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Power Base Selling, Secrets of an Ivy League Street Fighter


„There is only one reason sales people lose orders: They are OUTSOLD.“

Jim Holden, Power Base Selling


If I had to name just one book that changed my professional life forever, it was Power Base Selling, Secrets of an Ivy League Street Fighter!


I came across the concept in 1995 when Holden trained 2,500 salespeople and managers at EDS. I was overwhelmed. It felt like somebody had pulled a gaze in front of a scene on stage away and all of a sudden, I could clearly see the characters in 3D where before they were just 2D shadows.


I could see their non-verbal communication and how they interrelated with each other. I could sense the informal groups they built to jointly drive an agenda, the battles they were fighting behind the scenes with other groups competing for company priorities and resources.


Now it all started to make sense: The way decisions were prepared, consensus was built, why certain arguments made all the difference while others were ignored. What a vendor’s value proposition needed to provide to really differentiate it from the competitions’.


I was ready to start immersing myself into the fascinating game of power. It would still take me years to develop the required analytical and communication skills to the minimum level, though.


Selling means to influence the buying decision of organizations you are not even a part of. What a crazy job to do for a living, isn’t it?


I strongly believe that the economic impact the sales function has cannot be overstated. The conversation between buying decision makers and sales is where the value inherent in products and services is translated into a business case driving the customer’s top and bottom-line improvements.


Within the customer’s organization there are always more business cases than resources (funding, people) so they compete with each other. To be chosen as a vendor means your contribution makes your buyers’ business case the winning one.


As a consequence, you need to help the buyer of your value proposition succeed in this internal battle for resources. Which inevitably makes you a participant in this power struggle about priorities, whether you like it or not.


Refraining from playing an active part in this might still win you the deal, but you leave it to pure luck. Unless you are a gambler, luck is not a base to build a career on I believe.


In this 3rd Party Content Review I provide a synopsis and critique of the book which hopefully motivates you to read it.


I’d like to thank Wiley for their approval to share it under CC BY-SA 4.0.

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