December 6, 2011

Bottom-Line Selling by Jack Malcolm – Review

Dave Brock is a friend and someone I look up to as one of the true sages in the sales world today. (Find him on twitter @davidabrock and check out his great blog Partners in Excellence).  Dave wrote the foreword for Jack Malcolm’s recently revised and enlarged Bottom-Line Selling: The Sales Professional’s Guide to Improving Customer Profits, and he suggested I read the book. And if Dave thinks I will get value, then I am in!

The bottom-line on Bottom-Line Selling  is that Jack Malcolm delivers a lot of meat. This isn’t a fluffy book filled with platitudes and half-baked advice on selling. Jack addresses the challenge of selling in changing times and does a great job making it clear that the bar has been raised in terms of what is expected of a professional salesperson.

For me, there were two main take-aways from Bottom-Line Selling.  The first revolves around what Jack calls “Outside-In Thinking.” Using a variety of descriptions, he forcefully encourages us to take our eyes off of ourselves, our product, our pricing, and our need to make a sale. I like to remind salespeople that it is not about us. In order to be viewed as a problem-solver and value-creator as opposed to a product-pushing pitchman, we must approach the prospect with that mindset and use words to demonstrate we understand it is all about the prospect and their issues. Jack writes that our only hope of becoming a partner and trusted advisor for a customer is to be able to see the world through their eyes.

I could not agree more, and that premise leads to my second big take-away. Bottom-Line Selling is an incredible condensed business education on basic company financials for the non-MBA and non-CPA. You’ll never look at an annual report the same way after reading Chapter 3. And the subsequent chapters thoroughly unpack (maybe even too thoroughly) basic financial statements. These chapters offer deep insight into the data that can be gleaned to become infinitely more valuable to your prospects and customers. Jack presses in to make the point that our depth of knowledge about a customer’s business is the key to being able to create value in the customer’s mind. Once we truly understand the customer’s situation, that enables us to position our offering/solution in such a way to demonstrate the impact on their business. And that is when C-suite executives view us as partners worthy of sitting on the same side of the table and working together on their business issues.

Jack Malcolm’s book is a forceful reminder of a sales philosophy my dad ingrained in me at young age: Our job is to make our customers successful and help them win. When we can do that, we win. Bottom-Line Selling is powerful resource to help us understand how senior executives define winning.

I have not previously spoken with Jack, but look forward to meeting him on my next trip to South Florida to visit my mom. Thanks to Dave Brock for pointing me to this book and to Jack Malcolm for providing great value to the sales profession!