What's Old is New. And Very Much Needed. An Interview with Mike Weinberg.
As part of my semi-regular (or would that be highly irregular?) series featuring new sales books and sales tools that I believe would be useful for sales professionals to read and use, I interviewed Mike Weinberg, author of the very useful new sales book titled New Sales. Simplified. Our interview is below.
As Weinberg explains during our discussion he wrote this book as a form of basic survival guide for salespeople. Like many astute observers of the sales profession Mike observed that an entire generation of salespeople that began their careers during buoyant economies of the late ’90s and middle years of the last decade are now struggling to perform at the levels that they previously experienced. He contends that salespeople during the go-go years benefited from such a great degree of inbound, customer-initiated, interest in their products that proactive new business development, and the skills required to do it, withered. As a consequence when the economy turned sour these same sales professionals found themselves without the necessary skills and intellectual framework they needed to proactively build their pipelines. Weinberg intends New Sales. Simplified. to be an easily-digested corrective that teaches time-tested fundamental sales disciplines to the necessary business of developing new customers.
ZTS: Why did you write the book? What issue were you looking to tackle?
MW: I wrote the book because I am increasingly concerned by what I see when coaching sales teams and consulting companies. It seems that fewer and fewer salespeople have a working knowledge of how to prospect for new business and create new opportunities through their own proactive sales effort. That wasn’t as apparent in easier times and better economies when enough business came the way of reactive salespeople. But today, many in sales roles who survived, or even thrived, when carried along by strong demand and hot industries, are struggling to make their numbers, and they’re lost and confused.
ZTS: What does the “New” in “New Sales Simplified” signify?
MW: Great question, Andy. You’re the first to ask that. “New” refers to net new business. It’s the “new” in new business development. There are a whole lot of solid account managers out there who do a great job managing existing business. But there is a dire shortage of true sales hunters who can be counted on to acquire new clients consistently.
ZTS: In what ways does your prescription for selling simplify the sales process?
MW: I have eliminated all the fluff and boiled it down to the most basic framework. In Chapter 4, I present the New Sales Driver. That’s my very simple (sales) model broken into three elements: 1) Select Target Accounts (Prospects); 2) Create and Deploy Weapons; and, 3) Plan and Execute the Attack. It’s that simple. If a sales team is going to proactively attack for new business, to start, it needs a list. And it helps if that list is strategic, finite, focused, written and workable (Ch. 5). Then they need sales weapons to fire at those targets. Their most important weapons will be their sales story (Ch. 7 & 8), the proactive telephone call (Ch. 9) and the face-to-face sales call (Ch. 10 & 11). And finally, they need to launch the attack and fill their calendar with dedicated blocks for pursuing new business (Ch. 14). I would say that 80% of my coaching is centered around those three components of the New Sales Driver. If you’re not succeeding picking up new business, the cause can likely be found in one of the three aspects of the framework.
ZTS: What is the target market for your book? What size company? Which specific industries ?
MW: There are several targets. Frontline salespeople and professional services executives responsible for acquiring new clients are the primary focus. But sales management executives will also benefit from using the book as a guide leading their teams. And I am already getting feedback from entrepreneurs and small business owners that New Sales. Simplified. was exactly what they needed to catalyze their customer acquisition efforts. I wouldn’t narrow down the book for specific industries. Right now I am using the same basic framework to coach a leading edge IT infrastructure company and a team of loan officers at a large mortgage company. Sales is sales. Although my approach is more geared to a business-to-business sale.
ZTS: Who should read New Sales Simplified? Describe an ideal reader for the book. Is it a CEO, a manager or an individual sales professional?
MW: Pretty much the same answer as above. Except I’d add a warning to the CEO: We (in sales) need you to do your job so we can do ours. Sales is supposed to follow strategy and we are counting on you to point us in the right direction. Sales’ job is to execute strategy, not create it on the fly. I spend a good deal of Chapter 3 pointing out the issues created by senior management that inhibit, rather than help, sales performance.
ZTS: Briefly describe how a sales team would implement the system you describe in “New Sales Simplified.” What would you recommend they do first? What results would you expect them experience?
MW: First, I’d ask them to read the whole book so they were all on the same page. Then they should tackle the following in order:
a) work through creating a strategic, focused, finite, written, workable list of Target Accounts;
b) draft a new, more compelling, customer-focused, succinct, differentiating story by following the “Sales Story Exercise” in Chapter 8;
c) each team member should write an individual business plan building off of the template provided in Chapter 14.
Then I’d encourage them to get into action – fast! Use the new and improved story on the phone and face-to-face with the prospects on their target lists. Enact their business plans and monitor their activity and pipeline of new opportunities. What will they experience? Clarity. Purpose. Energy. Confidence. And a whole lot more opportunities that will lead to more new business!
ZTS: If you had to summarize the 3 main lessons a target reader would takeaway from reading your book, what would they be?
MW: First, prospecting is not mysterious and it is not complicated. Second, a great sales story changes everything. And finally, I would like readers to not only walk away with a solid, simple framework for creating a new business development sales attack, but also convinced that the telephone and the face-to-face sales call are still effective weapons and are worth mastering.
ZTS: When was “New Sales Simplified” first available for purchase? Where can the reader buy it?
MW: It’s been available on amazon.com for several weeks, although the official publication date was September 4th. Barnes and Noble will be featuring the book as a nonfiction new release in large stores soon.
ZTS: How can readers learn more?
MW: In addition to the book, I blog at newsalescoach.com and am very active on twitter @mike_weinberg
ZTS: Mike, thanks for your time and good luck with your book!
Andy Paul is author of the award-winning book, Zero-Time Selling: 10 Essential Steps to Accelerate Every Company’s Sales. A frequent speaker, Andy conducts workshops and consults with B2B sales teams of all sizes and shapes to teach them how to sell more by selling faster. Sign up for our monthly newsletter, “The Speed of Selling.” Enjoy what you just read? Subscribe to our blog!