I was recently reviewing pageviews in my blog postings and realized the most popular article was The 5 Best Business Books You May Have Never Read. The five books listed provided actionable advice and ideas based on comprehensive and thorough research. My intention was to create a recommended reading list to help new sales and marketing professionals sort through the literary noise and easily find the most practical business development information. I find many of the recent business development books are too simplistic and do not provide the complex insights necessary to improve business development performance. Much time can be wasted if you don’t know where to look.
After reviewing my original list, I realized I should have added two books, both classics and both “must reads”:
Crossing the Chasm, 3’rd Edition: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers by Geoffrey A. Moore. Originally published in 1991, revised and updated for the third time in 2014. See it at: Crossing the Chasm at Amazon.com
The “chasm” is probably the most important, single market adoption concept identified since Michael Huthwaite’s sales research on Seller/Buyer behavior. The latest edition provides new ideas for marketing in the digital world and gives recent examples of companies that have successfully navigated the “chasm”.
If you’re not familiar with Moore’s chasm concept, it leverages the earlier diffusions of innovations theory work of Everett Rogers. The chasm concept refers to a time (and revenue) lag, based upon market adoption. The author segments corporate buyers into five categories; Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority and Laggards; each unique in the way they envision the future and select products and vendor partners. This market adoption time lag, or “chasm” occurs between the Innovators/Early Adopter category and the three other market adoption categories. Moore cautions managers and investors not to become impatient and abandon the enterprise before it reaches its full potential—a common mistake if organizations do not plan for this temporary lag in their product’s market adoption.
Read this book first if your B2B customers embed your solutions to create their B2C products. The marketing adoption implications of the “chasm” concept are immense but the sales process model implications are even greater. Sales process models for pre-chasm, B2B sales must support longer, riskier sales cycles with greater time and resource investment. Subject-matter experts from across the seller’s organization will be required to participate in co-ideation (design-in) activities very early in the customer’s product development lifecycle. Also, when selling to customers with pre-chasm products, managing early sales activities (quantity and quality) will provide a more accurate forecast of future sales success than more lagging, outcome-based performance measures.
Sales and Marketing the Six Sigma Way by Michael Webb and Tom Gorman Sales and Marketing the Six Sigma Way. Originally released in 2006 and re-released in paperback in 2013.
One of the best kept secrets of the business development world… It’s a few years old now but the concepts and tools remain the same, regardless of any new-media or social channels your target audience may prefer. You don’t have to be a 6 Sigma quality expert or certified “belt” to benefit from this book. It’s packed with good ideas, models, and techniques to help you think big (about the forest), and to think small (about the trees). It will easily be one of the most highlighted and referenced books in your office library.
If you are a chief executive, you’ll have many questions for your sales and marketing leadership after reading it. The “Key Points” highlighted at the end of each chapter helps to prioritize the reader’s takeaways. Though the company case studies sometimes seem a bit simplistic, the exercise examples are robust and complex. The SIPOC model (Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Outputs, Customers) in the Chapter 4 supplement will be of particular interest to those considering a start-up venture; it’s great for brainstorming potential new business models, partners and markets. Ideas from this book will provoke beneficial debate on your current or planned business entity for years to come. You can thank me later...
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Mike Peters is the managing director of the Whitespace Consulting Group, a global business development strategy firm. The Whitespace Consulting Group has been helping multi-cultural clients optimize their business development strategy since 2005. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.