Wednesday, March 28, 2012

You can sell

You can sell by Shiv Khera
Price on FlipKart as on the date of uploading this post: Rs (INR) 206
Recommended: Anyone just starting off on their career path will find this book very useful. Unlike Shiv Khera's other well known book "You can Win", this book focuses on a niche segment selling. Yet this topic is broad based and covers all of us. After all, who isn't selling. Illustrations that are sprinkled in each chapter and exercises provided for the reader, at the end of each chapter add value to the book. The book is devoid of management jargon and is easy to understand. While it is perhaps more apt for the less experienced professionals, who are just starting their climb up the corporate ladder, experienced professionals may also learn a thing or two.

Who isn't selling questions? Shiv Khera, India's well known motivational speaker and author. Everyone is!!! We may not be wearing the tag of a salesperson or may not be working in the sales or even marketing department of our organisation, yet all of us, in our own way, SELL.

We sell our qualities when we appear for an interview or when entering into a matrimonial alliance, a politician making a speech sells, so does an advocate arguing his client's case in the court, or for that matter a mother who is teaching values to her child. Everyone is selling, be it a product, a service, qualities of self or ideas.
The word ‘sell’ may seem scary, but, Shiv Khera states: It is similar to a bicycle ride. The first ride being the one where we fell down, then we got up and rode again and again and ultimately we did learn how to cycle.

This book shows us ‘What to do’ when selling. It also goes a step ahead and guides us on ‘How to sell’. It is not just packed with theoretical advice, but provides illustrations (including those drawn from the author’s own career including his early career as an insurance salesperson). Practical exercises provided at the end of each chapter add to the value of the book. Any reader who diligently solves these exercises will stand to benefit.

The book seeks to distinguish between the often touted 'tricks of the trade' with principles (which are based on integrity, respect and responsibility). A good sales pitch is based on principles and not manipulative tactics.

It is said that first impressions do make a lot of difference and the book cautions that we do need to take care of our appearance, our body language. Thus, we must display confidence without arrogance; friendliness without being overtly friendly and showcase our expertise without adopting the ‘I know it all’ attitude. We also need to believe in our product or service, because without that inner conviction we cannot sell. We need to convince the other person that his life would be better with our product or service.

The characteristics of: An unprofessional sales person, an average sales person and an exceptional sales person portrayed in a tabular format was useful.

My favourite chapter was ‘Transactional v/s Relationship Selling’. The author explains that: The essence of relationship selling is the transition from being a seller to a supplier (long time business partner). And how can this be achieved? A caring attitude, respect, commitment and pride in performance are the keys to such transition.

Various topics related to ‘How to sell’ were covered in the book. These included making cold calls, asking for and using referrals and testimonials effectively; handling objections calmly, learning how to negotiate and end with a win-win solution.

What I really liked about the book was the ultimate lesson that all of us need to bear in mind. We need to sell not just a product or service in isolation but as a package. We need to convey that by using our service or skill or product, the user will be able to attain his/her goals. Merely highlighting the merits of our product or service or our skills isn't enough. Sell the experience and not the product or service was the underlying message!

An illustration in the book on the recipe for success effectively sums up the teachings of this book.
The recipe for success: Great attitude + Great values + Great service lead to High Trust+No/Low Risk = Growth, Prosperity and Success.

The book is written in Shiv Khera's easy to read and easy to understand style without the use of management jargon. It is an interesting read which could guide you into being more persuasive and attaining your goals.

What I didn’t like about the book:

After a nice start that everyone is selling and thus everyone needs to know the art of selling, the book tends to concentrate on a salesperson and his core profession of selling. It is then for us readers (who are not in the sales department) to take a broad view and apply the same techniques in our daily activities.

Further, while the exercises were very good, some questions could have been better posted in a latter chapter. The exercise at the end of Chapter 1, posed a question: How is selling both a science and an art. The answer to which really lies in Chapter 6.

Also the use of letters is by and large passé. E-mails rule. Thus, instead of an entire chapter devoted to the Rules for Letter Writing, the author could have given guidance on how to write effective e-mails. Also highlighting the difference between spam e-mails and effective e-mail pitches would have been a great advantage. Ditto when it comes to obtaining testimonials. Some added guidance on how to obtain testimonials, recommendations on professional social network sites would have helped. Obtaining written testimonials is good enough, but a recommendation from a satisfied customer on a site accessible by all, works wonders.

If this book is geared for sales person just starting his career, I would give this book the highest rating. More experienced professionals may find some chapters to be repetitive and other chapters a bit basic. Perhaps a slimmer, more concise edition would better suit the needs of an experienced professional.

To conclude:
The book is written in Shiv Khera's easy to read and easy to understand style without the use of management jargon. An interesting read which could guide you into being more persuasive and attaining your goals.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!

Source of the photograph/illustration

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Navarasa by Lotus

Title of the book: Navarasa by Lotus
Author: Rajiv Kumar (or Rajiv as per the cover)
Price on Flipkart (at the date of posting this blog entry): Rs. 125
View on the book: An interesting collection of short stories, each with a unique twist.
Recommended: Yes, it is an unusual book, light on the wallet and the stories are interesting to read. There are a few grammatical glitches, here and there, which do not detract from the stories itself and can be ignored.

Rasa refers to emotions. The very foundation of Indian art, such as Bharatanatyam - a dance form is based on Nava-rasa or nine emotions (state of mind). Thus, when I spotted the title of the book - Navarasa by Lotus written by Rajiv, I was much intrigued and obviously thought that Lotus was the pen name of the author. (Lotus, incidentally is not the author's pen name and this is revealed towards the end of the book).

As the author aptly puts it: "Navarasa by Lotus" is a tale of 9 (nine) inter-linked stories. Each of which pays a tribute to a different rasa: humour, love, disgust, heroism, wonder, fury, horror, peace and compassion. These nine stories are interwoven with recurring characters and situations.

An awesome idea indeed. It is a slim book of 164 pages, and you can read it at one go, actually you would want to read it at one go, as the stories are interlinked (but in a subtle manner) and as you turn the pages, you wonder, what will come next.

The book begins with Rajan's story, he is fading movie star, caught in that space of time where reel-fights have given way to real-fights. Other characters in this book include: Jay who regards himself as a loser and a failure accidentally becomes a masked vigilante and prompts his 'hero' -- a friend whom he looks up to, to act like one, yet in the end saves this friend. Lucky is petrified of her dreams or are they a mirror image of her real innermost fears or a mirror image of future reality? . Children too are under tremendous stress these days and this is reflected in the story of Chintu facing up to those who torment him, including his English teacher (who takes pleasure in bestowing corporal punishments). Mutiny a story about mosquitoes who gang up with fellow creatures such as dogs, a cow, crows... to retaliate against their mass-killing by the human race but through non-violent measures, is a different story altogether. Then there is the story of the software pro - Rajiv (Rajiv also means Lotus -- is this the connection with the tag - By Lotus?) who discovers that his boss is a pharmacist and part of a secret mission which wants to create a better human race. The story moves on and morphs into science fiction with time travel thrown in for good measure, yes the human race has moved on beyond 2012 to a new world, a new future.

My favourite story was the last one, called Redemption. Anand seeks redemption by fulfilling one of the wishes of his deceased friend (Since I don't want to add a spoiler to the review, I will not reveal more).The Lotus, as we know it, is a beautiful flower that rises elegantly from above stagnant pond water. A heartfelt act of apologizing by fulfilling one of the wishes of the deceased friend, will surely ensure redemption.

Navarasa by Lotus is a very interesting collection of short stories and worth a read.
I would give full marks to this first time author for his ability to link each short story with the next. The twist at the end of each story ensures that you keep turning the pages right till the very end of the book.

Note: This book was sent to me by the author for the purpose of review.
I love short stories and am very interested in stories written by new Indian authors. Thus, I jumped at the opportunity to review this book and yes, I read the book in one sitting.

Photograph: Thread garden at Ooty, shot by a friend of mine.