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Sales Book Review: Go For No

Go For No is a 70-page, single shot cover-to-cover read. Its ultra-short 70 pages fly by thanks to the cliff-hanging chapter endings and enthralling storyline in which the main character goes on an unexpected, alternate-reality adventure.

Published in 2010 and authored by Richard Fenton and Andrea Waltz, Go For No addresses a fundamental concept of sales success and turns it on its head. While sales people generally understand that call volume is necessary for sales success, and that "no’s lead to yesses, the take home message of this book is that sales people ought to seek the "no’s, instead of avoiding them, and that managers should go so far as to incentivize "no’s as well as yesses. Rather than saying you can either fail, or succeed, Go For No reminds you that you must fail in order to succeed.

You + Failure = Success

Seeing failure as a necessary means to success is a fundamental shift in thinking because most view success and failure as an either/or duality, making oneself naturally afraid of failure, which leads the avoiding failure, which leads to making fewer sales calls, resulting in fewer sales.

Of course sales people already understand that call volume is as important as closing ability, BUT why then do so few sales people make enough calls. The book provides a shocking example of a large insurance company puzzled by their declining sales and whose management was just as incredulous when a consultant pointed out that their people just weren’t making calls. How could the problem be so simple, they though. So the consultant instructed all the sales people to go into the field, knock on doors and say only this: "You don't want to buy insurance today, do you?" And that pathetic request for a decision resulted in a 1:60 close ratio which immediately outstripped their current sales volume.

So again, if the importance of call volume is so elementary, and so common sense, why don't more sales people do it? Go For No does an amazing job of re-orienting the reader's approach to hearing the word "no". It even prescribes daily "no" quotas; your day is not done until you have hit your quota of "no’s. And that applies to each individual prospect as well since buyers most often say no 5 to 6 times before purchasing.

These lessons accord with my experience in sales... I had noticed that mediocre sales people would always call it a day when they got a sale first thing in the morning, while the top sales people capitalized on their hot streak and kept calling. Having read many sales books over the years, I cannot remember being as motivated by any other book. For now on, on my team, it's required reading.

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