The other day I asked my sales director to name his favourite book on sales. "Influence by Robert Cialdini", he replied. When I asked him why it was his favourite, he laughed and said: "Because it's the only one I've ever read."
There was an obvious reply to that - so that's why we missed our target last month - but I but my lip and smiled. We only missed it by 2% because one client's shiny new project is stalled in bureaucracy. You know the kind of thing: "We're almost good to go but I can't get it in front of the managing director for his final sign off."
Having met the director in question, I can sympathise. He reminded me of the famous appraisal of a naval officer: "He sets a very low bar and consistently fails to live up to it." Even my sales director, who is always telling me "don't poison that well" when I slag off a buyer, can't stand him. The real shame here is that his company is one of our biggest customers.
To be fair, he's not the worst client I've ever had. The worst was a print buyer with a rare, if not downright random, case of colour blindness. To give you some idea, when he bought a new mobile phone he was surprised to be told by his wife: "You do know it's pink don't you?" His company's brand was predominantly green - a very similar shade to the Starbucks logo - but he couldn't tell lime green from dark green. Luckily his boss cottoned on and gave him an assistant whose real job was to make sure he got his shades right.
I digress. Intrigued by the sound of Cialdini's book, I read it on a business trip to Dusseldorf. Some readers say it made them feel as if they had a new superpower - the ability to persuade people. I didn't find it that revelatory. Some of his examples are fascinating - such as how to queue jump without getting barracked - and I'd recommend it. It's undoubtedly the best book on sales I've ever read - and also the only one.
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