Performance is very critical to individual and corporate survival and progress. Therefore, any individual or corporate organisation that wants progress needs constant performance assessment. Regular performance assessment is also important for people and organisations that are already ahead, because complacency is very dangerous. This is why we are examining this book “101 Ways to Boost Your Performance.”
John Fenton, author of this text is one of the greatest salesmen the United Kingdom (UK) has ever produced. Fenton is the creator of the Institute of Sales and Marketing Management. He is also the architect of the ‘Year of Selling’ national campaign which helped 47,000 salespeople fight their way out of the 81/3 recession.
Fenton is the leader of ten UK National Sales as well as the president of the Institution of British Engineers. He is the founder of the Institute of Continuing Performance Development.
In this text, the author provides a catalogue of management techniques to help you improve your skills and achieve your ambition. He shows you how to cut to the bone of marketing, communication and administration, and offers a new insight into the processes of staff management, recruitment and development.
The author X-rays concepts such as shortcuts to knowing your product, your market, your competition and salesforce; how to cut paperwork by half and manage your time better; how to motivate your staff to even greater achievements, etc.
As far as structure is concerned, this text is segmented into 13 chapters. Chapter one is entitled “Foundation stones for effective management”. According to Fenton here, it is a glaring glimse of the obvious to say that no amount of production is of the slightest value unless the products are sold for cash. He adds that selling is the very crux of any commercial or industrial enterprise.
Fenton says personally, he loves signs, and there are a lot of them in this text. “Try placing some of them strategically around your place of work – they remind people why they are there. Without reminders, they quickly forget, and allow their personal priorities to take precedence over the priorities of the business,” says this author.
He adds that his favourite sign comes from ex-Avis chief Robert Townsend thus: “Is what I’m doing, or about to do, getting us closer to our objective or making us money?”
Fenton educates that a lot of companies do not see selling as the be-all-and-end-all of their business. He says they make things, or set up as experts in providing some kind of service, and then sit back and wait for the customers to come to them, which of course they do not.
In Fenton’s words, “The result is failure, unless they have enough personal contacts to keep them struggling along as a small company. If the product is good, professional sales promotion can turn any small struggling company into a large and prosperous one.” He says customers are the business, adding that the customers come first, not the products or services, or the factory or the corporate image, or the founder or owner of the company.
Chapter two is interrogatively entitled “Is marketing bunk?” Fenton educates that marketing is fashionable, and as soon as anything becomes fashionable, all sorts of ‘creative’ types move in and make ludicrous claims for their own magical powers. He adds that there are grains of truth in all their claims, but there is also a lot of flannel as well. “So let’s define what marketing should be about: ‘Marketing is the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably’,” says Fenton.
This author adds that without marketing, all you can do is to keep on selling the same products and services to the same customers. According to Fenton, inevitably that will lead to your going out of business, because you are standing while the world outside moves on.
Using the principles of marketing, however, you adjust, amend or change the products or services and the ways in which you sell them, in order to suit the changing needs of your changing customer base. In other words, you react positively to the constant evolution of your marketplace.
According to Fenton, marketing is only bunk when it is applied incompetently. He adds that it is also bunk to call your Sales Manager a Marketing Manager, and your Sales Office a Marketing Services Department.
The author examines concepts such as the competitive edge; improving performance; watching the bottomline; and cutting down the administration, in chapters three to six.
Chapter seven is based on finding and keeping the best people. Fenton educates that the snag is, of course, that without people there is no business. He advises that the first thing to do is to ensure that you get the best people possible in your team. The right people will be the ones who work for the furtherance of the business before their own self-interests, expatiates Fenton.
This consultant educates that if your business is to succeed, you have to be able to pick winners and avoid losers. He says he has two pet systems for picking winners, both very simple.
In his words, “If you are interviewing for a sales position, all the applicants will probably be clever enough to give you the answers you want to hear to the usual run of questions. If I am looking for experienced people, then they have to prove that all their experience is worth something. So I challenge them to prove how good they are.”
Fenton analytically X-rays concepts such as communications; management techniques; time management; leadership and motivation in chapters eight to 12.
The last chapter, chapter 13 is tagged “Unlucky for some.” According to him, there is nearly always a difference between what we are and what we are perceived to be. “Have you, for instance, got any of the nasty little habits which annoy you in other people?… Think of all the things that drive you mad in other people, and then see if they apply to you,” guides Fenton.
As regards style, one thing that is really conspicuous in this text is generous employment of graphical embroidery for emphasis and visual reinforcement of readers’ understanding.
Fenton uses detailed illustrations to ensure easy understanding on readers’ part. The language is comprehensible and the ideas logically presented. What’s more, the title of the text is catchy. The author also uses accurate quotes to embellish concepts.
However, the layout of the book needs improvement to make it (more) eye-friendly. On page 114, the expression “…the best people possible on your team”, which is Standard American English is used instead of the Standard British English version “…the best people possible in your team” ought to be used because Fenton is a Briton.
Finally, if you are ready to enhance your performance and rise to the top through excellence, then this text is a must-read for you. It is highly fascinating.