For many years I have recommended a number of books to B2B salespeople. Some of the most important books I have recommended include Neil Rackham’s SPIN Selling and Major Account Sales Strategy. I have also recommended Howard Stevens’ Achieve Sales Excellence, which I believe is one of the most important books that B2B salespeople should read to understand what their clients really expect of them. These books have been at the top of my list (along with a few others) for many years. They are foundational. Essential.
But last year I was introduced to Charlie Green and his work Trust-based Selling. To be honest, I have always thought of trust, honesty, and integrity as table stakes. I never gave the idea of trust much thought, and clearly I never gave it as much thought as Charlie has. The book is brilliant, and it quickly jumped up the number one spot in books I recommend. Trust is the foundation of all relationships, and it is critical to sales for a number of reasons.
Last week I received Charlie Green and Andrea Howe’s new book, The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook. If ever a topic ever deserved a Fieldbook, trust would be that topic. It’s one thing to speak and write about something in an academic sense, it’s quite another to lay out exactly how to do something as complex and complicated as creating trust. Happily, Charlie and Andrea do just that–and they do so brilliantly.
The great thing about a Fieldbook is that you can jump into a section that interests you (or that you need) and get a quick lesson or tutorial. I jumped right to page 205. That is the page where the little anecdote I shared with Charlie appears in the book (you would have done the same!). I then went to three chapters: Chapter 15 (Pricing), Chapter 16 (Closing), and Chapter 18 (Selling to the C-Suite).
Without giving away so much that you won’t rush out an buy the book, Chapter 15 provides killer answers as to when you should talk about price, the psychological reasons that price is so important to your clients and prospects (and it’s not really price), and a great discussion on the five real meanings of the phrase “your price is too high.” In each chapter, this one being no exception, Charlie and Andrea provide you with some trust-building language choice. The choices for dealing with issues around price are exceptional.
Chapter 16 is about closing. The beginning of the chapter lays out the reasons that you should not “always be closing.” We know closing destroys trust, especially when it is premature. Charlie and Andrea lay out five ways to stop closing and start helping your client, and the fifth way is using action-oriented language. This is what Neil Rackham calls an advance in SPIN Selling and something I write about here. You do have to ask for commitments to take the next logical, reasonable step in the sales process. This is a short and powerful chapter that is really focused on a mindset shift. And, like each chapter, there are worksheets at the end that allow you to figure out how to apply the learning to your sales efforts.
Chapter 18 is Selling to the C-Suite. This chapter is solid gold and an education in itself. It lays out why your motives with the denizens of the C-suite must necessarily be different. It also outlines the nine best practices for meetings with the C-Suite. It’s a great list, although I would add that for many of us to be more strategic requires that we first acquire a deeper understanding our client’s business needs, that we possess the business acumen to know how to help, and that we bring them ideas.
It’s rare that I gush over a book. I am gushing over this book because I believe the content is critical for any salesperson who wants to become someone that creates value and succeeds in B2B sales. More still, I love this format. The chapters are short and easily digested. The chapters are also all action-oriented so you can begin to use the book immediately.
You literally can’t get to amazon.com fast enough.