On my recent trip to Bermuda, I used the blissfully quiet beaches to read through Harvey MacKay’s Swim with the Sharks without Being Eaten Alive. Well-written in a casual, self-effacing manner, the book highlighted a number of tips and practices – developed and borrowed by the author – for improving sales in the marketplace.
As I flipped from page to page, I knew I had a gem on my hands. The book is full of valuable insights and reminders about how to get ahead in business. What’s really so helpful about the book is not that it reinvents (or even claims to reinvent) the ‘business wheel’. Rather, many of Harvey’s ideas are common-sense and practical. Still, in the day-to-day practice of business, it’s easy to get focussed on the minutiae of meetings, deadlines and deliverables. A read through Swim with the Sharks without Being Eaten Alive is a great way to pull back from those finer details to think more strategically and tactically.
Key Points in the Book
Perhaps the greatest contribution the book offers is the Mackay 66 (PDF). Harvey MacKay takes customer knowledge and customer care to a new level. His detailed, methodical approach to client relations brings almost a science feel to what is typically more of a social skills game. By learning and storing a great many details about our clients and their staff, we can give ourselves the tools we need, both as individual professionals and as representatives of our own companies, to increase sales.
Another key aspect of Swim with the Sharks without Being Eaten Alive is the author’s emphasis on tying customers to the company – and not the salesperson. As the director of a small company, I am faced with this hurdle every day. How do I build a customer base that is loyal to LBDesign? As my own company grows, I’ll certainly be returning to this book to remind myself of Harvey’s tactics.
Looking for a Bit More
There is one aspect of the book that left me wanting more, though it’s no fault of the author. Harvey is a salesman with a manufactured product. His tips and advice focus on building sales of those products, which in Harvey’s case are envelopes. As a communications designer, I offer services – not products. After finishing Harvey’s book, I wondered: where can I get a similar book tailored to the services sector?