This is a dangerous book. The amount of anxiety you’ll feel after finishing this book depends on your role within your company. As an executive or top-level sales manager, you may find your sales culture in crisis. This may be a good thing. It will motivate you. For those in a sales role with limited capacity for change, you’ll be as frustrated as you are motivated. Pass this book up the chain at your own risk. Those in supportive roles, such as sales admins, information technology, purchasing, or even order processing, you’ll mostly be angry.
My perspective on this comes from being an inside tele-sales agent in a previous career, as well as, currently being an IT Project Manager for sales tools. There are parts I love about this book and parts that annoy me. Keep reading to follow a perspective not seen in the Amazon reviews.
Let’s start with the positive. The last third of this book discusses managing, growing, and making your team accountable. It is organized in a fashion that new and seasoned sales managers can follow to success. I mean that wholeheartedly. It is specifically a guidebook to sales team success. Actually, the methods here are relevant to any team that wants to be a high-performance machine. The author emphasizes focus, accountability, and motivation. I absolutely recommend the last third of this book for anyone needing a jolt of motivating for their team.
The first two thirds of this book are an echo chamber for sales complaints. If you’ve ever sat in a sales strategy session you’ll be familiar with the complaining, blaming, and buck passing that goes on. There is a clear warning on the book’s cover that this will occur. Getting “straight truth” is typically code for pontificated b!tching. Ironically, Mike Weinberg, discusses this phenomenon during this phase of the book and even has mitigation techniques.
Another clear warning, given in the first few pages, is that even the author, who after the first two thirds of the book should be referred to as Mike Whine-berg, declares there is no new concepts in this book. If you’ve been consuming sales and business books for the last twenty years or more, you’ll have heard every concept in this book previously. That may seem scathing, but the author and I agree here. Furthermore, it highlights Mr. Weinberg’s mastery of salesmanship. He has sold us all knowledge we already had and we will thank him for it.
Even so, it is Mike’s experience and organization of the book that make it a powerful motivational tool. You will be moved to action after experiencing this book. That is were the danger lies. This book pushes the idea that a company’s sales department should be an island. Seemingly, an all fun, drinks are on the company, I’m here to smile and shake hands, kind of island.
I fully understand that relationships surrounding sales deals are more powerful than the solutions provided. Islands have their own culture. Islands can be high functioning ecosystems. Islands are awesome. Modern islands cannot thrive without support from the mainland. Food, water, and technology must come from the mainland. Products and refuse must go to the mainland. Cultivating the island while ignoring the mainland is planting the seeds of revolt.
No one wants a culture of sales versus the “support staff.” Support staff translates to anyone who is not in sales. It is unhealthy and doesn’t help the long-term success of the company. This is one of my major issues with the advice of this book. It enthusiastically tells sales that only their results matter and to slash the throats of anyone in their way. I’m one who thinks organizational success is achieved through collaboration. For me, slicing throats just means we are going to have to replace the people, knowledge, and carpet much faster than normally required.
Additionally, I was highly annoyed at the excessively long rant about CRM systems in this book. I understand and agree that a CRM should not hinder sale’s ability to get things done. Any good system should be a multiplier of productivity. I also agree with the author that many companies don’t get this right. When companies do get it right, it is through collaboration, and the result is more money for everyone. CRM systems allow sales support teams like marketing, engineering, and customer service to provide expedited service to sales and customers. CRM systems centralize data.
In the 21st century, a company who doesn’t have a good handle on their data won’t be around for the 22nd century. Much of the important customer relations information is stored in the heads of the sales team. The company doesn’t benefit from data outside of its systems. In fact, the company loses data when team members leave.
The company gets injured when people leave. Important information is exfiltrated; whether intentional or not. This is another danger of this book. In the Mike Wineberg world, the sales rep doesn’t care about anyone or anything outside of their own success. Sure, the company benefits from rep’s success while that rep is with the company. In other words, the island is successfully producing widgets for the mainland. If those on the mainland are frustrated with the island, those widgets may not get picked up expediently, they may not get shipped to customers in a timely fashion, they could be sold off the docks and never make it to the warehouse.
The point is a company is healthy when all its parts work in harmony. Too much focus on one area and others atrophy. Disharmony in one function can disrupt all functions. Sales is the key function to moving widgets out of the building and into customers hands. Sales teams like to think everyone else is making a living because sales is moving product. The product doesn’t move or exist without the engineers and logistics teams. Every company is an ecosystem. There must be balanced to have a great ecosystem.
There is no magic bullet to achieve a great company. There is no magic bullet to killer sales. Mike Wineberg and I agree there. Regardless, there are many good points to take away from this book whether you are in sales or not. The newer you are to sales, sales management, and/or a leadership position, the more you will take away from this read. For me, it has given me ideas on how to present to sales, truncate meetings, question communications methods, and ensure accountability for myself and my team.
Happy selling. May the sales funnel be ever in your favor.