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What the Customer Wants You to Know: How Everybody Needs to Think Differently About Sales Hardcover – December 27, 2007

29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Charan (Know-How) skillfully and efficiently offers a tutorial on upgrading the productivity of any size company's sales force. His answer: evolve salespeople from order takers to knowledgeable ambassadors who approach customers armed with cost-saving solutions they will be happy to pay for Charan's method involves Value Creation Selling, which at a broad level means reconfiguring a sales force's orientation toward customers' profitability before its own success. The author recommends fostering in salespeople the skills and mindsets of a general manager and equipping them with a value account plan, or the document that defines the value proposition and the business benefits the customer can expect to get from it. Charan walks readers through the process of fixing the broken sales process with a combination of diagrams and anecdotes from real companies, all while applying the concepts and actions to a booklong case study of a fictitious software company, Sturgis Corporation. The book serves as a practical guide to competing with aggressive price-cutters in today's market. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


?Ram Charan's done it again! In his signature, easy-to-follow style, Ram describes a practical, down-to-earth yet radically new approach to sales and new business development. Any professional?from a CEO to a front-line sales person?who is looking to improve sales effectiveness is sure to find this book well worth reading.? ?Francisco D?Souza, president and CEO, Cognizant Technology Solutions Corporation ?"What the Customer Wants You to Know" is an excellent primer for any business looking to drive better sales results and profitable growth by focusing on what the customer needs to improve his or her business.? ?John A. Luke, CEO, MeadWestvaco ?"What the Customer Wants You to Know" challenges sales forces to revolutionize their methods?and our experience at The Thomson Corporation testifies to the fact that the payoff in increased sales and customer loyalty can be significant. His recommendations may sound radical, but they are practical and effective.? --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio (December 27, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591841658
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591841654
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #736,496 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ram Charan is the coauthor of bestsellers Execution and Confronting Reality and the author of What the CEO Wants You to Know and 10 other books. A noted expert on business strategy, execution, building a high-performance organization, 21st century leadership, corporate boards and succession, he has worked with leaders of some of the world's most successful companies, including GE, Bank of America, Verizon, Coca-Cola, 3M, Merck, Aditya Birla Group, and Tata Group.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Craig Matteson HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on January 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed this book on sales. It is a topic with forests of books in print. Many cover the same core principles, while others have found ways of putting swamp gas in print. This is one of those that has something good to say and does it concisely.

We have all heard and experienced the vastly increased competition, the compressed product life cycles, the adoption and dismissal of business strategy fads, and much more. Here Ram Charan introduces his idea about the Value Account Plan and not trying to compete on lower prices and thinner margins.

The idea is to get to know your customer intimately. You have to use everyone in your organization and gather everything anyone knows about your customers. What does their org chart and reporting structure look like? How do they make decisions? Who are the strategic decision makers? What are their key concerns? There is obviously much more to know and the point is to gather it all, put it together and the look at it to see your customer clearly. Where there are gaps, work to fill them in.

Once you really understand your customer, you can match and tailor your resources to provide value in ways that your customer does not yet expect or understand. You can match your expertise and products to help your customers accomplish their most strategic goals and make yourself a partner in their success instead of a purveyor of commodities at the lowest prices.

I think it is a terrific book and approach. But it means organizing your sales effort through the WHOLE company rather than just beating up on the account rep and his or her boss. Are you up for it?

Reviewed by Craig Matteson, Ann Arbor, MI
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By OpenHeart on February 25, 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This book has taken a basic Sales Class and provided new terminology to old techniques with really nothing new at all. To go out and find a few companies that were using the wrong tactics and then turned it around using the right tactics is not a new miracle cure for the industry. Their main theme called "Value Creation Selling" has been around for many decades. The book is not wrong in what it is teaching but it is stuff that I learned under a different title many years ago. Not quite up to Dale Carnegie standards. Your money would be better spent on a book called "How to Win Friends and Influence People". This is not a waste of time but is really nothing new.
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19 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Chris Reich on February 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book could have been written 10-15 years ago. In one sentence: protect margin by adding value through service. That's it. The material is so basic and repetitious that I found it very tedious to just finish reading the book in hopes of learning something.

If you want easy to read business books with current thinking, take a look at Seth Godin's collection of offerings.

Regrettably, many books are now being hyped by a "system". Authors have a few friends post rave reviews to pump duds. This is one of them.

Chris Reich
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 26, 2007
Format: Hardcover
In all of his previous books (notably Execution co-authored with Larry Bossidy and then Know-How), Ram Charan focuses his attention on how to achieve and then sustain superior organizational performance. Another earlier work, What the CEO Wants You to Know, is an excellent companion for What the Customer Wants You to Know because it helps those in sales - as well as those who supervise them -- to understand the customer's business more broadly. In fact, the inspiration for the Customer book came from the CEO book. Charan explains in it why traditional sales approaches are unable to satisfy what customers want salespeople to know: How their business works and how they can make it work better. "The heart of the new approach to selling is an intense focus on the prosperity of your customers." Value Creation Selling (VCS) is the foundation of what Charan recommends.

He notes that VCS is "sweepingly different from how most companies sell today in these five ways: "First, you as a seller and your organization devote large amounts of time and energy - much more than you do today - to learning about your customers' businesses in great detail...Second, you use capabilities and tools that you've never used before to understand how your customers do business and how you can help them improve that business...Third, you're going to make it your business to know not only your customers but also your customers' customers...Fourth, you have to recognize that the execution of this new approach will require much longer cycle times to produce an order and generate revenue...Finally, top management in your company will have to reengineer its recognition and reward system to make sure that the organization as a whole is fostering the behaviors that will make the new sales approach effective.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By George Bush HALL OF FAME on February 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Ram Charan has authored some excellent books - this isn't one of them. It's basically a reminder of something fundamental that should have been undertaken long ago.

The basic message is that instead of focusing on your product and the customer's typical price fixation, get to understand the customer's situation - his problems, goals, and how you and your company can help improve their margins and revenue growth. To achieve this, one also should get to know one's customers' customers.

Follow-up to insure this is taking place is important - Charan suggests doing so in sales review meetings. The bad news, however, is that more and more products have become commodities - thus, price will remain the focus, no matter how much you'd like to do more for the customer.
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