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The Contrarian Effect: Why It Pays (Big) to Take Typical Sales Advice and Do the Opposite Hardcover – September 9, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Times have changed.

The typical old sales tactics we're all familiar with no longer work. Cold calling gets you nowhere, door-to-door selling is a nonstarter, and today's consumers are too savvy for most traditional scripts and closing techniques. With those tactics, it takes more time and effort to reach fewer and fewer clients. If you're still doing it the old-fashioned way, you're probably barely keeping your career afloat.

If you want to stop treading water and start making sales, The Contrarian Effect has the answer. This sales approach is like no other in history. Not only do traditional sales tactics fail most of the time, we're actually better off doing the exact opposite! It may sound crazy, but it's not just a novel idea; it's a counterintuitive approach to sales that really works.

High technology and instant communication have put customers firmly in control of the sales process. They don't answer calls from unknown numbers; they demand honesty and transparency in the sales process; they are well informed about your product before they deal with you; and they have no patience for pressure tactics like closing questions. No wonder traditional sales methods no longer work.

Whether you know it or not, many of today's best companies have already discovered the contrarian effect. They're giving up high-pressure selling for low-pressure customer interactions. Other companies are ditching the shotgun approach and getting to know specific customers and what they like in order to offer them the exact kind of product they want. These are examples of the contrarian effect in action, and it not only works, it works well.

If you or your organization is in the sales doldrums, it's time to shake things up. Read The Contrarian Effect and discover how profitable it can be when you take the old rules and do the exact opposite.

From the Back Cover

"I've made a career out of challenging conventional sales wisdom, and I can tell you that very few writers have done this effectively. It's not demolition that's hard; anyone can say that everything you've ever read is wrong. The trick is building something better in its place. The Contrarian Effect does this well. It's filled with true stories about what works and what doesn't. It's fun to read and will challenge your thinking." —Neil Rackham, author of SPIN Selling

The Contrarian Effect is not for wimps.

If you're one of those Neanderthal salespeople who doesn't want to adapt to the changing times, buy one of those books that will tell you what you want to hear rather than what you need to hear. Certainly don't buy this book. It could make you uncomfortable. It could suggest you change the entire way you and your organization approach selling. But, if you do buy this book, you'll make more money and you'll even be more popular. Plus, you'll be a better salesperson—and person—for it.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (September 9, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470237902
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470237908
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 7.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,444,958 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

MICHAEL PORT is the New York Times best-selling author of six books including Book Yourself Solid, Beyond Booked Solid, Book Yourself Solid ILLUSTRATED, The Contrarian Effect, The Think Big Manifesto, and STEAL THE SHOW, his latest. Michael has been featured on all the major TV networks and is one of the highest rated speakers working today. He runs a company of experts advising businesses on marketing, business development, and public speaking. Free chapters from all of Michael's books can be found at Marketing advice at Public speaking advice at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey A. Simpkins on September 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The Contrarian Effect represents more fine work released by Michael Port, this time teaming up with business associate Elizabeth Marshall.

The Contrarian Effect is a quick, easy read. I started the book at noon on Sunday, spent a few hours in my hammock reading, and by bedtime was finished. Don't let the terms "quick" and "easy" throw you! The book is filled with valuable insights and flows very well. As I read the pages I felt the energy of the authors from their words. I found myself wanting to make notes as I read; not notes from the book, but notes on the stream of powerful ideas sparked by the book.

Port and Marshall point out through very timely and relevant stories that today's consumer has become sensitive to closing "techniques." Today's consumer has a wealth of information available as close as their computer or iPhone. They want to buy on their own time frame, not based on the accounting or commission cycle of the seller.

The book is filled with examples of companies that use The Contrarian Effect quite successfully... such as Apple Computer and There are also a few examples of companies that insist on keeping it "old school" and insights into the results they are experiencing.

As is always the case with books that Michael Port puts his name on... The Contrarian Effect delivers more value than the cost of the book and the time invested reading it. Whether you're a solo entrepreneur, small business, or part of a larger organization, you will find value in this book and have fun reading it!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Lisa Manyon on October 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Face it, we all sell to some extent and I've always felt the key to being successful in sales is to NOT sell out. My convictions on this matter didn't always settle well especially when I was asked to do "dog and pony shows" back in the print, radio and ad agency days. It's true, my foray in advertising and marketing started in sales. But I could never embrace the worn out, salesy approach. That just wasn't me. I choose to connect with my clients and treat them as real people. Guess what? It worked and it still does today.

Little did I know, doing what I believed to be the right thing was actually not the norm. I'm glad and I'm proud to be a contrarian. Are you?

Michael Port and Elizabeth Marshall team up to share insights into typical sales tactics and they skillfully illustrate why the old school ways are not necessarily the best approach.

Consumers are savvier than ever. They demand more. They expect more and they deserve more than a stale sales pitch and antiquated, canned attempts at "the close".

The new marketing model is all about relationships and meeting the ever demanding expectations of today's consumer.

Two of the most important tips I hope readers take to heart are:

1. Identify and target specific groups of individuals rather than the mass market.

This may seem like a no-brainer to most contrarians but I am amazed to hear people today say "I want to speak to those who are even remotely interested in my product or service." This broad approach to marketing, advertising and sales is not cost effective. With this approach the messages created are often watered down and don't connect with people who may actually want what you're selling.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Joan C. Curtis on February 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Michal Port's and Elizabeth Marshall's book Contrarian makes a case for honesty in communication when making sales. Essentially, I found little new in the book. What the authors point out is that bad sales tactics-sleazy salesmen,who only want your money and nothing else, don't work. Well, duh? When did those tactics work? I'm amazed at how strong a case the authors felt compelled to make. It must mean that the world of "sales" isn't listening to logic. Port and Marshall kept saying that companies rely on the old methods of hard, pushy selling because it worked in the past.

The authors gave one example after another about how not to sell your product or service. Basically, they talked about making a connection, listening to your customer, giving your customer something of value, moving at your customer's pace, and becoming more customer-focused versus bottom line and quota focused. After a while (like after the first chapter), the book felt repetitive. The Contrarian Effect, as they called it, is simply good communication. I'm assuming that sales people of the past didn't use good communication skills.

What still amazes me is that we are having this discussion. Creating relationships with people take time, energy and a willingness to share. Are we in too much of a hurry for that? Port and Marshall think we are. Furthermore, they contend that haste will make waste.

If you are dealing with hard-sell management and want them to see another side of the coin, this book might work for you. If you're looking for new techniques in sales or even new communication ideas, this is not the book for you.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Simon Payn on September 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It might go against everything you've been taught, but the old way of making ales (the cold calling, the closing techniques, the meet-my-target-or-else mentality) don't work as well as they did in an interconnected, customer-is-king world.

This book is a manifesto for a new and - I believe - more effective way of making sales - by building relationships, building a reputation as a trusted adviser, and by sending relevant, targeted offers.

It's a method I advise my clients to use: newsletters, for example, which the authors recommend, are a great way of accomplishing all this.

The book will be a shock for those who believe in the old way of making sales; it serves as a pocket-sized reminder for those who know that they new ways work better.
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