Book Review

December 1, 2009

Selling Change: 101+ Secrets for Growing Sales by Leading Change

Brett Clay

Ariva Publishing (2010)

ISBN: 9780982295236

Brett Clay’s “Selling Change” explains why it is imperative that in the twenty-first century, salespeople must be agents of change. The reason? Because four major forces are changing the current business world. Without giving away all four forces here, the first is that no longer do countries compete against each other, nor do companies compete, but because of the power of the Internet, now individuals must compete with individuals from across the world and be prepared to outsell one another. This new competitive market is the world that today’s salesperson must operate within, and failure to keep up with the changes in the business world will simply result in—failure. In “Selling Change,” Clay gives the modern salesperson the tools necessary to stay competitive and make the sale amid constant change.

The organization of “Selling Change” is what makes it perfect for the busy salesperson. Divided into 101+ secrets (there are actually 107), the salesperson can read one secret each day, mull it over during the day, and apply it. The book is laid out so each secret covers a two-page spread. On the left-hand page is “What I Need to Know” while the right-hand page contains “What I Need to Do.” The reader is first given a nugget of truth about sales and needed change, and then the instructions for its implementation. The “What I Need to Know” section includes an Action Summary of the key points. For example, Secret # 11 is “Be an Amateur Psychologist,” and the Action Summary points are: “Be a Student of People,” “Put yourself in their shoes,” and “Develop an infinite curiosity and appreciation for people.” Included beside the Action Summary is a humorous cartoon, featuring the bulldog character first introduced in Brett Clay’s previous book “Forceful Selling.” The cartoons provide a visual memory to imprint on the brain and quickly remind the reader of the main points of the secret.

It would be wrong for me to give away any more of the “Secrets” of “Selling Change,” but I will say that Brett Clay has a keen understanding of clients and what motivates them to purchase a product, and this understanding is essential for salespeople to acquire if they wish to succeed. Clay’s belief that the salesperson must become an amateur psychologist is reflected in his use of animal metaphors to describe different clients, ranging from turtles and geese to beavers. He illustrates the scale of these various clients’ anxiety, stability, action, confidence, openness (to change) and risk. Clay also explains how people respond differently to the same forces, so it is important to understand both the forces and how the client perceives them. He reminds the salesperson not to analyze situations from how he would react or what he would do in that situation, but to understand that if he were the client, why the client would react in a certain manner.

While psychology is important to “Selling Change” so is the use of logic and data. Clay reminds us that people have a fear of change from past experiences, and even if they view an experience as positive, chances are the memory of the experience is better or worse than how the experience actually played out. People are always biased too negatively or too positively, so the salesperson wanting to help the client implement a change must always ask for “quantifiable and verifiable data.”

Most importantly, Clay points out a major misunderstanding about sales and products. Most salespeople wrongly assume the client’s problem is that the client doesn’t have the salesperson’s product—that the product is the solution to the problem. Clay clarifies that sales are about change, not solutions, and he goes into detail about the difference between a products’ features, its benefits and its solutions to a problem. Clay demonstrates great common sense by reminding us that the client does not care about features, benefits or solutions. It is the outcome that matters to the customer. Clay’s discussion of the difference between change and solutions is alone worth the price of the book—from personal experience in sales, I have seen how often salespeople and marketers make the mistake of focusing on the product as a solution before they even understand the customer’s problem or what change is necessary to achieve the outcome the client wants. Clay teaches the salesperson how to listen to clients and how to read them so the salesperson can provide clients with the change they need to accomplish their goals.

I doubt any salesperson, new or experienced, would not benefit from reading “Selling Change.” Clay is obviously an expert in the field of sales. Besides having an M.B.A., his resume includes over twenty years of experience as a sales trainer, a consultant and a vice president of sales, marketing, and business development at numerous high-technology companies. He is currently the owner of the Change Leadership Group, and he has spoken to hundreds of people about implementing change. Clay is highly qualified to train salespeople because he has studied and experienced what works and what doesn’t; now he offers his vast breadth of knowledge in an easy-to-read, practical book that allows for daily application.

The secrets of “Selling Change” will change how salespeople do business by becoming agents of change. The result will be more successful salespeople, happier customers, and increased business opportunities for both. “Selling Change” can implement the change for which businesses have been waiting. With this book, that change has arrived.

For more information about “Selling Change” and Brett Clay, visit

— Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D., and author of the award-winning Narrow Lives

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