Thursday, November 8, 2012

Selling the WHEEL

Selling the WHEEL By Jeff Cox and Howard Stevens

This book is about SELLING. It is written to read like a novel. Authors have distilled the essence into an eminently readable and enjoyable form.

Let me try to briefly summarize part of the story.  Max invents a device what we now know as “Wheel”. He thinks it would change the world for the better. Incidentally, he also names that device as Wheel . He makes a few samples and then borrows money from in-laws and makes more Wheels. Max thinks if technology is path breaking people line up and pick it up. Alas, he was in for utter disappointment. He and his wife Minnie, driven to the corner, think of oracle. 

They would have to undergo a grueling journey to the forests-of-nowhere to meet him – they endure it and end up meeting him. By the way, in those days, meeting the local oracle when you are struck is a very approved process. Oracle asks a few bed rock questions which sets the pace. He points out while Max knows a lot about new technology, he has no clue on sales and hence they would do better if they hire some sales anchor. They hire a first sales person called Ben the builder who turns out to be a flop. Next one who is a certified wizard also fails. Having used up the entire loan amount and nearly nothing to lose, they again make “oracle” trip. He points out that the type of sales person they choose was wrong and recommends a person called Cassius – the closer.When they ask him if he was any good, Oracle replies, "Who do you think sold me this cave!".  From then on,business picks up. Cassius makes a huge impact - selling to people at a very high margin. After the initial aura surrounding the new technology wanes, Cassius calls it a day very gracefully by closing it with the biggest sale ever. Soon Ben is back and he builds the business empire and by now technology becomes a commodity and many competitors come up all over the place. Prices start plummeting as it gets produced cheaply from China. Imum Wheels one of the arch rivals starts flirting with bankruptcy. They finally merge creating a behemoth MaxImum . All of a sudden Max is run over by a speeding chariot and goes to coma state, but don’t worry - he recovers after two years.

Let me leave the last part of the story. The story takes the reader all through cycles of business. In the end, we also get to meet Archimedes (of Eureka fame).

1. Minnie takes notes during various stages in the story. Most of them are worth reading many times over.
2. End of the book contains a neat appendix which summarizes the cycles of Technology, Customers, Sales people, Strategy, Selling approach, Marketing, Getting the sale and Service - perhaps 90% of the value of the book resides here.
3. There is no such species called universal sales person. Make sure you hire the right person based on the company offerings.

Peter F Drucker wearing the management consultant hat once remarked:  If a client leaves my room with a feeling that he has learnt a lot that was not known to him before, he is either a stupid client or I have done a poor job. He should leave the room saying:  “I know all this – why I have not done anything about it?”
This story is likely to leave you with a latter type of question.

Thanks for reading this far.

PS: Please feel free to share your "sales" episodes.