The Catcher in the Rye. Moby Dick. Pride and Prejudice. The Grapes of Wrath. A Tale of Two Cities.
If there's one thing those books have in common for me, it's that they were part of my high school summer reading lists. Remember those? You'd receive a list of books before the end of your school year that you'd have to read in preparation for the next school year.
Maybe you were excited by all of that reading; maybe you weren't. Maybe you cleared your list well before summer's end, or maybe you were running to the local bookstore to find the Cliffs Notes versions of the books on your list (not that I know anything about that). Since we're so close to the beginning of summer, I thought I'd share with you what should be on every good B2B marketing and sales careerist's list this summer. It's a bit more geared to the marketer, but every good sales professional is their own marketer too.
If you're reading this and you've just graduated from college hoping to find yourself in sales and marketing, take heed! This list is the tip of the iceberg for you. If you're like me and you've read these books, take heed and read them again; they're just that good. Note that all of the links are to Amazon, should you choose to purchase them.
| ||The New Rules of Marketing and PR, 2nd Edition - David Meerman Scott's book on completely changing the way marketing and PR is handled effectively today. David's book is worth reading time and again to be reminded of how the Internet and social media can radically improve your business. This book is a Marketing 401 class in 320 pages.|
|Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs - Written by the founders of HubSpot, Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, Inbound Marketing delivers on its promise to get your organization found. Brian and Dharmesh talk about just what "inbound marketing" is, how you can get found by the prospects you want to do business with, and how to convert those prospects into customers.|
| ||SNAP Selling - Jill Konrath's latest book is a must-read. This new book teaches its readers how to better handle prospects who, today, have shrinking budgets and more "to-do's" on their plates than they've ever had before. Oh yeah, and she teaches you how to close them, too. Jill is a master saleswoman, and she artfully delivers a message to improve the sales processes of her readers.|
|Ogilvy on Advertising - David Ogilvy's book, now celebrating its 25th year in print, is a classic and one that I revisit time and again. Ogilvy teaches that advertisement is salesmanship, and he couldn't be more right. His lessons on buyer personas (though not necessarily called that) are just as relevant today as they've ever been. In fact, he calls out the lazy marketers who do not go about this process and warns about "skidding about on what my brother Francis called 'the slippery slope of irrelevant brilliance.'"|
| ||eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale - Ardath Albee's book on eMarketing is a great book that teaches its readers how to differentiate themselves from every other organization in their space. Ardath sets a great tone throughout the book, and the lessons in the book aren't just things marketers should be doing but rather things they must be doing. Ardath spends a considerable amount of time discussing what she calls "Contagious Content," and with good reason - she understands the importance of content that spurs the prospect to move from reading to engaging.|
| ||Digital Body Language - Steven Woods' book explores how today's marketers can market better to their target audiences, taking into consideration all of the intricacies of 21st century sales and sales processes. Woods' idea that marketers and sales folks can now "read" a prospect's digital body language (i.e. their web behavior) is on point and is sure to help shape readers' effectiveness in their chosen professions. Pick this one up.|
| || |
Obviously there are more books that I could place on the B2B Sales and Marketing summer reading list, but these are my "must reads." What about you? What would you add to the list?
Many of you have seen my tagline "Market with Courage!" This emerged as a saying of mine back in the 90's and has stuck ever since. The Market part started with my love of marketing. The courage part came from several life changing business events. These events set the groundwork for how I work with clients today, and how I expect them to work with me, and are what I believe keep our client relationships long lasting.
Marketing vendors (agencies, PR firms, consultants, list brokers - you name it) have for decades, and occasionally still today, been treated by some with disdain - a necessary evil. Many companies simply try to extract their pound of flesh with every contract. The best marketing service providers, however, rarely suffer this pain. That said, some folks still need a lesson in change. I was reminded of this last week when a young gun manager of demand generation turned on me with a rude, "I just got a quote from your competitor that was 30% lower than your price. I want a discount." It was an opportunity to share one of my "courage" stories.
I had started my career as a $7.00 per hour software support engineer at Modicon, and soon enough I was dabbling with sales and marketing, which led to me closing the largest ongoing contract the company had at the time with Mars (as in M&M Mars). When we showed up in Hackettstown, NJ to negotiate the contract, the first thing I noticed, besides the wonderful smell of chocolate, was a sign in the lobby referring to The Five Principles. These were the five guiding concepts that Mars ran their business by and expected all of their associates to follow. These were: Quality, Responsibility, Mutuality, Efficiency, Freedom. Being a young and brash sales guy who was admittedly a bit intimidated to sit face to face with the same guy that negotiates peanut and chocolate contracts all over the world, I immediately honed in on the word "Mutuality." Next to it was the following paragraph:
"Mutuality: We believe that the standard by which our business relationships should be measured is the degree to which mutual benefits are created. These benefits can take many different forms, and need not be strictly financial in nature. Likewise, while we must try to achieve the most competitive terms, the action of Mars should never be at the expense, economic or otherwise, of others with whom we work."
My nerves subsided in seconds. They wanted me to negotiate a win-win deal. There it was in writing. They wanted the value we could bring to the table, and they were willing to compensate us fairly to get it. This one paragraph gave me the courage, as a vendor, to structure a relationship that is still, almost 20 years later, benefiting both companies. Still to this day, I always have the courage to ask for, and maintain, a mutually valuable relationship.
By the way, I also shared my client Mars' first principle, Quality, and how it is mandatory for Green Leads' appointment setting service, added to my ability to disarm the situation and maintain my margin (my half of the mutually beneficial relationship).