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Reader's Review

by John D. Baker

Consultative Closing: Simple Steps That Build Relationships and Win Even the Toughest Sale

By Greg Bennett
242pp, New York: American Management Association, 2007.
Soft cover Edition, $17.95

Greg Bennett is a sales trainer, a consultant and a strategist who works with over 150 sports teams, associations and universities. Based upon his years of experience, Bennett has chosen to write about the consultative selling process and to concentrate his attention upon on a single phase of it: the closing step. The reason is made clear rapidly quite early in the book.

"I never once came upon an individual, a manager, or a company, that had the closing process really defined and in place -- not one," Bennett tells his readers (p.3). That, of course, is quite a statement.

Essentially, consultative selling is built on establishing and maintaining close relationships between the vendor's personnel and the purchaser's personnel. Ideally, the vendor's personnel are knowledgeable about the needs and goals of the purchaser and their contributions are viewed by the buying company as value-added essentials to the purchaser's success. The personnel of the two companies are truly integrated into a multi-disciplinary team and win-win relationships are the norm. Consultative selling, therefore, requires that the relationship between the parties be preserved at all costs.

Unfortunately, however, consultative selling is often an illusion rather than a reality. In fact, Bennett's very concentration on the difficulties and uncertainties of the closing process underscores the point.

Bennett's book is valuable for many reasons. First, it offers a variety of techniques for improving the closing process. Interestingly, these methods, such as improved questioning and honest exchanges between the parties, are necessary fixes to a broken consultative selling process.

Certainly, the author's closing process fixes are workable and may well save the closing day. On the other hand, in this reviewer's opinion, they are really too little-too late in the consultative process. Bennett offers a solution which moves many of the steps in the consultative process to mini-steps in an expanded closing process.

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August 2007