The dog days of summer have arrived, and that means fireworks, some time at the beach (or wherever you relax) and catching up on some reading. In the past, I’ve taken this time to share some of the books that I’ve read that have the biggest impact on growth-oriented businesspeople.
This year I’ve decided to update my list with four additions. These books are not necessarily new, but they are books that I’ve read in the last year (I know, some of you will look at this list and wonder “what was he waiting for?”). All of these books provide great insights to anyone intent on growing business or improving important processes.
1. The Sales Development Playbook
If you haven’t met or talked with Trish Bertuzzi, you don’t know what you’re missing. Trish is not only brilliant, she’s also one of the straightest, no BS communicators I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. She speaks from experience, and is not the least bit concerned with challenging traditional thinking and “best practices.”
Within the first five pages of The Sales Development Playbook you’ll know what I’m talking about. This book is not about theory or what could be. It’s down and dirty, how-to at its finest, from one of the leading practitioners in the sales development world (hell, she defined what sales development is).
This is one of the few must-read books in sales. Whether you’re a veteran or a rookie, you’ll find yourself highlighting passages, dog-earing pages and referring to the book frequently. And, while the focus of the book is on implementing an effective sales development process, it’s also a great book on selling in general.
2. Scrum - The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time
If you’re wondering what the big deal is about Agile Project Management or Agile Marketing, and you haven’t read this book, you’ll quickly understand (of course, if you’ve read this book you already know why Agile is so hot). Written by one of the creators of the Agile movement, this book provides amazing insights into why your project management sucks and efforts to create predictable outcomes fail.
Ostensibly written with a focus on software development, the applications of this book are limitless. If you’re involved in developing or improving processes designed to improve outcomes while reducing costs and easing the effort required, you simply must read this book.
I finally got around to reading this book six months ago. After reading it, I decided that we needed to absolutely change how we were managing and developing our processes, how our client services team was structured and how we were implementing our sales and marketing approach. Interestingly, the book doesn’t talk about any of those processes directly, but I felt like it was written for me - and I’m sure when you read it, you will too.
3. Lean Analytics
First a warning. This book is heavily written to digitally-oriented businesses (SaaS, apps, digital media, etc.), but don’t let that scare you away.
One of Imagine’s values comes from W. Edwards Deming, who said (among other things) “In God We Trust, Everyone Else Better Have Data.” While the last 10 years has seen an obscene amount of change in how businesses work, if I were only allowed to name one change it would be the importance of data in success.
I’m on a bit of a crusade for sellers to learn what marketers are finally learning - arguing over opinions, beliefs and even experience is an absolute waste of time (at best) when you can use facts and data to test and ultimately answer important questions. The challenge for all involved is how to do that effectively. Separating the “signal from the noise” is challenging for even the most quantitative among us. If you’re involved in gaining better insights from data and analytics - this book needs to be on your list. And thank you to Luke Summerfield for recommending it to me.
4. The Four Steps to the Epiphany
If you’re involved in bringing new products or services to market (or enhancing what you’re already selling) then pick this book up. While it’s not the easiest book to understand (it was originally created as a companion to the author’s class at Berkeley) it is filled with ultra-valuable insights and stories.
We already know that building better mouse traps isn’t a recipe for success; and that just because you build it doesn’t mean they will come. So how can you build predictability into launching a new offering?
“Customer development” is the answer to the question. If you don’t know what that is, what are you doing still reading this blog post. Go here and get a copy of the book.
It’s eights weeks until Labor Day. Read at least two of these books and you’ll prepare yourself for a great fall season as well.