The Sales Bible: 6 Principles From the Bestseller

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Sales Bible" by Jeffrey Gitomer. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What are the key takeaways from The Sales Bible? What can you apply to your own professional life?

The Sales Bible is sales trainer Jeffrey Gitomer’s collection of strategies and solutions to common selling problems gathered from his 40 years of experience in the field. Gitomer says that there are thousands of ways to sell—you just have to make sure that your personal method is grounded in a positive attitude, solid product knowledge, and excellent customer service.

Read more to learn the six principles from The Sales Bible.

The Sales Bible

With The Sales Bible, you’ll learn how to become the non-salesperson salesperson, make the best impression within the first 30 seconds, and close the sale without being pushy. In our book guide, we discuss updates and counterarguments to some of his advice as well as compare his principles to sales strategies from other sales experts such as Jordan Belfort, Chet Holmes, and Neil Rackham.

Reviewers have noted that the book can be repetitive, with many tips reiterated across different chapters. We’ve distilled Gitomer’s strategies and divided them into six main principles.

Principle #1: Have a Positive Attitude

Gitomer writes that to become successful in sales, you should first cultivate a positive attitude. According to him, salespeople fail due to a number of reasons such as improper training or poor communication skills, but 50 percent fail due to something entirely within their control: a negative attitude. (Shortform note: Gitomer doesn’t cite research to support his claims about the reasons salespeople fail. However, some research does suggest that salespeople with an optimistic attitude perform 57 percent better than their pessimistic peers.)

Principle #2: Set Goals

According to Gitomer, having a positive attitude allows you to overcome self-limiting beliefs and gives you the confidence to go after what you want. However, you can’t get what you want if you don’t know what you want. The second of Gitomer’s major principles that we’ll discuss builds on this, recommending that you define what success means to you and set a goal to achieve it—whether that means earning X dollars each month or winning an award for salesperson of the year. By clarifying your goals, you can then determine what to do to achieve them.

Principle #3: Make the Best Impression

After clarifying your goals, the next step Gitomer recommends is to polish your selling skills. By putting plenty of effort into preparation, you can make the best impression on your prospects, which then increases your chances of making a sale and achieving your goals. (Shortform note: While Gitomer details several strategies for making the best impression, he doesn’t mention how much time you have to win people over. Entrepreneur Jordan Belfort says that you should make a good impression within the first four seconds of a conversation, or you’ll fail to close the sale.)

Principle #4: Build and Maintain Relationships

Even with a positive attitude, articulated goals, and the tools to make a great first impression, you can’t be successful in sales without other people. Gitomer asserts that selling has less to do with your product or prices, and more to do with your relationships: People are more inclined to buy from someone they know, trust, and have a good relationship with. Being friends with your customers also makes the selling process easier for you—they’re happy to buy from you, are more forgiving if you make the occasional mistake, and are loyal to you, so you shut out the competition.

Principle #5: Learn to Listen

An essential part of building and maintaining relationships is listening. In fact, Gitomer says that listening is probably the most important part of selling. Not only does it help you deal with customers’ complaints, as mentioned in the previous section, but listening also helps you understand customers’ reasons for buying (or not buying) and what kind of customers they are. This understanding then enables you to make a better sales pitch.

Principle #6: Close the Sale

As discussed, listening is an essential part of selling. By understanding what your customer is saying—or not saying—you can determine what to do to convince the customer to buy. Gitomer offers four strategies to close the sale:

1) Be Aware of Buying Cues. Once you’re aware of these signals, Gitomer says that you should immediately move on to the next step.

2) Ask for the Sale. As soon as you recognize that a customer is sending out buying signals, ask a question that addresses their need and that excludes “no” as a possible answer.

3) Address Concerns. If a customer hasn’t committed to making a purchase, Gitomer says you should find out the real reason behind their hesitation.

4) Use the Non-Close Close. Gitomer recommends visiting your customer with the intention to gain new knowledge and customer insight. Let your customer see you as a consultant instead of a salesperson.

The Sales Bible: 6 Principles From the Bestseller

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Jeffrey Gitomer's "The Sales Bible" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full The Sales Bible summary:

  • How to become a non-salesperson salesperson
  • How to make the best impression within the first 30 seconds
  • Methods for closing the sale without being pushy

Elizabeth Whitworth

Elizabeth has a lifelong love of books. She devours nonfiction, especially in the areas of history, theology, science, and philosophy. A switch to audio books has kindled her enjoyment of well-narrated fiction, particularly Victorian and early 20th-century works. She appreciates idea-driven books—and a classic murder mystery now and then. Elizabeth has a blog and is writing a creative nonfiction book about the beginning and the end of suffering.

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