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book review Aug 12, 2023
Book review of "Tech-Powered Sales" by Justin Michael and Tony Hughes

Can you imagine you open a book from 2021 which already talks about OpenAI’s language model turning into ChatGPT and so many more tools before the mass-adoption of AI started? “Tech-Powered Sales” is a ground-breaking, high speed sales book to bring tech-savvy sales professionals years ahead of those who don’t develop a strong TQ.

This “Technology Quotient” in addition to IQ and EQ is the game changer and core principle of this book, the “meta-skill that unlocks sales excellence.” In the age of automation and AI it is critical for sellers – especially when uncovering, opening and qualifying opportunities – to use the most updated toolset in a well-equipped tech arsenal including social engagement platforms, intent data, dialers, front site chatbots, content automation, crowdsource intelligence and more.

This book is the second cooperation of the American award-winning record-setting sales achiever Justin Michael together with the Australian best-selling author and sales expert, Tony J. Hughes. They paired their long-standing experience in the sales profession with broadly performed tests across industries to observe behaviour trends and technology developments. Both consult global brands on the practical application of future oriented sales methodologies. Justin has been the main case study in Tony’s book “COMBO Prospecting” and narrated the remarkable audiobook version of “Tech-Powered Sales”.

Fasten your seat belts to get started with this go-to handbook! It starts with settings the scene in developing superpowers as a salesperson to drive strategies at scale by leveraging the full power of technology in the age of machine automation. The book marries old-school values and new-school techniques with intent and integrity. The reader recognises quickly that the best sellers are those who become intuitively proficient in using the latest tech stack.

The page-turning chapters run from designing, automating, working and powering the systems to becoming more relevant to prospective customers by navigating buying committees with the power of intelligence and relevant triggers to achieve sustainable sales success. The last chapter, “A Day in the Life of Tomorrow” shows a life of co-existence and trust between humans and bots collaborating together on the ultimate goal to serve the client in a sustainable and repeatable way to transform their challenges successfully. Coming from the modern SaaS side myself, I had the pleasure to test many of the mentioned tools which drive my passion in the sales profession – combined with personal relationships.

I must admit that I never marked so many quotes and snippets on my Kindle than in any other book! Some of the highlights are these: “Sales is a game of change management, and we must identify where the pain of the current state is greater than the pain of change”, “AI tools are not designed to solve your problems. Instead, they are designed to help focus on what matters most” and “In the digital age of selling, you must be able to write, otherwise you have a distinct disadvantage.”

“Tech-Powered Sales” is highly adaptable for the own practice of a sales professional as long his management invests in the right technology. I have seen too many sales reps being reluctant to fill the tools with relevant info. Justin and Tony managed to show technology proficiency as an advantage today and missing this trait as a disadvantage tomorrow.

This book is the most practical science-fiction I have read so far. Many old-school sellers with proven success might feel a bit of reluctance on some pages (“The days of the road warrior are gone. The modern sales rep can do everything from her desk.”) This is not a philosophical approach hesitating if we should open a magic box of possibilities; it will happen in a short period of time. The authors draw the tech-savvy reader in with a magnetic approach to their writing, filled with examples and quotes from the leaders of modern tech companies who develop and test those modern inventions. And that language of speed is addictive!

My reviews typically conclude with an inspiration for future book writers. The structure with regular summary boxes and a vast amount of injections from external sources can be adopted to any other book as well – the proven guidance from this massive adoption in creating quality sales pipeline is the secret of this book which is hard to copy.

Reading and applying the available tech stack with an outlook for more to come transforms the open reader from a sales rep to a tech-enabled sales superhero.

Q&A with Justin Michael

1. What was the deciding moment to write this book?

Steve Richard shared there had never been an officially published book with full email sequences and cadences strategy in it. The working title was TQ – it was an executive vote to call it “Sales Hacks” or “Tech-Powered Sales” so we followed the poll feedback. Tony is the master of old school strategic selling and the idea was to automate the content we evangelized in the book “Combo Prospecting”:

2. How long did it take from concept to launch?

We had the basic book within a year but it took a couple years to release because of pandemic delays.

3. How did you perform the research to create the practical content?

We interviewed 400 tech stack vendors and over 1,000 top sales, RevOps, and SaaS tool founders were in the manuscript free editing. To put this book out properly required over 80 legal releases. The blended voices of practitioners and advanced strategies from Product makes it extremely deep and unique.

4. What was the biggest challenge along the process (and how did you overcome it)?

The hardest part was getting a solid edit that everyone could understand, building out a series of checklists for fast time to value, defining the glossary, and really agonizing over the predictions. Writing the book as if it were being read in 2035 was a challenge. Most vendor names would change but we accurately predicted AI-assisted writing, and ChatGPT, OpenAI, LLMs – we just didn’t know when and how it would come. The idea that the top funnel can be 100% fully automated is already here with companies like Rightbound.io.

5. What was your own reflection along the journey?

I truly realized that tech stacks can’t save a sales org. Like Tiger Woods, he could slaughter my golf game with rusty 1970’s era golf clubs. You must MacGyver any stack you have – leverage it to the max. Additionally, the best companies should hire less, more qualified people and use that extra FTE headcount to invest in tech stacks. TQ can be learned and trained so your coaching around tech stack optimization, strategic selling, and a robust RevOps function are table stakes to win in 2023 and beyond.

6. What is the outcome in having this book available?

It’s driven a really strong pipeline of consulting for both me and Tony from Fortune 500, NASDAQ traded, start-ups that raised 1B, to transforming the lives of individual sellers: Freeing up their time and helping them master the art of leveraging modernized tech stacks to blow out their quotas, get promoted, move to VP and CRO and reach their dreams faster. The ideas create momentum and immediate solutions to find an “edge” and efficiency.

7. What would you advise others about writing their book?

You’ll never be more patient than writing a great book. A good book is fast. Measure twice and cut once. Agonize over the editing. The editing is far harder than writing it. Listen to your audience and build in public collaboratively with them in the content. Take your most negative feedback and listen to it impartially to see how you can make it better and learn. Be humble to collaborate with a co-author that is very strong in adjacent areas – Yin and Yang, then you’ll get a real synergy in the writing. Tony and I are from different generations, different countries, different focus areas and those culture clashes create real magic because we respect the various approaches.

Justin Michael & Tony Hughes: “Tech-Powered Sales”, HarperCollins Leadership 2021, ISBN 978-1-40022652-8 (Paperback), Kindle or Audiobook. More about the book: www.techpoweredsalesbook.com


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