Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ Free Shipping
+ $5.01 shipping
Exceptional Selling: How the Best Connect and Win in High Stakes Sales Hardcover – Illustrated, August 18, 2006
The Amazon Book Review
Book recommendations, author interviews, editors' picks, and more. Read it now
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Frequently bought together
Exceptional Selling's approach extols the value of Diagnostic Selling: professional involvement and emotional detachment, not confrontation and persuasion. Author Jeff Thull breaks down complex business-to-business sales with clear, step-based directions, easy to understand diagrams and charts, and case studies of successes and failures. Exceptional Selling gently prods salespeople toward corrective strategies for errors that often go undiagnosed in the chase for the deal.--Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, October 2006
Exceptional Selling focuses heavily on the actual processes of the diagnostic process Thull advocates and offers excellent advice and examples on such topics as protecting the customer’s ego during the sales cycle, learning how to develop analyses of customer needs that are credible, and (perhaps my favorite topic in the book) why you should avoid those PowerPoint presentations the industry is addicted to. --Rick Chapman, Managing Editor and Publisher of Softletter
Many salespeople believe their sales are successes or failures based on emotional connections with customers who are either too involved or too distant. Author Jeff Thull sets out to change conventional thinking. Thull advises how to deal with all stages of the sales cycle stages. He breaks down complex business-to-business sales with clear, step-based directions, easy to understand diagrams and charts, and case studies of successes and failures. Exceptional Selling gently prods salespeople toward corrective strategies for errors that often go undiagnosed in the chase for the deal. --Tali Arbel, ManageSmarter.com
- Publisher : Wiley; 1st edition (August 18, 2006)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 272 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0470037288
- ISBN-13 : 978-0470037287
- Item Weight : 1.01 pounds
- Dimensions : 5.9 x 1.1 x 9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #706,821 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Here are some notes I took while reading this book that might be helpful to you:
Every salesperson must understand the customer's world. This is done by not only being a good listener, but by understanding the client's meaning system--the whole set of assumptions, experiences, values, and beliefs that create the context for their perceptions, judgments, and decisions. Before we can listen at this level, our customers have to be willing to talk to us as equals. We need to establish peer-to-peer relationships with them. How can this be done when everyone is competing for their attention? According to the author, establishing a mind-set of mutual respect is the secret to walking this fine line. We have to assume that our customers are experts in their businesses and, furthermore, that they know their own organizations far better than any outsider ever will. We don't have to insult customers by telling them everything we think they don't know (p. xiii-xiv).
In the rush to sell something, as soon as the customer mentions a problem, the salespeople start talking about how to solve it with their solution. They make premature judgments, and in doing so, they shut down or change the direction of their conversations and miss the richness of insight, perspective, and depth of knowledge that the customer could provide. The usual outcome is a dissatisfied customer¡ªdissatisfied because he knows that the salesperson has stopped listening and won't know enough about his situation to propose the best solution. The ideal sales conversation starts with actually hearing customers in their own terms and with their own meanings. As a conversation progresses, you migrate to a more structured discourse in which you are trying to make sense of what customers are telling you in light of the frameworks in which you are expert. You're situating your expertise inside the customer's world (p. xiv-xv).
Sales professionals who are exceptional conversationalists as well as exceptional diagnosticians are like chess masters. They know the pattern of the board, the strategies of the game, and they know where they are, where they're going, and their options at every instant (p. xvii).
Salespeople often have two strikes against them every time they engage a customer: they are relying on unconscious patterns that were already set in stone by the time they entered kindergarten; and they are working with a sales process that encourages an atmosphere of confrontation. These sabotage our relationships with customers (p. xxv).
A study revealed that the number-one reason that patients change doctors was not based upon the doctor's competence, but on the doctor's bedside manner, that is, how well the doctor appeared to understand and respond to the patient (p. 10).
When you're feeling pressure, you're doing something wrong (p. 19).
Do not answer an unasked question (p. 11).
When customers are engaged, they learn. When what they learn is compelling enough to make them want to change and take action, they will buy (p. 10).
You may be sabotaging your own career. A very common scenario occurs when salespeople unwittingly play the parent with customers and alienate them at the very beginning of the sale. Many customers hear a parent or superior insinuating that they don't know their own business. Once the parent and the child manifest themselves in a business conversation, old patterns of reacting often kick in, and what's left of your connection and credibility with the customer quickly deteriorates. In the dialogue that follows, you'll see that salespeople often respond as the child to their customers:
Prospect: Our Company is planning to purchase an integrated CRM software package for our marketing, sales and service staff. We would like you to demonstrate your solution to our management team by the end of the month.
Salesperson: First, I need to get a better understanding of your company's needs and budget. I'd like to meet with several of the executives at your company.
Prospect: We'd rather not take the time for that. We'd like to start with an overview first and if things look good, we can progress from there.
Salesperson: It's very difficult to present such a complex solution without understanding more about your situation and budget constraints.
Prospect: We don't have time to waste on meetings. Do you want to work with us or not?
Salesperson: Certainly, when would be the most convenient time for the demo?
What happened here was driven by emotion. The customer says he wants a product demonstration, a normal and often costly part of the complex sales process. The salesperson responds as an adult and seeks to ensure that a demonstration of his product can be tailored and is appropriate for the customer and his own company. The customer responds like a parent; it's going to be his way or the highway. The salesperson, overly anxious to please and scared to lose the sale, responds like a child by complying and, in doing so, commits to an expensive course of action that may very well have no chance of yielding a sale (p. 14-15).
Just as it takes two to tango, salespeople and customers enter conversations with preconceived perceptions and expectations and distinct mind-sets. Customers tend to paint all salespeople with the same brush. To them, salespeople--no matter whether they sell advanced avionics or used cars--all come out of the same mold. And customers' negative perception of salespeople is often based on direct experience. To break these patterns and establish credibility and trust with customers, the author recommends the following:
1. Salespeople need to be professionally involved and emotionally detached in conversations with customers.
2. Salespeople must retrain themselves and learn new conversational processes and skills.
3. Salespeople have to confront their conditioning and establish themselves as valued business advisers.
What is the one and only thing your customers really want to know? Value. You can't count on customers to recognize on their own the value you bring to the table, to calculate what it's worth or accurately determine if they should pay its price. You must help the customer connect the dots. The customer is the judge and jury in the sale, but you are the expert, the guide. The value proposition is nothing more than a capability, and your primary responsibility is to make it relevant. Once you know how to translate value, you are on your way to regular and predictable success in sales. When a value translation is done properly, the pieces of the customer's puzzle come together and you get the credit (p. 39-40).
Successful sales professionals maintain and protect their self-esteem and their customer's self-esteem at all times. What does self-esteem have to do with sales? When salespeople inadvertently damage their customer's self-esteem, they risk losing the cooperation and participation that are so important to the sales process. Some salespeople ask the customer questions like: "What's keeping you awake at night?" and "What types of pain are you feeling in your manufacturing process?" The danger is you are insinuating that the customer doesn't know what he is doing. If you "get to the pain" without being sensitive to self-esteem, you can easily alienate the customer and destroy the relationship.
A sales engagement is not the right place to get our emotional needs met or give our emotions free rein. Salespeople should be professionally involved, but emotionally detached (p. 173).
There are only two reasons why customers don't buy:
1. They don't believe they have a problem, so they don't have incentive to change.
2. They don't believe the solution proposed will work.
Never be afraid or unwilling to tell a customer your price the moment the question is asked. The right question is not whether the price is reasonable or not. The right question is, "Does the customer's situation warrant our level of solution in financial terms?"
You have competitors; your customers have alternatives (p. 143).
In his book, 'Failure Is Not an Option', NASA Mission Control Director Gene Kranz described the necessity of having a mental map in the world of test pilots. Test pilots, he said, are always trying to stay ahead of the airplane; they are trying to get ahead of the power curve. They work hard to 'anticipate what could happen rather than just reacting to what was happening at the moment.' That is the mark of a professional in any field of endeavor (p. 79).
This is a good book to read if you want to master the art of selling. It offers great advice and workable methods.
Thull carefully organizes and presents his material within three Parts. First, in Chapters 1-3, he explores the communication barriers that stand between salespeople and their customers; next, in Chapters 4-7, he guides his reader through four series of conversations that result in exceptional sales; finally, in Chapters 8 and 9, he explores how to establish exceptional credibility and cement it with the ability to overcome two of the most difficult conversational challenges in today's complex sales environment: "the urgent need to quantify value and the demand that salespeople engage with customers at the highest levels of their organizations." Over the course of nine chapters, Thull establishes and then sustains a direct and informal (i.e. conversational) rapport with his reader. He thoroughly examines the conversational mind-set, strategies, and skills that power exceptional selling.
Of special interest to me is Thull's focus on various misconceptions about high-performance salesmanship. Those whom he refers to as "high-performing salespeople, `the best of the best'," consistently and convincingly demonstrate that most traditional ideas about sales are no longer appropriate. For example:
Myth: "All prospects will buy."
Reality: Only certain customers will and should buy.
Myth: "A good salesperson can sell anything to anybody."
Reality: A good salesperson weeds out poor prospects and focuses on high-gain opportunities.
Myth: "Customers know what they need; it's my job to deliver it."
Reality: Customers can be unclear and even wrong about their needs; the salesperson's responsibility is to complete an accurate diagnosis of need(s).
Myth: "Never walk away when money is on the table."
Reality: Always walk away unless certain that you can improve the prospect's business.
Myth: "The customer is always right."
Reality: The customer needs and deserves professional guidance to make an appropriate decision.
According to Thull, many (too many) salespersons never develop what he characterizes as the "Diagnostic Mindset," a point-of-view or set of beliefs which provides the foundation for a conversational, diagnostic style that is uniquely suited fvor exceptional communications. It's the antithesis of a presentation mindset. "Diagnosis is more effrective than presentation [a systematic but numbing review of functions, features, and benefits], first because it is collaborative and second, because it's always focused on the customer. Diagnosis is about observable symptoms of the problems and the parameters of solutions, not opinions or blame."
Thull explains what the "Diagnostic Mindset" is, why it works so well for the best salespeople , and how others can - and should - use it to achieve comparable success. Throughout his narrative, Thull includes all manner of reader-friendly devices which summarize key points, and, correlate them with real-world situations. One of my favorites is the "Key Thought" device, a boxed statement which challenges conventional wisdom. For example:
"Do not answer an unasked question."
"When in doubt, do the opposite of what a salesperson would do!"
"In the absence of a quality decision process, the decision will degenerate to the lowest common denominator: price."
"Do not allow the customer to self-diagnose."
"You have competitors; your customers have alternatives."
"The purpose of a proposal is to reinforce decisions which have already been made."
Those who develop the "Diagnostic Mindset" will always be focused on a customer's needs; will recognize observable symptoms of problems and the parameters of solutions, not blame; will engage the customer as a collaborative partner; promote customer ownership of the solutions identified; and thereby, the salesperson will differentiate herself or himself from competitors. Not all of those in sales who read this book will be both willing and able to develop the "Diagnostic Mindset." In fact, many will remain hostage to what James O'Toole characterizes as "the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom." Those who do develop this mindset will stand apart not so much by what they sell as by how they sell. Thull concludes his brilliant book with the following definition of exceptional:
"Far beyond what is usual in magnitude or degree.
Surpassing what is common or usual or expected.
Having or showing intelligence or ability well above average.
Not like others of the same type.
"That is as good a definition as you will find of an exceptional sales professional. May all of your customers and colleagues describe you as exceptional."
I’d highly recommend to anyone looking to step up their game.
Top reviews from other countries
This book should be a standard read for all sales people and sales managers. Read it, follow it and enjoy.