The Passing of a Giant: Mack Hanan (October 1, 1925 – November 26, 2010)

I just received the awful news of Mack Hanan’s passing.

Mack Hanan was truly a giant in business-to-business sales, and his book, Consultative Selling, is still the standard against which all salespeople should measure themselves—despite the giant chasm between how we behave and what Mack so thoughtfully laid out and codified.

Consultative Selling: The Hanan Formula for High Margin Sales at High Levels was published in 1970 and then published 6 more times between the original and 2004. In the past few months, I learned from Mack that the 8th Edition was being published.

I was introduced to Mack through my friend and business partner, Dave Brock. Dave writes here about his relationship with Mack, the project that we for a short time worked on with Mack, as well as Mack’s impact on his thinking and on sales more broadly.

In the half a dozen of conversations I was fortunate enough to have with Mack in 2010, I was the student to a very willing teacher. I asked Mack to stay on the line after a couple of conference calls, Mack always agreed, happy to share his thoughts, his ideas, and his passion for consultative selling with someone who was anxious to understand how to better put his ideas into practice. One of those conversations I shared as an interview here.

Mack’s mind at 85 was something to be envied and something for which to strive—it was razor sharp with a laser-like focus that could penetrate deep into any issue we discussed.

Perhaps what struck me most about Mack during these conversations was that even though he was firmly grounded in the structure and framework he laid out in Consultative Selling, he was completely open to exploring new ideas and concepts. It’s only anecdotal evidence, but John Carroll, one of Mack’s longtime business partners, shared with me how much Mack loved YouTube.

Here is an interview Mack did for Ogilvy on, of all things, YouTube.

Mack will be missed. Honor his memory by picking up the book and applying it to your personal sales effort or that of your team. That is what he would want, and that was his life’s work.

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