Anthony Iannarino urges you to embrace conflict, steal clients from your competitors and learn to fight for sales in a bloody red ocean.
International speaker and best-selling author Anthony Iannarino writes like a fast talker and doesn’t mess around. His message, like his writing style, is basic, straightforward and intended to grab you from the get-go. B2B sales, as he relates with glee, is a dog-eat-dog world, so be the winning dog. He urges you to become the go-to option for all the dream clients in your marketplace.
Iannarino covers sales strategy at The Sales Blog. His other books include The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need and The Lost Art of Closing. His best reviews come, unsurprisingly, from other sales authors, who prove unstinting in their praise. For example, Jeff Shore, author of Win the Sale, summed up Iannarino’s approach when he said, “Consider this a playbook for how to break into your competitor’s house and steal his prized possession.” Jeffrey Gitomer, author of The Little Red Book of Selling, summarized Iannarino’s world view as: “Just beating the competition is no longer acceptable. It’s about putting them in their place — second place — and keeping them there.”
Embrace competition, Iannarino reminds you; his credo is that to succeed, salespeople must steal clients from competing salespeople. The author presents this simply as the way of the world.
All things being equal, relationships win. All things being unequal, relationships still win.Anthony Iannarino
Iannarino knows you can’t prospect for and win all the business, nevertheless, he exhorts, make that your goal.
The blue ocean and the red ocean represent opposite markets. In keeping with his ethos of taking from competitors, Iannarino lifts the blue ocean metaphor created by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne to describe a competition-free environment in which you can sell anything to anybody any time.
But most salespeople, the author reminds you, swim in a competitive red ocean, where salespeople battle to win sales and the successful become great white sharks.
Iannarino insists that your goal is to transcend being a vendor to become a trusted adviser to clients. To achieve this status, he recommends working with every influential contact you establish within your targeted client companies.
Salespeople who become trusted advisers benefit from “information disparity”; they have knowledge their clients lack. Trusted advisers, he cautions, don’t push products or services – they help clients achieve strategic results. If a product or service isn’t going to deliver genuine value to the client, Iannarino counsels, consultative salespeople don’t try to sell it.
True Value Proposition
Who you are matters far more than what you sell. Trusted advisers become value propositions for their clients – not for the products or services they sell, but for what they contribute.
Most of us work in mature industries that are overcrowded, where we are perceived as commodities (even when we are not) and where competition is ferocious. Anthony Iannarino
Iannarino urges you to master “mindshare,” which covers the ideas, advice, counsel and subject matter expertise you offer clients. He calls on you to offer them expert interpretation of changes and trends that affect their business. This requires becoming an expert in your industrial sector. Focus on the latest trends, and interpret their significance and impact for your clients’ benefit.
CEO of the Problem
Iannarino encourages you to identify stakeholders to whom you must make your case. The most important stakeholder will be the one he calls the CEO of the problem – the one person in the organization with the most authority and budgetary discretion over any change that may accompany introducing your offering into the company’s environment.
Selling is not something you are doing to someone. It is something you are doing for someone and with someone. Anthony Iannarino
To this end, Iannarino assures you that executives at your dream client companies like to fight. Don’t be conflict averse. Certain executives will push back to see if you can prove what you say. Be ready for them.
Here he offers counterintuitive advice: target the most “difficult-to-win clients” who do business with your competitors, and take them away. Convince your primary contact and other internal and influential stakeholders that buying what you sell is the only smart decision. Recruit stakeholders who like your offerings to champion them with the CEO, the senior management team and your internal opposition.
Iannarino concedes that you must protect your clients so your competitors don’t steal them. The author has scant regard for client loyalty and reports that most will ask, “What have you done for us lately?” To retain clients, give them new value regularly. Strong client relationships, he concludes, are the fuel for becoming a great white shark in the red ocean.
Iannarino writes as if he intends for you to read his entire book in one go – to mainline his message, which is easily mainlinable, being neither wide nor deep. It’s direct and actionable and the author presents it as he insists you must present to clients: as priceless advice from a trusted advisor with a finger on the pulse of the moment. Iannarino offers his guidance as if no one else on Earth has thought of it before. He makes his not entirely original but surprisingly inspiring content gleam like a diamond and spends much of his text reminding you that you can do it. So, perhaps you can.
If you like Iannarino’s punchy style, you may benefit from his The Lost Art of Closing: Winning the Ten Commitments that Drive Sales or The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need. Jordan Belfort also offers tough sales advice in his Way of the Wolf.