Book review: How to be great at the stuff you hate: The straight talking guide to persuading, networking and selling By Nick Davies

Posted on: March 12, 2012

I’ve just finished writing a detailed review of this book “How to be great at the stuff you hate: The straight talking guide to persuading, networking and selling” which will appear shortly in PM magazine. Here are some headline thoughts and a few more personal observations.

Any book which starts with a quote from David Ogilvy – my personal advertising copywriting hero – gets my attention.

It’s rare that I find a sales book (and I’ve read a lot) that I would recommend wholeheartedly to lawyers, accountants and surveyors but this is one of those gems. It’s concise. It’s readable. It’s entertaining. And it condenses a whole heap of solid, practical advice garnered from real experience and crystallises it into a pragmatic, no-nonsense guide that can be instantly applied.

I like that he uses the analogy of courting throughout and that his quirky personality shines through – you can see why he is obviously very good at what he does. Nick is from Manchester and cut his teeth in business selling shoes before training as a barrister, and going on to become a stand-up comic and sales trainer. Jaunty and cheeky, he demystifies and tames selling making it accessible to even the most hardened fee-earning cynic.

I particularly liked his comments about how “visual noise” interferes with the process of remembering names and his analysis of when and who to kiss is simply brilliant. I enjoyed his reminder of Desmond Morris’ “seven stages of body language” – and he also provides a nudge towards the other stalwart in this area Allan Pease.

I also liked his idea about colour coding delegates at an event to help ice breaking and his simple ideas for advance preparation. His model is simple but elegant and his advice is solid and down to earth. It reminded me in parts of Chrissie Lightfoot’s “Naked Lawyer” ROAR (Reach Out And Relate) model – although Nick cuts to the chase much faster.

The book’s relatively jargon-free and tackles sometimes awkward topics such as following up, moving around at networking events, objection handling and closing without fear or fuss. It’s immensely reassuring to read solid common sense – although whether his scripts, letters, personality and style will translate easily into the harder commercial legal world remains to be seen.

He sounds like one of the 10% natural born people’s person sales folk he mentions rather than the hard core 80% who need a little help (and the 10% nerds and techies who are never comfortable with human interaction).

It’s not really a book for experienced or highly trained sales people or for those responsible for managing the sophisticated sales and account management efforts of others – it’s too basic for that. But it does provide a brilliantly insightful and practical guide to a fee-earner who is new to the game who will find it refreshingly straight forward. And of course it will be immensely helpful to any marketers who missed out on sales training.

And he indicates that his next book will be on public speaking – and that’s one I shall look forward to reading.

Chapters:

  1. The stuff you hate….selling
  2. Introducing the Target, Connect, Meet, Ask model
  3. Target (Who, Which, What)
  4. Connect (Making an emotional connection to secure that meeting)
  5. Networking (Business talk for getting on with people)
  6. Small talk (The seemingly mundane activity that makes a huge difference)
  7. Following up (Making the most of the contacts you make – Efficiently, Effectively and Elegantly)
  8. Meet (Making the most of the encounter and ensuring you keep in control)
  9. Ask (You’ve wooed and courted with – it’s time to go for the kiss)

 

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