Transformational Sales books

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I’m often asked which sales books are must – reads for today’s sales professionals.

Below are my top 5 favorite sales books that you need to read in order to increase your selling prowess, make more money and “Think & Grow Rich” (thanks for the quote Napoleon).

So here they are, in no particular order:

Gitomer, Jeffrey. The Little Red Book of Selling                                                             The ‘Little Red Book of Selling’ is short, sweet, and to the point. It’s packed with answers that people are searching for in order to help them make sales for the moment— and the rest of their lives.  Go Git’ em’!

Rackham, Neil. SPIN Selling                                                                                            This classic will teach why traditional sales methods which were developed for small consumer sales, just won’t work for large sales and why conventional selling methods are doomed to fail in major sales. Packed with real-world examples, illuminating graphics, and informative case studies – and backed by hard research data – SPIN Selling is the million-dollar key to understanding and producing record-breaking high-end sales performance. An oldie but goodie!

Pink, Daniel H. To Sell is Human                                                                                     According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, one in nine Americans works in sales. Every day more than fifteen million people earn their keep by persuading someone else to make a purchase.  Pink describes the six successors to the elevator pitch, the three rules for understanding another’s perspective, the five frames that can make your message clearer and more persuasive, and much more. The result is a perceptive and practical book–one that will change how you see the world and transform what you do at work, at school, and at home.

Holmes, Chet. The Ultimate Selling Machine                                                                 Chet Holmes helps his clients blow away both the competition and their own expectations. And his advice starts with one simple concept: focus! Instead of trying to master four thousand strategies to improve your business, zero in on the few essential skill areas that make the big difference.

Dixon, Matthew. The Challenger Sale                                                                   What’s the secret to sales success? If you’re like most business leaders, you’d say it’s fundamentally about relationships-and you’d be wrong. The best salespeople don’t just build relationships with customers. They challenge them. Read this book and learn how.


Brand Differentiation

pkbzmfojesqzlwludnf5According to the U.S. Patent office, of all patent applications submitted over the past five years, 99% were for improvements made to existing products (i.e. the third blade in the Gillette Mach3 razor, the twenty-year light bulb, or the new & improved super-hold gel used in Donald Trump’s Hair).

Then there are the ‘innovative disruptors’ (a term created by Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Cristensen) that have been created that profoundly alters the boundaries of an existing industry. Think Netflix vs. Blockbuster, Red Bull vs. soft drinks (energy drinks were non-existent prior), and Amazon vs. the world. Not to mention Nike, who dominates the athletic footwear industry with a shocking 62% of US brand share, more than four times the other brands’ combined value. Their logo alone is the world’s 3rd most recognizable image – behind only Santa Claus and McDonald’s.

So what improvements have you made recently to make your customers say “WOW”? If you’re not quite at the ‘innovative disruptor’ stage yet –that’s okay. But you should be on your way and striving to have a clear and substantial difference between you and your competitors.

Recently I was in NYC, walking just a few blocks from Grand Central Station over to Third Avenue. On my way to my (high powered) appointment, I noticed eight different dry cleaners in just a three-block radius! On my way back, I did some further investigating and noticed that each dry cleaner had their own special niche: one was 100% organic, one offered same-day pickup & delivery, one offered free pressing while you wait to get ‘freshened up’ (for members only), and yet another had a plethora of pricing plastered all over their window, so I assumed they were the K-Mart of the bunch. The point is this: each one offered a clear, unique value-proposition to their customers.

So, what does your business do – or what could it dowaaaay differently (better) than your competition? And how do your customers recognize the difference between you and your fiercest competitors?

Key Takeaway: Clarify and improve your difference, your competitive edge – is it clear to all of your employees, and more importantly, is it crystal clear and does it really matter to your customers? If not, Refine your offer. Communicate your value. Create your market attraction. Invest in WOW.

Need help delivering your value-proposition message to your customers? Founder and Creator of The Coelho Group, Michael Coelho has a proven track record (and lots of testimonials) of helping salespeople, managers, and small business owners improve their sales programs, increase customer loyalty, and develop their leadership skills. You can contact Michael at or call him directly at 508 277 5119.


No More Lame Openings


Boring Presentation

Last October I was fortunate enough to meet thee Tony Robbins. He was sitting just a few tables away from me at the Magellan Hotel in San Diego. On my way out, I went over to him and introduced myself (I waited until he finished his meal of course) and was fully expecting to have just a few brief moments of cordial conversation.   But when I mentioned to him how his books and seminars have inspired me so over the years, our conversation got a little deeper, and the next thing I knew I was having a full-blown conversation with thee Tony Robbins about the importance of finding true meaning in life. And what Tony said to me before I finally moved on, has had me thinking ever since.   He said something to me that has forever changed the way I think about my purpose in life…

I’ll come back to that story in a moment. Ahh yes, the power of a story. You can easily visualize how my audience is leaning forward, waiting to hear what the mighty ‘Oz’ told me about the meaning of life. Unfortunately though, 95% of speakers begin their presentations in roughly the same lame way (at least the ones I’ve seen lately):

“Hello, I’m Joe Shmoe, and today’s talk is on Lame Openings”. Their introduction is the same thing that’s spelled out on the cover of the handout in front of you. By repeating what you already know, the signal is giving that now would be a good time for you to start texting, jump on Facebook, or take a quick catnap.


Studies show that people decide in less than 30 seconds whether or not they like you or not (less than 10 seconds here in NY!), and whether or not they are going to listen to you – and afterwards, it’s very difficult to change their mind. That’s why it’s so crucial to start off with something original, unexpected, and powerful.

“Before people decide what they think of your message, they decide what they think of you.”

images-1Here are three surefire ways to open your next speech, presentation, or sales call to help ensure audience attention and engagement.

Use a relevant and compelling factoid that will surprise or shock your audience and get them to ‘rethink’ about their job/industry/life differently. “There are more people alive today than have ever died”. This true statement (Google it) can lead into a lot of different discussions (think health insurance/long term disability…).

My next surefire method is to ask a question that immediately engages and matters to your audience. Phrase a solution or problem that the audience is seeking / avoiding in the form of a question. “How much does a single bad hire cost your company?” “How much faster could your business grow if you hired a sales superstar?” “By a show of hands, how many people here have hired someone who turned out to be a total disaster?”…

The third and best surefire way to open your presentation is with a (personal) story. What would you rather listen to, a boring 15 minute lecture, or an engaging story that entertains you, grips your emotions, and teaches you a clever lesson? Obviously the latter.

Now, to open up your presentation, speech, or sales call like a real rock star, – you need to bring all three surefire methods together. It goes something like this:


“How much would you guess a single bad hire could cost your company?” (Question). “A recent Gallup Poll Study showed that a single bad hire could cost a company like yours up to a million dollars” (Interesting factoid). “I once hired a sales rep who I thought was going to be our next superstar, unfortunately he turned out to be a total disaster. The final straw that got him fired was during our national sales meeting in Las Vegas –  he gambled away his company car!” (True Story!).



As a sales training consultant, the three biggest issues I help salespeople with today are:

  • Price integrity.
  • Customer loyalty.
  • Fighting hungry competition.

These issues manifest themselves in BOTH lost sales that you could have won, and lost profits that you could have earned.

The Tough questions I ask my clients (and you should be asking your team) are:

  • What are you doing to fight price pressures?
  • What is your sales team doing this year to dominate the market and the competition?
  • What is the perceived difference between you and the competition?
  • What are you doing to create real value for customers and prospects in your sales presentation?
  • What are you doing to build more value-driven, loyal relationships?

And the age-old question:

  • Where’s the beef? (AKA: Where’s the proof YOU are the best buy?)

The key to success lies in the following 5 answers:

  1. Value offered by the salesperson vs. value perceived by the customer. Ask yourself: What am I doing to TRANSFER my value message so the customer receives it AND believes it to be valuable?
  2. Reputation of the product, the company, AND the salesperson. Ask yourself: What is my TOTAL reputation and how do I continue to build it?
  3. Proof of product, service, value, quality, and outcome – social and video testimonials. Ask yourself: How am I using “voice of customer” as both social proof and video proof to win customer confidence and sales?
  4. Depth of customer relationships, both with the salesperson and the company. Do they just “like me” and still ask me to bid or quote, or do they just call and order? Ask yourself: Am I still bidding on business, and waiting to be told I won?
  5. On-going, on-demand weekly training and reinforcement to both help and support salespeople in the field or on the phone. Real-world, web-based training available on all mobile platforms. Ask yourself: What type of training am I offering that actually HELPS my team improve and make more sales?

Go to www.gitomerVT for an amazing example! TRY IT FREE for five days! Simply go to www.gitomerVT to register for a complimentary trial. Enter my 4-digit adviser code 2064 in the “Who referred you to GitomerVT?” field. The free access begins immediately.

Remember, the old way of selling doesn’t work any more – the difference is your sales success and your profit.

About the Author: Michael Coelho, MS, is a corporate sales trainer with over 15 years of demonstrated success as an award winning sales professional, sales manager, and corporate trainer. Michael is also currently an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Economics, Finance, & Management at Manhattanville College.

Michael is also a Gitomer Certified Advisor (Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of The New York Times best sellers The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude) and can bring you the most up to date sales training based on the best-selling books and proven strategies by Jeffrey Gitomer. Michael can be reached at


Horshack Enthusiasm: Keeping Your Audience Engaged


 While ‘Mr. Kotter’ (Generation Y – please Google) had a few flaws as a teacher (like making fun of his wife’s tuna casserole), one thing he did really well was engaging his ‘Sweat Hogs’ (students) and maintaining their attention – even with the disengaged ‘back rowers’ like Arnold.

Keeping your audience focused on your presentation isn’t easy. If your story isn’t compelling, if your speech is boring, confusing, or even predictable, it’s easy for your audience to lose focus. Just like in the movies, the audience is seated and watching the screen, but their minds will drift and lose focus faster than Homer Simpson if they are not interested with what’s going on.

“Anyone who is still listening to me, please raise your hand.”

Here are some techniques that you can use in future presentations to keep your audience engaged and help increase your chances of being “welcomed back” (pun intended).

“Change Grabs Attention”

This quote comes from Daniel Willingham’s book ‘Why Don’t Students Like School?’ We notice change. You notice the hum of the air-conditioner when it comes on and when it goes off – but not in between. You can use this human propensity to your advantage to help engage and keep the attention of your audience:

  • Change the visual medium: from slides to flipchart, and back again.
  • If you are sitting – stand; if you are standing – walk through the classroom, right up to Arnold’s desk in the back row.
  • Change the activity your audience is engaged in: from listening to you – to small group breakout sessions – to showing a short video – back to lecturing – to playing a creative learning game: ‘50 Shades of Selling’ is one of my favorites!

As a guide, change it up at least every 10 minutes.

 Tell Great Stories

There’s strong evidence that people are hard-wired to listen to stories.  When you say “ I’ll tell you a story about…” your audience will perk up. Now you may be telling yourself, “I already tell stories in my presentations”, but a better approach is to ask yourself “just how great am I at telling stories?”

Here are some suggestions for using stories in your presentation:

  • Your stories should tie into the subject matter at hand, and reinforce the point you’re making.
  • Sprinkle your stories throughout your presentation for best effect.
  • When preparing for a presentation, facilitators spend 64% of their time focusing on what they are going to present, and only 36% of their time on how they are going to present (those umbers should be reversed). Practice your storytelling, and keep your stories to less than two minutes.
  • A great book on storytelling is Doug Stevenson’s ‘Power of Story to Engage, Inspire and Produce Results’. If you know of any good books or links about storytelling, please post them in the comments section.

 Use Appropriate Humor

Making people smile or laugh puts them at ease and creates a better engaging environment. If they agree with your humor, they are more likely to agree with what you are presenting. Follow these tried and proven techniques when using humor:

  • Keep your humor clean – real clean. If in doubt, leave it out. Your humor should never be at the expense of others. Period.
  • Use humor, NOT jokes. Joke telling usually is not very funny and is bound to offend someone. Joke telling sounds contrived and often sounds unprofessional. And worst of all, if your audience heard the joke before, you look like a total idiot, especially when no one in the room is laughing (except you).
  • Have a point. I have seen too many presenters start their presentations with a funny story, receive a good laugh, and then leave the audience wondering what the purpose the story was. Remember that your goal is not to be the next Jay Leno, but to increase the impact of your message. Link your funny story to a point. Here’s an example of humor (true story) I use in my advanced selling skills workshop that usually yields a big laugh from my audience:

“The great thing about possessing great selling skills is that they are usually transferrable from one industry to another. A sales colleague of mine in the pharmaceutical industry was recently laid off. In less than six months however, he found an even better paying job selling industrial batteries. While having lunch with him last week, I asked him how he liked his new job selling industrial batteries. He said it wasn’t bad – some days were positive, other days were negative!” (Badda Bing!!)

How To Fix Big Pharma

Sauropod dinosaurs

The pharmaceutical industry has clearly been under stress during the past decade. The 12 largest drug makers in the U.S. as a whole has lost nearly 20% of their net worth since 2004[i].

At first glance, the common culprits come into play: R&D pipelines are running dry, blockbuster drugs are losing their patent protection, the average cost of bringing a product to market rose by more than 25% (to more than $1billion since 2010), and lastly, the billions of dollars drug makers have spent on settlements ranging from patient lawsuits from pernicious drug side effects, to pricing fraud charges.

What is rarely mentioned however, is the negative reputation and the growing lack of trust amongst the medical community about the pharmaceutical industry today.

During 2012, the pharmaceutical industry spent over $27 billion on promoting drugs, of which $24 billion was on marketing directly to physicians, with the balance spent on consumers[ii]. It is these very promotional practices and rep ‘reward programs’ that have alienated healthcare professionals. Case in point, in 2013, 40% of doctors’ offices severely limited the number of reps they admit each day, and 25% of hospitals and health institutions have implemented a “no-see” policy for pharmaceutical sales reps.

Today, some would argue that the industry’s reputation is not much better than that of the financial sector or tobacco companies. Yet, it wasn’t long ago that the pharmaceutical industry was considered among the most respected industries in the United States.

Just imagine you’re a physician for a moment. You know your rep’s compensation is affected by how much of her product you prescribe. You know they refer to you as a ‘Tier 1’ targeted physician. You know her company has spent millions of dollars on determining what exact message will influence you the most. Based on all this, how much would you trust the rep?

While sales rep measurements and compensation plans should not be eliminated (my last client firmly stated to me: “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”), there needs to be less micro-measuring of script volume, and more focus on how reps are cultivating long-term advisor relationships with their customers.

Some solutions I recommend on how the pharmaceutical industry should go about building long-term advisor relationships are:

  • Sales Representatives should focus more on treatment options and broader patient health issues, rather than on just prescribing habits with their customers.
  • More in-depth training for representatives in medical issues beyond those directly affecting the medication being sold.
  • Moving away from canned and scripted phrases & visual aids to a more consultative dialogue approach. Believe it or not, there are still some hap-hazard sales managers ‘dinging’ their reps (giving them “did not meet expectations” on evaluation forms) for not ‘closing’ the doctor or not reciting ‘all seven benefits’ of their superior medication.
  • Urging reps, within regulatory guidelines, to comment on competitor products when those products are better for a specific patient type / indication. What a great way to earn trust!
  • Conduct brainstorming sessions with cross-functional teams on how to build trusted relationships with the healthcare community. This may include a pause in influencing  – and a switch to just plain helping; and a pause in measuring – to just doing the right thing.

My Favorite ‘Closing’ Question By Michael Coelho


 My Favorite ‘Closing’ Question

By Michael Coelho

“ABC – Always Be Closing” is the great catchphrase that Alec Baldwin made even more famous in the movie ‘Glen Gary, Glen Ross’. If you have not seen this movie, I highly recommend it.   The movie is funny in a dark satirical way. Parental guidance is suggested – a lot of profanity, especially during the Alec Baldwin scene.

Fortunately today, the ‘Always Be Closing’ philosophy is outdated and most likely can only be found on run down used-car lots (probably somewhere down south). Today, the prevailing philosophy to create long-lasting loyalty with your customers is ‘Always Be Creating Value’.

But once you have created value, (as perceived by the customer), it is sometimes still necessary to guide them into making a buying decision, and to find out the reason(s) why they may be reluctant to move forward.

The following ‘Closing’ Question has served me well in many situations. It allows your customer/prospect the opportunity to ‘score your performance’ and provide you with specific feedback about you and your company:

“On a scale of 1 to 5, how confident are you that (I am the best candidate for this position / my product is the best choice for your business / choosing my company is the best choice to increase your)”.

After they provide you with feedback, make sure to follow up and ask for a specific number – ‘”So is that a 5?” (Best score).

How about you, what are your favorite ‘Closing’ Techniques? Please share in the comments section below. I look forward to hearing from you.

– Michael Coelho


My Favorite Icebreakers

My Favorite Icebreakers
Michael Coelho

Studies suggest that the span of attention for most of us varies anywhere from ten seconds (me) to three or four minutes! Icebreakers are a fun way to maintain the audience’s attention as well as support the objectives of your presentation. Below are my favorite ‘icebreaker videos’ that I show during my sales training workshops, to help introduce the various steps of the selling process. They never fail to engage and help wake a sleepy audience! The videos can all be found on my favorite website – You Tube.

Please share your favorite icebreaker exercises / video clips with me at

Thank you!



Massive Failure / National Anthem

Great clip to emphasize the importance of preparation and pre-call planning! A great follow-up exercise is to ask the class to share an example of a negative experience they had due to lack of pre-call planning / call preparation.



Jim Carrey / THE CABLE GUY “Basketball Scene” .

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression” (author unknown). Carrey makes a huge and hilarious first impression with his newfound basketball buddies. What first impressions are your students making when they encounter their clients for the first time?

Building Rapport


Chris Farley, David Spade / TOMMY BOY “Restaurant Scene”

‘Tommy Boy’ is the Godfather of sales movies. There are at least a dozen clips from this movie you can use to juxtapose the various stages of a sales call. This scene shows a breakthrough moment for the dimwitted salesman (Farley) as he is finally able to connect with someone and persuade them to take action.


Green Eggs & Ham by Dr. Seuss (Book)

As of 2005, according to ‘Publisher’s Weekly’, this was the fourth best-selling English-language children’s book of all time, so it should bring back some fond memories for many of your participants. Have students each read a page and pass it around the room – it always ends up with a good laugh and class engagement.

Overcoming Objections


Giovanni Ribisi / The Boiler Room
“Telemarketing Scene”

Objections are a great opportunity to connect with your customer – as long as you are prepared for them! A great clip that demonstrates poor objection handling and a lack of confidence.

The Close


Chris Farley, David Spade / TOMMY BOY
“We don’t take no for an answer scene”

Voted # 1 best sales clip of all time by scores of my sales buddies! This hilarious clip shows just how bad things can go when trying to close a sale.