The Decline of Selling Acumen and What You Can Do to Fix it Fast!

Be brutally honest:  When was the last time you bought a book on selling?

I ask because over the past two-three years I have been asking sales reps and their managers that very same question.  The results of my unofficial but compelling survey are … well … shocking.

Survey Results

Here are the results.  Of the 516 reps asked, only a measly 13 have bought a book on selling.   Thirteen!  That’s it.  Only 2.5 %.

Of course, the survey is not scientific and it is not necessarily representative of sales people as a whole. At least, I hope not.  It is certainly not a controlled market research test.  At best, you might call it market ‘intelligence.’

Nevertheless … I wonder… I wonder if it might actually be representative.  And if it is, the implications could be staggering.   You can’t help but wonder if sales are suffering simply because the business acumen of sales people is not growing and developing.  If you’re a sales rep, sales manager or sales executives you should probably feel concerned.

Selling Chaos

Consider the current situation in the marketplace.  There’s little doubt that selling is getting tougher, more challenging and certainly more competitive.  Have you noticed that buyers are much more conservative and cautious thanks to the economic issues over the past few years? Meanwhile, decision makers have more options thanks to the fact that every sales rep in every industry is knocking on every door or calling every number. Sales cycles are longer as the multitudes of choices are evaluated.  Put another way, finding revenue dollars is not a walk in the park.

So, in the midst of all this selling chaos, you’d think there would sense of urgency about keeping current with the latest selling strategies and tactics.  But the ad hoc survey suggests otherwise.

Why Reps Don’t Read Books

And so I asked these reps and managers, why they don’t bother investing in books.

While some found books to be “passé”, the vast majority agreed that a good book on selling has value and would help improve their approach to selling or managing but essentially it boiled down to a handful of key issues:

–          Books take too long to read; don’t have the time

–          An entire book might not be relevant

–          Too many choices

–          Hard to determine which are applicable to specific needs

–          Uncertainty of value /quality

–          Expensive

In today’s hectic selling environment, there is probably a degree of legitimacy in these reasons but it doesn’t solve the problem of increasing sales acumen.

A Simple Solution

But I may have stumbled across a solid solution with company called getAbstract.  As their name implies, getAbstract, is a company that provides book summaries (abstracts, hence the name) on sales and marketing (as well as a number of other business area).  They condense every book into a nifty little  5- page summary that makes reading fast, easy, and affordable. You can read it on your computer or handheld device; you can print off a PDF if you like something tangible in your hand; and many of the books are offered in MP3 format.

But what this really means is that you can get a feel for the book and its’ relevance to you and your selling situation.  If it’s applicable you’ll discover what’s ‘hot’ in the marketplace, the trends that are impacting sales both strategic and tactical.  If it’s not applicable, you move on without having wasted time, effort or money.

Subscription based, getAbstract also provides a HUGE archive of past books that you can review and scan at your leisure.  Should you discover a book that strongly resonates with you or your sales team, buy it.  Sales executives can scan for high level sales strategy and philosophy; managers can  scan for information that can help them manage, coach and train; and sales reps can scan for ideas, tips and techniques. It’s a hell’uva resource for any sales organization.


Bottom line?  In today’s competitive, turbulent marketplace anyone involved in selling needs an edge.  A book summary is by no means the only thing an individual can do to develop their sales acumen but it’s a heck of a good start.   Committing 15-30 minutes every week on self-development creates personal accountability for sales success.

I highly recommend this company because it provides a much needed resource to sales organizations everywhere. Give getAbstract a shot.  Check them out.  Explore their information and take control of your sales destiny.  Click here for visit their site.

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