Net/net: I think SalesHood, along with Predictable Revenue (by another former Salesforce leader Aaron Ross) are two of the best books out there on contemporary business-to-business high-technology sales. Between these two books, you can capture decades of valuable experience in building and leading sales teams (SalesHood) as well as in building “the machine” that drives opportunity creation for them (Predictable Revenue).
Over the past decade enterprise technology sales has changed radically – in fact, the only discipline that has changed more is marketing which has (happily) transformed from largely unaccountable black art to highly-accountable demand generation science.
At Salesforce Elay ran, among other things, arguably the best sales productivity programs in the business. As such, SalesHood contains not only a lot of great Salesforce best practices, but also a healthy dose of Salesforce culture. For example, Elay says to “start with values” – which is very aligned with the Salesforce culture and the V2MOM (vision, values, methods, obstacles, metrics) planning framework.
Overall, I would describe SalesHood as less ground-breaking and more best-practice-sharing. If you’ve somehow missed the changes in sales over the past decade (e.g., say you’re a rep at IBM or SAP), then the book is a must-read to catch you up with the state of the art. On the flip side, if you’ve been working at a leading startup, I’d still recommend SalesHood not so much as to introduce you to a slew of new ideas but so as to help you structure and organize them.
Some of Elay’s advice is sales motherhood and apple pie (e.g., always be hiring, compete with intensity, win as a team, it’s all about first-line sales management). Good sales people and sales managers can never get enough repetition of these basics and a book like SalesHood can be used to drive them into your culture and get everyone on the same page.
In other areas, Elay offers fresh takes on old problems. I particularly liked:
- The sales huddle concept, frequent small team meetings to focus on key topics that arise during the quarter.
- The general concept of more social/peer-led sales training. Death to death by corporate PowerPoint!
- The chapter on story-telling, where the only twist I’d add is to challenge the customer during the exercise – the relevancy of a story is defined in the mind of the customer, not the salesrep.
- Elay’s (and Barry Rhein’s) thoughts on curiosity and why it matters so much in sales. Genuinely curious salespeople sell more – and get blind-sided less — than their non-inquisitive counterparts.
To wrap it up, even though I was familiar with many SalesHood concepts, I found the book a great synthesis of them, along with some great new concepts thrown in.