There is so much small business owners need to know to operate at peak performance. Luckily we live in the Information Age with plentiful resources. To help you sift through some of the data, every week we’re going to look at three business books small business owners need to read and the lessons you can learn from reading them.
Collaboration Strategy: How to Get What You Want From Employees, Suppliers and Business Partners ($42)
The authors, both directors of the Strategic Management Centre at Ashridge Business School and former partners of The Boston Consulting Group, maintain that the very nature of work has changed. Routine assembly-line tasks have been largely replaced by non-routine activities, such as design, development, marketing, sales and project management. This type of work, they say, “demands innovative approaches to business organization.”
Based on their seven years of research, interviewing over 200 businesses, Felix Barber and Michael Goold conclude that collaboration is key to business success. In this book they lay out a “collaboration framework” you can follow. Collaboration, they argue, is important because the future is “less about employees that you direct and control and external suppliers who [produce to] your specifications” and more about “business partners with whom you contract to share ownership of the work.” This includes outsourced workers, venture capitalists, R&D partnerships and more.
The authors share the 10 requirements you need to create a successful collaboration. The book is also filled with charts and checklists, making it easier to understand and implement a collaboration strategy.
Welcome to the Funnel: Proven Tactics to Turn Your Social Media and Content Marketing Up to 11 ($9.99)
By Jason Miller
First, Iet me disclose I’ve know Jason Miller for several years. I first met him when he was working at a company that marketed to small businesses, and our paths have crossed ever since. Today Miller leads global content and social initiatives for LinkedIn marketing solutions.
Miller argues that marketing has shifted significantly in the past few years and that one-dimensional marketing is dead, particularly if you’re in the B2B industry. Rather, writes Miller, “Today’s successful marketers aren’t just good at one thing; we are hybrid marketers. We don’t specialize in social media, email marketing or direct mail.” Instead, argues Miller, we need to integrate our old and new marketing channels into one all-encompassing marketing strategy. He says we are “Renaissance Marketers.” As hybrid marketers, says Miller, we have to stay on top of five areas of strategy: social, content, email marketing, SEO and analytics.
Miller’s personality (and his lifelong love of music; hence the “This Is Spinal Tap” reference in the title) is reflected in this book. The book is engaging and filled with actionable steps.
NO is Short for Next Opportunity: How Top Sales Professionals Think ($17.95)
By Martin Limbeck
Is there any industry as dominated by conventional wisdom as sales? There is no shortage of sales advice and myths represented as gospel. Martin Limbeck is an author, sales authority and keynote speaker. Instead of reviewing the book, I thought I’d share some of Limbeck’s insights on the myths of selling.
Myth: You need to be born to sell. Truth: Hard work always trumps talent. Anyone can sell. Think of a child who wants something badly enough, for example. In sales, before reaping the rewards comes sowing, a lot of fieldwork and tons of practice.
Myth: If you can talk someone’s ear off, you’re a good sales professional. Truth: Top sales professionals recognize the principles that are dear to the client and take them seriously. What’s most important is that you’re able to listen, observe, recognize and understand. Only then start talking, and talk in such a way that you get through to your client.
Myth: The first three minutes of your meeting with the client determine whether you will close the deal or not. Truth: Your sales success hinges on the three hours before your meeting, on your mental programming and your will to succeed. Success is often decided based on what’s going on between your ears.
Myth: When the client says no, they mean nothing but no. Truth: Most of the time, a client’s ‘NO’ is just short for ‘Next Opportunity.’ Many times you’ll just get one of the typical objections (not now, not interested, we have all we need, etc.,) but top sales professionals know how to handle these. They know a ‘no’ is only temporary and that followup and persistence leads to more closed deals.
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