The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes

Chet Holmes is a sales legend.

According to Holmes there are two things that are required if you want to have success in business and in sales.

The first key is what he calls “pigheaded discipline.” In fact, he originally called this book “The Pigheaded Executive Wins Every Time.” Good call changing the title.

The second key is to focus on mastery. Doing 12 things 4,000 times will generate far better results than doing 4,000 different things.

And what are those 12 things? Well, that’s what we’ll spend the rest of our time on here together today.

1. Time Management Secrets of Billionaires

This section is all about maximizing your productivity.

As a leader, there are endless demands on your time. So finding a system so that you maximize your impact per hour is key.

There are three things you can do to accomplish this.

First, identify the most important impact areas of your company. That might include inside sales, outside sales, marketing, HR, special projects, etc. You get the idea.

Second, set a meeting for each of those areas every single week, and demand that any issues that are not “hair-on-fire” emergencies get dealt with at that weekly meeting.

Third, make sure that every meeting has a tightly controlled agenda that addresses all of the major issues that need to get resolved.

Holmes learned this by running nine divisions of a company for billionaire (and one of my intellectual crushes, fwiw), Charlie Munger.

2. Institute Higher Standards and Regular Training

If you want to reprogram your organization to run like a finely tuned machine, training needs to be a top priority.

As an article by the Harvard Business Review points out, only 10 percent of the population has what’s called “the learning mindset.” The other 90 percent? We need to work hard to save them from themselves.

We do that through deliberate and constant training. Without it, you’ll ultimately end of addressing the same issues and problems over and over again.

Instead, by training the same things over and over again, you’ll start to get the behaviours you are looking for, which will lead you to success.

There are plenty of ways you can deliver training, but involving people in either workshop type training where they work on real issues, or case studies (similar to how MBAs are trained at the Harvard Business School), is the most most effective format.

3. Executing Effective Meetings

Building on the last section, the best use of executive meetings is to hold workshops where there is laser-like focus on solving just one small part of the business.

The end result of holding these meetings on a regular basis is that you’ll have a bias towards what Holmes calls the “three Ps” – planning, procedures and policies.


Because rather than just sitting around and discussing issues endlessly, a workshop by its very nature demands that work get done and potential solutions get generated.

What’s the right cadence for these meetings? Holmes suggests that once per week for each important area in the company.

4. Becoming a Brilliant Strategist

The subtitle to this section of the book is “how to get up to nine times more impact from every move you make.”

Go ahead, I’m listening…

Holmes tells us that we need to understand the difference between strategies and tactics.

He defines them like this:

A tactic is a method used to achieve a short term gain.

A strategy is a carefully defined and detailed plan to achieve a long-term goal.

A brilliant strategist is able to combine tactics together to form a strategy with the long-term goals of the company in mind. The goal is to achieve as many strategic objectives as possible with each tactic.

One of the most powerful tactics you can employ in any business is education based marketing. Why? Because it allows you to speak directly to the people who are in the market for your products and services, today. But it also lets you talk to the people who will be in the market for your products and services tomorrow.

5. Hiring Superstars

If you want to build the Ultimate Sales Machine, one of the key pieces of the puzzle is to understand the personality profile of top producers.

Superstars are those you put in a bad situation with poor tools, no training and bad resources and still, within a few months, they begin to outperform your best people or build your company in ways you never dreamed possible.

Hiring someone like this is about understanding the personality characteristics that fit the job for which you are hiring and having the tools to identify the candidates who possess those characteristics.

The method Holmes suggests in interviewing candidates might seem barbaric to HR executives, but it seems like it would work.

First, a screening call is conducted, which would go something like this:

You: Hi Bill, we’ve had a lot of response to our ad, tell me why we would want to interview you.

Bill: Well, let’s see. I really like people. I’m a natural bonder and if I believe in something, I think I can really sell it.

You: Ah. I’m not really hearing top producer.

Bill: You’re not?

You: Nope.

Bill: Well, I guess you would know.

You: I do.

Bill: OK. Well. Thanks for your time. Bye.

This is a person who would typically impress you in a traditional interview setting, but would not be successful in the field where they’ll face rejection day in and day out.

Here’s how the conversation might go with a top producer instead:

You: I’m not really hearing top producer.

Top Producer: Well, what do you think makes a top producer? (Note that the candidate begins to sell. The person can’t help it. It’s his or her nature.)

You: Well, it’s a certain type of trait that I’m not hearing in you.

Top Producer: That’s funny, because in my last job I was the new guy and had never sold grommets before, but within a few months I was catching up to salespeople who had been there for eight years.

This type of person will become MORE effective when a prospect tries to reject them. Those are the people you are looking for.

Just remember that after you hire top producers that you need to create a performance-based relationship. Reward them lavishly and compliment them for exceeding your challenges, and you’ll have a top producer who stays for a long time.