are weak. Now the good news: Most value propositions are weak. Her explanation of how to formulate and then leverage a strong value proposition, all by itself, is well worth ten (or 100) times the cost of the book.

With all necessary preparations thoroughly explained and illustrated (i.e. what's true and what isn't, what works and what doesn't), Konrath shifts her attention to "launching the campaign" in Part Three. Once again, there is a step-by-step process involved: Identify key decision-makers, Stop waiting for them to call back, Create enticing voice mail messages, Leverage e-mail strategies to get in, etc.

What about barriers and how to overcome them? Konrath explains "how to become irresistible to decision-makers" by overcoming obstacles and eliminating objections in Part Four. In Chapter 18, for example, she explains how not to treat a gate keeper who can then become an ally, a "gate opener."

How to accelerate the sales process? This question raises immensely complicated issues because decision-makers have too much to do, not enough time, and are under great pressure to add value to their company by eliminating waste, lowering operating costs, increasing productivity, solving various problems, filling various needs, etc. Although decision-makers are indeed hurried and harried, they will strongly resent being "pushed" by overly aggressive salespeople. What to do to "advance the sale"...and what not to do? Konrath addresses those and other important issues in Part Five.

I especially appreciate Konrath's use of various reader-friendly devices, such as a "Key Points" section with which she concludes each of the 22 chapters. These devices will facilitate, indeed accelerate a periodic review of her core concepts as well as her admonitions and commendations. (Often, her advice as to what not to do is more valuable than is her advice as to what to do.) I also appreciate the nine "tools" which she provides in Appendix A. It would be a fool's errand to read any one book -- including this none -- and then immediately (and mindlessly) adopt and apply all of its author's ideas. Think in terms of having a tool box into which you place those tools which you have carefully selected from a variety of different sources. I certainly recommend Konrath's "tools" (including the nine in Appendix A) but also Neil Rackham's concerning SPIN Selling questions and what Jacques Werth has learned about perfecting closing skills and then using them to pre-qualify prospects. The point is, learn all you can about all of the salesmanship "tools" which are now available but use only those which are most appropriate to your needs, and, only those which work best together in combination.

Earlier, I did not damn with faint praise when suggesting that there are few (if any) head-snapping revelations in this book, nor does does Konrath claim that she offers any. Some readers (probably experienced salespeople) may be surprised to learn that some of their cherished ideas about selling are either wrong or no longer sound. What gives Konrath credibility and what makes her material so valuable is the fact that, as she frankly admits, she once had all manner of misconceptions about selling and, because of them, probably made every wrong decision and every mistake possible. She acknowledges the difficulty of re-thinking what to do and how to do it. She has also learned a great deal from those enrolled in her sales training programs. (The best teachers always learn at least as much as their students whereas the worst teachers never seem to learn anything, nor do their students.) In this book, Konrath shares what she thinks is most important and urges her reader to remember what is most important. She concludes with this advice:

"Finally, realize that you are the biggest differentiator of all. Become an expert. Know your customer's business, processes, and marketplace trends as well as they do. Deepen your knowledge of your product line, capabilities, and total solution capacity. Constantly be thinking about how you can help your customers improve their operations and reach their goals. Competitors can create copycat products and services overnight, but no one can replicate you and your brain. Your ability to provide a continuous stream of fresh ideas, insights, and information to corporate buyers will make you irresistible, invaluable, and ultimately, indispensable."

For many readers, the same will be true of Jill Konrath after they read her book.
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on April 5, 2006
Thesis: You can achieve your goal of selling to big companies by first deconstructing why you've failed before, then creating a new game plan to forge new territory by breaking down old barriers on your way to victory.

Structure: 22 chapters spread over five parts of the book; two appendices also included. Each chapter ends with a bulleted list of key points to reinforce the most important aspects of the material.

I found the following especially helpful:

Understand Corporate Decision Makers (Ch. 3, pp. 19-27)

Understanding your prospect's world is essential, right? And so it is with selling to big companies. Jill explains very clearly the firefighting world that corporate decision makers live in and what this means for your approach. One specific insight I found very enlightening was that corporate decision makers "haven't got time for the pain" (p. 22) of taking the time for building rapport as we'd often like.

Is Your Value Proposition Strong Enough? How to Strengthen Your Value Proposition (Ch. 6 and 7, pp. 51-61 and 63-73)

In these chapters, Jill shows you how to form a strong value proposition that prospects will find irresistible. She points out the epidemic of weak value propositions (pp. 53-55) and informs you that it's essential to describe tangible, measurable business outcomes and acknowledge opportunity costs. Chapter Seven shows you how to identify and increase the power of your value proposition (p. 64), how to address a lack of metrics (p. 68), and how to test effectively (p. 72).

Break Through the Barriers (Part Four, Ch. 16-19)

Part Four focuses on breaking through the barriers of corporate sales. You'll learn practical tactical ideas for your call (p. 163) and how to stay persisitent in the face of your prospects' brush-offs (p. 177). Jill also gives you invaluable instructions on how not to treat gatekeepers (p. 186) and how to maintain your contact without sounds desparate (p. 193).

While those who sell only to small companies will find a lot of useful information here, I consider the book almost a necessity for those wanting to land large companies as clients.
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VINE VOICEon June 1, 2007
This book cannot be praised enough. The only improvement is to change the title. This book isn't just for selling to big companies! This book is for anyone who needs prospects and whose company does a poor job of generating leads for them (everyone is in this situation I think). Selling to Big Companies debunks many of sales myths, especially those loved by out-of-touch managers who want more results but are clueless about how to get them. We are living in the `perfect storm' of sales resistance, especially in regards to getting in at all. Selling `high' isn't the answer, any more than the tired, worn-out approach of cold calling. This book, however, is the answer!

There are thousands of books and systems for sales. Almost all of them ignore or minimize the realities of how hard it is today to get into accounts to even begin `selling.' Few books have little useful information on prospecting or lead generation. No matter how good you are if you can't get in the door you can't be a solution, strategic, customer-focused, closed sub (Sandler), or ad nauseam `flavor of the day' seller. This book, coupled with "Selling Against the Goal" has replaced 90% of my selling library and is an indispensable read.

This book is a practical workbook: not simply a theoretical system of selling that does you no good in the day to day selling world where we all live. This book tells you how to make a plan, to create a prospect campaign: the how-to of developing leads and prospects within your territory. The book has very explicit instructions that show you how to work an area, develop business, and close sales. "If you're not getting in," for example the book tells us, "it is because your value statement isn't very good." This book goes far beyond the worn out and doesn't work advice of `just cold call more.' This book may have saved my career. It will definitely improve anyone's sales efforts if they apply it.
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VINE VOICEon February 20, 2006
I read this book twice already and each time I got new ideas for more deeply connecting with buyers and decision makers.

Also, the title is a little deceptive, these techniques will work equally well with small companies, so no matter who you sell to, you should own this book.

One of the most important ideas I got out of the book was how to actually open doors at large companies. While many feel that companies are giant faceless organizations with layers behind which buyers hide, the book shows you how to connect with the real people who are deciding and buying.

I honestly believe that anyone reading this book will reduce their sales cycles significantly and they'll create more new opportunities than they ever have before.

This book is a must read for any serious salesperson who wants to increase their selling ability . . . fast!
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on October 2, 2007
I'd be delighted to share 2 of many successes I've had using this book. My first success was actually in the sales job interview with my current employer. Preparing for it I thought, "I know Jill has the answer to how this should be done." So I outlined my presentation according to her suggestions. Then I practiced it. And practiced it. I knew I was connecting with the Executives while presenting. When I finished they said, "Of course you can think about this before making a decision, but
we'd like to start the process right away to bring you on board."

The second one happened only 7 months later -- My employer awarded me as Most Innovative out of 150+ reps over the same product line across the U.S. Canada and India. How did they present me? I was described as an "innovative sleuth, always looking for clues to crack the code." One case was cited explaining "the CFO called back because Travis' message was about them, not us."

And I don't hesitate telling others this book explains the right way to do it.

As always, Jill, keep up the great work!

Travis
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on March 23, 2006
Buy Jill's book. This is the absolute best sales book I ever read. This is the first time I've ever written a review.

I was in sales for 11 years before I left. I stayed away from sales for four years. I came back last year. The world changed. Everything I used to do, doesn't work anymore and Jill says exactly that in her book. She perfectly details the voice mails, the letters and the conversations I've had with potential customers. She describes them in detail, accurately and then Jill explains why that doesn't work anymore. I got the feeling she knew me as I was reading the book. Happily, Jill then describes in detail the right way to sell. She says do A, then B, then C. Jill says it all in a down-to-earth style. I felt like I knew her. She has the entire sales cycle described. Nothing is left out. This book is a blueprint. It's a map. If you want to be successful, really successfully in sales, buy this book.

I have read A LOT of sales books. Without exception, this is the best. I highly recommend it.
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on January 26, 2007
I have been in sales since I am 15, and now 30+ years later, it's about time someone wrote a book that not only pointed out the imprortance of tools, but how to write them as you read along.

Sales training does not generally stick because it does not effectively impact behavioral change. Jill tackles this problem by using tools to help you along, in learning what to do, and using tools to help do it each and every day.

She is refreshing, honest, and gives solid advice to anyone selling anything to a business...large or even small.
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on January 29, 2008
Quite a good book. It's especially valuable for salespeople who struggle to get through voicemail. Most of the value added comes form strategies that bring you through voicemail. I come form Europe where voicemail is not so popular and therefore the value of the book is limited for me. The book writes also about value, gatekeepers and other buying influences etc. but many of the subjects I have already read in other books.
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on July 27, 2008
I bought this book at the same time as I bought "Bag the Elephant" by Steve Kaplan. (Do not waste your money on that one!) "Elephant" is full of the old tired sales techniques that we have grown to detest, while "Selling to Big Companies" offers a refreshing approach to selling by not selling. Jill Konrath puts you in the mindset of being a peer and a consultant, not a salesperson. In my personal experience, this approach honors your own committment to your line of work and takes you out of the realm of "sales," and into the line of "service."
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on September 19, 2011
I'm in B2B sales since 2005 and I read many sales books and blogs, because I constantly want to improve myself.

This book is in my list of TOP sales books (see my complete list at the end of this review).

I found this book particularly useful for learning how to address companies (both big AND small!).

It contains golden and directly applicable advice on how to build a good value proposition, on how to write a good prospection email, on which voice message to leave, on which email title to use, etc.

Something I learned from this book and will never forget, are the 3C's, a guideline for the structure of emails, letters of voice mails:
- Establish Credibility
- Generate Curiosity
- Close

Jill Konrath gives clear examples, of how exactly to realize each of the 3 C's.

My complete list of top sales books:
- Tom Hopkins for all his practical, real world advice on all basic sales stuff. Tom's books are more targeted towards B2C sales but that certainly doesn't make them worthless for B2B sales.
- Paul Cherry's Questions That Sell: The Powerful Process for Discovering What Your Customer Really Wantsto get a really good feeling about how exactly to formulate your questions, which questions work and why,...
- Neil Rackham's groundbreaking SPIN Selling for learning the basics in B2B sales questioning techniques. This book teaches you the basics of consultative sales, of finding and growing problems, and of opening a customers' eye on a solution.
- Jill Konrath's Selling to Big Companies for golden practical advice on how to address new prospects, and for learning about strong value propositions to open doors.
- Marc Miller's Selling is Dead: Moving Beyond Traditional Sales Roles and Practices to Revitalize Growth for learning to address gains not just pains, and for learning how to make a stunning Value Based Proposal. This book is a must-read if you sell a B2B product that is really innovative and new.
- Sharon Drew Morgen's Dirty Little Secrets: Why buyers can't buy and sellers can't sell and what you can do about it for learning to think in terms of systems and change management.
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