Schiffman’s based this book’s title off the motto of the late talent agent Irving “Swifty” Lazar, a successful and well-known negotiator and businessman himself with a long list of famous (and infamous) clients.
To illustrate Lazar’s way of thinking, Schiffman lays out the very first rule in the book Throw Out the Ball, an old chestnut – and training exercise - from Schiffman’s older sales books, making the point that in communication with potential partners or clients, the conversation should work almost like a game of catch; when a ball is thrown to a person, that person usually throws it back.
The goal of the conversation should be to move forward in a relationship, however big or small that movement is, with the end goal being a positive course of action together. It is this act that the author argues was what Lazar meant by “something” happening. Another great book on negotiation is Winning Through Intimidation.
The book is broken into three different sections, with the 50 rules/tactics split not quite evenly between them.
The first part, dedicated to “getting obsessed about the right stuff,” deals primarily with core initial contact strategies and preparation, and is the largest section of the book.
The second part, all about getting to “the next step” with potential clients, involved refining communication strategies, gathering information, and strategies for presentations to clients. For another excellent read on this subject pick up the book The Ultimate Sales Machine.
The last and shortest section of the book, all about “toughing it out,” is designed as a sort of motivational and advisory section on dealing with both negative responses from prospective clients and strategies for closing sales.
A brisk and evergreen read at less than 200 pages, Make It Happen Before Lunch has a quality that works both as a strength and a weakness at the same time, and that quality is the point of view of the author. Stephan Schiffman has been training salespeople for over 40 years professionally, and as a result of the business culture in which he has thrived, his advice is both plain-spoken, values-oriented, and rooted in both hard work and persistence.
For the most part, this is not only sound business advice, but also sound life advice, and is most welcome to both business newcomers and highly scrupulous, veteran business specialists. A comparable book would also be It’s Called Work For A Reason!
Very little of the book addresses a lot of modern office setups, or the proliferation of mobile phones that allow potential clients to automatically screen calls. While the book was initially written a while ago (certainly before social media networking became the norm), phone trees, email and chat-based contact are not brought up much.
Outside of that, there are a few curiosities in the setup of the book that don’t help, like that fact that many of the rules/tactics repeat themselves unintentionally (though this is not an issue specifically with Schiffman, but with many similar authors) and the irony of one rule (“Understand That People Communicate in Stories”) is that it contradicts the book’s subtitled subject, which refers to these rules/tactics as “cut-to-the-chase” strategies. Building a StoryBrand is a wonderful book about improving communication and telling your story in an easy digestible way.
With that in mind, there are a number of good practices and rules of thumb to keep in mind that Schiffman drops throughout the book. Keeping in mind things like the fact that most people generally plan their schedules out in a two-week window, the need for persistence in prospecting, remembering the law of averages when it comes to successful sales, the need to expect initial negative reactions with new potential clients and the importance of believing in one’s own operational value. Another amazing sales book that I highly recommend is The Challenger Sale.
Overall, the book succeeds with its main goal of laying out helpful information to the average entrepreneur, though it still relies primarily on the sales side of advice. This isn’t terribly shocking, considering the author’s primary business background, though it brings to mind the old saying that when one has a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. For more wonderful little one liners like that pick up the book Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss.
While prospecting for sales and networking are a very large part of most businesses’ success, little to no information on other aspects of business is discussed. For that, one might want to try Schiffman’s more in-depth, entrepreneur-centric book Make it Your Business, or read the book about Salesforce’s meteoric sales growth: Predictable Revenue.