Book reviews - Sales - Sales Books

Book Recommendation: Quit Whining and Start Selling by Kelly Riggs

Judging by the title, you would think that Quit Whining and Start Selling is one of those motivational books that is long on exhortation and inspiration and short on practical advice. At least that’s what I thought when Kelly Riggs asked me to review his book.[1] I was skeptical—not because I’m opposed to motivation but because you’re not likely to find it in a book.

The book is actually very engaging and motivational, but, the title does the book a disservice, because its real strength is in its practical, solid sales advice. Reading this book is like having a wise and experienced sales coach looking over your shoulder providing guidance on the critical performance factors at each stage of the sales cycle. The book is arranged in eight parts, roughly in the order of the sales cycle:

Part I frames the discussion by defining the elements that lead to sales success. Riggs reminds us that none of us is destined to success or failure—“you are destined to whatever you have the desire and the discipline to create.“ The discipline part comes in the form of the next six parts: defining what your customers are buying, analyzing and planning your work and your sales approach, and improving effectiveness at each stage of the sales cycle.

Part II, What Are You Selling?, gets you thinking about what your product or service means to the customer. Kelly reminds us that superior products do not just sell themselves, and the standard trite talk about quality, service and value does nothing at all to differentiate you in the customer’s perception.

Part III is the shortest in the book, comprising only two chapters, but in my own opinion it’s the most important concept of all. It’s best encapsulated in the quote by Deming: “If you can’t describe what you’re doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing.” An effective sales process is the key to consistent sales performance, and the only way to know what is working and what isn’t.

Parts 4-7 show how to improve your effectiveness in each stage of the sales process: Planning, Discovery, Presentation and Delivery. This is where the meat of the book comes in with specific face to face selling ideas and techniques.

Part VIII is about personal success habits, and is the most “motivational” part of the book. It’s a useful reminder that you have to work smarter and harder to reach the top 1% of your profession.

Quit Whining and Start Selling is also a good read, full of engaging stories and examples that illustrate important points. I also appreciated that each chapter is book-ended by excellent quotes that set the stage at the beginning of each chapter and brief “1-on1 principles” that sum up the principal lesson.

I wrote earlier that you’re not likely to find motivation in a book, but upon reflection that’s not quite accurate. Motivation does not come from hearing things you already know; it comes from learning new things that you know can improve your results if you implement the process. Process plus discipline will carry you through even when short term enthusiasm fades away. If you look at it this way, Quit Whining and Start Selling is a quick read that can have lasting impact on your sales career.

Note: You can purchase the book in soft cover directly from Kelly’s web site, or a Kindle version from Amazon.


[1] That’s my subtle way of introducing the fine print disclaimer. I provided a promotional blurb for the book. (Not that it made the cover.)

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