Here are some of the books we consider to be “must reads” for any executive who makes or contributes to your decisions about how you manage your sales funnel.

Business and marketing strategy books

Inside the Tornado by Geoffrey Moore

Inside the TornadoAn excellent insight into the macro strategy settings needed by a business as its prospective customers move from scepticism to active enthusiasm. It also contains an adequate summary of Crossing the Chasm (Moore’s first book), which describes the macro strategy settings needed by a business after it has picked the low-hanging fruit of an early market. More

 

The New Strategic Selling by Bob Miller & Stephen Heiman

Strategic SellingWith the rise and fall of many opportunity management methodologies, Sales professionals have proven that if it’s complicated, they won’t use it. And if you can’t explain your plan for winning an opportunity on one page, you probably don’t understand it. Strategic Selling has reemerged as the best way to manage a complex sales opportunity.  More

 

SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham

SPIN sellingBusiness libraries and book stores are littered with texts on sales management. Published in 1988, this is still the one that many use for creating opportunities. SPIN Selling draws on over 35,000 interviews with sales people, or observations of them in the field, and concludes that good sales people build needs and poor sales people pitch products. You’ll see influences of SPIN Selling in align.me’s approach to improving sales and marketing effectiveness. More

 

Built to Last by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras

Built to lastLike Peters and Waterman in In Search of Excellence, Collins and Porras try to define what makes a good company by reviewing those that have succeeded. Their benchmarking approach appears more sound, and they conclude by offering some practical pillars on which any business intent to last beyond the life of its founder should be built. More

 

Escape Velocity by Geoffrey Moore

Built to lastEscape velocity is a valuable articulation of insights many of us will already be familiar with. However, the book organises itself around a heirarchy of powers that together shape a market, companies competing in that marketing and the products and services they offer in that market. More

 

Kellogg on Marketing edited by Dawn Iacobucci

Kellogg on marketingAlice M Tybout and Brian Sternthal from Kellogg University strip the “fluff” from market positioning to leave a believable and usable core. They explain that efforts to position a brand are usually around communicating its point of difference, but that this doesn’t stick if the brand is not already firmly positioned within the product category. For brands yet to hold such a position, marketers should in stead communicate the brand’s similarities with established members. Seemingly academic, this is a simple revelation, and explains why so often positioning efforts for new brands fail. More

 

Competitive Strategy by Michael Porter

Competitive Strategy25 years after first being published, the framework for understanding profitability detailed in Competitive Strategy holds as valid today. Porter explains why those generating more profit than their rivals in any given industry hold to any one of three strategies: cost leadership (not price), focus or differentiation. It is heavy going, but well worth reading and rereading. More

 

Permission Marketing by Seth Goddin

Permission marketingAs a pioneer of effective email marketing, Seth Goddin introduced a novel idea in this popular book: most of our marketing is interrupting our audience. Ineffective advertising and offensive SPAM are not markedly different from each other, in that at best they miss the point, or perhaps more likely, they evidence how much the seller is willing to ignore they buyer. Goddin gives great examples of unwelcome interruption, and encourages the reader to build a permission-based dialogue with their market. more

 

The Buck Starts Here by Mary & Michael Molloy

The buck starts hereIn an effusive and compelling manner, Mary and Michael Molloy lead us to a practical understanding of a simple means to deter­mine the ROI of sales and marketing options. More

 

 

Rethinking the Sales Force by Neil Rackham & John De Vincentis

Rethinking the sales forceAlthough somewhat less impactful (for us) than Rackham’s first book SPIN Selling, in Rethinking the Sales Force, Rackham and De Vincentis point out that sales forces are often structured around conveniences for the vendor rather than the buying style of the customer. They offer a simple, usable framework to deal with the three types of buyer: intrinsic (their value comes from the product alone), extrinsic (their value comes from the way the product is applied), and strategic (they want to create new value by aligning their resources with yours). More

 

Unleashing The IdeaVirus by Seth Goddin

Unleashing the idea virusThe profiled mailer tool we use on this site enables align.me to provide an environment whereby our clients determine what marketing and information they recieve. This is essentially Permission Marketing. Below is a quote from Seth Godin, author of Unleashing the IdeaVirus, about the future of marketing: “Marketing by interrupting people isn’t cost effective anymore. You can’t afford to seek out people and send them unwanted marketing messages, in large groups, and hope that some will send you money. Instead the future belongs to marketers who establish a foundation and process where interested people can market to each other. Ignite consumer networks and then get out of the way and let them talk.” More

 

Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind by Al Ries, and Jack Trout

Positioning: the battle for your mindAlthough Kellogg on Marketing provides a framework for positioning that we find more usable (especially in business-to-business marketing), Ries and Trout were the pioneers of positioning, and a full appreciation of this not-so-subtle art is enhanced by knowing its origins. More

 

 

A New Brand World by Scott Bedbury

A new brand worldHis major role in the development of two great global brands – Nike and Starbucks – says enough. Although the positioning chapter in Kellogg on Marketing explains why many teachings which are exclusively drawn from consumer markets don’t hold in business markets, it is a brave marketer who completely ignores the experience of a senior marketing executive with runs on the board like Fenichell. More

 

Marketing ROI by James D. Lenskold

Marketing ROIThose who’ve read The Leaky Funnel will know the importance of selecting Sales and Marketing tactics for maximum effect in progressing buyers from one stage of their journey to the next. In Marketing ROI, Jim Lenskold provides clear, detailed instruction on how to calculate and manage to the financial return from a marketing investment. By embracing what he teaches us, we not only enjoin the CFO in the decision-making process, but learn how to select from campaign, segment and tactic options for maximum return. More

 

 

 

Start with Why by Simon Sinek         

Sinek’s audio book explores how all success comes from asking WHY? Sinek puts forward that all natural leaders have the same intuition to ask why? He refers to this as the ‘Golden Circle’, starting with why and leading to how organisations are created and people are inspired. More

 

 

 

 

The Leaky Funnel by Hugh Macfarlane

The Leaky Funnel provides a fresh look at how to earn more customers following a funnel management process. Written as a business novel, the Leaky Funnel provides key ideas into how to change the organisation of a business’s sales and marketing team, focusing on the customer buying path rather than focusing on the seller. More

 

Do you have any you’d like to recommend?

If so, we’d welcome your suggestion. Remember, we are after somewhat life-changing books (quality over quantity). We think all of the above fit that category. Please click here to offer your suggestion.