The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes
Book Review Rating – 5 Stars
This is the long-awaited book from Chet Holmes. The full title is “The Ultimate Sales Machine: Turbocharge Your Business With Relentless Focus on 12 Key Strategies.”
The Big Idea in The Ultimate Sales Machine
People over-complicate what is needed for business success.
Chet Holmes believes you just have to:
Focus on 12 key strategies rather than trying to master hundreds of different ideas and techniques.
You implement these 12 strategies with pigheaded discipline and determination.
I fully commend the last point. Too often people try something that looks a great idea in a half-hearted way. They are then disappointed with the results, decide that the idea wasn’t so good after all and move on to the next big thing.
I also like the focus on major themes and take a similar approach in my Eight Pillars of Business Prosperity coaching system.
The Key Business Growth Strategies Covered In The Book
- Really effective time management – We all have to find our own system that we are prepared to commit to and be disciplined. My system is based on the Chet Holmes system with a few minor tweaks. Chet explains his early experiences when he was running businesses for billionaire Charlie Munger. He was a typical reactive manager, letting his staff dictate the agenda and doing his own work after hours and at home. In contrast, his meetings with Charlie Munder were at set times and very focused on a strict agenda..
- Instituting higher standards and regular training – He rips into the traditional training practises which lack follow up meaning that any knowledge gained is quickly lost. This focused follow-up is explains why coaching is more effective than training. He says that up to 90% of people aren’t natural learners. All the professions like doctors, dentists, solicitors and accountants had to introduce mandatory continued professional development to make sure that people keep up-to-date. He asks the question “Shouldn’t it be the same for you and your staff?” He recommends a system of group training for a minimum of one hour per week based on getting the most out of the key strategies. This could be working through each one in turn and then repeating with a slightly different theme or it might mean focusing on one discipline for ten weeks to correct a major problem.
- Effective meetings – This chapter gives more detail on how to run these meetings or workshops to deliver regular improvements in your planning, procedures and policies. Good advice for many people who probably haven’t received training in this area.
- Taking a strategic approach – Too many people are tactical and work on a day by day basis when far more success can be created if you focus on your longer term aims and make sure that all your tactics move you closer to your longer term vision.
Chet recommends educating your prospective customers so that you set the buying criteria and again this is an approach that I strongly believe in.
Why try to play the game to someone else’s rules if you can change the rule book by having a better understanding of the opportunities and threats that your customers face.
An idea I like is the stadium pitch. What would you say if you had the initial attention of all the possible buyers of your product or service but they could walk away at any time?
It’s a powerful question on its own but Chet also introduces us to a pyramid of potential customers – some are actively looking to buy, some are thinking about buying but not doing anything about it yet, some are not thinking about it, some don’t think they are interested and the last category know in their own minds that they are not interested.
It could mean 90% of the audience are ready to walk out as soon as you say “Hi my name is Joe and I sell…”
It could be different if you had a story so powerful that all three bottom categories heard a headline and it connected with them and was immediately relevant.
For example suppose you had a product or service that you only sold to dentists eg a computerised appointment booking and record maintenance system.
If you stand up and describe the product, its features and benefits then the vast majority are probably going to leave immediately. They do not naturally fall into the interested category.
If instead, you stand up and talk about the “11 serious threats to the profits of dentists over the next decade and what can be done to turn these threats into opportunities”, you are suddenly connecting with all your target market.
It’s a powerful technique and Chet been very successful with it when he has developed the stadium pitch into a core story to use in sales presentations.
My one concern is that it works when one company does it, but it will not be so good when a number of competitors learn the technique.
As well as our “11 serious threats…” there is also “The seven easy to implement steps every dentist must take to boost their profits by 20% year after year”. The impact is reduced and the technique becomes clichéd. It is even worse when you realise that it might not be just your competitors who are doing this. What about other specialist suppliers to dentists?
His website is giving people the chance to read this chapter – Becoming A Brilliant Strategist
- Hiring superstars – There is some fantastic advice on hiring superstar sales people in this chapter that will knock your socks off. It is that good and like many things so obvious when you learn it. The technique explains why men like Chet Holmes attract the high performers while the rest of us attract the salespeople who are nice but struggle to handle the rejections that inevitably come their way.
- Targeting your best buyers – More excellent advice about focusing your marketing on the target customers that you believe really matter with tips on how to do it. This is one area that you will have been told about before but do you do it and if so, do you do it with pig-headed determination?
- The seven musts of marketing – You can’t rely on just using one weapon to attract new customers so Chet echoes messages from Jay Abraham (the Power Parthenon) and Jay Conrad Levinson (200 Guerrilla Marketing weapons). The book gives some solid advice on advertising and trade shows but the treatment of some of the other areas is superficial compared to what you can get from other marketing experts.
- Better presentation skills – Some good advice in this section including some common mistakes that presenters make. If you are a sales professional, you may have heard it before and I have a problem with “death by powerpoint.”
- Winning the best buyers – Picking up on the theme of chapter 6 on the importance of targeting your best buyers, the book now reveals practical advice on how to make it happen including tips on getting past the gatekeepers.
- Sales skills – For Chet, selling is a seven stage process – establishing rapport, qualifying the buyer based on need, building value by matching your product to their buying criteria, creating a stronger desire, overcoming objections, closing the sale and following up. There is nothing revolutionary in his sales process. It is still good sensible advice and I recommend you use a systematic process that moves you along.
- Follow-up and client bonding – This essentially covers two vital topics. The first stops what is known as post purchase dissonance and happens when an order is cancelled. What seems like a good idea with the sales person, no longer seems a good idea when you are on your own. The second correctly identifies that as a general rule, you don’t make the bulk of your money on the first transaction but on the subsequent business which relies on developing the relationship.
- Goals and measures – Standard material done well.
Conclusion on The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes
The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes is excellent and I recommend you add it to your library of business books, read it and put the ideas into practice.
I first encountered Chet’s techniques through the course materials from major seminars with Jay Abraham and Jay Conrad Levinson, both of whom say very nice things about Chet. As such there was little in The Ultimate Sales Machine book that was new to me although it is structured in a slightly different way.
You will find the it an easy to read, powerful and inspiring book that puts the emphasis on action.
Chet Holmes sadly died of leukaemia on August 12, 2012. He is missed but his book and videos of his seminars are an excellent legacy of his business building ideas.
This is what Jay Abraham had say on hearing about Chet’s death – click here. The link includes a link through a transcript from his famous PEQ seminar with Jay – How Strategy Makes Every Tactic Work at Least Five Times Harder.
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