As a result of the importance of sales to sustainability and profitability of a business, we are X-raying this sales book entitled “Superstar Sales Secrets”, written by Barry Farber. 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. Farber says the world of sales has changed considerably over the last decade, with customers more sophisticated and demanding. This author discloses that customers expect not only quality products, but also beyond-the-call-of-duty customer service and the opportunity to build an ongoing relationship.
Farber reflects that today’s sales professionals must demonstrate a high level of honesty and integrity with an ever-increasing ability to build rapport and deeply understand customers’ wants and needs.
This author assures that this book is a comprehensive guide for beginners as well as a concise reference for the seasoned professionals especially that it cuts away all the fluff and ‘theory’ of selling and gets right down to the core skills that every salesperson needs to have.
The book covers every aspect of the sales cycle, from staying motivated to taking advantage of today’s technologies; from packaging a powerful presentation to the follow-up after the sale; from prospecting for new business to building stronger relationships with established customers.
This book is segmented into eight chapters referred to as “Stages”. Chapter one is entitled “Motivation”. Here, Farber asserts that nobody has ever said selling is easy. He says this is because it takes hard work and persistence to do it well and achieve success. Rejection and adversity are daily occurrences in this profession, educates this author. In his words, “That’s why motivation is the most important factor in sales success. There’s an old saying that goes, ‘Life is like a grindstone – it either grinds you down or polishes you up.’ You can let rejection and adversity grind you down. Or you can face up to hardship and view it as an opportunity and challenge that can spur you on to greater success.”
He says attitude towards one’s job is the factor that makes two salespeople of equal talent and ability not to achieve equal success. According to Farber, one Harvard Business School study determined that there are four factors critical to sales success, and these are: information, intelligence, skill and attitude. He explains that when these factors were ranked by importance, this particular study found that combined, information, intelligence, and skill amounted to seven percent of sales effectiveness and attitude amounted to 93 percent.
This consultant educates that a positive attitude is the expectation that if we do all that we can do, if we develop our potential to its fullest, we will achieve the results we want. He says a positive attitude is critical in sales, because a prospect mirrors a salesperson’s attitudes and expectations. Farber expatiates that if the salesperson does not expect the prospect to buy, doubt and negative expectations are created in the prospect. He therefore discusses eight keys to a positive attitude and how to practise a positive attitude.
Chapter two is based on the subject matter of prospecting. Here, this author explains that successful selling is not a nine-to-five job as top salespeople are prospecting all the time. He stresses that the more you put into your sales career, the more you get out of it. Farber says your sales goal is to attract and maintain customers, that is, to build relationships.
This author adds that every time you meet someone, you should be sincerely interested in learning about whom he or she is, what he or she does and whether or not you can be of service to him or her. Farber advises against pushing yourself on people as this will only push them away. Customers are too intelligent to fall for manipulative tricks, but they will respond to a sincere desire to find out how your product or service can be of benefit to them, discloses this author.
Chapter three focuses on needs analysis. According to this consultant here, “If you were selling shoes, you wouldn’t just grab any old pair of shoes regardless of the size, style, or colour preference of the customer. It would be a miracle if you ever made a match.”
He says yet, many salespeople try to ‘pitch’ prospects into buying before they know anything about them. This author reveals that new salespeople often find that the way to keep control of a sale is to keep talking – to go through their presentation point by point, hoping that by the time they are finished they will have covered the customer’s interest.
Farber educates that a presentation can only be effective if you know what the customer’s interest is beforehand, and purposely hit each point. He says this is where needs analysis comes in and stresses that once you know the customer’s needs, you can determine how your product or service can best meet those needs. Farber reflects that three ways of analysing the needs are through research, asking questions and listening.
In chapters four to seven, he discusses concepts such as presentations, how to handle objections, closing and follow-up.
Chapter eight is entitled “Time management and the new technology”. Farber says there are so many sales calls to make, so much territory to cover, so many letters, proposals and reports to write, but there is so little time. He adds that every salesperson faces this same dilemma of how to make the best and most productive use of every working hour. “If you constantly feel pressured and worry about what you should be doing next and all you’ve yet to accomplish, you can’t concentrate on your main goal – generating sales. That’s why time management is an absolutely essential skill for sales success,” Farber educates.
As regards style, the text ranks high. The language is simple while the presentation is very logical and didactic. Farber uses graphics to achieve visual reinforcement of readers’ understanding. He properly segments the articulated concepts for easy study and assimilation. What’s more, the title of the book is short yet assertive.
However, the layout of the inside pages needs to be improved upon to achieve better eye-friendliness. Also, a subjunctive or conditional-clause error is committed on page 59 thus: “If you were selling shoes, you wouldn’t just grab any old pair of shoes regardless of the size, style, or colour preference of the customer.” It ought to have been “If you are selling shoes, you won’t just grab any old pair of shoes regardless of the size, style, or colour preference of the customer.” The Open Possibility type of the conditional clauses ought to have been used instead of the Theoretical Possibility type used, especially that the hypothetical illustration is still possible, at least in the context of the text.
On the whole, these errors have not taken intellectual shine off this educative and informative text. So, if you aspire to improve your sales through deep knowledge of sales strategies, then, you need to read this masterpiece. It is intellectually revealing.
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