Author: Barry J. Farber
Publisher: Religious Broadcasting
Reviewer: Goke Ilesanmi
We are examining another sales book written by Barry J. Farber because selling is very critical to business success. Farber is the president of Farber Training Systems, Inc., and has trained thousands of salespeople, managers and trainers to reach new levels of sales success. He has been featured on CNN and other international radio and television shows.
According to Farber in this book, there is no better judge of a salesperson’s performance level than his customers. He advises salespeople to give customers the opportunity to discuss what impresses them about them (salespeople) and where improvement can be made, to be able to achieve sales success.
The author says the book is based on hundreds of interviews conducted with customers to find out what successful salespeople are doing now, and what they could be doing better. He asserts that the interviewed customers are not just any customers, but customers of the number one sales representatives in a variety of industries.
Farber stresses that these customers are used to dealing with the best salespeople in the world, and their exceedingly high standards apply to both products and services. The author reflects that any salesperson that can pass the stringent qualifications these customers present must be at the top of his or her form.
According to the consultant, the information in this book is real-world and results-specific. He adds that he has been selling for over 20 years now, and has worked with sales representatives, managed them and trained them. Farber says he deals with them every day and interviews them often, stressing that when he listens to these customers talk about their experiences, he realises that they spend as much time buying as he himself does selling and training.
According to Farber, a customer is everyone you come in contact with, especially that you may not know who your next customer might be. This author says obviously, the people you call upon, people who buy your product or service outright are customers. He asserts that you should remember that you are a customer, too. According to Farber, 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.
Paradoxically, the author discloses that the goal of many unsuccessful sales representatives is to sell their products; but successful salespeople have a different mindset as their goal is to sell stepping-stones to other people’s success.
This book is segmented into five chapters. In chapter one, attributes such as knowledge, empathy, good organisation, promptness, follow-through, solutions, punctuality, hardwork, energy and honesty are identified as some of the things buyers consider most helpful in salespeople.
In the words of Farber, “Knowledge is a very broad category; the best sales reps are knowledgeable in a variety of areas. 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.”
As regards knowledge action steps, the consultant recommends that you should study your product inside and outside; read industry newsletters; speak to successful sales representatives; put extra efforts, etc.
On the attribute of empathy, Farber says customers want salespeople that are sincerely interested in them and their business; and they do not want to feel like just another stop on the sales representative’s route. Empathy means putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, understanding their needs, problems and goals. It means helping them find ways to fulfil those needs, to solve those problems and to achieve those goals, expatiates the author.
As far as empathy action steps are concerned, Farber advises you to ask questions that will help you understand the other person’s position; listen enthusiastically and focus on ways to make others feel important.
In chapter two, he 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.
According to the author, customers do not 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. He adds that 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,” discloses the consultant.
Farber says customers often complain about “pushy” salespeople, ones who argue and try to convince customers to spend more than is necessary. He adds that customers feel those representatives 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,” guides Farber.
In chapter three entitled “Getting customer feedback”, the 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 tagged “25 super sales secrets: Customers tell how to sell”. According to the author, 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. According to Farber here, 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.
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, he 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.
Finally, the text is fantastic. It is highly recommended to those who aspire to enhance their business in the New Year through unique sales knowledge.
GOKE ILESANMI, Editor-in-Chief/CEO of https://www.gokeilesanmi.com.ng and Managing Consultant/CEO of Gokmar Communication Consulting, is a Certified Public Speaker/Emcee, (Business) Communication Specialist, Motivational Speaker, Career Management Coach, Renowned Book Reviewer, Corporate Leadership Expert and Editorial Consultant.
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