Book review May 2018

Sink or swim in sales

Japan Sales Mastery: Lessons from thirty years in Japan

Finally, a book on mastering sales in Japan! I wish this book had existed 13 years ago, when I started my career in sales here. It would have made my journey a lot easier.

My employer interviewing me at the time had a firm message: you are either a salesperson or you are not. All new sales team members were given two weeks to prove they were a salesperson. If not, you didn’t have a job. It was a sink or swim atmosphere, without any professional training, coaching or mentoring: you had to carefully observe your seniors, go on a couple of sales calls with them, do a couple of role-plays and you were ready to start selling.

Luckily, I survived, thanks to my previous experience in the hospitality industry—where I received professional training on customer service and gained the required people skills—coupled with determination, discipline and self-confidence.

I vowed not to do the same to my sales team who I ensure get prof­essional training internally and externally from Dale Carnegie Training.

Evident throughout the book is the passion for professionalism in sales that Dr Greg Story exudes. As president of Dale Carnegie Japan, he is dedicated to helping salespeople and leaders succeed. He shares his vast knowledge and wealth of experience from his own journey starting out in sales, leading teams, observing, training, coaching and mentoring thousands of salespeople and leaders in Japan for 30 years.

Action steps
Japan Sales Mastery is well structured, with chapters outlining best practices, what to do, what to avoid, and how to prepare for each stage of the sales process from start to finish. It is filled with relevant examples from which both novices and experienced salespeople can learn. At the end of each chapter there are easy-to-follow action steps that can be put into practice right away.

There are many good books out there on sales, but what makes this one special is that, in addition to being a great sales book, its focuses on the intricacies of selling in Japan.

Story masterfully breaks down the cultural nuances of selling to Japanese buyers, helping the reader understand the various types of buyers, their expectations, and complex internal processes.

He provides valuable tips on how to behave in each situation, and what to expect when facing uncertainties or dealing with difficult buyers. The book also touches on the importance of networking: how to do it correctly, and how to stand out and make a good impression. He wraps it up nicely with a vital, yet often forgotten aspect of sales: presentation skills.

The six impact points of persuasion power—eyes, face, voice, gestures, pause and posture—will certainly get you thinking about your pres­entation skills, whether in front of a large or small audience.

With the right attitude and mastering the techniques in this book, you can train yourself to be a successful sales professional. Good luck!