Selling to Zebras by Jeff Koser and Chad Koser

January 2012

Selling to Zebras
by Jeff Koser and Chad Koser

Selling to Zebras by Jeff Koser and Chad KoserSummary

When I first saw the eye-catching cover and title, Selling to Zebras, I immediately opened it up. Its basic premise is to help companies identify the “perfect” sales prospects – or the Zebras – to save time from pursuing lesser prospects. The zebra’s unique stripes differentiate it from all other animals. Welcome to a lesson in differentiating your prospects.

The father-son authorial team, Jeff and Chad Koser, draw on years of experience in executive sales management, business strategy and business development. They claim that with their specific tools, models and spreadsheets, you’ll be able to close deals 90% of the time.

The book is divided into four separate sections that effectively make up the four-stage process of zebra method:

1. Profile your animal

According to Selling to Zebras, the first step in successful sales is developing the profile of your zebra. The authors give these tips:

  • Profile your best customers based on what you know about them – including why they purchase your products and services.
  • Determine the size of your best customers.
  • Consider the organisational structures of your customer companies: are the structures simple or complex? What are the patterns in their work processes, issues and equipment usage?

2. Spot the zebras

The second section of the book focuses on “spotting” your zebra. The authors’ website offers tools such as an Excel spreadsheet to help you spot your best prospects. (You have to register to get the tools, but they’re free.) To spot your zebras, identify the most important characteristics and attributes of your zebra and non-zebra (worst prospects). Input the descriptive data on your prospects into the spreadsheet, and it will rank your prospects.

3. Greet the zebra

When you meet with your zebra you should cover some specific ground:

  • Address the mutual cost of the sale. The client needs you to recognise his investment and, most importantly, needs to know when he can expect to see results from his purchase.
  • Help your client determine the value of your product in terms of time and money.
  • Ask the client to sponsor the next step in the process with expectations of a successful deal.

4. Caring for your zebra

Finally, when you have captured your zebra, maintain the relationship and ensure the future success of this client by:

  • designing your implementation plan so that your client can repeat success
  • boosting your support resources – do not leave until your client agrees that all the promises have been met and achieved.

Part of a growing body of books that use the animal kingdom as a metaphor for sales (Whale Hunting, Sales Dogs, Contented Cows Moo-ve Faster, etc.) the Zebra terminology occasionally gets out of hand. My one concern about this book is that the content centres more around learning to ask the right questions about your company, your clients and your approach. Those who want to be told what to do in simple steps may be dismayed at how much hard thinking they have to do once they begin reading.

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