Coach's Casebook

Book Review: You Can’t Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike at a Seminar

Book Review: You Can’t Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike at a Seminar

Book Review: You Can’t Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike at a Seminar

SandlerThis is the new and updated edition of David Sandler’s You Can’t Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike at a Seminar, 2nd Edition: Sandler Training’s 7-Step System for Successful Selling

I’ve known of and been a fan of the Sandler selling system for a number of years when a friend introduced it to me. He had been exploiting it for his work in recruitment and he had found it very successful.


If you’re in business, you are going to have to sell and having a system to sell makes it a repeatable and predictable process. The Sandler System is one of many selling systems and one that has been particularly effective.

Sandler has a Naval background and uses the metaphor of a submarine where you move from compartment to compartment, locking the water tight doors behind you as complete each stage of the selling system.
You go through the compartments of:

  • Rapport
  • Up-front Contract
  • Pain
  • Budget
  • Decision
  • Fulfilment
  • Post-Sell

Following this sequence steadily increases trust and engagement until the sale is complete. This approach is the core of the Sandler system.

Sandler makes the observation that to be a good salesman, you have to be a professional at it. You must make it your craft. Burn your bridges and commit to it full time. Its going to be hard and you will have to get used to failure. You will have to push yourself and you will have to learn to fail to win.

True to the original edition and the material from the Sandler company, the books still explains the approach and the need to ‘secure’ each compartment of the ‘submarine’ before progressing to the next stage. In my view, the most important part of the system is the need to create and ‘up front contract’. Getting a commitment to a decision, yes or no, very early in the process so that neither of you waste any time chasing down a sale that just isn’t going to progress at any stage of the process.

Less useful in my opinion is to use the ‘dummy’ approach where to use a strategy of being generally ignorant and allowing your client to guide you through understanding the problem. This may work in some areas of sales but I know that some clients are looking for expertise rather than ignorance about the client and his domain.

Overall, this update of the book brings in more detail and examples of how the system should be used as well as some additional discussion of the psychology of the system. I also adds some additional information from the Sandler President’s club which gives extra insight into how some of the graduates of the system are successfully applying it. A very useful refresh of a sales classic.

Dare to Aspire

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