The Force by David Dorsey
“When you sold, you took control of other people, you motivated them to do things they wouldn’t otherwise have done—all the while making them feel as if they were in control.”
“You can have fun and call it work, gang. You can escape the dull reality of work that most human beings face, because here, with me, you can be as wild as you were in college and still earn six figures a year.”
Written brilliantly by David Dorsey, who spent a year with the sales team that sold Xerox photocopiers, The Force is a riveting account of how sales was done back in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Essentially, the book brings out the excitement of sales, just as well as it explores the dark side of selling.
Not everyone can become a successful salesperson – this something that just cannot be taught. Many people would be put off by some of the aggressive sales practices, which Dorsey describes so well in this book. If you have seen the movie Glengarry Glen Ross, well, this book is better!
We get an inside view of some of the personalities involved and how hard it can be when your entire career, livelihood and happiness of your family lies on making one sale after another.
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The Force truly makes you understand sales from the point of view of salespersons, what they think about while making a sale, to what extent they are willing to lie, manipulate or mislead, what it means to cold call, how a salesperson feels after closing a deal and more.
The book is a narrative of an industry in transition. Anybody can sell a product that is in huge demand. But the salespersons at Xerox find themselves doing something far more difficult than that – selling something that is no longer “cool”. Essentially, it is about selling an unwanted product, and still making a success of it.
Dorsey follows some of the incredibly interesting characters in this book, such as Frank Pacetta. Pacetta is a hyper aggressive, super smart, incredibly ambitious salesman, who reminded me of Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in the movie, “The Wolf of Wall Street”. It is Pacetta’s character that makes to book so much special.
Pacetta is not just a super salesman, but a brilliant leader, a general in fact, who leads his men into battle, every day, motivating them to sell more photocopiers to unwilling buyers! Dorsey focuses on each member of Pacetta’s team and writes about their struggle to comply with their leader’s instructions.
Some of the tactics used by Pacetta’s men (no, there are no women!) was very distasteful and bordering on the criminal. But closing a sale is what the game is all about and that’s what they do, making their division the top performers for Xerox in the whole country, rising to great acclaim in the company.
And every win was followed by crazy celebrations with strippers, free flowing beer and so on, not different from what you would expect from college students – except these were mostly men with families, in this 30’s and 40’s. The Force is a truly entertaining book, ideal for a quick read at the beach.