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Book Review: "Little Red Book of Selling" Attention! Read This Red Book!

Little Red Book of Selling
12.5 Principles of Sales Greatness: How to Make Sales FOREVER
By Jeffrey Gitomer
Bard Press, 2004
Hardback, 219 pages
ISBN 1-885167-60-1

The color red is dynamic, vibrant and bright. It's distinctive, fiery and the color of passion.

Salespeople should have all those traits to be successful and keep their bottom lines in the black. To stay focused and motivated, they have to frequently recharge their batteries.

That doesn't necessarily mean undertaking a lengthy process of self-improvement. Instead, salespeople might try "Little Red Book of Selling," with its red cloth cover, attached red ribbon to mark pages and lots of red ink in the text and illustrations.

The book offers often irreverent, always emphatic advice on a range of issues salespeople encounter regularly. A lot of information jumps out at readers from every page, and with some effort, everyone should learn something sifting through it all.

Author Jeffrey Gitomer is clearly passionate about the sales profession. He's built an empire on advising and motivating salespeople. Under the umbrella of "BuyGitomer," he's a syndicated newspaper and magazine columnist and has authored several books.

He also produces videos, has a Web site and e-zine, and runs seminars and corporate trainings.

The idea behind "Little Red Book of Selling" is that it should serve as an ongoing reference after the first reading. The book fits easily in a briefcase and won't take up a lot of space on a desk.

In fitting with his advice on image branding, Gitomer has packaged tried and true sales techniques in a new way. He's added his own spin to the mix, resulting in advice that's often very high-quality and always given in a unique voice.

Readers might get the impression that the other purpose of the book is self-promotion. Gitomer frequently encourages readers to register on his Web site to access information and buy his archived articles and lots of other stuff.

It's also often difficult to determine the key elements on the pages, but Gitomer does provide valuable information amid the confusing layout. For example, he says that asking "Why do people buy?" is far more important than "How do I sell?"

He also offers original suggestions to ask good customer questions, to use better words in sales presentations and to improve networking.

His tone of voice, though, might be problematic for some readers. For example, Principle One, of 12.5, is "Kick Your Own Ass." In this section, Gitomer advises readers to stop making excuses for their lack of success and try something different, which is certainly valuable for any salesperson.

But does the in-your-face tone distract readers to the point that they can't absorb the underlying information? Take Principle Six: "If You Can't Get in Front of the Decision Maker, You Suck!" There's a phrase that doesn't appear in many other self-improvement books.

Salespeople whose spirits lag should find something to lift their spirits and get them back on track each time they open the book. But others might find Gitomer to be somewhat of a braggadocio.

His writing style, combined with the busy, chunky layout, gives the impression that he's yelling at readers like a drill sergeant; it's not hard to imagine what his in-person presentations are like.

He relays a lot of personal experiences to illustrate why his work ethic and approach to selling are worthy of imitation. These stories are meant to be inspiring, but readers often have to get past Gitomer's ego to grasp his point.

In the section "Antennas Up!" he describes the time he, um, encountered a celebrity in an airport men's room. They ended up sharing a cab into the city. The message: Never let an opportunity pass by, and have fun with being opportunistic, even if it doesn't involve odd encounters with TV stars

Nothing's wrong with a healthy sense of self, but Gitomer's ego is not only healthy, it's bionic. If readers can get past the yelling and self-promotion, they will find useful information to incorporate with their own styles that could help make them sales ... FOREVER.

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