Sales and Sales Management Blog

May 8, 2008

Book Review: PeopleSavvy for Sales Professionals by Gregory Stebbins, Ed.D.


Seldom do I read a book that I consider to be dangerous. Certainly, there are books that once read, you think, “Wow! I hope a new salesperson doesn’t get hold of this and think this is what sales is all about.” We’ve all read the books, the ones that advocate heavy doses of manipulation, browbeating the customers, twisting their arm, hog tying them until they give in.

Nevertheless, PeopleSavvy For Sales Professionals (Savvy Books, 2007) by Gregory Stebbins, Ed.D. is a dangerous book of a different kind, a danger that Stebbins immediately acknowledges in his introduction. PeopleSavvy deals with the psychological strategies and techniques of selling and developing trust—strategies and techniques that can be used to help create a bond–or to manipulate and deceive.

In the right hands, the book can open new ways to build relationships quickly. In the wrong hands, it can reveal ways to out fox, out maneuver, and out and out manipulate. The responsibility for the information’s use lies with the reader, Dr. Stebbins has simply shown how understanding your prospect’s behavior and thinking can help you connect—and an unfortunate byproduct is to show others how they can manipulate.

Stebbins’ thesis is that if your prospects don’t trust you, you cannot sell effectively. That thesis springboards Stebbins in a discussion of how you can read your prospect’s movements, her words, how he dresses, what she has on the walls of her office—even the position of the items in his office, and use that information to build a deeper connection more quickly with the prospect, gaining their confidence and trust at the same time.

Although the book is quite detailed on the ‘how’ to read your prospects behavior and the other telltale signs to help build trust, Stebbins breaks trust into two parts and feeds them to us in bite sized morsels.

Trust is comprised of ‘Rapport’, which itself is made up of compassion, connection and credibility, and ‘Deep Trust,’ which is comprised of competence, commitment and consistency. Stebbins takes the reader through each of these individual components of Rapport and Deep Trust and how each must play a role in developing a relationship of trust with your prospect.

He then journeys through how motivation, communication and behavior can reveal the avenues to developing the rapport and trust you must have to develop a lasting relationship with your prospect.

From mirroring behavior to matching speech patterns and words to understanding personality types to how the prospect thinks and operates, PeopleSavvy covers the gamut from not only understanding your prospect’s behavior, to how they think and why they think the way they do.

Filled with stories and examples, PeopeSavvy is an easy to read—harder to apply—book whose insights, strategies and techniques are grounded in the works of those, including Stebinns, who have spent years studying sales, marketing, and industrial psychology.

If you want to understand how to get inside the head of your prospects and clients, PeopleSavvy will help open the door to their minds. Whether what you learn is dangerous or not depends on your intent and use.

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