Book Review: “Selling is Hard, Buying is Harder”

“Selling is Hard, Buying is Harder” by Garin Hess. A counter-intuitive sales book that delivers solid how-to’s

According to author Garin Hess, the key to success in sales is for salespeople to take charge of the buying process in order to help your customer sell for you. That’s a real role reversal.

This book shares practical tips on how to identify a powerful “Champion” or “Mobilizer” as per Challenger Sale, and then stop trying to persuade that person, and instead start trying to educate her.

This book describes how to equip and coach the Champion on how to sell others by delivering personalized messages matched to each stage of the buying process, messages that are customized to each buyer persona.

Regardless of what sales process your company uses, “Selling is Hard, Buying is Harder” fills in the blanks. This book is chock-full of tangible how-to’s for how to apply your existing sales process to achieve better outcomes.

I applied several of the book’s ideas immediately and saw instant results. Here are my key take-aways:

  • When delivering a demo, start off by asking the customer to describe what they want to achieve…what meaningful outcome they seek, before showing them how to get there with your demo. Your buyer’s concept can evolve between meetings so it’s critical to re-confirm your understanding.
  • Identify the type of digital content that each buyer persona needs at each stage of the buying process. This will reduce the necessity of providing multiple demos on a single deal, which speeds up the buying process. Also, it is more effective for influencing stakeholders who can’t attend your demo. But be sure to only make available what the customer needs for the stage of buying they are currently in. That ensures you’ll have future conversations as the buyer’s journey continues.
  • Stop asking customers the question, “What are the next steps?” Instead, exert leadership and recommend to them what the next steps are, based on your experience.
  • To discover the buying group quickly, create and send custom sales content (like a video) to your point of contact. Launch your screen recorder and create a quick unscripted video that answers the prospect’s questions. Don’t worry about studio-quality, it’s the personalization of your message that makes all the difference.
  • Send the personalized video back just a few minutes after you heard the questions from the prospect. Since the questions your “Champion” asked you were likely posed by behind-the-scenes decision-makers, your Champion will likely share your video with others. If your CRM has the capability to track who views it, as HubSpot does with the feature “Require email address to view document,” you’ll then have the buying committee identified!
  • Begin by mapping out the typical buyer personas involved, and then ask yourself: “What questions does this persona need answered before they can make a purchase?” And then turn that into a “Frequently Asked Questions” FAQ.

“Selling is Hard, Buying is Harder” is well-researched and well-interviewed. Research findings from Gartner are expertly woven together with meaningful stories from many software sales pros.

Author Garin Hess’ advice is this: we need to change our mentality as salespeople and consider ourselves as service-oriented participants in a complex problem-solving process. This book is a practitioner’s guide for more effectively educating your buyers. For more information visit Hess’ website:


Kevin Davis

Kevin F. Davis is the author of The Sales Manager’s Guide to Greatness”, which was named the 2018 Axiom Business Book Award Winner, Silver Medal. Kevin is also the author of Slow Down, Sell Faster!”.