Author: Barry J. Farber
Publisher: Religious Broadcasting
Reviewer: Goke Ilesanmi
We are examining this book this week because selling is very critical to business success. Farber, author “Superstar Sales Secrets” reviewed recently, is the president of Farber Training Systems, Inc. He has trained thousands of salespeople, managers and trainers to reach new levels of sales success.
According to Farber, there is no better judge of a salesperson’s performance level than his customers. The author advises salespeople to give customers the opportunity to discuss what impresses them about them (salespeople) and where improvement can be made to achieve sales success. Farber says this book is based on hundreds of interviews conducted with customers to find out what successful salespeople are doing, and what they could be doing better.
According to him, a customer is everyone you come in contact with, especially that you may not know whom your next customer might be. This author says obviously, the people you call upon, people who buy your product or service are your customers. Farber asserts that you should remember that you are a customer, too. He stresses that what all the customers are really saying is that you should find out what their business is and tell them how your product or service can help them run their business better.
This book is segmented into five chapters. In chapter one, attributes such as knowledge, empathy, good organisation, promptness, follow-through, solutions, punctuality, hard work, energy and honesty are identified as some of the things buyers consider most helpful in salespeople. This author educates that based on his interaction with customers, knowledge is a very broad category and the best sales reps are knowledgeable in a variety of areas.
In Farber’s words, “They know about their own product, company and industry, and they have detailed knowledge of their customers’ companies and industries. They also know the competition, both their strengths and weaknesses…The more knowledge you possess, the easier it is for you to come up with solutions to your customers’ problems. And that is what gives a rep added value.”
On knowledge action steps, the author says you should study your product inside and outside; read industry newsletters; speak to successful sales reps; put extra effort, etc. On the attribute of empathy, Farber discloses that customers want salespeople that are sincerely interested in them and their business.
In chapter two, Farber identifies the attributes that buyers find most objectionable in salespeople as lack of preparation; lack of information; aggressiveness; undependability; poor follow-through; presumptuousness; “walk-ins”; “gabbers”; problem avoidance; and lack of personal respect. As he puts it, “Customers don’t like salespeople who call them on the phone or come by without a specific purpose in mind. Every once in a while, it’s okay to say, ‘I just wanted to keep in touch’, but it’s better to have a reason for doing so.”
Farber says customers often depend on salespeople as a source of information on a variety of subjects. “They said the worst reps were the ones who lacked specific information about their own products and/or general information about the customer’s business,” adds this consultant.
According to him, customers often complain about “pushy” salespeople, ones who argue and try to convince customers to spend more than is necessary. Farber adds that customers feel those reps are only interested in their commissions and do not really care about how they get them. “Don’t walk away from a sale after the goods have been delivered. For the customer, that’s when the sale really begins. Studies show that it is three to five times cheaper to keep a customer than to acquire a new one,” advises Farber.
In chapter three entitled “Getting customer feedback”, this consultant examines concepts such as sales secrets from your customers; telephone surveys; the customer-run meeting; improving your listening skills and magic questions.
Chapter four is entitled “25 super sales secrets: Customers tell how to sell”. The author says among these sales secrets are that you should not sell customers your products, rather sell solutions to them; understand customers’ business, industry and their market; understand your product or service very well so that you know every conceivable way it might help to solve customers’ problems or meet their goal; organise your materials so that when you are asked for information, you have it easily accessible, etc.
Chapter five, the last chapter, is based on 40 questions to ask yourself in the customer-service questionnaire. Here, Farber educates that some of these questions are: Do I treat everyone I know and meet with respect? When I am a customer myself, do I observe and learn from the salesperson’s strengths and weaknesses? Do I have a thorough knowledge of my product or service? Do I have a thorough knowledge of my customer’s product, company and industry? etc.
Conceptually, Griffiths scores a pass mark in this book. As regards style, this book gets a good grade. For instance, Farber uses customer- interview style, a form of semi-dramatic dialogue to lend credibility to his work and sustain readers’ interest. For every point that he addresses, he first radiates a summary message for easy understanding; offers the key points from the customer interview, as well as prescribes action steps in some cases. This mode of presentation easily ensures detailed analysis.
What’s more, Farber also uses reflective illustrations as well as literary and classical allusions to ensure easy understanding on readers’ part. The language is also simple. However, chapters one and four can be harmonised for compactness.
If you aspire to enhance your business through unique sales knowledge, then you need to read this book. It is simply irresistible.
GOKE ILESANMI (FIIM, FIMC, CMC), CEO of Gokmar Communication Consulting, is an International Platinum Columnist, Professional Public Speaker, Career Mgt Coach and Certified Mgt Consultant. He is also a Book Reviewer, Biographer and Editorial Consultant.
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