A Rockin’ Lesson in Sales Success

June 27, 2011  |  Posted by in Recommended Reading

This is the first in a series on our favorite sales and business books.

Despite the piles of quality business books that have been written, I find I learn as much or more about successful sales performance from non-business books. Perhaps the least likely source of insight on sales skills I’ve run across recently is Keith Richards’ celebrity memoir, Life. Although probably not what he intended, Keith’s book provides worthwhile insights on sales and business.

As Keith Richards and Mick Jagger labored in the bowels of 1960s London trying to bring their blues heroes to the UK faithful, I wonder if they were ever jealous of Lennon and McCartney? The Rolling Stones recorded numerous hits, but not like The Beatles who, surrounded by screaming groupies, often occupied multiple spots in the Top 10 and managed to be iconic from the beginning.

From what Richards says in his book, I think not. The Stones were the “Bad Boys of Rock and Roll”—kicked out of their own country, and for 50 years often fought like enemies while remaining loyal as brothers. It was as if the Beatles and Stones were in different businesses, performing for different audiences, generating revenue in different ways and ultimately creating different sorts of art. Each became a brand unto itself.

In today’s business world filled with charts, graphs, research and other metrics, it has never been easier to get distracted by data.  We need to remember that none of this information matters if it undermines how we understand, diagnose and advise our customers.  Worrying about your competitors’ sales will just get in the way of your art.

With today’s information overload, it’s easy to lose our direction. Just remember, The Rolling Stones are still The Rolling Stones!!! They did not turn into The Beatles, Wham or Eminem. True to their roots, they remain incredible musicians who play the blues. Their unwavering fidelity to their own vision has placed them among the most successful and authentic bands in rock and roll history.

So the next time you have a choice between chasing the charts and metrics, or doing the work your customers crave, choose your customer’s needs.

Think of Keith and Mick—a worldwide brand still selling out stadiums 50 years later—not because of what the competition says or does, but because doing things that change the game for your customers wins every time.

“It’s only Sales (Rock and Roll), but I like it.”


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