4 out of 4 stars
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I've found that there are two main categories when it comes to nonfiction sales books: books that are so general they can apply to any business at all and books that are so specific they only apply to a very small subset of salespeople. With a title like 5 Steps to "SALES" Success: To Grow Your Home Health, Hospice, and Private Duty Organization!, it seemed evident which camp it belonged to, but I was pleasantly surprised with just how well it fits in both.
Cherylanne Peltekis, author of what I'll refer to as 5 Steps to "SALES" Success in this review, has a long history of working in the health care business. From her days as a child she saw family members in hospice care and fighting various diseases, and at the age of thirteen she even volunteered at a local hospital working in physical therapy. It's no surprise with Cheryl's history that she decided to start up her own "homecare and hospice organization" (as she defines it in the book) in 1995. However, things weren't always smooth going, and she had a hard time here and there. In 2009 the company was in the red for the third year in a row, this time losing almost $200,000 in a single year, and it looked like she'd lose her business if 2010 didn't drastically turn around. This would not only mean losing her income and having to find a new way to support her husband (who also worked with her) and five children, it would also mean laying off people who had worked with her, who she would hate to tell that she had to let them go.
So what did Cheryl do? Did she let some people go and put in even more hours? She'd done that for five years in the beginning, just her and her husband running everything every day of the year when she couldn't justify hiring people. No, she decided to do the exact opposite and greatly INCREASE the budget by hiring a sales team! With her husband convinced, that's exactly what she did, but she didn't just on Indeed.com or Monster.com and pick a few good resumes. No, she picked only those who had personal connections to health care themselves and helped train her new sales team (and herself) by finding a professional to learn from. As time went by Cheryl's business boomed and she realized that this was a strategy that she could teach to others.
If I had to say one thing about 5 Steps to "SALES" Success, it's that I'm blown away by how much is somehow crammed into a 63-page book without it ever feeling dry or overwhelming. Cheryl goes through a bunch of different tactics, strategies, and documents that she's fine-tuned and used with her own business. Cheryl is clearly as passionate about health care as she is about leading people the best she can, and she doesn't hesitate to give away her secrets. These range from the specifics of how to inject fun into each sales visit so that businesses actually look forward to visits to tracking clients and their potential for referrals. She details motivational tactics like having representatives go after leads that will pay off quickly along with those that take weeks or months to get a return so that they feel successful, and even presents example documents she uses herself. Aside from the bit of introduction about Cheryl herself, everything else is so succinct that it would likely take me just as many pages to summarize it all as it would to just write the whole book over again. The surprise of it all is that, despite how concise the book is, it's also as easy to read as a light fiction novel.
For those who prefer a workbook to help ensure they get the main points, you'll likely be disappointed here. The chapters don't include summaries and there are no questions to drive home the important points, but then this is a short book and highlighters exist. In fact, my .doc file review copy is full of highlights from a single read-through, and due to the short length of the book it's easy to go back through and re-read sections to refresh information. But perhaps the most confusing part of the book for me is that I still don't know what the five steps of sales are, despite the title implying their great importance. I had to do a search of the word "step" to even find and remember the first four steps: "study", "accounts and accountability", "lead", and "expectations and excellence", but didn't even find the fifth step this way. I wouldn't even consider this as something to point out if not for the steps being the main portion of the title. A page at the front and/or back with nothing but a list of all five steps would've been helpful to those who want to see them at a glance as a refresher, especially since just seeing the names of the four steps I found reminded me of a lot of the book despite my awful memory.
Finally, the book had a few errors, but nothing major. In fact, I only found four, and two were in a spreadsheet she included. I've worked many jobs in my life, and one of the things they all have in common is a complete lack of editing with documents that never leave the workplace. This spreadsheet is something she made for her own use, so it's understandable that it wouldn't get an editing pass on her own computer, but once it was included in the book it became fair game for using "granola bar's" and "ice scrappers". Only one error threw off my flow a bit, and four is a small number of errors even in a book that's less than 65 pages long.
Overall I really enjoyed 5 Steps to "SALES" Success, and while some of the lessons are very specific to home health, hospice, and private duty organizations (that list is right there in the title!), many of the suggestions would work for any managers of sales teams, whether it's selling actual products or working to get referrals like Cheryl and her team. I've worked with both sales and referrals in the past, so I can really appreciate Cheryl's leadership style, motivational tips, and goal setting. Heck, even seeing that a leader of a huge business realizes how much it sucks to have a referral turned down for something out of the salesperson's hands. My rating of the book is 4 out of 4 stars, and I'd recommend it to anyone who's interested in or already runs one of the types of businesses in the book's extended title. Anyone who works for these businesses or in sales in general will pick up some tips and good advice, but the book is primarily for management. Just keep in mind that you'll need to make good use of your highlighter feature!
5 Steps to Sales Success
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