Chet Holmes, the author, promises that by following the twelve principles he outlines in this book, any company can become the ultimate sales machine. However, the central tenet of the book is not these twelve principles. Instead, “mastery is the direct result of pigheaded discipline and determination” (Kindle loc 190). This undergirds his whole thesis: take these twelve principles, keep practising them until one sees results.
The book’s content is not revolutionary. One can easily find the principles Chet talks about in many other books. The main strength of this work is his specific examples and case studies. He speaks from experience, which is truly where the book shines.
The twelve principles are as follows:
- Time management
- The need for standardisation through training
- Effective meetings and workshops
- Being strategic (rather than tactical)
- Hiring and retaining talent
- Getting the ‘best buyers’
- Seven musts of marketing
- Use visuals in the selling process
- Drilling down on getting the ‘best buyers’
- Sales skills
- Importance of follow-up
- The importance of mindset and attitude
The first and last principles focuses on the self; principles 2 through 5 are about implementing structures and procedures that move the organisation from ad hoc firefighting to purposeful standardisation and continuous improvement. Chapter 4 is especially helpful as he draws the distinction between strategy and tactics, illustrating both with vivid examples. Chapter 4 also outlines Chet’s “education-based marketing” strategy. This is essentially content marketing before the term was invented.
Chapters 6 and 9 focus on identifying the right customers, specifically the ‘best buyers,’ customers or clients who, upon acquisition, contributes significantly to the organisation’s topline.
Chapter 7 is a natural next step after 6: after identifying the ‘best buyers,’ get their attention. His “seven musts” are straightforward: advertising, direct mail, corporate literature, public relations, personal contact, market education, internet. Chapter 8 is an aside on the power of visuals, i.e. don’t be boring.
Chapters 10 and 11 about sales skills are probably the best because he outlines his seven-step process clearly and provides many examples, even examples of what not to do.
Chet’s writing style is readable, and he lives his philosophy of telling stories, frequently including examples and role-play scenarios to illustrate his points. His experience is the main reason to read this book.
From the title and the preface and introduction, I was expecting more the book. But I should have known that one of key points Chet drives home is not that we should do many things, but that we should do a few things many times.
Although the anecdotes were good, one of the reasons Chet succeeded in the past was because no one was using his strategies or tactics. Now that this book is a bestseller, and I’ve seen organisations implement his principles, it might not be a guarantee of success if an organisation adopts his principles, even if they employ pigheaded discipline and determination.
Who should read it
Chet’s target audience is at least functional managers with employees reporting to them. This is because many of the principles (unfortunately) require change from the top, for example, the willpower and determination to implement sales processes and ensure everyone follows them. The book is also skewed towards generating leads and sales, as expected from the title.
Lessons from this book can also be applied to Christian ministry. In Chet’s emphasis on persistence, on providing value and educating the prospect, on preparing and training one’s team to face objections, on building genuine relationships and on believing in one’s product - these are valuable, or at least alternative ways, of approaching Christian ministry.