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You'll enjoy this book if you like Malcolm Gladwell's books such as Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking or Outliers: The Story of Success.

In a similar (but nowhere near as polished) style, Philip Delves Broughton travels the world interviewing sales people in different industries ranging from selling multimillion dollar Boeing aircraft to rugs in a Moroccan bazaar. The author certainly can tell an entertaining story, telling us what each sales person looks like and how they behave, what their early lives were like and what they each believe are the secrets of their success.

Ultimately, however, the book is as nourishing as a bag of candy floss or popcorn. You munch your way through it but find it insubstantial and empty. I personally found the book an easy, entertaining read, but I didn't feel that I learned a single thing that I could apply to my own life. One of the main lessons seemed to be that sales ability is mainly about having the right genes and the right early life experiences; many of the people being interviewed felt that you can't really teach sales.

So even though the subtitle of the book is 'what the world's best sales people can teach us all', I didn't think the book delivered.

To sum up: this is an entertaining book that takes us on a journey to meet and interview many successful sales people. But (in my opinion) the book does not offer us lessons that we can all apply to our own lives.
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on 13 October 2013
I read this book in one sitting. As someone who has migrated into being responsible for a sales target after a substantial stint in delivery/operations/customer-service roles, I liked the substantive introduction to the life, philosophy and practice of sales. I now look at my role differently. The comparison to day-to-day facts of personal life, different perspectives of successful and unsuccessful sales people and the common elements in the successful one's were particularly useful. My experience tallies with views in the book that a philosophy of genuine honest partnering my customer to play a doubles match with his customers, putting in the hours to create leads, manage the funnel and continously learn/improve the proposition to adding value is fundamentally right in maximising success. It assured me that fancy appearances, salesy talk, pushy behaviour are less important than listening, observing, sensing, adjusting to customers. The book has directly and indirectly pointed out some high level risks and dangers to avoid failure which are also very useful. I was not expecting to find any silver bullets and hence was not dissapointed to find any. My next task is to re-read my Miller Heimann books and continue the sales journey with renewed vigor.I strongly recommend this book to every thinking person getting into a sales career and open to directly confronting his/her stereotypes about sales.
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on 21 October 2012
I am in sales so thought this would be good after reading a review in a national newspaper.

It has many anecdotes and you can learn a lot from it - perhaps it is worth a second read to reinforce many of the ideas that can be taken from it. the book is wel written so a second reading will not be a hardship.

I feel the format could be improved by adding summaries etc at the end of each chapter. I am sure the author did not include those deliberately to improve the readability. However with some good summaries this book could be used as a handbook/guide. Instead, if you want to use it in such a way, you would need to go trough it again and make notes. Of course such an active process is not a bad idea with any good book, however it is just a matter of whether you have the time.

Generally this a very informative and interesting read. It helps you to understand that their are many ways to be good at sales - not just one route as espoused by many experts. Fully recommended for people involved in sales or marketing. For others who do not perceive themselves to be involved in sales it is still a good read that can give much insight and context. Above all it is a very 'human' book and shows that sales should not have the sordid reputation that it unfortunately garners.
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on 28 December 2012
This was one of several presents I asked for this Christmas and I have to admit that I was a little disappointed. The book reads like a series of interviews or profiles of notable sales people, like the kind of profiles you get in the Sunday newspaper glossy magazine supplements. These profiles were quite entertaining but what were rather like having a quick snack. They were fun to devour but afterwards I felt a little bit empty: I didn't feel that I learned anything from them. Certainly, the cover claims 'what the world's best sales people can teach us all' but I didn't think that the lessons were anything particularly new or insightful.

The author's previous book 'What They Teach You at Harvard Business School' was a more practical and educational read. I felt that 'Life's A Pitch' was entertaining enough in its stories, but didn't seem to have much point.
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on 17 May 2012
Sales and selling has a mixed reputation - we admire entrepreneurs who build businesses from nothing but we distain 'salesmen' seeing them as pushy, 'don't take no for an answer' cold callers and doorsteppers trying to get you to buy something you don't want and don't need.

What this book reveals is the best salespeople are interested in other people's motivations, wants and needs before than their own. Revealing the psychology of why we buy and how we buy and showing how salespeople build relationships over time (from the two minute infomercial to the five year conversion), the world's best sales people tell their stories - and Philip Delves Broughton keeps the pace lively and the reader's interest piqued.

An excellent book that I romped through and will no doubt read again. It's a rallying cry in support of stella sales people.
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on 4 February 2014
There are many books and training programs out there with instruction on how to be the best salesman. This book is different.

The author documents his meetings and interviews with 'the world's best salespeople' and the chronicles of those meetings are presented in this book.

There are many nice quotes to hang on the wall about what makes a good salesman, but ultimately the author eschews the catch-all solution to good selling in favour of the 'you can do it your way' approach:

"You can be exactly who you are, provided that you have the kind of attributes anyone should aspire to... curiosity, acceptance of others, warmth, resolve."

This is quite an appealing conclusion.
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on 26 November 2013
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The profiles of top sales people in different environments and continents around the world makes for delicious reading and I whizzed through the book in only a couple of days (whereas it can take me a couple of weeks to read some heavy-going books).

Like another reviewer though, I felt that the book was more of a compelling story than a book that taught me anything - ie this isn't a how-to or self-help book about selling. There are loads of those out there if you're one of those dummies that needs one. However, that doesn't mean that you shouldn't read the book!
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on 14 December 2012
This book is a great set of interviews and observations of top sales gurus from all walks of the earth. If you want a quick way to get into the minds of people that have made their successes, and want insights into those, then buy the book.

I would say that of all the inspirational books that I have read in the past 2 years, this one just edges it above all the others.
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on 25 July 2012
Phil Smith, the former head of Musgrave Budgens Londis, used to advise his retail members that there was no profit for his wholesale arm in shipping stock to stores. The profit came from its buying skills. Getting the correct products at the correct prices that will sell through the shops of their members.

I have reviewed a number of books this year from people who spend their lives watching shoppers and conclude that no selling takes place in store. But surely the independent retailer has to be a good salesperson, you may object. The answer is yes.

Life's a pitch: What the world's best sales people can teach us all by Philip Delves Broughton (£8.99 from Amazon) is a book that will reaffirm that yes and that will inspire you to grow your business.

Broughton is a journalist and he skilfully weaves together a tale incorporating most of the sales canon, including mention of Earl Nightingale and his secret that you become what you think about.

As a journalist, Broughton has collected a great many interviews with people who will inspire you. Foremost for me was his chapter with Majid, the best salesman in all the souks of Africa.

After three trips to the souks, it is great to read of the tricks that the shopkeepers use. They always win. The test of this is to try and sell back what you just bought, if it was such a low price.

But Majid's business is completely different. What he discovered was that with different products he did not have to sell the same as everyone else but cheaper. He could make his own prices.

"What makes me different from others is that there is a story behind every object in my window," he tells Broughton. "I never studied beautiful things but I studied the best of other people's theories of beautiful things. So I know how to deal with wealthy customers...

"I remember I knew Elizabeth Taylor was coming and I brought my camera but then I forgot to take a picture of her because I was consumed by the moment of explaining everything in my store."

Majid explains that as a salesman he looks at everyone. If you stand and watch and listen you learn a lot about a customer. In the book he demonstrates how this leads to sales.

Any local shop owner with any ambitions will learn from reading Majid's story. His shop is unlike yours but the rules are the same. When he started out he faced even greater competition than you do but he was successful.

But the book gives even more. Its chapters on insurance salesmen and women and on TV infomercial selling (from the market stalls of England) are riveting. Read about how a croissant changed Steve Winn's life. Or how the Apple store is designed to manipulate shoppers to become fans.

Everywhere Broughton uncovers useful tools that you can use in your business. But he also tells the stories of great sales really well. Such as Ted Turner's breakfast meeting in New York. Or how Ted Leonsis won his first pitch and was backed to the tune of $1million.

Brilliant!

*PS There are more ideas. Read the book to understand why its 12.5!
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on 28 September 2013
Easy to read and handy to remember some basics but necessary facts about sales.
I think is great to make clear some points that everybody knows but is not bad to bear in mind for everyone who is in sales
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