As a specialist in complex sales, I rarely read anything that relates to one-call-close sales. I read Selling Fearlessly: A Master Salesman’s Secrets For the One-Call-Close Salesperson because Bob is a friend, but I’m recommending that you read it because it’s so good. By the time you finish it, you’ll probably feel Bob is your friend, too.
Terson did not sell complex systems to large businesses—he sold advertising on telephone book covers to small businesses, not what you would consider sophisticated sales. Yet, anyone who went on 12,000 sales calls during a 43-year career is bound to have learned a lot about selling, about consistent success, and about the psychology of persuasion. He also has a special gift for teaching, explaining and telling stories, which wraps the valuable lessons of a lifetime into a compelling and entertaining package.
In fact, Selling Fearlessly was a “one-call-close” for me, in that I read most of it through in one sitting while on a flight. But I have already started going through it again, because there are pearls of wisdom disguised as “common sense”, the kinds of things we all think we know but definitely don’t do enough of.
The book is in four sections, with about a dozen short chapters in each that tell a story or make a valuable point. Each chapter is opened by an apposite quote. My favorite is “Personality can open doors, but only character can keep them open,” quoted in chapter 4. Another quote dovetails beautifully with my own Bottom-Line Selling approach: “Treat your role strictly as a fiduciary responsibility and you’re on the right path to selling glory.” (I planned to steal that one, but when I tried it out on my class full of salespeople today, I had to explain what “fiduciary” meant.)
Part I is about the selling life, and the Mound Road story that opens the book (and Terson’s career) introduces us to the man who is our mentor and guide for the rest of the book. Everyone will draw their own lessons from Part I, but for me the key is the importance and dignity of the sales profession, especially since we’re all salespeople in some way.
The next three sections cover one leg of “The Triangle”, made up of mental attitude, work habits and salesmanship. Part II, on mental attitude, is mostly full of ideas that we already “know”, but constantly need reminding of, such as motivation, belief, and persistence. The key takeaway from this is that you don’t have to be born with a natural aptitude for selling; as long as you’re willing to work hard, take responsibility for your own and your customers’ results, and develop a tenacious belief in yourself despite disappointment and rejection, you can create a successful and rewarding career for yourself.
Part III is full of practical advice about work habits. Terson was way ahead of some of the current thinking on applying lean methods to selling—codifying and standardizing his work processes and following them consistently week by week, year over year. Although it would not be possible in today’s rapidly changing world, I found it fascinating that he only made three changes to his selling process in 43 years!
Part IV is about salesmanship. If you have any experience and success in complex sales, you’ve heard of his techniques before and won’t agree with all of them, but occasionally we need reminders that planning, developing relationships and challenging your buyers sometimes needs to be supplemented by the ability to communicate convincingly, deal with objections, and close a wavering decision maker.
Selling Fearlessly will enthrall, teach, and inspire you.