Principled Selling – a Book Review

Principled Selling coverI’ve ‘known’ David for about two or three years – I don’t keep an exact record of this sort of thing!  Note that I use ‘known’ in its modern sense. Our relationship developed through me reading and commenting on his blog, following, retweeting and DM’ing him on Twitter and through the exchange of opinions on LinkedIn.

In all that time we’ve spoken once or twice on the telephone and met face-to-face once or twice. So we’re not BFF’s but we are not total strangers.

One of the telephone conversations came about when David asked me if he could interview me for his then-forthcoming book as he wanted a view from the frontline of sales (which is where I was at the time.)  So when you read this book and see ‘Neil Fletcher’ quoted, yes that is me.

By way of thanks for my time, David gave me a copy of ‘Principled Selling: How to win more business without selling your soul.’ However, that’s as far as it went.  What you are about to read are my own words without influence by anybody.  So, to the book.

To my surprise, I did struggle a bit with the first chapter.  Not because it’s difficult to understand (it isn’t) nor that it’s badly written (it isn’t) but because I was so familiar with what was being said through reading David’s previous work.

I’m happy to report that the remaining eleven chapters had me hooked!

Early on in Chapter 2 David reminds us that the definition of selling is

The exchange of goods and services for money.

Yes, it really is that simple! I liked this definition so much you can see it on the homepage of this website.

The basic premise of Principled Selling is pretty straightforward and is encapsulated in five basic principles:

  • Selling is about motivation not manipulation
  • Profitable relationships require investment
  • There must be congruency throughout the business development process
  • Long term relationships depend on being authentic
  • Being human gets results

Over the course of the book, David frames each of these principles around the individual AND the company.  It’s very difficult (but not impossible) to practise principled selling in isolation but the best results will come when principled selling is applied within a principled company.

As you progress through the each chapter you dive deeper and deeper into those five basic principles.  But don’t fear – these are not lessons handed down from an ivory tower.  At the end of each chapter there is a list of action points to work through, all designed to prompt you into thinking about how you measure up to the concept and what you need to change to move closer to the ideal.

The Principled Company

At the end of the book I found myself thinking that David could almost have left the word ‘selling’ out of the title.  This book is a great template for building a 21st century company.  In Chapter 3 David says:

The days when the marketing and sales departments lived separate business lives are well and truly over.

I would be tempted to extend this to the whole of the company.  The number and variety of touchpoints between company and customer or prospective customer is now greater than it has ever been.  Additionally, each touchpoint is not necessarily limited to what we think of as the traditional customer-facing departments (sales, marketing, customer service, accounts).

The fact of the matter is that, regardless of your departmental label, you and your colleagues all work for the same company.  You should have the same goals and aspirations for the company and a common, congruent approach.  This book will give you just that, should you choose to follow its advice.

Principled Selling’ is a book which will remain front-and-centre of my bookshelf for a very long time.  It’s a book to be read once in the traditional manner to give you an overview of what principled selling is all about.  Then go back, take an action list and work through it.  What are you doing well, what could you do better?  Move the way you do business to a principled model and the rewards will come.

Well, that’s just one man’s opinion.  What do you think of this book?  I would love to know.

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