Jeffrey Gitomer, President and Founder
Buy Gitomer, Inc.
310 Arlington Avenue, Loft 329
Charlotte, North Carolina 28203
Jeffrey Gitomer`s most important sales mantra (he has more than one) is: "First, provide value." He is the source for that part of the Bridges Ethic statement. He is the author of a series of short, snappy sales books, some of which are reviewed in the Gitomer subpage below.
First go to his website, which is admittedly a little loud (the newsletter is quieter). Click on his "sales rant" while you are at it. Then subscribe to his weekly sales E-zine (electronic newsletter) Sales Caffeine. Unsubscribing is easy enough should it not be for you.
Second, consider his "Train One" program (www.trainone.com) as a double benefit for your sales force: improves their sales skills and their English and also his CRM "Ace of Sales."
The first, and major one, is that Jeffrey Gitomer is opposed to negotiations, not making a distinction between "win/win" and "win/lose" ones. The link is to an article he wrote in his E-Zine Sales Caffeine about them, one of the two weakest articles of the hundreds of "good to great" he has written.
Note that most "big ticket" purchases, B2B transactions and above all enterprise sales involve negotiations. Jeffrey Gitomer views negotiations as focusing on price, i.e. win/lose. He ignores negotiations which focus on value. Jan Potgierter, the founder of Business Negotiation Solutions, discusses this distinction in the linked video (5 minutes). He supports his arguments about the importance of value versus price with data from a U.S. study involving 8,000 professional buyers of goods and services.
The second weakest article was one where he maintained that the CEO should always be the company's key salesman. That will certainly not apply to Fortune 500 CEOs, and not to many a CEO of a small company either. Just one example is the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). Bruce Hendersen founded this premier strategy consulting firm in the 1970s and it has since grown to 4,400 consultants in 41 countries (2011). The senior partners would blanch when Bruce Hendersen wanted to accompany them on a major sales call. By all means focus on selling if you have the talent. However if you are, say, a master engineer who is an introvert, then you are going to be a whole lot better off delegating sales to someone who is a master of that.
Surprisingly, he is against sales systems. He has even made disparaging comments about the SPIN sales technique. (SPIN and Solution Selling are generally viewed as the methods of choice for enterprise sales. SPIN is discussed at the subpage "36 Tools & Techniques" at Services. The acronym stands for Situation, Problem, Impact, Need.) This attitude seems contradictory as he does, in fact, market a sales system himself, "Train One."
In 2000 Jeffrey Gitomer went public on a conflict with U.S. Airways. The conflict became so severe that he was denied flying privileges for 11 months-- the first time in the airline´s history it had banned a passenger (for his excessively demanding and abrasive behavior). Eventually he apologized with real style, and was reinstated. Still, reading between the lines, one suspects that for his 30 some employees, Jeffrey Gitomer is a baron running his fiefdom. He is certainly a competent and very personable one who is hugely successful -- and with a correspondingly sized ego.
Lastly he suffers somewhat from the "Master Carpenter" syndrome: "He that is good with a hammer tends to think everything is a nail." (Abraham Maslow, 1908-1970). Jeffrey Gitomer reaches for his hammer, in his case, the sales sledgehammer, to respond to just about any situation. As 99% of the time a mighty blow for a surge in sales would be welcomed by one and all, this weakness is not too onerous.
He is the master U.S. sales trainer, who regularly holds seminars and workshops in London and sometimes on the continent as well.
Jeffrey Gitomer is a leading sales trainer, probably the leading sales trainer, in the U.S. (A German equivalent was Michael Birkenbihl, author of Train the Trainer, 1972 and father of the nowadays better known seminar leader Vera Birkenbihl.) He attended Temple University in the 60s, interupting his studies to study German at the Goethe Institute in Berlin. Afterwards he worked in sales, among other places in New York. His website, however, does not give any employment history. It also does not indicate that his company has a staff of 30 supporting his activities.
He is, indeed, active. He has written over 20 books, at one time four of them were simultaneously Wall St. Journal business bestsellers, an unprecedented feat. He has also produced about a dozen E-books, a dozen audio CDs, half-a-dozen audio books, another half-dozen videos, perhaps 25 teleseminars, some 10 on-line courses and at least three DVD videos.
For the past 15 years he has averaged close to 100 seminars and presentations a year. These are mostly held in the U.S. However from time to time he has also held them in Europe, South America, Asia and Australia. His international orientation extends to his company Train One. Besides its U.S. activities, it is franchised in Turkey, South Africa and Singapore.
In Feb. 2010 he presented his first webinar. The hour-long talk had a purely domestic U.S. orientation, in contrast to the seminars he holds in London. The webinar can be viewed at www.nsbank.com/gitomer. However far better are his sales books and his interesting The Little Black Book of Connections. This last is reviewed, with excerpts, below.
His free weekly electronic newsletter Sales Caffeine has a rapidly growing subscription list of 300,000 (as of 2010). It offers excellent information about and suggestions for selling, week in and week out. The best of his series of sales books is the comprehensive: Sales Bible, The Ultimate Sales Resource, Including the 10.5 Commandments of Sales Success, New Edition, Collins, 2008. Also excellent is Little Red Book of Sales Answers, 99.5 Real World Answers that Make Sense, Make Sales and Make Money, Prentice Hall, 2005.
For those who would never deign to consider themselves mere salesmen, the networking book is recommended, especially for networking newbies, including any professionals such as attorneys, CPAs and MBAs who are slightly introverted. In reviews critics sometimes provide lengthy summaries of a book. These are often written far less well than the original. A better, fairer approach is to let the author speak for himself. That should not be with a sentence or two lifted out of context, but with excerpts long enough to give the reader a real feel for the writing. This approach is, in fact, followed by Amazon.com in its "Look Inside" sidebars. We continue in that spirit in the following review of this networking book.
Jeffrey Gitomer´s Little Black Book of Connections
- 6.5 Assets -
for Networking Your Way to
The book (Bard Press, 2006) opens on the inside of the front cover with the first sentence, and the facing page with the next two sentences:
ALL THINGS BEING EQUAL, PEOPLE WANT TO DO BUSINESS WITH THEIR FRIENDS.
ALL THINGS BEING NOT QUITE SO EQUAL, PEOPLE STILL WANT TO DO BUSINESS WITH THEIR FRIENDS.
HINT: To climb the ladder of success,
you don’t need more techniques and strategies,
you need more friends.
Granted, the above is common sense, but well stated. The contrary approach – beholden to no one, the solitary trapper, the lone ranger or introverted Rambo making his way through the world on his own – is a very poor life strategy. Granted, being the ultimate lone wolf works for some. (In the author’s case, books always were, and still are, his best friends. However over the decades he has become a little less intense than at the beginning of his career when he was a “take-no-prisoners” line manager.) The solitary lifestyle is certainly not one generally recommended in the business world.
An interesting side effect is that the lone wolf style is not necessarily a negative for executive coaching. Quite a few CEOs, having climbed the pyramid and arrived at the top, feel alone and, in a certain sense, lonely. They could use a devil´s advocate, a sounding board, not to boast --- or lament -- about their personal situations, but rather to reflect on corporate ones – the issues of strategy, of managing change, of unrealized opportunities and unforeseen threats (competitive, political), of unanticipated leadership challenges.
The first is to make your connections long, long before you need them. Need help in making a career change? Think you can go to some networking events, make instant friends, bond, and people will help you? Forget it.
The second is to be clear about the risks of your own style of networking. At one extreme is becoming a victim of people who take advantage of your generousity with your time and knowledge. It doesn´t take many of these to drain you. The other extreme is known as mafia networking: "I don´t do favors. I accumulate debts."
Three Lead Balloons for Networking Pros To return to Jeffrey Gitomer´s book, it does have a number of lead balloons, but these are "outvalued" by the golden nuggets. The lead balloons include considerable self-aggrandizement and relentless self-promotion. Furthermore recommending to one and all a weekly electronic newsletter is unrealistic.
Downright fatuous is the suggestion to fax (e-mail) a CEO a solid customer lead for five days in a row. This astonishing performance is to serve as a prelude to delivering a sixth lead personally. CEOs of larger companies aren´t generally dealing with sales. Or are you going to provide a lead for enterprise sales (infrastructure projects) or joint ventures five days in a row? And at a small company level, you are that expert at selling in its market niche?
Three Golden Nuggets for Networking Newbies:
Most people spend all their time thinking of what the higher level, higher status, richer, more powerful connection can do for them. Wrong, big mistake! What you should be doing is thinking of what you can do for them: (p.9 f.)
"Think about your most powerful connections right now. Make a list of four or five of them. (Hopefully, you have that many.) Next to each of their names, write a sentence or two about how they have helped you, and how you would like them to continue to help you. Under that, write a sentence or two about how you have helped them.
AHA! There’s probably nothing to write about how you helped them. Or at least not enough."
Considerably later in the book Gitomer makes clear that one shouldn´t get carried away thinking that a low level connection at Megacorporation is going to be a fast track to its CEO either. His creative admonishment is:
Six Degrees of Separation, op. cit., p. 163:
“The theory was first proposed in 1929 by the Hungarian writer, Frigyes Karinthy, in a short story called "Chains". The story said you can reach anyone by going through six degrees through six people. . . know someone, who knows someone else . . . (six times), who knows the president of the United States.
If you have to go through six degrees of who, who, who, who, who, who – the likelihood of getting to that person is zero. . . Look at the most powerful people you know personally . . . and see if you can limit the degrees of connection down to one degree. By doing this, you are more likely to connect, especially if your one degree person is a friend of his or hers, and can personally recommend you."
Saving the best for last, one of the largest gold nuggets was his adaptation of the elevator speech. We admit that our perception reflects our own bias towards the Socratic method. Asking the right questions is a key to far more than sales success. This key has the power to open all kinds of doors. It is a veritable "open Sesame," worthy of Ali Baba himself.
The Reverse Personal Commercial, op. cit. p. 78 f.:
This approach is a refinement of what is sometimes known as the elevator or cocktail speech. That is your personal thirty-second statement to get someone interested in you. However Gitomer improves this approach by changing its direction 180 degrees. You do not talk about yourself at all. Rather you ask an on-target question, followed by more questions.
When Jeffrey Gitomer meets someone in a business setting, and feels that person is a prospect for his sales training, he describes his approach as follows:
“Hi, my name’s Jeffrey. How many of your salespeople didn’t meet their sales goals last year?” . . . This question immediately makes the prospect think, maybe a bit uncomfortably. . . Suppose the response is “Seventy percent did not meet their goal.” I would come back with. . .: Geez, that’s horrible! What do think caused that? . . .What kind of plan do you have in place this year to help them exceed their goals?. . . what were the prime reasons they failed? Is it the people, or the market? What will you do next year that is different. . .?
. . . You see, I have twenty-five questions I’m ready to ask based on the responses. . .
Now the close, “Sounds like a interesting challenge, Mr. Jones. I don’t know if we’re a perfect fit or not. Let’s have breakfast next week. I’ll let you go into a little more detail and if I think I can help you, I’ll tell you. And if I don’t think I can help you, I’ll tell you that too. I’ll even go so far as to recommend someone I think can help the most. Is that fair enough?”
That entire engagement took less than two minutes. The other person did eighty percent of the talking, and I walk away with an appointment. Notice I never even said my last name as part of my sales pitch. I never said my company name. I never said how long I’ve been in business, how great I am. . .“
The book is replete with entertaining reminders of networking common, and sometimes uncommon, sense. Most CEOs should be able to think of a variety of people, and not just young high potentials either, who would profit by being reminded of its suggestions and putting a number of them into practice.
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