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November 12th, 2011

Tribes, by Seth Godin, is a suggested book for business owners, managers and sales people who want to develop loyal fans and customers.  Godin’s style is to share stories about successful people and companies to weave the argument of being different; for taking risks. Yes – it is about leadership but there are great lessons for sales professionals who want to think and act differently to achieve success.

Godin makes the point early that “the real power of tribes has nothing to do with the internet and everything to do with people.”[1] We often make this point with new sales people who think that social media will make sales and generate revenue. Our opinion is that Social Media might be a way to get leads – but getting face-to-face with a decision maker is still the best path to making a sale. Yes, a web meeting is also fantastic – and so are phone calls.  Sales is a contact sport – so the more live people that you interact with – the better.

In Tribes, Godin frames a beautiful paradox about taking chances: “the safest thing you can do feels risky and the riskiest thing to do is to play it safe.” [2] A sales professional must be able to get outside personal comfort zones to reach a higher level of performance. Taking risks means that we must often go see customers with no guarantees of making the sale.  Playing it safe in sales is very risky – because low activity in sales is almost always a predictor of a drop in future opportunities.

There are career implications for sales professionals too. I love Seth Godin’s attitude altering statement: “Instead of wondering when your next vacation is – maybe you ought to set up a life you don’t need to escape from.” [3] One of the reasons that I decided to view sales as a sport was to create a fun life for myself.  By becoming a sales athlete, my life became more exciting and challenging. I would encourage you to turn sales into a game and make it fun!

The ultimate lesson of Tribes for sales people is the power of references – people who can vouch for your products and services. If your tribe includes customers who will voluntarily say nice things about what you offer – then a positive gossip starts. Word of mouth is still the most powerful form of advertising – (even more than facebook) because customers believe other customers.  So my recommendation on this book is to buy it, read it and then apply it in your selling efforts.

[1] Tribes. Godin. Penguin Books. Page 6

[1] Tribes. Godin. Penguin Books. Page 64

[1] Tribes. Godin. Penguin Books. Page 101


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