Author’s Note: This is an article about an important book, “The Natural Laws of Selling,” and its author Daniel W. Jacobs. It’s not a book review, per se, though I recommend the book highly. The article discusses parts of the book, but it is also about the author, who has helped thousands of professionals to become confident and effective. And though Jacobs focuses on sales, his “Natural Laws” are equally invaluable for professions like teaching, clergy, politics, law, personnel recruitment and entertainment—in fact, any environment that requires relating to other people and affecting their beliefs.
A marketing executive, a young man who I’ve known since he was a teen, recently asked me for advice on how to improve his career skills. “Is there a great online course or a book you’d recommend?” he asked.
He was apparently surprised when I answered, “No. Like most people who have held positions in the business world, I receive three or four business book promotions a day. Over the years, I’ve sampled many courses and read a ton of books, but few have been worth my time. There is, however, one new book that is different from the rest. It’s ‘The Natural Laws of Selling,’ by Dan Jacobs.”
“I’m not a sales exec. Why would I read a book on selling?” he asked.
“You don’t sell products,” I responded. “But you do sell ideas. It’s all about human relations, and how you persuade clients or colleagues—even friends—to believe in you. I’ve known the author for many years. I was pleased to see him write a book articulating what he teaches in the workplace.”
With that, I reflected back to the day I first met Dan Jacobs in San Jose. He had called me previously to discuss a VP job with a technology marketing agency in Southern California. To be perfectly honest with him, I revealed that I had already received an offer letter from a good company closer to home, and had therefore completed my job search. Unflappable, Dan suggested that we could just have a chat over a nice lunch. He was interesting and friendly, so I accepted his no-strings-attached invitation.
Meeting him in person for the first time, I was surprised. Expecting a typical corporate image, I instead met a man who appeared more like a college professor. And I was even more surprised at how he led me through his thought processes. There was no “pitch,” and no waterfall of information about the client company he represented. He didn’t push me in any specific direction. Though he asked me about my attitude on several subjects, he didn’t turn the luncheon into an interrogation.
Overall, it felt like a casual, though sincere, discussion between two friends; viewing a common goal from different directions. I surprised myself by agreeing to fly to Orange County in Southern California, for an interview with the company’s CEO.
The actual interview was like no other that I have experienced. I met with the CEO, a tough, aggressive woman, and her HR director. Dan Joined us and played the role of advisor, subtlely redirecting the conversation at various precarious points. The CEO’s style was challenging and combative. Feeling free to counter her barbed challenges, I struck back politely, though with equal vigor. Dan somehow kept the verbal scrum on track. The meeting ended with a surprise. The HR Director handed me an offer sheet. Dan reviewed it with me, and I accepted it.
As I began my new job over the next month or so, I noticed that Dan, still working as a consultant, would arrive once or twice a week, and conduct one-on-one sessions with people at all levels and functions. I realized that he usually spent the most time with the weakest functions, especially the sales force. Each person with whom he spent time appeared to become more confident and energized. I saw each person’s performance improving.
What was Dan teaching them? He was a bit like the Mr. Miyagi character of the Karate Kid films; giving instructions that each person trusted, even if they didn’t fully appreciate their power. In Dan’s situation, however, he was giving each person a new tool that they agreed to try. And each tool made each person stronger and more capable.
That’s why I was so pleased to learn that Dan has now packaged many of those tools in his book, “The Natural Laws of Selling.”