Sales Book by: Tim Connor
Review by: Rob Reed
Introduction – Soft Sell
Soft Sell, The New Art of Selling, Self-Empowerment and Persuasion, is okay for transactional sellers (one-time sale of a few hundred dollars or less), but I do not recommend this sales book for professionals who sell services or more complex products because of Soft Sell’s suggested approach and some of its content.
Author Tim Connor does not offer a sales model – which is fine. Instead, he runs through a compilation of “how to’s,” tips, and other sales information that doesn’t appear to be new thinking in any way. In addition, in several parts of the book, the author gives questionable advice that will negatively affect your ability to build trust in selling services or more complex product sales.
The author includes exercises as part of the book’s content, but most sellers will not take the time to do them. This book may be beneficial to transactional sellers who have read very few sales books, but it will have little value for experienced sellers and those who work in complex markets.
Soft Sell does include a section on behavior styles as part of the prospecting chapter that contains useful information. However, the basis for this information is Non-Manipulative Selling, a book which I highly recommend. You would do better to go directly to that book and skip this one.
Summary – Soft Sell
Author Tim Connor opens Soft Sell with a list of “thirteen virtues” from Benjamin Franklin. The list contains advice such as “Eat not to dullness” and “avoid trifling conversation.”
This list captures the approach of Soft Sell. Connor writes, “Ben Franklin at one time had an intolerable personality. He practiced the following 13 virtues and through them developed one of the outstanding personalities of all time.”
This belief – that you can transform your life by following a list of things to do – permeates Soft Sell. The lists in the opening chapter alone include the traits of a successful salesperson, the traits of millionaires, the ten selling rules, and the sales strategies of six-figure-income salespeople.
Connor also provides a list of books to read “as a self-improvement tool.” While this list could be helpful, there is no structure or guidance other than space for entering “Date Started” and “Date Completed.” Why would you need guidance? Because the list contains 111 books, starting with the Bible and including authors ranging from Deepak Chopra to Peter Drucker. As a result, it’s just a laundry list and not helpful, unless you plan to spend your time reading instead of selling.
In this review summary, I’ll take a look at the chapter on prospecting, the most useful information in the book.
Asking Questions Builds Trust
Regarding prospecting, Connor says that “your success as a salesperson is not related to your ability to give information, but rather to your ability to get information.” Now, that’s a great point. Mr. Connor notes that what distinguishes a prospect from a suspect is what you know about him or her. He looks at how to ask questions to gain some of this necessary information. He also makes suggestions on how to understand your prospect, so that you ask your questions in an effective manner.
Connor believes that asking questions can help you build trust, and he recommends that you take notes while your prospect answers. This will not only show respect and interest, but it will help you recall the specifics of your conversation.
As you might guess, he has a list for asking questions. This list has ten items, including:
- Start with broad topics.
- Keep your questions free of buzz words, jargon or technical terms
- Keep your questions simple; present only one idea at a time
Asking questions is no good if you don’t listen to the answers, and Connor provides a list of tips on how to listen effectively. They include:
- Really pay attention – don’t just fake it
- Respond to the speaker’s gestures and facial expressions
- Avoid prejudging the speaker
Connor wants you to work toward “yes” or “no” from your prospects. Don’t accept a “maybe,” regardless of how it is worded. In this, Connor echoes other providers of sales advice. Unfortunately, he does not offer ideas on what to do with a prospect who is stuck on “maybe.”
Reading People to Establish Behavioral Styles
Connor gives helpful advice on how to understand your prospect. He calls this “people-reading skill.” He reports that “more than 70 percent of all communication is non-verbal.” To help decode this communication, he recommends focusing on behavioral styles.
Connor identifies four main behavioral patterns: “Amiable,” “Expressive,” “Analytical,” and “Driving.” These patterns result from a person’s combination of responsiveness and assertiveness, as shown…[Please click to learn how to get the rest of this sales book review and much more.]