In the fast-paced world of enterprise sales, the top performers are always looking to sharpen their skill set to gain an edge. They want to drive efficient, repeatable success without getting worn down. That’s why David Perry wrote Game of Sales: to have the candid conversation that readers have always wanted to have with a top enterprise salesperson and answer the questions they never thought to ask, all in the hopes of reaching that next level.
In his book, David holds nothing back. He takes readers behind the scenes of what he’s learned working for top companies like Adobe, Amazon, Google, and IBM. He shares the tools, strategies, and techniques you need to beat your number and create mega deals. I recently caught up with David to learn more about what went into writing his book.
What happened that made you decide to write the book? What was the exact moment when you realized these ideas needed to get out there?
I’ve always wanted to write a book since I was young. In my 20s, I read scores of business books, so I had an idea of what was good and what was not. Then in my 30s I got into historical biographies as a lot of the business books started to feel the same, and the biographies were not. Still, all along the way, the will was there. The spark, so to speak, was external.
My friend Cliff Lerner, who I’ve known for many years, said he found the right publisher. I met with Zach in Austin, and at first I thought I was going to write a book on innovation, as I have a framework which I think might be very compelling if illuminated with the right examples.
It’s a subject I was completely obsessed with earlier in my career and I actually ran an experiment with the method with about 20 undergraduate business students in NYC (no people or animals were harmed) and they used the framework to rapidly generate new business ideas. It was fascinating, and also a lot of fun. However, Zach was like, “That’s a terrible idea for a book, you should write about what you know best and what you’re working on now.” I thought he knew what he was doing, and that is when I decided to not only move forward with the book, but also to focus on the topic of sales. I also had the full support of my wife Arianne, and disclosed the project to my employer—which, of course, are the most critical approvals I had to obtain.
What’s your favorite specific, actionable idea in the book?
There are dozens of actionable ideas in the book, and the chapters themselves present thermes that form a mental framework with which to not only approach enterprise sales, but also to conduct additional learnings, readings, and activities.
Given that, I don’t have a “favorite action” as they all are dependent upon the specific challenge the reader might be facing at the moment. So if the reader takes at least one learning from the book and puts it into action the next time they go to work, that would be my favorite action for that reader. I also hope that if the reader finds the book useful that they’ll share it with their friends and colleagues, as I’ve been hearing from people that it may be useful to a great many people in sales, business development, partnerships, etc.
What’s a story of how you’ve applied this lesson in your own life? What has this lesson done for you?
While I’m certainly not alone in this, and I would argue it is generally the rule, I’ve had many hard knocks in the course of my career, and somehow, I’ve always managed to pull myself back from the brink to close deals, continue moving forward. I thought that there needs to be an honest account of what it is really like, for the rest of us, outside of the Elons and Bezos of the world, something that we all can relate to, and the process of committing those lessons and experiences have been incredibly illuminating for me.
The reason is there are elements of the job that are conscious, where actions repeated many times over many years have yielded systems and frameworks which anyone can use. You could call that the science of the book—and I use that term very loosely—where rote processes can be used to offload thinking tasks so the salesperson can focus on more pressing matters.
The art or the softer side which is very much an internal game, was much more difficult to characterize. Chapter 8 on tough conversations almost derailed the project, because there were so many different angles and directions that chapter could have gone. It was like walking a tightrope, and I fell off many times, but ultimately I believe I found the truth for myself and I suspect many other sales people in how they need to manage through tough client conversations in the pursuit of the deal, across the entire sales cycle.