Life’s A Pitch


LIFE’S A PITCH: What the World’s Best Salespeople Can Teach Us All
– by Philip Delves Broughton.

Are you excited by the title? I was and what an easy, fun read it turned out to be.

Philip Delves Broughton travels the world interviewing sales people in different industries ranging from selling multimillion dollar Boeing aircraft to rugs in a Moroccan bazaar. The author certainly can tell an entertaining story, telling us what each sales person looks like and how they behave, what their early lives were like and what they each believe are the secrets of their success.

It is lots of fun although not a heavyweight sales strategy text. I particularly liked the stories about Apple:

“A senior manager at Apple told me that he was told if he chanced a meeting with Steve Jobs he’d better be wearing the uniform. So he asked what that meant. The uniform consisted of jeans, but nothing designer. Levi’s, Gap or Wrangler would do. A plain white shirt, sleeves rolled up, to give a sense of informality, but only one button undone at the top, and a t-shirt underneath. The watch must be modest and functional. Shoes should be slip-ons, or sneakers, preferably not leather and definitely not dressy. Socks or no socks, but nothing garish. Any eyeglasses should be unmemorable; no jewelry and no overpowering scents. The only item you should carry into the meeting was the latest MacBook. “The idea is that you should convey no strong identity so that Steve can imagine you just the way he wants to…”

and then this…

“Apple thinks and behaves in crucial ways like many of history’s greatest evangelical organizations. It was founded and run for many years by a highly charismatic leader in Jobs. It’s advertising describes its products as possessing magical powers. Apple’s stores act as churches, dedicated spaces for gathering the faithful and attracting new converts. When Apple was planning its first stores, it emphasized the importance of putting them in central, urban locations to attract passersby’s and letting visitors use the products. The company’s intention was to increase the number of “switchers”. The stores were laid out with the new products up front, so customers who had never owned an Apple product could try them out; next was a red zone abuzz with staff and energy, where the conversion could take place in the form of a sale; and then a Family Room, where customers would be called by name and helped with service, support and lessons. As Johnson said of the stores, “we invest here to build promoters for Apple,” fresh armies of consumer evangelists who can go out and preach Apple’s gospel. While others were hiring sharks to sell PCs, Apple sought “no sharks, but teachers, photographers and filmmakers,” converts themselves who sold out of enthusiasm, not just for commission. Today, school groups can book Apple stores for night and summer camps held for children to spend time with technology. Visit an Apple store and you realize it has become a secular church hall.”

Cue the age-old debate about a positive versus negative attitude…

“Pessimists, who believe that bad things happen for internal, stable and global reasons, will be destroyed by failure. They simply cannot cope with rejection and the sense of failure it engenders will only lead to more failure and the state of learned helplessness observed in depressives.

By contrast, optimists succeed in sales, which leads to more optimism and more success. They feel the opposite of learned helplessness: learned optimism. Optimism and pessimism turn out to have a compounding effect on success in sales.”
What’s not to like? Go on, you know you want to:
BUY: LIFE’S A PITCH: What the World’s Best Salespeople Can Teach Us All
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Life's A Pitch by Philip Delves Broughton (Business Book)
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