(Sales) Book Review: Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore (1991)

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Victor Antonio, Sales Influence

Last week I did a full day sales training program for a U.K. based company ($650M annual revenues) that sells high-tech educational products. Their challenge? Understanding and penetrating the U.S. educational – technology market.

As part of my ‘warm up’ (i.e., research), I decided to revisit a book I’d read many years ago by Geoffrey Moore, “Crossing the Chasm: Marketing an Selling High Tech Products to Mainstream Customers” (1991 edition). I consider this book to be one of the best when it comes to understanding high tech product sales and marketing cycles.

What does this book have to do with sales influence? I’m constantly searching for information and studies on ‘how people buy’; because if we can understand the ‘why’ we are in a better position to convince them to buy. Moore’s book lays the mental groundwork and decision-making framework regarding how clients ‘buy’ high tech products.

As I reread the book, I ‘rediscovered’ some precious ‘knowledge nuggets’ on how to effectively position your company as a new entrant into a new market space; especially a high-tech marketplace. I want to highlight three key points that Moore made in his book as they relate to ‘Sales, Influence & Positioning’:

• Positioning is the single largest influence on buying decision.
• Positioning exists in people’s heads, not in their words.
• People are highly conservative about entertaining changes in positioning.

He went on to say, “The goal of positioning, therefore, is to create a space inside the target customer’s head called ‘best buy for this type of situation…”

I’d like you to reread that statement again and again until you truly understand the message he is trying to drive home. It isn’t what you think YOU are, it’s how the prospect perceives YOU that matters.

So here’s the key question, If I were to ask YOUR existing customer what it is you do, would they be able to tell me what it is you do? If the answer is yes, good for you. You’ve clearly defined for your buyer what it is you do. If the answer is “I don’t know” or worse, “No”, then maybe it’s time to work on a positioning statement.

Training Footnote: During the training I asked the salespeople to write down their position statement (a la Moore) and NOT ONE of them could do it. When I gave them a formula, I got the sense that the for the first time they were forced to really think about what they were selling and how they wanted their prospects to perceive them. It was a great exercise and learning experience. As a manager, if your salespeople don’t know who they are (as a company) or why they’re selling, how effective can they be at communicating the company’s message to their clients?

If you in the business of selling and marketing high tech product, and you’re wanting to define your go-to-market strategy, I highly recommend you go out and get yourself a copy of this book!

Victor Antonio, Sales Influence
“Finding the Why in (How People) Buy”

Copyright © 2009 by Victor Antonio. All rights reserved. This article MAY be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, as long as the author’s name, website and email address are included as part of the article’s body. All inquiries, including information on electronic licensing, should be directed to Victor Antonio at info@victorantonio.com.


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