How To Sell is the latest in a long line of management books from Jo Owen and follows How To Lead, How To Manage and How To Influence.
Owen’s CV makes for impressive reading. His achievements range from being the best nappy salesman in Birmingham to putting the blue speck in Daz washing powder and selling his blood in Afghanistan.
There are few industries that Owen hasn’t worked in and his experience in the finance industry is extensive, including positions in Barclays, Lloyds TSB Bank and Merrill Lynch.
At a time when mortgage brokers are having to work harder than ever at cross-selling and offering a service that warrants a fee, Owen offers some useful tips. He explains that the most important elements to any sale are listening, helping more than selling, focussing on clients’ needs and being positive.
It may not sound like rocket science but Owen offers readers a lot of food for thought about what is good and bad sales practice and why what looks good on paper often does not work in practice.
In one example he writes about how he visited two electrical retailers to buy a laptop. One salesman talked the talk but failed to make a sale, while the other persuaded Owen to spend more than he originally wanted.
He describes selling as an art form and encourages readers to plug into the psyche of the person buying to better provide them with what they want.
Owen writes in a relaxed, humorous and unassuming manner that makes the book flow easily.
Another strength is that he doesn’t depict salespeople in a stereotypical way or portray them as arrogant or pushy, determined to get the sale at all costs.
In the chapter The Principle And Mindset Of Success, Owen talks about the 10 main principles of selling, including love your client, create the right first impression and have a positive outlook.
He looks at how to achieve these and at the qualities a sales person should possess. He gives advice on everything from how to market yourself to using the right body language.
He also draws on his own experiences of success and failure and where he went wrong – such as when he made his first sale to a chief executive and was so full of himself he under-priced what he was selling. Pride comes before a fall.
He also provides some excellent tips on strategy and says the best way to keep clients on side is to set expectations correctly, which extends to warning them that you may have to bring in additional specialists.
The challenge is to stay sufficiently involved so that the specialists you bring in don’t steal the clients.
Although it may be an easy read, Owen has packed in a lot of useful advice with plenty of tips for anyone wanting to improve their selling.
Even though the book’s ethos is that anyone can sell, Owen looks at the whole concept of selling, what characteristics you must display, the personality traits you need and how sellers interact with people in general.
At a time when mortgage brokers are having to gain the trust and loyalty of customers, How To Sell would be a useful addition to their book collection.
The book is less about the quick sale and more about building a long-term relationships with customers, which is something brokers need to do in the current market.
Review by Natalie Thomas