Superior Book Productions

October 23, 2008

Forceful Selling
Brett Clay
ISBN: 9781890427481
Aviva Publishing, 2008

Brett Clay has written a forceful book about selling named what else? Forceful Selling. And if anyone knows how to sell himself or his product, it’s Brett Clay, M.B.A. With a resume that includes twenty years of experience as a sales trainer, consultant and vice president of sales, marketing and business development at numerous high-technology companies, including Microsoft, Clay is more than qualified to teach others how to sell. He has studied what works and what doesn’t, and he knows what mistakes and misconceptions a salesperson must overcome to be successful. With many practical and personal examples, and numerous activity worksheets to analyze one’s customers and one’s personal sales technique, Forceful Selling is certain to change any salesperson into a force to be reckoned with.

Becoming a force, however, does not mean embodying the myth of the pushy salesperson who makes cold calls to manipulate people into buying a product they do not want and will later regret. As Clay demonstrates, the biggest mistake a salesperson can make is to believe the customer needs his product. Clay makes it clear that no one needs a product. The product is a solution to the customer’s problem, but to sell the product as a solution is insufficient. The salesperson’s job is not only to understand what the client’s problems and needs are but to explore the changes the organization must incorporate and then sell the client on how the product can transform the organization for the better. A salesperson must focus on becoming the agent of change for his clients and their business.

Change is the real focus of Forceful Selling. Clay has created his Change Leadership Framework to make change happen in an organization, with the salesperson as the guiding force. This Change Leadership model is vital in an age when people prefer to go online to gather information and make their purchases, thus devaluing the assistance of salespeople. To adapt to this Internet marketplace, salespeople cannot simply sell a product; they must know their clients inside and out and be extraordinary at helping clients achieve their goals. Change leadership then progresses from learning the customer’s goals to finding out what change must take place within the organization so the product may be introduced as a means to achieve the goals.

Beyond bringing his years of experience to Forceful Selling, Brett Clay has thoroughly studied the psychology and theory of selling. Throughout the book, he discusses a wide range of theories from Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations to Maslow’s theories of what motivates human behavior. At the book’s foundation are the German psychologist Kurt Lewin’s psychological theories about how change happens in groups. Clay applies these theories to show that all companies have goals, and the salesperson must remember, “a goal is a change you try to reach through satisfying certain needs.” The successful salesperson will understand the client’s goals, and he will find the key players within the company to work with to become the guiding force to affect the change. To sell to the key players, including both the proponents and opponents of change, the salesperson must understand the personalities of the key members of the client’s organization. Clay recommends that salespeople study the Meyer-Briggs theory of behavioral tendencies so they can predict client reactions, understand their viewpoints, and be prepared to answer their objections.

While Clay displays his experience, intelligence, and insightfulness throughout his examples, he also makes Forceful Selling an extremely readable and enjoyable book. He loves to use metaphors to express his points. For example, Clay compares sales to the California Gold Rush. The prospectors are the salespeople who make cold calls, just prospecting on the surface, and unlikely to find much gold. Clay encourages salespeople instead to be miners—those who dig for the real gold—the gold being inside the client’s organization. The salesperson must find the gold nuggets in the organization, those who will cheer on the change that the salesperson’s product can bring about. Furthermore, the salesperson must be prepared not only to deliver the product, but to sell the service and to help the customer incorporate the change, providing support, a timeline and a plan to implement the change. In this manner, the salesperson becomes a strategic resource to the customer.

Many humorous yet educational cartoons also fill the pages of Forceful Selling. The primary cartoon character is a bulldog salesperson learning to transform himself into a forceful selling agent of change. A picture is worth a thousand words, so while the theoretical details of Forceful Selling may eventually be forgotten, the salesperson can open the book at any time, look at a couple cartoons and quickly be reminded of the main points of Forceful Selling.

While managers, marketers, and salespeople will most benefit from Forceful Selling, many of Clay’s ideas and activities will also enhance change in people’s personal lives and relationships. Brett Clay illustrates the personal application of Forceful Selling with stories from his own life, focusing on his children, wife, and even his housepainter. In fact, Clay plans that his next book will be Forceful Living to demonstrate how justas companies set goals such as doubling their revenue in five years, people must set personal goals to achieve their dreams. After seeing how beneficial Forceful Selling is to the salesperson, I look forward to Clay’s next book.

For more information about Brett Clay, Forceful Selling, and how Clay’s Change Leadership Group can help you in your personal or business goals, visit .

    • Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D., author of The Marquette Trilogy


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