The Little Red Book of Selling – Jeffrey Gitomer11 min read

My Thoughts

This author is an interesting guy who genuinely enjoys selling and cares a great deal about educating others. He has put a lot of work into distilling down information in the book by having lots of bullet points and simple sentences. Sometimes when distilling things down you lose some context or the full grasp of the concept being taught, and this book might have some of that. I wouldn’t consider this a fully comprehensive guide to selling, but there really isn’t one. My thought is if you want to be great at something learn from lots of people and where you see the same piece of information taught by several people it’s probably important to remember that piece of information.


If I could take away one thing, it’s that the best salespeople make it a lifestyle. Don’t work on separating work from the business. They are one and the same often and no matter where you are, there are always opportunities to sell something. The best salespeople are master relationship builders because they play the long-term game of selling. Focus on making friends and delivering value first to others and you are off to a great start.

My Book Notes

The Little Red Book of Selling – Jeffrey Gittomer

Written by Jeffrey Gitomer 2005

Preface – Why They Buy

“If they like you, and they believe you, and they trust you, and they have confidence in you, then they MAY buy from you.” – Jeffrey Gitomer
Like –> Trust –> Buy –> Relationship
Understand why your customers buy. Ask them.

What’s the difference between failure and success in salespeople?

  1. Believe you can.
  2. Create the environment.
  3. Have the right associations.
  4. Expose yourself to what’s new.
  5. Plan for the day.
  6. Become valuable.
  7. Have the answers your prospects and customers need.
  8. Recognize opportunity.
  9. Take advantage of opportunity.
  10. Take responsibility.
  11. Take action.
  12. Make mistakes.
  13. Willing to risk.
  14. Keep your eyes on the prize.
  15. Balance yourself.
  16. Invest, don’t spend.
  17. Stick at it until you win.
  18. Develop and maintain a positive attitude.
  19. Ignore idiots and zealots.

When you fail, do this:

  • Look at failure as an event, not a person
  • Look for the why, and find the solution
  • List possible opportunities
  • Ask yourself, what have I learned? And try again.
  • Don’t mope around with other failures — go find a successful person, and hang around him.
  • Create a new environment.
  • Cultivate new associations.
  • Access new information.
  • Get a new mind set — create new background thoughts.

Principle 1: Kick Your Own Ass

pg. 32No one really wants to help you. If you lack motivation you are looking at sales as a job not a career.
People care about themselves, just like you do.
Regardless of your circumstances, your success is your responsibility and no one else’s.
When you are in a slump, you begin to press for orders instead of working your best game plan, which is: “sell to help the other person,” and let your sincerity of purpose shine through.)
How to get out of a slump

  1. Study the basics: Usually what’s wrong isn’t complicated and you probably know what’s wrong.
  2. Revisit your plan for success
  3. List 5 things you could be doing to work smarter AND harder
  4. Change your presentation
  5. Talk to your five best customers
  6. Get someone you respect to evaluate your presentation
  7. Visit your mentor
  8. Get to work an hour before everyone
  9. Stay away from pity parties
  10. Hang around positive, successful people
  11. Have some fun
  12. Spend 30 min a day reading about your positive attitude
  13. Listen to your favorite song just before the presentation
  14. Take a day off
  15. Rearrange your office
  16. Audio/video tape your live presentations
  17. Take the best sales person you know out on calls with you
  18. Take your boss with you on calls for a week
  19. Avoid negative talk and negative people like the plague

“To be the BEST you can be for others, first you must be BEST for yourself.”  pg. 45
Summary: Your success in sales and life for that matter stems from your internal beliefs and attitude. Notice, I did not mention external circumstances. You should be self-motivated, hard-working, and determined to go for what you want despite what others around you do. Be honest with yourself and evaluate your current lifestyle –> results –> actions –> attitude –> beliefs.
Action: Figure out where you are struggling the most and focus your efforts on improving that before moving to the next thing.

Principle 2: Prepare to Win or Lose to Someone Who Is

pg. 46

List of Resources of a Salesman

  1. The internet
  2. Their literature
  3. Their vendors
  4. Their competition
  5. Their customers
  6. People in your network who may know them
  7. Their other employees
  8. The best and least used resource: Their sales department
  9. Google yourself

“The workday starts the night before.” pg.52
Spend your extra time at night researching clients to learn about their business, creating questions, understanding competition, etc.

Principle 3: Personal Branding is Sales: It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.

pg. 54
You are the brand. If you’re a small business person, don’t read a book about branding. “I have yet to find one that is pragmatic enough to work.”
Think me and give-to-get. Think promotion combined with advertising.

  • Create demand for your product or service through means other than direct advertising.
  • Get the business community to have confidence in you.
  • Establish yourself as an expert
  • Be known as an innovator
  • Separate yourself from competition
  • Gain professional stature
  • Build your image

It takes between 5 and 10 images to create awareness great enough to make a buying decision.
If you want to build a relationship and get referrals, you have to become known as the expert in what you do.

Principle 4: It’s All About Value. It’s All About Relationship. It’s Not All About Price.

Pg. 64
Value is something done for the customer, in favor of the customer. First, give value without expectation.Put yourself in front of people who can say yes to you and give value first without expecting anything in return.
People don’t want to learn about you. They want answers to their problems. Give them answers and once they contact you asking about you, only then do you give them info about you.
Give free speeches to people who could be helped by your product/service. Sell yourself NOT your product/service.
Your customer wants: more sales, greater productivity, more profit, better image, more customer, loyal employees, better moral, no hassles, more free time, notoriety
The more value you provide, the less price matters. – pg. 73People who only buy on price are the biggest pain in the ass on the planet. Give those people to someone else and instead win sales on friendship not price.
People want to do business with their friends. – pg.81

Principle 5: It’s Not Work, It’s NETwork

pg. 82
Networking is life skills and social skills combined with sales skills.” – pg. 85Places to network:

  1. Chamber of Commerce Business event after hours
  2. High level Chamber of Commerce event
  3. Any Business Journal event
  4. Club or business organization with participation
  5. Classes to better yourself or with similar interests
  6. Civic organization
  7. Cultural event
  8. Charity or community event
  9. Trade or professional association
  10. Best customer(s) trade or professional association
  11. Trade shows
  12. Private club
  13. Meal networking
  14. Health club
  15. Sports events
  16. Parents of children’s friends
  17. Happy hour
  18. Karaoke
  19. Airplane
  20. Homeowner’s association

By making more relationships and contacts you will make more sales. You don’t make sales cold calling. Instead, build a career, build relationships, build your reputation, and make friends.

Principle 6: If You Can’t Get in Front of the Real Decision Maker, You Suck

Pg. 97
You aren’t setting appointments because there is no compelling reason on the part of the buyer to do so.
An appointment is when you meet with someone to further the sales process or you meet with someone who can decide.
Don’t sell the product. Don’t sell the service. Sell the appointment.
Become they person they want to work with by:

  1. Be an expert in your field
  2. Have strong customer loyalty
  3. Use different medias
  4. Tell them how they win by meeting with you
  5. Start higher on the decision making train than you dare.
  6. Talk about profit and productivity

If they give you time, it better be about them. They do not want or need to be educated. They want answers.
Real salespeople sit in front of real decision makers.
Get past the gatekeeper by asking for someone in sales. He will lead you to the CEO and tell you everything about him.

Principle 7: Engage Me and You Can Make Me Convince Myself

Pg. 110
The first personal question sets the tone for the meeting. The first business question sets the tone for the sale.
Benefits to make sales by:

  1. Qualify the buyer.
  2. Establish rapport.
  3. Create prospect disparity.
  4. Eliminate or differentiate from the competition.
  5. Build credibility.
  6. Know the customer and their business.
  7. Identify needs.
  8. Find hot buttons.
  9. Get personal information.
  10. Close the sale.

Try to get every prospect and customer to say “no one ever asked me that before”.

  1. Ask questions that make prospect evaluate new information
  2. Ask questions to qualify needs
  3. Ask questions about improved productivity, profits or savings.
  4. Ask questions about company or personal goals
  5. Ask questions that separate you from your competition
  6. Ask questions that make the customer or prospect think before giving a response.
  7. Ask power questions to create a buying atmosphere

List of question lead-ins from pg. 116:

  • What do you look for…?
  • What is one thing you’d improve about…?
  • What does your competitor do about…?

Don’t ask questions you can research yourself before the call.
“The sale is yours for the asking’ all you gotta do is ask for it the right way.” – pg.120
Your job with asking questions is to set a buying tone that engages the prospect emotionally and intellectually.

Principle 8: If You Can Make Them Laugh, You Can Make Them Buy!

Pg. 124
Making people smile or laugh puts them at ease and creates an atmosphere more conductive for agreement.
Humor is relaxing and helps to bread friendship, respect, and compatibility.
People good with humor are probably extremely intelligent. Note sometimes prospects don’t want humor so when they never laugh at several funny remarks then you should remove humor from your sale entirely.
Friendly and funny people are much more engaging than people who are only professional.

Principle 9: Use Creativity to Differentiate and Dominate

Pg. 136Creativity is something that can be learned.
13.5 Basic Elements that drive and/or inspire my creative process.

  1. Brains
  2. Attitude
  3. The habit of observing
  4. The habit of collecting ideas
  5. Your self belief
  6. A support system
  7. The creative environment
  8. Creative mentors and associations
  9. Studying creativity
  10. Studying the history of creativity in your industry
  11. Using creative models
  12. Risk failure
  13. See your creativity in action
  14. The ridicule factor

Principle 10: Reduce Their Risk, And You’ll Convert Selling To Buying

Pg. 152
The obvious way to sell is to eliminate the risk of buying. Replace risk with a powerful closing tool: risk removal.
Common types of risk prospects may have concern about: financial risk, don’t really need it, may be able to get the same thing cheaper somewhere else, not what I pictured in my mind, not what I perceived or thought at first
“Risk is actually a lack of confidence, trust, and believability either in the product, service, company, salesperson, or one’s self. The absence of these elements causes doubt and a rethinking of the purchase.” – pg. 155
Prepare by having answers to each risk your buyers may have concern about and encourage the prospect to weigh the total package not just the weaknesses/risks.
The prospect’s primary question whenever buying is “what is the risk of buying vs. the reward of ownership?” Answer this by listing out rewards and risks and addressing each risk on the list to show all the value the prospect receives.

Principle 11: When You Say It About Yourself It’s Bragging. When Someone Else Says It About You, It’s Proof.

Pg. 164
Testimonials are the single most powerful method of making a sale and most under-utilized resource in creating a marketing message.
“Testimonials can sell when salespeople cannot sell.” – pg. 165
Make sure testimonials are relevant to prospects considering your service/product by being specific and addressing common objections.
Show video testimonials of your current customers during sales presentations.
Qualities in a great video testimonial:

  1. High quality
  2. Well-thought out message
  3. Watch other videos for ideas
  4. Edit to show only the best parts

“When you say it about yourself, it’s bragging. When somebody else says it about you it’s PROOF!”

Principle 12: Antennas Up!

Pg. 176
Your mind controls the senses that lead you to sales success. The positive senses lead to positive results.

  1. Confidence: The air you have about you that’s bread by preparation and previous wins.
  2. Positive anticipation: Thinking you can is 50% of the outcome.
  3. Determination: Hanging in there no matter what. Ex: Prospect says “no” and you hear “not yet”.
  4. Achievement: Satisfaction you gained from your last sale.
  5. Winning: The will to prepare to win must exceed the will to win.
  6. Success: You must sense this before you can actually achieve it.

You can convert negative senses to positive senses with a combination of dedication to lifelong learning, and the achievement f a positive attitude.
“You become what you think about.”
Be aware of what is around you and be aware of who is around you. This sounds simple, but it means you have to divert selfish and insecure for open-minded and self-confident.
Always be aware of your surroundings because selling opportunities can come in places you least expect. Selling is not about techniques. It’s about focus and creative verbal exchanges.

Principle 12.5: Resign Your Position As General Manager of the Universe

Pg. 184

If you make a sale, you can earn a commission. If you make a friend, you can earn a fortune. pg. 218

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