Michael Krause has written a new book that provides eight sales strategies that are supposed to help increase sales, engendered a more motivated sales staff, and help sustain both. The eight strategies are: USP and UVP; Strategic planning; SWOT analysis; Engage your ideal clients; Build a cash reserve; Core capabilities and realistic goal setting; Balanced scoreboard, and; Do you have what it takes? The author looks at the entire organization and not just the sales staff, but he tries to tie all of what he says into sales.
He loses some credibility because he uses some terms wrong, but this is not problematic necessarily as they are the sailing terms he employs as part of the illustrations in the book. However, he does make some questionable suggestions regarding the fourth strategy.
Analysis of "Sell or Sink: Strategies, Tactics and Tools Every Business Leader Must Know to Stay Afloat"
The business world is full of books that promise more than they can deliver because they offer platitudes instead of actual substantive advice. The reality is that there are very few books considered classics in the sales self-help realm because there are very few books that deserve that status. However, since sales people are often looking for an edge, they will buy almost any book to see if it contains the magic pill they need to succeed in a profession that is both demanding and difficult. Or, there is an expert who has decided to sell a book that is full of the same techniques given by more observant men and women, hoping that by using different wording they can write the same book in a different way and achieve the same financial results. So, the books keep coming because the author believes in, and has been successful (hopefully) with the program that they espouse, or they have the desire to make money the easy way; by selling more inanities to a gullible sales public that continues to buy magic beans.
This is not to say that every new sales book falls into the above categories (only time will tell if they do or not) because there are those which try to use new techniques, proven by the author's success, as a useful means of garnering new sales. The book under discussion for this analysis is called "Sell or Sink: Strategies, Tactics and Tools Every Business Leader Must Know to Stay Afloat" and it was written by Michael D. Krause. This recently released book (2011) is a mariners guide to the world of sales. The mariner part comes from the use of nautical terminology as chapter titles, and extensive use of nautical quotes and imagery to emphasize points. The efficacy of the book is discussed in this paper according to the problem it seeks to solve, its use of organizational behavior theory, key moments in the book, and this writers substantiated opinions of its worth to the sales world in general.
Problem Facing the Person/Organization
The issue described in the book is that of the seller who has either lost the desire to sell or does not have the tools required to do so. The author says that
"I have an affinity for sailing. I am fascinated by the mechanisms and methodologies along with the attention to detail required to keep the boat on the right tack. Sales is no different, really. Without the right knowledge and preparation, you will find yourself adrift and in irons with no prospects and no way forward" (Krause, 2011).
Sales professionals too often have no idea why they are not able to makes sales quotas, or any sales, but they keep pressing ahead without the proper knowledge because that is the job. Krause is describing an approach that can be used to assure the salesperson that they have a plan. But, he also has other warnings for them.
The main problem that people have according to Krause is that they may have a plan, but they do not adhere to it. The person who reads this book must be willing to use the book. That is why Krause gives the lesson and asks questions as the "tactic" is being explained with room for jotting down answers in the book. Since many people would be underlining or writing notes in the margins anyway, this seems to be an excellent method for keeping the reader engaged in the lesson at hand.
Krause lists the problems, and then seeks to solve them, in the books chapters. He begins with some quotes, an anecdote that relates to the tactic introduced in the chapter, the problem the chapter addresses, and then he gives the reader a "tactic" for solving the sales issue presented. In the first chapter he presents the dilemmas which his sales tactics are meant to address. In the problems list he asks whether:
"Sales team morale is low after consecutive quarterly results fall below market projections and/or trying to meet unrealistic sales goals
Everyone is burdened by the ongoing emotional strain of riding the sales quota roller coaster
Internal tension and competition create a chaotic atmosphere within and between the sales and marketing departments
Your access to comprehensive meaningful performance feedback is clogged with excessive internal reporting and paperwork
Reporting from top executives or department heads lacks transparency on troublesome issues due to their natural concern for being perceived as too critical, negative or incompetent
The sales team is trying to reach an audience who has a particularly strong distrust of salespeople and marketing messages" (Krause, 2011).
He seeks to offer the solutions to these issues by presenting a comprehensive sales program that is eight sessions long. It should also be noted that the book is only 124 pages long and can be read easily in a single two-hour sitting. However, if the sales professional is interested in following the lessons as Krause suggests, the individual or sales team will see an increase in sales.
OB in Action
This entire book is about organizational behavior and how a sales team approaches its job. Krause delivers a step-by-step accounting of how an organization can improve the sales of its team. The main behavior described in the book is that the sales people need to change their perceptions of what the job is.
For example, in one instance Krause (2011) says that "if you can't readily identify exactly what you're selling and why your customers are buying it, then strategic sales growth will remain elusive and never materialize." Griffith and Sawyer (2010) mention the same problem within organizations as a whole. They say that "organization effectiveness is greatest when the information processing capacities of the structure fit the information-processing requirements of the work." This can be used as a maxim to companies to ensure that employees have the computing power they need to do their jobs, but the authors are not talking about computers in this case. The quote relates to the knowledge that the members of the organization have and the increased level of effectiveness the organization enjoys if it has employees that have better knowledge of the product and processes. This sentiment is echoed by Krause who believes that it is a seminal component of sales. Knowledge, as has been said many times, is power. If the sales staff has no understanding of what the product or service is, then how can they sell it.
Another section of the book deals with how goals are set and who is responsible for them. Another behavior that some organizations demonstrate is a weak leadership. Most likely this is not the intent of the management, but it may be the outcome that is generated by their actions. The problem may be that those within the organization do not know that they are being led. Thus, a change in perception, a change in behavior, is needed.
Some articles talk about the concept of authentic leadership. This has been defined as "a pattern of leader behavior that draws upon both positive psychological capacities and a positive ethical climate, to foster greater self-awareness, an internalized moral perspective, balanced processing of information, and relational transparency on the part of leaders working with followers, fostering positive development" (Walumbwa, Luthans, Avey & Oke, 2011). This type of leadership is also the focus of Krause's seventh chapter entitled "The Ship's Company." Basically, not only does the sales team need to know what the product is, but they need to know who to turn to if they need guidance or they are having problems. Walumbwa, et al., (2011) talk about the organization developing a style of leadership that demonstrates the core values of the organization and those of the leader. Krause, using this same logic as it relates to internal organizational culture states;
"Satisfied, well-motivated employees are tremendous assets, and their contributions to your operations should be recognized as paramount to your organization's success. On the other hand, individual employees with attitude issues or a crew with low morale because of past problems needs some remedial attention to…