Within the numerous published business books about the sales profession, Cian McLoughlin’s “Rebirth of the Salesman” stands out being the only recent work covering the importance of thorough win and loss reviews as a core strategy to learn why we win and why not. In both cases this can help to improvements, actually also on the buying side. The world of sales is changing rapidly by adopting to the different purchasing behaviour in the disrupted age of the informed buyer. Therefore, Cian takes his readers on a broader journey to improve the essence of the sales arena.
During his corporate career in the software industry, Cian developed a passion about understanding the reasons behind won and lost deals which are rarely formally analysed in detail. He learnt from buyers and sellers examining both sides of the same coin. Born with a natural curiosity, he turned this hunger for information into building his own business, “Trinity Perspectives”. Today he provides insight and strategies for sales executives and managers to remain relevant and connected.
Cian starts the book with his very personal why, the ability to search for clarity and simplicity in the face of sales complexity. He takes the readers on the journey across eleven chapters to improve the seller skillsets. Before going into his win/loss analysis itself, he covers great story telling, evaluates hunter versus farmer mindsets, shows the importance of developing a personal brand and further adds pitching qualities for active networking with the customer memory in mind. The core of the book are his strategies to stay at the top of the sales game, what winners do differently and common mistakes of sales losers. Three longer interviews with sales leaders cover the importance of win/loss analysis for future business.
“Rebirth of the Salesman” is full of small snippets and golden nuggets, especially to illustrate the recent changes in the sales arena. Examples are: “Over the past few years, the world of solution selling merged with social selling to form a new hybrid world”, “Analysing your wins and losses may be the single quickest, most cost-effective and impactful decision you could take to grow your sales base” and “The very best salespeople… tend to be the ones with an inquisitive mind and insatiable appetite for knowledge”.
The book can be consumed in one go or worked through in smaller chunks chapter by chapter in any order to master the respected skills. The most sustainable usage is a combination of both over time, maybe even added by an ebook version during commute time. The structure helps to reflect on the topic and to put thoughts into action. A benefit is the small format with relevant content on every of just 128 pages.
Cian’s infectious thirst for knowledge is the underlined character of this book encouraging the readers to develop a questioning mind and to improve the sales skills. Despite commoditisation and information overflow with a shifted power from the seller to the buyer, he is right to believe that the sales profession has never had a more important role to play than it does today far from becoming less relevant.
For those who consider writing a business book by themselves, “Rebirth of the Salesman” is a great showcase. The catchy title is a reminiscence of Arthur Miller’s Purlitzer Prize winning play “Death of a Salesman” showing the need to be reborn in order to survive in a changing environment. The eleven chapters are usually six to eight pages long allowing repeated work topic by topic. Starting with a personal why takes the readers quickly on the journey ending towards the how with a lot of constructive work for the reader — and for an inspiring author following Cian’s footsteps.
Q&A with Cian McLoughlin
1. What was the deciding moment to write this book?
I have had a desire to write a book for many years and have written short stories, comedy for tv and a variety of other things over the years. I never expected my book would be a business book, but it turned out this was the book I needed to write first.
2. How long did it take from concept to launch?
I’d say it took the best part of a year from committing to writing the book, to standing at my book launch with a copy of the book in my hand. One major stumbling block was getting half way through the first draft, deciding this wasn’t the book I wanted to write and scrap it completely and starting again. That was a hard thing to do, but something I’m profoundly glad I did, because the end product is something I can now be proud of.
3. How did you perform the research to create the practical content?
The research in some ways has taken 20 years, in that I squeezed many of the experiences, war stories and anecdotes from my sales career into the book. The interviews, factual information and research which I included in the book probably took 6 months to collate.
4. What was the biggest challenge along the process (and how did you overcome it)?
I think the biggest challenge was answering the question in my own mind “Who am I to write a book about business”. This wasn’t a question I answered in one go, the self-doubt and negative self-talk can often pop up when you’re staring at a blank page or re-reading a passage and second guessing your own writing. My way to overcome this was to reflect on the fact that if the ideas and insights I put in the book helped just one sales person or sales leader in their career, then it was worthwhile.
5. What was your own reflection along the journey?
It’s been a couple of years since I wrote my book and a lot has happened as a direct consequence of writing it, new business, new partnerships, new friendships, travel all over the world speaking to and meeting sales professionals and leaders. All of this came from my determination to sit at my desk night after night, getting my ideas out of my head, onto paper and then into a coherent narrative.
6. What is the outcome in having this book available?
It started conversations, it opened lots of doors, it challenged some accepted wisdom in the industry, it gave me a thirst to write more, it helped many sales people overcome challenges in their careers and in some instances close life changing deals.
7. What would you advise others about writing their book?
Don’t be the person who is writing a book, be the person who has written a book. Commit to it, treat it like a project or program of work, not a work of art to be perfected. Get it down on paper, don’t re-read it initially, get clear on your overarching message or purpose and keep that front and centre. Know you audience, but don’t let your knowledge of them influence how you write. Choose yourself, don’t wait for someone to choose you, because it may never happen.
Cian McLoughlin: “Rebirth of the Salesman”, Sydney: OMNE Publishing, November 2015, ISBN 978–0–9943116–4–1 (Paperback) or Kindle
About the author: Gunnar Habitz helps Small Business professionals to improve their Personal Branding and Social Selling capabilities. In his role as partnership manager at Australian software vendor Noggin, he uses these skills to build successful channels using Noggin Risk Management Software. As a Chartered Manager at the Institute of Managers and Leaders (IML), he mentors the next generation of leaders. Find more content about leadership, networking and sales excellence on www.gunnarhabitz.com.au.
Photos by Cian McLoughlin.