Table of Contents
Title Page
Copyright Page
Sign of the Times
Birth of a Salesman
We’re Not in Kansas Anymore
Caution: You’re in the No-Spin Sales Zone
Follow the Leader
For Your Consideration
Section 1 - Two Left Feet
The Biggest Loser
Pitches, Pitches, Everywhere
Mother May I?
The Usual Suspects
Reasonable Doubt
Groundhog Day
The Little Engine That Could
Section 2 - Center of the Universe
The Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick Maker
Oompa, Loompa, Doopity Dee
Easier Is Not Always Better
It’s All Fun and Games Until . . .
Customer Bill of Rights
Can’t Buy Me Love
Membership Has Its Privileges
Bless Your Heart, You Pathetic, Spineless Jellyfish
Indecent Proposal
Coffee Is for Closers
Opening Doors and Opening Possibilities
Section 3 - One-Night Stand
It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint
Just Sign on the Dotted Line for Me
The Need for Speed
Do You Want Fries with That?
Right on Time
What’s a Boy to Do?
One Size Fits All
Herding Cats
Heard It through the Grapevine
Section 4 - May Cause Headaches, Dizziness, and Internal Bleeding
No Man Is an Island
I Can Quit Anytime
Ignorance, Error, and Immediate Interest
The Red Pill or the Blue One?
That’s What Makes the World Go Round
Winners and Losers
Pushing Rocks Up a Mountain
Everyone’s Doing It
The Full Monty
Radical Transparency
Nothing Less Than the Best
Contrarian Primer
Pendulum Swing
About the Authors

Advance Praise for The Contrarian Effect
“In sales as in life, it’s not what you’ve been told to look for that matters, it’s what you actually see for yourself. In this quick and entertaining look at all that is wrong with traditional sales tactics, Elizabeth and Michael give us wonderful examples of ways to see today’s world of sales for what it really is: individuals seeking value in ways that matter personally. If you even just touch sales in your career (and whom among us does not) this book will open your eyes—and the view is great.”
—Dan Roam, author of The Back of the Napkin
“I’ve made a career out of challenging conventional sales wisdom and I can tell you that very few writers have done this effectively. It’s not demolition that’s hard: anyone can say that everything you’ve ever read is wrong. The trick is building something better in its place. The Contrarian Effect does this well. It’s filled with true stories about what works and what doesn’t. It’s fun to read and will challenge your thinking.”
—Neil Rackham, author of SPIN Selling
“Want to know why traditional sales tactics suck? Customers resist them, salespeople hate using them, and they simply don’t work. If you are ready to achieve incredible sales results, pick up a copy of The Contrarian Effect today!”
—Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson, authors of Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It
“Truth. Honesty. Dignity. Respect. Four words not often heard in the world of sales. In this remarkable little book, Michael and Liz offer real insight and practical advice on how to truly satisfy customers—the key to success in every sale. Bravo!”
—Keith Ferrazzi, bestselling author of Never Eat Alone
“The Contrarian Effect replaces conventional sales wisdom with new strategies that actually work in today’s business climate. You’ll achieve far greater sales success with much less effort.”
—Jill Konrath, author of Selling to Big Companies and CEO of SellingtoBigCompanies.com


THE CONTRARIAN EFFECT is a beautiful example of what can happen when you collaborate with others and choose to leverage the wisdom and experience of others. It symbolizes the collective efforts of a wonderful community of people—incredible souls that Michael and Elizabeth are honored to know. In that spirit, we wish to express our deepest gratitude and thanks:
To Kathy Green, Michael’s agent, for her willingness and desire to support this book and this message.
To Matt Holt and the entire team at John Wiley & Sons, Inc. for your wisdom, expertise, and support. Thank you for the work you do to spread the message of business authors and experts like us.
To our R&D Team, who dedicated their time and talents to this project: Krista Baker, Chris Smude, Liz Kruz-Kaegi, Christopher Bates, Lori Richardson, Merrily Sable, Jade Barclay, and Sarah Robinson. Thank you for your willingness to conduct and compile research for our thesis and to provide your experience and expertise as we honed and refined the message. Special thanks to Krista Baker for digging up several great examples we were able to include in the final draft and to Cara Lumen for your excellent suggestions and observations. Additional thanks to Hugh Strickland, Susan Kim, and Rob Thomas for reading the draft and providing insightful comments and suggestions. Last but not least, big thanks to Michael Stammer, our colleague and friend, for his valuable insights and years of sales experience that helped shape the ideas and the concepts in this book.
To Sharon Dawson, Elizabeth’s mom, for her gift with words and her love of grammar. Thank you for editing the draft and for making sure we articulated our ideas in the best way possible.
To Starbucks manager Andy Whisenhunt and the entire staff of the Starbucks #6262 in Dallas, Texas, who let Elizabeth camp out for hours on end as she wrote and edited the book. They are an example of a team that goes above and beyond on a daily basis. Additional thanks to Tom, Terri, Steve, Jennifer, Amy, Carrie, Glenn, Ray, and the rest of the “Starbucks Gang” for your continual support, ideas, and suggestions.
To Gayla DeHart, who inspires us with her brilliance and supports us with her invaluable friendship.
To the entire team at Book Yourself Solid, Linsey Card, Becky Wingate, and Katherine Bellefontaine, who provide unfailing support and who stand behind us in both small and big ways. Thank you for your devotion and commitment to our clients and mission.
To all the clients of Book Yourself Solid and members of the Think Big Revolution. Your energy, creativity, and talents keep us committed to thinking bigger about who we are and what we offer the world.
To all our friends and colleagues that we regret we cannot list out individually. Deepest thanks for supporting our message. We couldn’t do this work without you.
To all the salespeople out there that ever tried to pitch us something. Thank you for giving us real-world examples and experiences that support the concepts and strategies in this book.
To companies like Southwest Airlines, Starbucks, Apple, Amazon, Cabela’s, Costco, and many other organizations that embody the principles and the practices we preach. You demonstrate why it pays to take the typical sales advice and do the opposite. Thank you for modeling that making the shift is not only possible, but highly profitable.
Finally, to sales professionals like you, who already believe in payoff and value of the Contrarian Effect. Thank you for being a change agent and for being a leader—one that others can aspire to follow.

From the Old World to the New
IN 1907, CAPTAIN EDWARD JOHN SMITH was at the height of his career.
A highly respected sea captain, a commander in the Royal Naval Reserve, and commodore of the White Star Fleet, Captain Smith knew a thing or two about how to sail a ship. With a successful track record and a career spanning more than four decades, it’s understandable that White Star asked Smith to command the company’s newest ships on their maiden voyages.
Upon arriving in New York after the maiden voyage of the Adriatic in May 1907, Captain Smith was interviewed about his 40 years of experience at sea (from www.TitanicStory.com):
When anyone asks how I can best describe my experience in nearly 40 years at sea, I merely say, uneventful. Of course there have been winter gales, and storms and fog the like, but in all my experience, I have never been in any accident of any sort worth speaking about. I never saw a wreck and never have been wrecked, nor was I ever in any predicament that threatened to end in disaster of any sort.
Given his knowledge, his expertise, and his understanding at the time, Captain Smith would have considered the tragic disaster that culminated in the sinking of the Titanic five years later a near impossibility. He made that clear. In fact, Captain Smith also said, “I cannot imagine any condition which would cause a ship to founder. I cannot conceive of any vital disaster happening to this vessel. Modern shipbuilding has gone beyond that.”
One year before setting sail, Shipbuilder magazine described the Titanic as “practically unsinkable,” with state-of-the-art construction and watertight doors. With its beautiful design and elegant decor, it was one that every captain wanted to sail and every traveler wanted to experience. Therefore, it seemed fitting that Captain Smith chose to end his career in 1912 by leading the line’s newest ship, the Titanic, to sea.
Sadly, Captain Smith and the ship’s officers in charge of steering the mighty boat had multiple opportunities to change course to avoid the 78 miles of ice they smacked into. The Titanic received over seven warnings throughout the course of the day, alerting them to the large mass of ice directly in their path. Perhaps the ship’s officers did not recognize or heed the warnings in light of the opportunity ahead of them: beating the speed record of its sister ship, the Olympus, by reaching New York City on Tuesday night. In fact, the chief engineer advised Captain Smith that by lighting four additional boilers, the ship could reach a maximum speed of 22 knots.
Despite the warnings, the ship’s officers were not concerned. As a result, they neglected to deliver a few of the warnings throughout the day to Captain Smith. After all, ice was common in the North Atlantic in April, and the ship’s officers felt they could see and avoid an iceberg in plenty of time. Captain Smith considered the ice warnings to be insignificant and irrelevant enough that he retired for the evening at 9:20 P.M. and left the ship’s care to Second Officer Herbert Lightoller.
Captain Smith’s false certainty cost him his life and the lives of over 1,500 people.
Ironically, Captain Smith couldn’t seem to accept the possibility of such a crash, even though writers like Morgan Robertson and William T. Stead had conceived of the exact circumstances that sank the ship. Fourteen years prior to the Titanic’s first—and final—voyage, Robertson wrote a fictitious tale about the Titan, a mighty ship that hit an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean on a cold April night. Sound familiar? Although Robertson’s novel was a work of fiction, the designs of the Titan and the actual Titanic were strikingly similar, as were their fates. Similarly, English journalist William T. Stead published a novel in 1892, From the Old World to the New, in which he described the sinking of a ship in the North Atlantic after hitting an iceberg. Although Stead’s ship was called the Majestic, the ship’s captain was named Edward J. Smith, the same name of the actual captain of the Titanic. Strangely, William T. Stead was aboard the Titanic’s maiden voyage and lost his life at sea—under the exact same circumstances he had conceived in his novel and in an 1886 article in the Pall Mall Gazette, titled “Futility.”
Obviously, no one would have expected Captain Smith to take his cues from a work of fiction. Yet it is very clear after the fact that Smith missed several clues in the years, months, days, and even hours before the tragedy. Given the multitude of signals, it seems possible that he couldn’t even see what was happening or was too distracted by the opportunity to beat the speed record held by the Olympus. Perhaps he couldn’t imagine something he had not experienced—despite articles, novels, and stories that described such a possibility. Or perhaps he was not open to the possibility that shifts in reality are indeed possible.
What is important to note is not why Captain Smith missed the signs but that he did. That error was a fatal one, impacting the lives of the passengers, the ship’s officers, and the families that waited in vain for their safe arrival home.

Sign of the Times

Like Captain Smith, many sales professionals are missing the signs. Although missing the signs won’t cost you your life, they will impact you—and result in lost sales, damaged relationships, stress, and fatigue. There are signals all around us indicating that the market has changed and that the typical sales tactics—cold calling, door-to-door selling, closing questions, sales scripts, and the like—are broken.
Perhaps a customer complaint or the loss of what was previously a shoe-in account has got you thinking about what it really takes to be successful in sales. Maybe you’ve noticed that it takes more and more energy to reach fewer and fewer potential clients using the traditional tactics, or you’ve felt more and more pressure from executives and your VP to continue to increase your sales.
Perhaps you’ve grown tired of the endless search for new prospects that is inevitable when you focus on the short-term success over building long-term relationships. Perhaps you are sick of the hang-up calls and the do-not-call restrictions that block you from reaching new prospects. Or possibly the pressure to close sales and convince clients to sign on the dotted line before they are ready just so you can “make quota” has gotten old. And maybe, just maybe, you are not so comfortable with the “way things are done in sales.” It’s starting to turn off potential customers, customers who seem to pass judgment on you because they’re fed up with the typical tactics and assume that you use them like everyone else.
Your potential customers still equate selling with the typical tactics, whether you practice them or not. Customers are all too aware of the most common ways that sales professionals purportedly use to capture their attention and close the deal—which often means that sales professionals are guilty until proven innocent. Not only are they familiar with these methods, they have come to expect them as part of the sales process.
This is understandable, given that many of the typical tactics and strategies—elements of the traditional sales process—came into existence long before the Titanic set sail.
According to Harvard professor and author Walter A. Friedman, one man in particular is primarily responsible for developing and popularizing many of the selling techniques that are still in existence today.

Birth of a Salesman

As the founder of National Cash Register (NCR), John H. Patterson created a detailed system to monitor and train company salesmen. With the help of his brother-in-law, Joseph Crane, he established the first sales training school on company grounds. One of the most significant elements of the sales training program was the sales script Crane wrote, which eventually developed into the NCR Primer in 1887. The Primer was a comprehensive training manual that told sales professionals what to say and how to say it, how to navigate through the four stages in every sale, and how to close the customer and sell a cash register.
Patterson’s method was detailed, yet efficient. He taught his salesmen many skills, including how to:
• Overcome objections
• Rid their sales territory of any competition
• Assume the sale in order to convince prospects to buy
• Sell within a framework of sales quotas and commission incentives
With the help of the Primer, Patterson instructed salesmen to exert pressure in a forceful, yet subtle, manner in order to make sales. The Primer illustrated a number of closing techniques, such as the following:
After you have made your proposition clear and feel sure that the merchant realizes the value of the register, do not ask for an order, take for granted that he will buy. Say to him “Mr. Blank, what color shall I make it?” or “How soon do you want delivery?” Take out your order blank, fill it out, and handing him your pen, say, “Just sign where I have made the cross.”
Patterson was not the first to use scripts. In 1859, the Equitable Life Assurance Society published a document, Hints for Agents, so that company salesmen would have a list of persuasive arguments to use with potential customers. But Patterson was the best in implementing a comprehensive and systematic way to train sales professionals and show them exactly what to do to sell. In studying the influence of Patterson, Friedman explains, “Not only is study of Patterson’s leadership style informative and interesting, but a review of his foundations of modern sales techniques reveals a long list of familiar terms and methods that illuminates current practice.”
Patterson’s method certainly seemed to work. During the period from 1888 to 1895, approximately 84 companies sold cash registers and competed with NCR for business. Only three of those 84 competitors stayed in business for any length of time—mainly because Patterson did everything he could to squash the competition. Fiercely competitive, he sued many of the companies that made premium registers and put many of them out of business. Patterson employed every competitive tactic and called upon every law he could to stay ahead of the competition, which included suing Heintz Cash Register for patent infringement and buying up the inventory of Hallwood Company so that it could not meet customer demands. By 1912, NCR had captured 95 percent of the market—but not without consequence. The following year, the United States Grand Jury found Patterson and NCR guilty of violating antitrust laws.
Perhaps Patterson’s success was a combination of both his efficient and comprehensive sales training system and his willingness to use deceptive sales tactics to outsell the competition. Sometimes, mere persuasion and effective use of closing questions would close the sale. At other times, more drastic measures were necessary. In an 1892 internal company memo, he instructed his sales force on how to demonstrate the “faulty” construction of a competitor’s machine to potential customers as a way to sell more cash registers. Patterson believed that “to succeed in business, it is necessary to make others see things as you see them.”
Patterson’s stamp on many of the current-day selling techniques is clear. His sales philosophy and sales system not only impacted the development of modern-day selling but shaped the growth of many businesses during the early 1900s and for years thereafter.
Patterson’s methods, along with the theories of other business leaders during his time, helped create what we now know as the traditional selling process and the traditional sales tactics. This means that the average sales professional indoctrinated in this method tends to approach selling from this viewpoint:
• Cold calling is an effective way to generate leads, since everyone is a potential customer.
• Prospecting means that you make a certain number of calls each day (usually 100) in order to reach potential clients.
• The numbers game is a tried-and-true formula that helps sales professionals determine how many calls they have to make in order to set a certain number of meetings and to make a certain number of sales.
• Canned or scripted presentations are effective, since most potential clients have the same needs and desires.
• During a potential-client meeting, the sales professional’s job is to present the product or service, explain the features and benefits, handle any customer objections, and then close the sale.
• Tactics such as closing techniques and other strategies used to speed up the sale are vital, since it’s critical for sales professionals to “make their numbers.”

We’re Not in Kansas Anymore

Despite massive changes in technology, communication, and innovation, as well as shifts in business and commerce over the past 100 years, many companies still adhere to the original selling practices first developed by John H. Patterson, with the hope that these practices will produce sales in the same way that they did for NCR and its sales force.
Is that a realistic expectation, however, and does it make sales sense?