Book Review | The Science of Selling

A well-researched Sales book that busts several myths and presents a fresh approach

The Science of Selling - Book Review
David Hoffeld, Author – The Science oF Selling

For years, the sales domain has lagged behind its more established counterparts – marketing, manufacturing, HR, and finance.

Every year millions of dollars go into research in these areas. Sales, unfortunately, has not had the same trajectory.

This could probably the reason why 38-49% of salespeople fail to meet their numbers. There is no authentic study, no empirical research which the sales teams could rely on.

If you have ever attended a sales training program, you’d know what I am talking about. Even the best training programs rely on anecdotal evidence and success stories of a few individuals.

David Hoffeld’s new book “The Science of Selling” (affiliate link) upends conventional sales methodologies. A sales trainer and consultant to many top organizations, Hoffeld has worked in the trenches and understands the profession inside out.

The books is a result of six years of rigorous research into neuroscience, communication theory and, social and behavioral psychology.

“The Science of Selling” proposes authentic, evidence-based sales strategies which are an antithesis to the supposition-led selling.

The central idea of the book is to help align your sales strategies with the way the buyer’s brain formulates buying decisions.

“The more your way of selling mirrors your buyers’ decision-making process, the more effective it will be.” – David Hoffeld

Hoffeld’s gripe with modern day sales methodologies stems from two counts:

  1. They are often based on anecdotal evidence which means they propagate the myth of a few individuals and the way it worked for them.
  2. They are rooted in selling, not buying.

“To be successful in sales today, you must sell beyond your natural ability. You must continually improve.” – David Hoffeld.

There is no Sales Truth. Everything is trial-and-error based.

Hoffeld, from stem to stern, deconstructs the whole sales process. He pinpoints the reasons why salespeople underperform, figures out the science-backed sales strategies and even lays out a Q&A toolkit to hire the right salespeople.

I would explain my top takeaways from the book:

#1. The “Six Whys” hold the key

The best part of the book: The Six Whys.

These six questions lie right at the heart of Hoffeld’s theory. Unwittingly, you may have been practicing these “Whys” but you need to know them in your conscious mind.

Six Whys are a salesperson’s arsenal to get the consent from the client. Your readiness to answer these questions will dismantle the clients’ mental barriers against taking a positive decision:

  • Why Change? Help break your clients’ status quo by identifying their pain points
  • Why Now?  Nudge the clients into a decision without ever breathing down their throats
  • Why Your Industry Solution? Explain how would client benefit from opting for your industry solution than, let’s say, crafting something of his own
  • Why You and Your Company? Demonstrate expertise, share evidence-based insights to build trust
  • Why Your Product or Service? Build a distinct value proposition for every client
  • Why Spend the Money? Trigger fear of loss and desire for gain

#2. Remember this Sales Equation

Hoffeld encapsulates the whole decision-making rigamarole into a simple equation:

BD= f(SW*ES)

It says that a buying decision (BD) is a function of Six Whys (SW) & buyers’ Emotional State (ES).

The latter is not in your control. But Hoffeld gives the reader enough ammo to steer the client’s emotional state your way.

#3. Always ask for Small Commitments along the way

Somewhere in the middle of the book, Hoffeld mentions that the human brain is hardwired to disclose information in layers. This is a staggering tipoff, you know.

The Science of Selling - Book ReviewHe suggests when you nudge your clients to reveal their dominant buying motives – the emotional reasons why they would buy your product – you also grab commitments from them on every toehold.

Look, a stupendous meeting is no guarantee of closure. Because once you leave the room, doubts regarding the potential decision surround your buyer.

First, he tiptoes around discussing the next step, a possible closure and then, he stops returning your calls.

Good meetings fail to materialize into buying decisions because the salesperson never asked for small commitments throughout the sale.

Many salespeople just assume that the buyer is in agreement with them without ever asking for any commitment. That’s where deals fall through.

#4. Overcome Objections Quickly and Don’t Let the Sale Linger

Hoffeld repeatedly stresses this one throughout the book: The most unproductive place to handle objections is at the end of the sale.”

He shares a couple of tips that I believe can get you out sticky situations.

  • Get a compelling piece of evidence. Unless you confront the client’s objection with a new piece of information, he will stay consistent with his objection.
  • Make a repertoire of solid third party stories. Pick a story as the situation demands. Prospects like to hear about customers who had similar objections or similar problems as theirs.

If you fail to isolate your client’s objections quickly, the result would be elongated sales time which won’t augur well for both parties.

Hoffeld emphasizes, “the longer it takes for sales to occur, the lower the probability that it will.”

#5. Just because you talk well doesn’t mean you will sell well

For ages, salespeople have been led to believe that ‘gift-of-the-gab’ is central to their success.

Hoffeld breaks the myth. He declares that gregarious individuals often make for poor salespeople because of their inability to listen to their clients.

If you don’t listen to your buyers, you will fail at decoding their problems. Simple.

Nobody detests good communication skills, but without proper strategies, even the slickest communicators come across as salesy. 

#6. Use Stories and Psychological Selling Techniques

The author share plenty of behavioral tools in “The Science of Selling”. He recommends deploying them to get the best out of your sales presentation.

The psychology of selling encompasses a lot of subtle communication. Three selling techniques rooted in psychology that you must start using in your sales pitch are priming, anchoring and mirroring.

Conclusion

“The Science of Selling’ is not one of those over-the-top sales books.

There is no self-congratulatory vainglory, only facts that several pieces of research have put forth over the years. The author rejects conjectural selling in favor of science-backed selling.

The research aspect of the book is robust. For a 277 pages long book, ‘The Science of Selling’ has 50 pages of bibliography. This underlines the rigor and the research that has gone into the book.

‘The Science of Selling’ deserves a place in the list of top sales books. It uproots the orthodoxical ways of selling and ushers in a fresh perspective with which to lead sales. Recommended Reading.


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