Friday, February 22, 2008

What's on the madKast Bookshelf?

In a recent meeting with one of our investors and mentors -- David Brown of Zoll Data Sytems -- he mentioned a book that he had found particularly useful for him regarding sales. The book, called Spin Selling by Neil Rackham, is a fantastic resource for anyone wanting to learn more about the intracacies of selling a product -- whether large or small, simple or complex -- to someone else. It is an extremely well-researched guide to successfully selling based on the research of 35,000 sales calls tracked by Rackham and his associates.

The word "SPIN" in the title refers to the method that the authors have found is the most successful: (S)ituation; (P)roblem; (I)mplication; (N)eed-Payoff. The author's premise is that the "traditional" steps in a sales call -- (1) opening the call; (2) investigating needs; (3) giving benefits; (4) objection handling and (5) closing techniques do not very well for larger, more complex sales such as one that may require many phone conversations.

Instead, the authors guide the reader through the four steps their research has found pivotal to successful sales calls. First, situation questions that help the seller gather data regarding the buyer. Second, problem questions probing difficulties or dissatisfactions in areas where the seller's product can help. Next, and most important, implication questions which take a customers problem and explore its effects or consequences. Finally, need-payoff questions, which are powerful ways to get the customer to tell you what the benefits of your solution are.

The authors also do an excellent job of describing how to assess the outcomes of particular interactions with buyers. From worst to best: "no sale," where the customer actively refuses a commitment; "continuation," where the sale will continue but where no specific action has been agreed upon by the customer to move it forward; "advance," where an event takes place in the call that moves the sale forward to a decision; and "order," where the customer makes a firm commitment to buy.

Rackham also spends a lot of time explaining how larger, more complex sales differ from that of smaller, simpler sales and that techniques that work well in one arena may not transfer well to the other. For instance, in larger sales, needs take longer to develop, their more likely to involve more than just one single individual (decision-maker) and needs are more likely to be expressed on a rational basis.

There's a host of other fascinating ideas and strategies that the author takes about in the book, and I couldn't recommend it more highly. It will certainly benefit madKast significantly as we frame our new product launch and pitch it to content

Also on the madKast bookshelf are Punk Marketing by Richard Laermer and Mark Simmons and Marketing to the Social Web, by Larry Weber. Both of which are also recommended! Have you read any of these books? Leave a comment if so!

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