Review: Never Be Closing
In a previous generation, required reading if you were heading out into the business world was How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Even if you weren't in the selling game, it provided valuable insights into human dynamics, making connections and leaving an impression. In Never Be Closing, written by Tim Hurson and Tim Dunne, new ground is broken by codifying a process that successful leaders, entrepreneurs and sales people have been using for years.
I remember trying to get my first sponsor for a theatrical production back in 1985. At that point, I had absolutely no idea about how to link the work that we were doing with a play to the best interests of the businesses I approached. In my mind, all I had to do was write a letter, make the ask, and wait for the cheque to arrive. How many people just starting out in the business of selling products, services or ideas feel and act the same way?
Hurson and Dunne aspire to teach you "How to sell better without screwing your clients, your colleagues, or yourself" in Never Be Closing. For some of us, long in the tooth, it is an essential refresher, a litmus test as to whether we've actually learned anything over the years. For younger people starting out, it should be mandatory reading, full stop.
I'm reminded of a situation when the organization I was working for got a hot lead that a major industry player might have an interest in sponsoring us. Because of the name of the company, its reputation for supporting the arts, and the fact that one of its senior VPs was a long-time, prolific arts supporter, a significant ask went in without a lot of research. The desire to close sunk the deal before the conversation even started.
Had we employed the processes suggested by Hurson and Dunne, starting with BAR: Before Action Review, setting up our target outcomes and performance criteria, doing the research, and using tools like Know-Wonder, Q-Notes and Waiting Room Jedi we may not have closed the deal, but we would have better understood the target business and how our interests could best connect and serve theirs.
Never Be Closing is like a football playbook. It offers practical tips and tricks to maximize your performance as a person trying to sell something, promote an idea, or authentically strengthen your network. Like any tool you have ever had access to, if it sits on the shelf, it won't do you any good. This is a book that, if effectively used, will be tattered, marked up, and within reach at your desk for the rest of your working life.
Jim Blundell, a senior manager with Rogers Broadcasting and my former boss when I was working with the CHUM Group back in the 1990s, used to always say that "the only way to get what you want, is to help others get what they want." Even though it's a Zig Ziglar quote, I always attributed it to Jim, as it was drilled into my head over and over again during the formative years of my twenties.
This is one of those books that contains ideas, practices and tools that whether you are just starting out, or trying to get better, will serve you well. Jim Blundell, Stan Taylor, Wray Betts and many other mentors in my life passed along myriad pieces of wisdom that form the foundation of who I am today. The lessons have been cobbled together and organized in my brain. I may not be selling products, but I'm constantly selling ideas, making connections, strengthening networks and trying to "Be Useful", as suggested in Never Be Closing. If you provide value, you will be valued. It's just that simple. Finally, a book has come along that collects the wisdom of the ages and presents it in a way that is consumable and usable.
Written with a comfortable balance of lesson and narrative, Never Be Closing is both a textbook and story. And apart from one too many acronyms - I suffer from acronymophobia - it is an awesome operations manual for anyone tasked with being a more effective communicator, connector, representative, account executive, leader, advocate, mentor and friend.
If you pull it off the shelf 10 years from now and feel like its time to get a fresh copy because it's so beaten up and battered, it will have changed your life.
Get a couple of bonus e-books (Speak to Be Heard - a quick guide to identifying and communicating with the six energizer types and GUST - a problem solving template) when you pre-order Never Be Closing by clicking here. It gets released by Penguin to bookstores everywhere on July 10.
In the interest of full disclosure, Tim is a friend of mine, one of the most creative and brilliant souls that I know, also author of another amazing book, Think Better. He sent me an advance copy of Never Be Closing, and I'm entirely grateful. Now finished my initial read, it's time to dive back in and start marking up the pages.