Summary and book review of The Ultimate Sales Machine: Most companies miss out on huge opportunities because they simultaneously leave out key elements that would allow them to get their business off the ground and the majority of their employees and executives give up too quickly on new concepts and ideas; Chet Holmes offers us in his book ,The Ultimate Sales Machine,12 key strategies that he developed during his 20 years of experience as a CEO and consultant, which, applied with “pigheaded discipline and determination”, will allow you to turn your company into an Ultimate Sales Machine.
By Chet Holmes, 2007, 245 pages.
Book review and summary of “The Ultimate Sales Machine:”
Chet Holmes begins by telling us that he has been doing seminars to teach his system to thousands of entrepreneurs and business leaders for 15 years, and that he is positive he can help each of them transform their company into an Ultimate Sales Machine. His clients can even expect it to happen quickly: he says that he has doubled the sales of many companies within 12 months. He says to the thousands of managers who come to see him: “You will understand all the principles that I am going to share with you today because there is nothing but logical information in them. You will agree with them. You will know that I am right and that these principles will work in your company… And yet, you will not apply them “.
His audience always laughs at these words. Chet Holmes continues: “I call this the reverse psychology portion of my course where I will goad you into applying a powerful force to create your success from what you’ll learn today. And this force, my friends, is pigheaded discipline and determination“.
Thus, according to Chet Holmes, the secret of mastery of something doesn’t take place in something special: Mastery is the direct result of pigheaded discipline and determination. You will need to apply and master all the concepts presented in The Ultimate Sales Machine. It’s structured in the same way that you should structure your company, according to Chet Holmes: first, laying the foundations, through the first three chapters, a step that is somewhat boring but absolutely vital and necessary to building a healthy and efficient business. Find out through this review.
Chapter 1: Time Management Secrets of Billionaires
Chet Holmes led 9 divisions for billionaire Charlie Munger, known as the senior associate of the world’s richest man, Warren Buffet (yeah, it’s not Bill Gates anymore 😉). He managed a large number of people who naturally came to him to discuss new ideas, issues, and concerns, and regularly received 22 direct reports. He was almost in a reactive mode all the time – responding to requests from his staff – and working 7 days a week, 10 to 12 hours a day.
Realizing that he could not continue like this, he gradually created a system to manage his time more efficiently. The first thing he did was to put out a memo to his staff stating that they could no longer come to him to find out “if he had a minute”. The answer was no. All non-urgent issues, ideas, and concerns were to be addressed at the division’s weekly meeting. And all other urgent things had to be addressed during two “got-a-minute” meetings of 10 minutes each day.
The memo was sent on Thursday. On Friday, for the first time in his career, no one came to disturb him, and he didn’t even know what to do with all the time when no one came to interrupt him. However, all the madness resumed as before on that Monday. He had to demonstrate pigheaded discipline and determination to not give in to requests from people who asked him “got a minute”. He succeeded: he went from reacting to a company, which required him to work 70 to 80 hours a week, to proactively managing it, which only required him to work 9 hours a week – because he had categorized his responsibilities in 9 major impact areas.
Chet Holmes proposes six steps for setting up his system for time management:
Step 1: Touch It Once
Here is a typical example of what the start of day in a company can be like:
You arrive at work and on your desk are three folders and two letters to which you must respond. You look at the first letter and read a few sentences. Answering them will clearly require more time than you have right now. You put it aside. In one of your folders is another task. You start it and your phone rings. You answer it. And the call takes you in another direction for 10 to 15 minutes. Then, you go back to the folder; however, after having just started, you get an email. You stop your task, read the email, which contains a task that requires more time than you have right now.
Sound familiar? And yet, reading this passage is enough to understand that productivity is strongly affected with such a work organization. If you spend just 15 minutes a day revisiting, relocating or rereading your documents or emails, for 300 days a year, you will lose 75 hours of work per year, more than 2 35-hour work weeks…
Do you want to add two weeks of productivity to your year, or even two weeks of vacation? Apply this simple rule: if you touch it, you act. This means that you won’t open a letter or email until you are ready to handle it.
Step 2: Make Lists
The key to being productive is to make a list of the six most important things you need to do that day. Then do them. Mark off the most important things and end up at the end of the day with a completely marked off list. Six important things that have been accomplished brings unparalleled joy and serenity.
Step 3: Plan How Much Time You Will Allocate to Each Task
Don’t think about when you will do each task yet. Just determine how much time you will realistically allocate to each task. If the total hours you allocate is 10, 11, or even more, there is a problem somewhere…
Step 4: Plan the Day
Now you have to plan your day, making enough time for your six most important things and all the little things you have to deal with.
Step 5: Prioritize
Once you have done that, look at the day tomorrow and see where you have placed your most difficult tasks. Often people tend to put the most difficult tasks at the end of the day because these tasks typically require more concentration. Nevertheless, the end of the day is often when time and energy are scarce. Therefore, put the toughest tasks first.
Step 6: Ask Yourself, “Will it affect me if I throw this away?”
Studies show that 80% of everything is stored or archived is never reused. So why keep it? To determine if it’s worth keeping something, ask yourself, “Will it affect me if I throw it away?”. If not, throw it away.
Chapter 2: Institute Higher Standards and Regular Training
According to an article in Havard Business Review, only 10% of the population has what is called “the learning mindset”. These are the people who like to learn and do it all the time.
What would happen if your doctor did not have to keep up to date with medical advances and had not read an article on the subject for 20 years? He could prescribe remedies and treatments that are now known to do damage or use procedures that have been proven to be ineffective. That said, in most companies, there is very little or no training and there is rarely any mandatory training.
But developing a regular and consistent training program will allow you to effectively and systematically accomplish the following things:
- Train new employees who can hit the ground running
- Bring up to date the knowledge and skills of your existing employees so that everyone works more efficiently, smarter and faster
- Allow continuous professional development so that your team becomes increasingly efficient
- Solve any problems that may come up in your company
If you take the time to sharpen skills and improve knowledge in every possible area, your business will start working better, smarter, and faster – like a well-oiled selling machine.
For all types of training, it should be kept in mind that repetition is the key to success. In fact, it’s common, after training, to apply some things that have been learned and to be motivated by all the new knowledge. You apply things and see how they work. Then a week later, little by little, the old bad habits are back, and quickly there remains only a residue of what you have learned that you actually apply. The perception of training is generally that it has been very valuable, but in fact, very little remains after a single training session:
The key to developing one’s skills and applying more is therefore to be constantly exposed to the same main concepts, expressed differently. In this case, the learning curve could be as such:
Of course, the same applies to the knowledge we learn in books (or blogs 😉).
Chapter 3: Conducting Effective Meetings
The best way to build an Ultimate Sales Machine and run it smoothly and without a hitch is to hold regular, highly productive meetings dedicated to improving every aspect of your company. In each of these meetings, you will have all the relevant people focus on a small part of your company. Together, you will brainstorm how to improve in that area, create test procedures, and ultimately create business rules that everyone will be trained to follow. This constant focus on what Chet Holmes calls the three P’s (Planning, Procedures, and Policies) is essential for him to create an Ultimate Sales Machine.
One essential requirement is to plan at least one hour per week to work on the three Ps, whatever the size of the company. As Michael Gerber says in The E-myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What To Do About It, it’s about working on your business, rather than in your business. The best way to work on these elements is to conduct workshops (work meetings) to focus your mindset, and that of everyone, on the solutions and improvements to be made to the organization. A workshop means that instead of speaking and listening to others, everyone is working on a problem, and expressing their ideas and insights to propel the company forward.
Such work meetings help the company to close ranks and form a team. Often when you ask a question to six people, you will have six different answers. Thus, if you ask six employees to tell you what the main strength of your company is, you will have six different answers. This is not a good thing, and the workshops will help you unify your employees and create a powerful and consistent vision at every level of the company.
The first thing you need to do to conduct quality workshops is to plan the weekly meetings with your team. If your company has less than 30 people, you can have the entire team at your first workshop. If you have more than 30 people, you can do workshops by department. Even if you are a solitary entrepreneur, you can do workshops with yourself and have great results. Plan the workshops for the coming year and put them on the agenda of the company as a non-negotiable obligation in everyone’s duties. Start this week.
Then, you have to decide what you are going to work on. You may have an obvious problem you want to work on, but here’s an excellent topic for your first workshop:
Ask each person in the room to give you three examples of how to improve an aspect of the company or department. Do not ask them to answer immediately. Let them work on it. If you give them three minutes to think you will have better answers. Tell them that if they have three ideas they can continue and write more. Then ask each person what she/he wrote. Write the ideas on a board or flipchart. It is important to move forward, so ask people not to repeat ideas already written on the board.
As a result of this first workshop, you will have a list of things to work on to improve your company. Each of these things requires another workshop to solve problems or overcome obstacles. You must assign a priority to the list items and process them in the assigned order.
Workshops will create procedures and business policies to solve problems. The person conducting the meeting will then send a memo to everyone saying: “This week’s workshop solved the problem of inconsistencies in customer service. Here are the nine things you can do when a customer is not satisfied. This memo will go into a “procedure folder”, which will become a training manual for new employees. Each memo is a page or two, so at the end of the year, you will have between 50 and 100 pages that will document a whole year of workshops. As you test and finalize the procedures to fix each problem, you will remove the old memo and replace it with the new one.
Chapter 4: Becoming a Brilliant Strategist
It is now harder and more expensive to acquire a client than a few years ago. Therefore, you must commit to maximizing the full value of that client, and for that, you need to think and act strategically. That said, far too many managers think tactically rather than strategically. Tactic is the method or technique used to achieve immediate or short-term gain. Strategy is a detailed plan carefully designed to achieve a long-term goal. The ideal is to know how to marry the two as efficiently as possible.
Here is an example to understand how strategic thinking can accomplish simple actions that have a strong long-term implication:
Two furniture stores open in the same city almost the same day. One is completely tactical while the other is first and foremost strategic. If you go to store 1, the seller is trying to sell you a couch. Purely tactical. Over a period of 4 years, the store has a growth of 10% per year, above all pushed by the increase in the price of furniture.
In-store 2, they are trying to sell you a couch, but the management is constantly training salespeople to promote the store as well. “This is your first time in our store? Let me explain our story to you. As the salesperson goes to the couches, he tells you the story of the store’s creation, the owner’s devotion to customer service, why they have better prices than the competitors, how well they are trained in furniture manufacturing, and the benefits it brings you as a customer.
The purpose of this “buyer education” is to create loyalty to the brand. Over a period of 4 years, the strategic store has opened in six other locations.
Here’s an interesting question to ask yourself: “When your clients are looking to buy one of your products or services, how much of an expert are they on the subject?”. For example, if you have your carpet cleaned, what is your expertise in carpet cleaning? Most of the time, clients are not experts at all and don’t even know anything about it. This means that almost every client can be trained to be a better buyer of your product or service. Take the example of carpet cleaning, which the client may see as a yearly necessity, the seller can tell him/her about scientific studies that show that carpets that aren’t cleaned every six months are nests for bacteria and disease sources for people who live nearby.
This has three main advantages:
- Educating your clients allows you to increase their interest in buying.
- If the information you give is good and useful, it automatically gets you from seller to expert, relative to your competitors.
- If you think and act strategically, you will find a way to take advantage of this information so that you can sell your services much better than a simple scripted business pitch.
To have a clear understanding, here is another example:
One client of Chet Holmes sells calendars, which range from little puppies to Pamela Anderson. They did some studies and found that dealers selling the most calendars were bookstores. Why? Because bookstores put calendars right next to the checkouts. And when do we buy a calendar? At the end of the year, when most business is done. So, you have a line of customers waiting at the cash register to pay for all their shopping for the holidays, when suddenly they see calendars with nice pictures. Hey, a calendar with Mustangs. My boss loves Mustangs, I’ll buy him one.
Supermarkets placed calendars in the paper goods aisle. By showing this data to more and more commercial supermarket managers, Chet Holmes’ client increased sales by 20% in one year, while the company had not seen an increase in sales in four years.
One of the most strategic things you can do is find market data that makes your products or services more appealing – whether it’s studies showing the number of bacteria in an unwashed carpet or sales figures on calendars placed near the checkouts: it’s up to you to find them.
Chapter 5: Hiring Superstars
If you want to build Ultimate Sales Machines, one of the key pieces of the puzzle is to understand the personality profile of talented people. You must learn how to recruit and keep them. Poor recruitment costs the company an average of $60,000, while most hiring decisions are made after a one-hour interview.
Solitary entrepreneurs might think they are not in a position to hire anyone, let alone superstars. But just think what a superstar salesperson could do for your company if you hire him/her at a low base salary and with excellent commissions. How fast could your business grow? At a seminar that Chet Holmes gave was a freelance graphic designer, who worked alone and had no business. He was the business, so when he was out of work, he was looking for clients, and when he had work, he didn’t have time to look for other things. Here is the dialogue he had with Chet Holmes the author of The Ultimate Sales Machine, Chet Holmes:
- Chet Holmes: What is a dream project for you?
- Graphic Designer: A visual identity creation for an emerging and well-financed start-up, or a growing company.
- Chet Holmes: How much will a project like this bring you?
- Graphic Designer: The right project, $25,000.
- Chet Holmes: And how much would you be willing to give each day to have a project like this?
- Graphic designer: I could give 20% and still be happy.
- Chet Holmes: That’s $5,000.
- Graphic Designer: Yes.
- Chet Holmes: And how many of those projects could you do in a month?
- Graphic Designer: Probably 4 per month.
- Chet Holmes: So, $5,000 and four projects per month is $20,000. Put that in an ad and see what kind of talent it brings.
But what makes someone a superstar? These are the types of people you put in a bad situation, with bad tools, no training and poor resources, and yet, in a few months, will start to outperform your best employees or develop your business in a way that you could never have dreamed. Hiring someone like this has nothing to do with luck. It’s about understanding the personal characteristics that are tailored to the job you’re hiring for and having the tools to identify the candidates who have those characteristics.
For that, one must understand that one characteristic that most superstars share is a healthy ego and high self-esteem, especially if you are looking for a sales superstar. Only a person with a powerful ego and a psychological need to take control of each situation returns to a prospect after he/she has said no 8 times. People with low self-esteem and low need for dominance give up after only the first rejection and are never likely to make sales.
If you don’t understand the personality profile of superstar salespeople, you might reject them after the job interview. They may, in fact, seem overly enthusiastic. Don’t let a little bravado discourage you: it’s an essential ingredient of superstars. During an interview, the person is the product, so they must present themselves with confidence and make sure they are made for the job.
For starters, how to find superstars? By placing ads that will attract them. Here is a very effective model:
SUPERSTARS ONLY $50K to $300K
Do not apply unless you are extremely efficient and can prove it. Come build an empire with our excellent, and growing company. We are in the XYZ sector, but we are not hiring second-rate people. We hire the best. If you are average, you can earn $50K with us. If you are a star, you can earn more than $300K. Young or old, if you have the spark, we’ll know. Contact us at…
This ad does not require a CV, nor does it require a minimum number of years of experience or a degree. This ad challenges people to apply only if they are the best. And what kind of people respond to it? People with high self-esteem.
Here is a technique to detect the weaknesses of salespeople before even giving them a job interview. The first thing to do for anyone applying for your company is to reject them, telling them why you think they’re not a fit for the job. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you don’t want to hire this person: it means that you are looking for that unique personal profile that makes the person more effective when facing adversity.
After the ad, Chet Holmes’ team calls or sends an email to all those who have applied, telling them that they will be called back for a pre-interview. Here is the script and the standard conversation that takes place:
You: OK. You read our ad and it says, “Do not apply unless you think you’re the best”. So, tell me why you think we should give you a job interview.
Candidate: Well… uh… Can you tell me a bit more about the job?
You: That’s too long of a conversation. I will be happy to have it if we determine that you are someone whom we want to interview. So, tell me, why should we grant you an interview?
Candidate: Well… uh… Let’s see. I have been in sales for 2 years. I really like it and I like human relations. And, I think if it’s a good product or service, I can sell it.
You: I’m not really hearing it.
Candidate: What do you mean?
You: I’m not hearing a superstar.
Candidate: You’re not hearing it?
This rejection is intentional. Most HR managers cringe when they see or hear that, but it works really well to determine, here and now, what type of person you are dealing with.
Candidate: Oh, ok… ok. Um-hum… I guess you would know.
You: Yes, I would know.
Candidate: Well …OK. Thank you very much. Goodbye.
And here’s how the conversation should go with a superstar:
You: OK. You read our ad and it says, “Do not apply unless you think you’re the best”. So, tell me why you think we should give you a job interview.
Candidate: Well… uh… Can you tell me a bit more about the job?
You: That’s too long of a conversation. I will be happy to have it if we determine that you are someone whom we want to interview. So, tell me, why should we grant you an interview?
Candidate: Hmm, let’s see… In my last job, I was the new employee and I had never sold gadgets before, and in three months, I brought back bigger clients than they had ever had. In six months, I made more sales than the people who had been there for five years.
You: That sounds pretty good, but I’m not sure I hear a superstar.
Candidate: Well, maybe you’re deaf.
It may sound funny, but Chet Holmes really had someone who told him that, and he hired him.
Once you do a first filtering with this technique, you are ready to do the job interviews. Follow these three steps:
1 – Relax
As soon as the candidates arrive, give them the opportunity to show their best. Help them relax. You should be friendly and attentive. They will be disarmed after being treated so harshly on the phone. They come with a loaded rifle for bear hunting, and you are super nice right from the start. Another technique that Chet Holmes uses is to ask them “to write five questions that you want to be asked during the interview and that show you in the best light.”
2 – Probe
The purpose of the interview is to get to know the person better. Before you start, tell them that they don’t have to answer questions they don’t want to answer. Explain that your company hires based on personality rather than experience and credentials and ask them directly: “Do you agree that this is more relevant?”. You can then ask your questions to probe the candidate. Some examples of questions proposed by Chet Holmes:
- What events or influences in your childhood have shaped who you are today?
- What were the biggest challenges in your life? They don’t need to be work-related.
- What is the most difficult sale you ever made? (ask for all the steps and specifics of this experience)
- Tell me about a time in your life where the odds were against you and where you managed to overcome them and succeed.
- Tell me about the three or four things you are most proud of.
- Out of everyone you know, who has the most faith in you? Why?
- Why did you leave your last three jobs?
Note: for all these questions and especially those related to childhood and personal life, ensure that you are able to justify their relevance to the job in question, and seek the advice of a legal expert, lawyer or HR manager as to their legal aspect.
3 – Attack
At the end of the interview, you have thoroughly probed the candidate, and you may feel that you have a superstar. However, you will often be surprised to see what happens when you “attack”. Say something like “You seem to be a good person, but I only have one opening. I need a real superstar. Although I’m sure you work well in many areas, it’s a very competitive market and I doubt that your skills and personality will be enough for this position. To be honest, I don’t get the impression you’re really a superstar”.
Be tactful, but don’t be soft. You will be amazed by the number of people who crumble. Let these people go. A superstar never crumbles. They have incredible faith in themselves and nothing can convince them that they can’t do any job. Furthermore, be prepared for strong reactions and for the superstar candidate to think very hard and sometimes even say, “Fuck you, bastard” and walk out. Therefore, sometimes you will have to ask them to come back. They have successfully passed the test.
Be careful to use a strong rejection rather than a weak attack like: “You haven’t convinced me yet”, which are easy invites for the candidate to keep selling.
After hiring, you will need to build loyalty and motivate your superstar by offering him/her a plan that will show him/her what goals to achieve in order to earn what is promised in the ad and to reward him/her for those efforts.
This blueprint can be used, with modifications, to hire profiles other than sellers or sales managers. But the latter are vitally important in a company as a sales superstar will jack up the results of the majority of companies.
Chapter 6: The Delicate Art of Finding the Best Buyers
There are always less “best buyers” than all buyers. This means that marketing for them will cost less than marketing for all buyers. A direct mail targeted at 100 “best sellers” will cost less than a direct mail targeted at 1000 buyers, and the result will be infinitely more profitable.
Thus, when Charlie Munger asked Chet Holmes to take over advertising sales for one of his magazines, the database was 2,200 potential advertisers. Chet Holmes did a market analysis and found that 167 of them bought 95% of the ads in the 4 best-selling magazines in the industry. None of these advertisers were in the magazine Chet Holmes was in charge of; it was number 15 in the market.
Focusing intently on these 167 dream buyers, Chet Holmes managed to get 30 of them to buy ads in the first year. This alone doubled the magazine’s advertising revenues. Sales were again doubled the following year, keeping these 30 advertisers, and bringing in another 30. And they have doubled again, for the third year in a row, when the rest of the 167 advertisers began buying advertisements. This remarkable result came from intelligent targeting and then a tireless application of the concepts presented in The Ultimate Sales Machine, with pigheaded discipline and strong determination.
That’s all it takes to jack up your sales. Chet Holmes also recommends partnering with affiliates, as Jay Abrahams – whom he quotes – recommends in Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got.
Chapter Seven: The Seven Musts of Marketing
According to Chet Holmes, every company that wants to be number 1 in its market or profession must deploy seven marketing tools. They are:
1 – Advertising
If you have the budget for this, advertising has the broadest reach and is the best vehicle for creating a brand. To be effective, however, it must follow several rules:
Rule 1: It Must Be Distinctive
The first important thing about an advertisement is whether or not it attracts attention. Advertisements that generate the best response rate captures attention and keeps it. The use of shocking or surprising images is excellent for this.
Rule 2: It Must Capture Attention with a Hard-Hitting Headline
The most effective ads have a headline that follows this important rule: “Tell me what you want to tell me in 3.2 seconds”. The headline should explain the benefit of the product and focus on the prospect using “you” or “your” rather than focusing on yourself by using the word “we”.
One of the Chet Holmes’s clients launched an advertisement for more than a million dollars in Forbes and Fortune magazines. The advertisement showed an executive thinking of something with a vague and general headline: “Thoughts are things”. What was this ad about? You had no idea. Even worse, the text in the ad didn’t really explain much more. The company offered advanced technology systems, but it was very difficult to understand.
Chet Holmes devised several headlines much more effective:
Your future is in danger unless you read this important notice.
Still vague but already moving in the right direction. The headline should be more specific:
The Internet is changing the world and you’ll be in trouble if you stay behind technology rather than in front of it.
Now let’s add a benefit:
The Web is creating the leaders of tomorrow with better ways to gain and interact with clients than you would never have imagined.
The benefit is “better ways to gain and interact with clients than you would never have imagined”. And here is one even more powerful:
Would you like to gain three times more clients and retain them so securely that no one can take them away from you?
Rule 3: After Your Headline Has Captured Them, Your Body Text Must Keep Them Reading
The body text must also focus on the prospect, not on you. This is the most common mistake companies make. Then, each sentence should advance the story that you want to tell, and that will make the reader want to continue reading. Like the headline, the body text should indicate the benefits: don’t tell me what it is, tell me why it will interest me.
Rule 4: A Call to Action
Giving a reason to act now is always important: “Call us now for a free report (there are only 100 left)”, or “The first 100 to respond will receive a bonus of € XXX”. Tip: A reply coupon at the bottom right of the advertisement increases the response rate. It may be just a small rectangle that says “Yes, send me more information”.
If you buy yourself a great advertisement in a famous magazine, be sure to negotiate the receipt of 100 or more copies of this magazine, so you can send a copy to your dream prospects, and keep some for your salespeople: this increases the credibility of your advertising and your company.
You can also use radio, television (cable channels often make targeted advertising at a very reasonable cost) and poster campaigns on street decorations. In this last case, ensure that the posters are remarkable, because this type of advertising is not practical for direct response. However, it increases the prestige and the recognition: having your face posted everywhere in the city can give the impression to your prospects that you are a celebrity.
2 – Direct Mail
If you’ve done a good job educating your clients (see Chapter 4 ), you can use it to make your mailing campaigns much more powerful. Let’s go back to the example of the carpet cleaning company: it created a direct mail that shows an image of a mite with the words: “Five million of these creatures will be living in the carpets of your living room unless you get professional cleaning “. Mites are rather horrible creatures:
This mail piece will cause many prospects and clients to say “wow” out of surprise and disgust. Complemented by the education that the company previously conducted on scientific studies demonstrating that the vacuum cleaner didn’t kill these creatures and that only a deep cleaning can do so, it causes a significant number of prospects and customers to act.
There are some rules to follow according to Chet Holmes to increase the response rate of a direct mail campaign:
- Use color as much as possible – whether on the envelope itself or in the lettering on the envelope.
- Put messages on the envelope. You need to get the prospect to open the envelope, so place a message on it respecting the rules for headlines.
- Think about the order in which the different items inside the envelope will be taken out. What piece do you think should be taken out first: something that looks like a greeting card or rather a bill from a phone company? Chet Holmes has seen many companies using greeting cards, invitation cards, and even wedding announcement cards with an excellent return rate.
3 – Corporate Brochures and Pamphlets
Most brochures are a waste of money. They are completely focused on you instead of the buyer. Imagine that you own an apartment building and you are at a trade show where property management companies are scrambling. The tables are cluttered with corporate brochures, the vast majority of which says something like: “Dupont & Dupond: Why we’re great”. The only people who will take these brochures are those who already know the company. But there is a brochure that says: “The five most dangerous threats to homeowners and how to maximize your return on investment”. Who wants to learn more about this? Every apartment building owner at the show will want to take this brochure.
4 – Public Relations
Public relations include press releases, creating press relations, having articles written by you, or about you, and affiliating yourself with powerful forces that can help you. Many companies don’t make coherent and highly effective public relations efforts; yet, it can work miracles to build your name and brand, even if you have a small company.
So, if you type “Chet Holmes” in Google, at the moment there are 84,000 websites that contain an article by him or about him. What about you?
5 – Personal Contact
None of your marketing efforts will have more impact on your clients than personal contact with your sales reps or customer relationship service. Many chapters of The Ultimate Sales Machine are devoted specifically to personal contact, given its power.
6 – Trade Shows and Market Education
If well done, a trade show can make you go from obscurity to the top of the market in a single event. And if done poorly, they can be a waste of money.
There are only three rules to follow to make a good show, but 100 ways to apply these rules:
Rule 1: Get Noticed
Nothing, including awesome products and formidable salespeople, will work if you can’t get noticed. Most salons are boring – booths and booths of people who promote their wares. What if you had a fun booth, the place that looks more interesting and exciting than any other booth?
One of Chet Holmes’ clients, on his advice, chose Hawaii as his theme. The team was all dressed up in Hawaiian shirts. When you have 5 to 10 people dressed in bright-colored shirts, everyone is wondering “Who are these people with Hawaiian shirts?”.
Rule 2: Drive Traffic
Let’s continue with our Hawaii strategy. The booth had a backdrop of a Hawaiian beach and giant letters saying, “Win a free trip to Hawaii”. On top of that, the team served tropical drinks all day. This attracted a lot of people.
Rule 3: Turn Visitors into Prospects
Now that many people come to your booth to compete for the trip to Hawaii, they have to give you a business card, and most importantly fill out a short form that will qualify them. You need to get enough data to be able to prioritize the leads to recontact. One tip: if you ask people directly “How big is your company?”, they will either lie to you or leave the question blank. Ask the same question but in multiple-choice form, such as:
Size of company (check one box)
- Under one million euros
- 1 to 5 million euros
- 5 to 10 million euros
- More than 10 million euros
Ask two or three questions, each time with checkboxes.
To attract even more people to the booth, you can also hire a very attractive model who will offer drinks in the aisle and send people to register to win the trip to Hawaii. Hiring a male mannequin is also a good idea. You can have attractive models for 300 € a day, a small price to drive traffic.
To go even further, you can organize a party in a popular club. Have your model say, “Hey, we’re having a party later in the evening, so get an invitation to booth XXX – right here”.
One of the best things you can do at a trade show is to throw a party, but if you do, be sure to do it right!
Another tip to drive people to your booth: offer free massages by a professional masseur. Many people will come for the massage and will then be in a state of relaxation that will get them to listen to what you have to say!
In 1995, only five million people used the Internet as a marketing weapon. This number rose to 105 million 4 years later.
Amazon may have struggled in its early years, but in 2009 it had a turnover of $ 19 billion. In fact, since this company grew with the Internet, it grew from $ 0 in 1995 to $ 1 billion in 1999. 4 years to reach $ 1 billion. Before the Internet, bookstore chains in the United States took 50 years to reach a turnover of 1 billion.
There are entire books on the subject, but here is the author’s approach in five steps:
- Capture email addresses
- Build a relationship
- Interact as much as possible
- Offer a web seminar
- Convert traffic to sales
One of the concepts that Chet Holmes has applied most successfully is the “shy yes“, which uses an analogy that a website is like wanting to seduce someone: if you ask someone you meet for the first time to marry you, chances are you’ll be hit with a no. However, if you suggest going for a drink, you can get a yes. So, rather than directly trying to sell something to someone on your site, first try to get their email address, in exchange for a newsletter filled with interesting information for example and start building a relationship with them before offering them your products.
Chapter 8: The Eyes Have It
We, humans, remember 20% of what we hear, 30% of what we see, but 50% of what we both see and hear. It is clear that the impact of your communications almost triples when you use visual aids rather than nothing.
In a recent seminar, Chet Holmes spoke to 1500 CEOs, using PowerPoint slides every few seconds to illustrate his points. At one point, he turned off the projector, and asked his audience, “What just happened to this communication experience?”. According to Chet, you could feel it: everyone in the room knew that the quality of the communication had dropped significantly.
Visual aids such as PowerPoint presentations, storyboards, diagrams should be used to help our audience stay engaged in our presentation. Chet Holmes gives us 8 rules for an effective presentation:
- Rule 1: Keep it simple. Don’t clutter the page or the slide with too much text or images.
- Rule 2: Keep it fast. Prospects will get bored if you spend too much time on one page. You should cover 2 or 3 pages per minute.
- Rule 3: Use “Wow” Facts and Statistics. As we saw in Chapter 4 in the first part of this review, use facts and figures at the beginning of each presentation to create credibility that then extends to the “sales” portion of your presentation. And facts that are particularly stunning or amazing have a power that goes even further: it gets people interested and gives them something they will remember easily, that they can even discuss with others.
- Rule 4: Create Opportunities for Stories. Well-told stories increase the memorization rate by 26%. People love stories. Note: To learn more about this, you can read my review of Chapter 6 of Made To Stick.
- Rule 5: Your Presentation Must Stir Curiosity. Highlight information in a way that makes your prospects curious. Make them anticipate the information you will present to them. For example, you can say during a presentation: “And that means you will have to face a challenge, but as you will see it gets worse when I show you the next point”. This is a good way to maintain the suspense and make people want to see the next slide.
- Rule 6: See Each Headline as a Valuable Investment. Each header should intrigue prospects and sell what you tell them. Don’t waste them by being repetitive or not thinking them through.
- Rule 7: Be Confident but Not Arrogant. Develop a rapport with your audience even if it’s just someone who is facing you. A good way to create relationships is to get your audience talking about their problems or things that are not working in their business. Misery loves company.
- Rule 8: Focus on Them, Not on You.
Maturity occurs when all your mirrors turn into windows.
8 common mistakes in a presentation:
- Mistake 1: Thanking Prospects for Their Time or Apologize for Taking It. This shows that you consider that their time is worth more than yours, and it also suggests that listening to you is much less important than the other things they could be doing.
- Mistake 2: Giving Your Presentation with Your Hands in Your Pockets. This makes you look like a slacker.
- Mistake 3: Giving Your Presentation from a Sitting Position. Standing is a position of greater authority. Therefore, stand up, even in a meeting with two people. You can say, “Do you mind if I’m standing while I’m presenting this? I think better on my feet”. Nobody ever told Chet Holmes, “No, don’t stand”.
- Mistake 4: Being Led Around by the Nose. If a prospect asks a question in the middle of your presentation, a common mistake is to interrupt what you say and answer right then and there. If the prospect takes control of the meeting, you will not make the sale. Say that you’ll answer the questions after the presentation.
- Mistake 5: Letting the Materials Upstage You or Guide You. Many sellers cling to their presentation as if it were going to make the sale. The presentation is never going to close the sale. You will. Visual aids are just that, aids.
- Mistake 6: Being Totally Serious. Humor increases interest and memorization.
- Mistake 7: Not Practicing the Presentation Each Time Before Giving It. The more you know about your subject, the more persuasive, powerful and effective you are.
- Mistake 8: Not Having Any Idea of What Comes Next in the Presentation. You must create suspense by making the most of each slide before it happens. Make your audience salivate with anticipation.
Chapter 9: The Essence of How to Get the Best Clients
As we saw in Chapter 6, a direct mail targeted at 100 “Best Buyers” will cost less than a direct mail targeted at 1000 buyers, and the result will be infinitely more profitable because dream buyers will buy your product or service faster, in larger quantities, and more frequently than other buyers. Getting just a handful of these buyers can have a seismic effect on the results of your company. Chet Holmes gives us the essence of his method for getting such dream clients through 6 steps:
Step 1: Choose your 100 dream clients
What type of clients are qualified to be part of your top 100? You need to know as much as possible about your clients and put all this information into a database, to identify the most profitable, the criterion or criteria that make them profitable, and to be able to search for prospects who share these criteria. For example, if you are a real estate agent, you will probably want to target neighborhoods with the most expensive homes.
Step 2: Choose the Gifts
Chet Holmes has found that the best way to get noticed by your 100 dream buyers is to send them a small gift every two weeks. Choose inexpensive gifts, such as a Rubik’s Cube – for example with a message like “This Rubik’s Cube has more than four billion possible combinations. Fortunately, there are only five that you need to worry about to be a successful company in your area in this new millennium. Don’t be overwhelmed by the dangers that lie in wait for you! Get free training today “- as prospects might believe you are trying to bribe them if you offer them too expensive gifts.
The most important thing is that the gift is useful, even as entertainment, so that they use it at work or at home, or even give it to their children. Good examples of inexpensive and practical gifts are a magnifying glass, a calculator, a plastic dinosaur, a paddle ball, etc.
Step 3: Create Your Letter for Your 100 Dream Clients
A letter should accompany each gift you send, and it should be short so that your prospects read it. It should be related to the gift in a clever way, and you have to offer something to which they can easily say yes. Your letter should include a call to action so that your prospects know exactly what you want them to do next.
If you work with companies, what you really want is an appointment or a chance to have them participate in a seminar, web, or in person. Here is an example of a letter that could accompany a stopwatch:
Dear [name of prospect],
Every second that you do not get a spot at our free seminar “The five most important strategies in [client’s area] today”, you are losing money.
This a free (your area) community service sponsored by our company to give back something to our market. This business seminar contains the result of more than $ 3 million worth of research; it’s summarized in a bullet-style, outstanding and fast training session on how to grow your business during this tough period when the competition is fierce and [add another threat]. Call our XXX hotline to claim your free seminar today. The seconds are ticking, and you are losing money.
Step 4: Create Your Calendar for Your 100 Dream Clients
What will you do to communicate with your 100 dream clients every month without fail? In fact, it should be done at least once a month, but it would be even better if you can send something every two weeks. Here are some marketing tools that you can use in cooperation with others to reach your 100 dream clients:
- Press or public relations articles
Step 5: Conduct a Phone Call follow-up with Your 100 Dream Clients
After sending the gift, you will have to follow up with each dream client. The purpose of such calls is to schedule an appointment with your prospect to tell your story and offer your products or services. You can even have prospects remind you to have a free report. Once on the phone, a sales rep will take the call and tell your prospect that no, this report has not been sent, but that you have sent the services of a visual communication company to create a multimedia presentation and that a “presenter” will do it directly at their home, without having to move or spend a dime – they can even see it during lunch. They can have lunch and learn.
Step 6: Giving Your Presentation to the Decision Makers.
This step has already been discussed in Chapters 4 – Strategy – and 8 – Effective Presentations.
Chapter 10: Sales Skills
Many companies rely too heavily on the individual skills of their salespeople. However, to create an Ultimate Sales Machine, you need to work as a team, using each other’s intellectual abilities to drill down, perfect, and structure every aspect of the sales process. Selling is a science. Chet Holmes offers us a seven-step model to influence a buying decision.
Step 1: Build Rapport
Think about your favorite clients right now. If you are business-to-business, answer these questions: How many children do they have? What are their ages and their names? Have you been to their home or vice versa? What are their hobbies? Do you know what will make them even more successful? Do you know their goals in life? Where are they come from? What’s their history?
If you know how to answer these questions you have built a genuine rapport with them. You will find that you will achieve a much larger percentage of sales if you have good and solid relationships with your prospects. Rapport is “an emotional connection or a friendly relationship between people based on mutual appreciation, trust and a sense that makes them understand each other and share each other’s concerns”.
How to create rapport? One of the things you can do to build trust is to make prospects feel that they are working with an expert. Here are some other ways to create rapport:
- Ask Great Questions: Ask questions allowing you to build a rapport that your team will use to create connections and common interests. As fast as you can, get into the person’s world. You can start with questions that seem to be business questions, but are personal questions: How long have you been doing this? How did you get into it? What were you doing before?
- Have a sense of humor: Have fun together. These days, the Internet makes it easy to forward jokes, but be selective if you do this so your clients will know that if you send them something, it will be really funny and that they will open your emails and answer them.
- Commiserate: Misery loves company. If the client wants to complain about anything, from business to personal life, lend an attentive ear.
- Be empathetic and pay attention to them: Be more interested in them than anyone else has ever been.
- Find common ground. Having a strong point in common- like loving the same band, practicing the same sport, etc. – is like a magic key to create rapport. Look for common ground.
- Mirror: Follow the body language and tone of your interlocutor, this will create a subconscious connection indicating that you are like them.
Step 2: Qualify the Buyer (Find the Need)
Qualifying buyers means that you have to find what they are looking for in your product or service and what factors will influence their buying decision. For this, you need to create six to ten questions you would like to know about each prospect. Have the sales representatives learn these questions until everyone can recite them by heart.
The following 10 questions, Chet Holmes used for selling advertising space in his magazine:
- How do your clients find you?
- What is your most effective way to gain new clients?
- What is the amount of your average sale? (This helps justify the costs. If their income on the average shopping cart is 400 €, and the advertisement costs 4,000 €, it means that only 10 sales are required to justify the cost of advertising)
- What are the three biggest problems you have in [your area]? (know their problems and help them solve them)
- How long have you worked here?
- How did you get started?
- What are the goals for your company?
- What are the goals for yourself?
- And what are your criteria for making a buying decision on a product or service like ours?
Step 3: Build Value
After discovering the buying criteria of your client or prospect, you must build value around your product or service. You can ask them, “What do you know about us, by the way?”. This is the moment when you have your little one- or two-minute speech that builds value and lets them know your reputation on the market.
Step 4: Create Desire
Now it’s time for your client to want your product or service and to want it right away. There are many possible techniques, but according to the Chet, two are particularly powerful:
- Lead them through a series of questions in which you intensify their need, from their point of view.
- Present amazing data that truly motivates the buyer to act immediately.
Let’s be clear on one important point: your buyers will be much more motivated if their current situation becomes unacceptable. To create desire, you need to motivate your buyers by using a combination of problems and solutions, even if you are the one who points out problems that they had never considered before.
Step 5: Overcoming Objections
What are the most common reasons for losing a sale? And how many different ways have you developed to eliminate these barriers to buying? The strongest objections are those we have not thought of. As we have seen above, the more a prospect is qualified, the more their needs and constraints are known and understood, and the more objections you can identify early in the sales process.
However, even with great questions early in the process, an unplanned objection can always come up when it comes to closing the sale. If you remember that an objection is an opportunity to close the sale, you will always be happy to hear one. For example, if a client says, “I would like to buy it, but I can’t afford it right now.” You should agree that this objection is valid. Always agree with an objection: it lowers your client’s guard.
You can then say, “Well, that’s probably a good reason not to invest today. [pause] But let me ask you a question: is money the only thing that stands between you and the purchase of this product? “. At that moment, if there are other objections, they will surface. Otherwise, the client will say, “No, if I could afford it, I would buy it”.
This is called isolating the objection. It’s taught in all sales schools, but Chet Holmes sees that most salespeople do not use it. For him, this shows that, as with any concept, to integrate and practice it, pigheaded discipline and determination are required. So, if someone throws you an objection and you isolate it, you have taken a giant step closer to making the sale.
So, to go back to the sale, say “So if I find a way for you to afford this product, you will buy it?”. If the client says yes, you have just closed the sale. You now need to be more creative in financing your product or service, or creating more desire, by showing that not buying the product will cost them much more in the long run.
Step 6: Close the Sale
Although the goal is to put in place such a rationale that it makes buying the product a no-brainer for the client, it should be noted that many people need help in deciding. Therefore, you may need to help your prospects in making the decision, even with a little pressure. A good method is to assume the sale by saying things like “Do you want it today?” or “Where should we ship it?”. Here is an example of an assumed sale, which Chet Holmes had the opportunity to see at age 19, on his first day of working in a store:
An elderly couple is looking at recliners. The sales manager of the author tells him “Watch this!” and goes towards them. They have already tried two or three models, and the salesman asks them “Where do you live?”. They tell him and the salesman answers: “We deliver these models on Tuesdays or Thursdays. Which day is best for you?”. The couple looked at each other, then decided that Thursday would be best. He then asked them, taking his pen and the order form: “How do you spell your last name?”. They started spelling and it was a done deal: he had made the sale.
And the author had the opportunity to experience the opposite a few years later:
He accompanied a young real estate saleswoman who wasn’t closing a lot of sales. They go with a young couple to visit a house, which is the seventh they’re visiting. This time, it’s the house of their dreams; they say the living room is perfect, the garage is great, the yard is big, and so on.
If it was Chet Holmes’ clients, he would say to them at that moment, “Well, let’s sign a pre-lease form to take this house off the market. You can’t imagine how many times I have seen a house taken right under you. It’s best to sign this to prevent other buyers from taking it from you”.
But it wasn’t his clients, so he just watched. So, the couple was ready. They just needed a little push, and they would fill out the form. Suddenly, the saleswoman says, “Definitely don’t rush. Buying a home is the biggest decision you will ever make, so take your time”.
Slowly, the head of Chet Holmes turned to the saleswoman, his face showing utter confusion. He had to restrain himself from putting his hand over her mouth and saying, “Sorry. She’s running a fever. The form is right here”. Not only she hadn’t closed the sale, she had also prevented them from making a decision.
According to Chet Holmes, this type of behavior comes from a weak ego: the saleswoman was afraid to close the sale, or to apply any pressure whatsoever, because the fear of rejection made her weak. This is why most sellers don’t close well: a weak ego and fear of rejection.
Another great way to facilitate sales is to offer a strong warranty and free bonuses, as advocated by Jay Abrahams in, Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got.
Step 7: The Follow-up
This post-sale process is so important that it is the subject of the next chapter.
Chapter 11: Follow-up
Acquiring a new client costs six times more than selling something additional to an existing client. Therefore, it’s important to follow-up with the clients after a first sale and to build a genuine relationship with them. The author offers us 10 steps to make it happen.
Step 1: Send the First Follow-up Letter
If you do business-to-business, send a letter to your client within one or two hours after the sale. Chet Holmes often calls his assistant in his car, dictates the letter to her, and she faxes it as soon as it is typed. Can you imagine how much that would impress the client, when they know that you didn’t even go back to the office?
Here is a good letter structure:
- Start with something personal that you remember from the meeting, like, “The story you told about your daughter was great. For our next meeting, I have a similar story to tell you”.
- Put a compliment, like “You certainly seem to have a solid grasp on how to make your company successful. They are lucky to have you”.
- Hit the right buttons and stay focused on the benefits of your product or service: “With the challenges you face, it seems clear that six of our machines are exactly what you need. You will reduce costs, increase your productivity, and most importantly, relieve a lot of stress for many people. I’m making sure we can get this done quickly”.
- Use a personal close: “Once again, it was a pleasure meeting you. I have some ideas about productivity issues that I’m sure you’ll like”.
Step 2: Make the First Follow-up Call
The follow-up call must come after the letter. It should offer something of value, which doesn’t necessarily benefit your company directly. You can call and say “Hey, François, I thought a little about your challenges and I think maybe I have a good idea for you.”
Step 3: Share Something Funny or of Personal Interest
As we saw in Chapter 10, having a sense of humor and sending small gifts builds rapport.
Step 4: Organize a Party, Share a Meal, and Create Relationships like Crazy
Organizing a party is a great way to create relationships. Read through Chapter 7 above to see how to do this. Sharing a meal with clients is another great way to create relationships. In this regard, here is the effectiveness of each meal:
- Breakfast: good relations
- Lunch: good relations
- Dinner: excellent relations
You should get into their lives, but don’t be too aggressive. It’s up to you to judge what is most appropriate.
Step 5: Send Another Fax / Email / Letter / Card
Just after the meal or the party. Make the message short and interesting, and related to a topic you discussed at the event.
Step 6: Plan Something Fun that Can Include the Family
You can invite your guests to join you in fun activities like boating, tennis, hot air ballooning, or scuba diving. The author did all of this and more. The cooler the experience is, the more likely the client will not only come, but will also talk about it to others. You start becoming a part of their life.
Step 7: Offer Something to Help Their Company
Successful companies are always trying to find ways to help their clients to succeed. Can you connect two of your clients who would benefit from this new relationship? This is why Chet Holmes’ clients always take his calls. Always. They never know what new things he will be able to offer them.
Step 8: Send Another Fax / Email / Letter / Card
Keep sending notes and jokes. If you become the best friend of your clients, it will be natural to keep doing these things.
Step 9: Offer More Help to Succeed
What else can you do to help your clients succeed? Think and find solutions.
Step 10: The ultimate Follow-up: Invite Them to Your Home or Get Invited to Theirs
If you have gone that far, you know you’ve done a fantastic follow-up.
Chapter 12: All Systems Operational
Setting goals and measuring efficiency is the twelfth strategy needed to build an Ultimate Sales Machine. As we have seen, mastering something is not about doing 4,000 new things but doing 12 things 4,000 times. You cannot master the 12 strategies instantly. However, setting intermediate goals will help you speed up the process.
Book critique of “The Ultimate Sales Machine”
The Ultimate Sales Machine both pleasantly surprised me and confused me. For all intents and purposes, Chet Holmes wants to offer a comprehensive system that covers many of the essential aspects of a business, and it gave me the impression that some chapters were summaries of deeper things that have been the subject of entire books. Thus, I had the impression of reading a miniature GTD, a miniature The E-myth Revisited, a miniature Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got, a miniature Zen Presentation, a miniature Made to Stick, etc. Although Chet Holmes obviously borrowed from some of these books – having quoted several of them – the author happily came up with original content and that, in most cases, I found absolutely excellent.
This willingness to offer a comprehensive system is commendable and presents a certain interest compared to information that is otherwise scattered in other books. It thus offers a guide for any business owner or any sales manager who wants to give a big boost to their business by making them focus on the various essentials. However, the quality of the chapters and the relevance of the information they present seemed to be uneven, but undoubtedly everyone will find enough information to solve some of their problems and address their own needs.
I felt the original content offered by Chet Holmes to be very…well, original, which is what makes it all the more worthwhile, even if some of us won’t be able to agree with Chet Holmes’ point of view or philosophy. Thus, his chapter on hiring superstars, his tips for client relations (sending regular messages to clients and making friends with them) and on how to position oneself in sales (we don’t have to apologize for taking time because we bring value and our time is as valuable as that of the client) are approaches that seemed relevant and effective but that probably will not please everyone.
As for other flaws, it is clear that Chet Holmes also uses his book to promote his consulting products and services. This comes across rather obviously, whether in the customer testimonials he gives, or in the way he talks about himself and his company, or even in the overall organization of the book.
Nonetheless, I did have many “Wow, it’s interesting that” moments while reading The Ultimate Sales Machine, and the number of ideas that comes from finishing it is enough to make it a must-read. Furthermore, I really liked his emphasis on the need for “pigheaded discipline and determination”, which in my opinion, is essential to put into practice the concepts, methods, tips and tricks recommended in The Ultimate Sales Machine and, in fact, in all other books – including all those reviewed on this blog.
In short, for as much quality content there is from this marketing guru – whose seminars cost $2,000 to participate in – it costs barely $10. Only books make this possible. And we shouldn’t deprive ourselves of it 😉.
Strong points of The Ultimate Sales Machine:
- Comprehensive system for jump-starting a business
- Many aspects covered, from time management to the sales process to employee training and customer relationship monitoring
- Original, interesting and powerful content
- Remember, the best knowledge is useless if it’s not applied “with pigheaded discipline and determination” 😉
Weak points of The Ultimate Sales Machine:
- Many chapters deal too succinctly with information that is more thoroughly outlined in other books
- Promotes a little too much Chet Holmes and his products and services
- No French translation.
My rating :
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