📅 27th May 2021 | 2020/21 Sales Book Reviews
Launched in a blaze of publicity in Autumn 2020, Fred Copestake’s Selling Through Partnering Skills is a collection of sales tips and ideas that the author has amassed throughout his sales training and coaching career. Read on…
I hadn’t really heard of PQ or Partnering Intelligence beforehand and Fred Copestake explains the importance of creating an environment (after salespeople fully understand their own PQ). This is the main thrust of the book – the author believes that the world of sales has entered the age of collaboration. PQ first appeared in the 1990’s.
The section about ‘being a trusted advisor‘ reminds us all as to how we should behave and what qualities one needs to possess.
One passage in Chapter 9 caught my eye which was about listening. Top business people understand that one has to listen attentively – possibly the hardest of all the ‘soft skills’ to master. The author explains the difference between that and what many people do and that is to ‘search’ listen or even worse in a sales situation, to ‘skim listen’.
Where do I start?
On page 171 of the book there’s a passage entitled ‘Always Be Closing’ – I think I first heard this in the first year of Margaret Thatcher’s premiership.
Why authors of sales books find it necessary to drag the twentieth century into the twenty-first century is beyond me. Okay, Fred C. does throw in a couple of caveats but that didn’t stop me from slinging the book on the floor one evening in a fit of pique. Closing is so 1990’s. Elsewhere there are mentions of the Boston Matrix, Maslow’s Heirachy of Needs, FAB (that’s Features, Advantages and Benefits in case you didn’t know) the decades old A.I.D.A. and SWOT analysis. But references to these items didn’t enrage me quite as much as the debunked Mehrabian story.
Another feature of the book are the multiple references to Classic Selling and Consultative Selling – and how they can be applied now. I’m not going to condemn the author for writing about old sales methodologies (I loathe that term) but if you’re going to write a history of sales, then write a book on the history of sales! Students of selling and those wishing to enter the profession need to know what is going to be relevant in 2022 and beyond not what was up to the minute in 1986. I much prefer how the author explains ‘Value-based Selling’ (isn’t all selling value or positive outcome based?) I disagree with the author’s assertion that one should know the ‘basics’ of “classic selling” and “consultative selling” before advancing to VBS.
I liked the short section on how PQ can be applied in Enterprise Selling. It includes ideas on attitudes, social proofing and persuasion. Another useful guide was the “STAIRS” model created by a colleague of the author – this is a clever way of constructing a customer contact strategy. That strategy of course, being quite different to that of a new business sales person.
The guide for sales leaders and salespeople at the back of the book highlights sensible guidelines.
A few weeks ago on Linked In, an acquaintance who in the past, has attended many hundreds of talks, was bemoaning about the amount of times speakers would offer nothing really new in the first ten minutes of a speech. Well that’s exactly how I felt after reading the first one hundred pages of Selling Through Partnership Skills. My brain was shouting show me something new or really interesting – perhaps having been “around the block two or three times” in sales coupled with the number of book reviews I ‘ve written is starting to make me short-tempered and frustrated with certain publications which may not cut it in the 2020’s.
Had the text on page 103 (about a salespersons understanding of a customer’s business) appeared much sooner in the book my critique may have been different. This is because there’s too much explanation with peripheral items without getting to the heart of the issue, which is getting more profitable sales – the read early on was almost a labyrinthine procedure. The second half of the book was much easier on the eye.
I also would have liked to have read some “Fredisms”. Too many sales books seem to have references to academics or other sales or marketing gurus.
I have no doubt that the author is sincere in his strongly held beliefs about partnering skills and collaboration in business-to-business sales. But I disagree with his approach which some might cruelly say is like looking down the telescope from the wrong end. There’s a lot of navel-gazing in STPS and not enough “customer-centricity”.
Equally, there’s no mention about how customers minds actually work (although there was a reference to the ‘halo effect’), or the rapidly popular field of decision-making science.
Tags: sales training
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