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Hard Science Supporting The Soft Skill of Sales Leadership – A Book Review of Stop Selling & Start Leading by Deb Calvert

I have been a longtime fan of Deb Calvert ever since I read DISCOVER Questions Get You Connected which I highly recommend and read once a year.  I was excited to hear that she had teamed up with authorities James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner to research from the customer’s perspective, how customers buy and what they value most in their interactions with sales professionals. The result is Stop Selling & Start Leading: How to Make Extraordinary Sales Happen and it contains paradigm-shifting data on how we as sales professionals should be engaging clients.

Best Practice Behaviors

Stop Selling & Start Leading by Deb Calvert, James M. Kouzes & Barry Z. Posner

Based on the results of extensive research the book focuses on the behaviors that executive buyers value most. These behaviors are broken down into five key best-practice categories:

  1. Model The Way
  2. Inspire a Shared Vision
  3. Challenge The Process
  4. Enable Others to Act
  5. Encourage The Heart

Inside each of these we find a guide to the behaviors that will not only make you more successful but also make sales itself more fulfilling as a career.

Hard Science on Soft Skills

The best salespeople have always been leaders – not just agents. They are individuals that lead and inspire others to change for the better.

What has been missing until now is the hard science to support the development of these soft skills and a blueprint for doing that.

With so much focus on sales machines, sales tools and sales enablement for the past few years, I found it very refreshing to see research being applied to the human side of selling.

Practical Leadership

Stop Selling & Start Leading is not satisfied with merely illustrating what buyers want from their sales experience. Rather, it gets tactical on how to actually learn and execute the behaviors that get you a seat at the C-suite table.

We learn how to gain credibility and respect, how to increase influence and how to create value on every encounter. We learn how to lead customers through the buying process and even challenge their thinking a bit, all while remaining genuinely authentic.

I love books that are actionable and Stop Selling & Start Leading delivers. Every section ends with five “Take Action” steps to help you put the insights you’ve just learned into motion.

Illuminating & Enjoyable

I found the information illuminating and both pace and the prose enjoyable. It’s a fun read with excellent analogies and examples throughout.

Authentic Leadership Pays

I think it is sublime that what leaders want most from sales is authentic leadership. And that by exhibiting those qualities sales professionals will win more business, gain more referrals and enjoy better relationships. The right thing is also the most profitable thing.

Deb Calvert

The future of selling is in this book. Old methods continue to get marginalized as the balance of power shifts squarely to customers. By understanding and honoring what customers want most sales professionals can enjoy the sweet spot of selling where the process itself is a joy and the customer wins.

I really could not recommend this book any higher. It’s everything I like in a book and in perfect alignment with my values and everything I know to be true about sales. I think every person in sales should read this book – leaders, field sales as well as inside sales. Everyone can benefit from the insight within these pages because it demonstrates how sales professionals can differentiate themselves in the only sustainable way possible – through leadership.

If you want to know how to make a difference for clients by creating genuine and authentic experiences then you will enjoy Stop Selling & Start Leading. It is a formula for turning customers into evangelists by making yourself a better leader.

You can find Stop Selling & Start Leading on AMAZON at:


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