4 key sales reads

26th February 2021 |   Nick de Cent

Four new books written by distinguished contributors to the Journal offer business leaders, sales professionals, students and academics new insights and guidance as they seek to navigate the complexities of selling and sales leadership today. Each of the authors delivers that rare combination of academic credibility and practical business experience.

Sales Management That Works

by Frank V Cespedes

Sales Management That Works

Rather than moving sequentially through the sales process, buyers now progress in parallel activity streams – explore, evaluate, engage, experience – as they make a purchase decision. Selling is changing, but much of the conventional wisdom about the impact of e-commerce, big data, AI, and other megatrends on sales is misleading and not supported by scientific data, declares Harvard Business School professor Frank Cespedes.

 In Sales Management That Works Cespedes separates truth from hype. The reality is that selling involves a combination of factors: a coherent strategy, relevant hiring practices and incentives, and ongoing performance management that motivates the right behaviours in the face of many changes outside a company’s control. Businesses can deny the complexity, but it’s there. This has a profound impact on the way we need to think about sales across five key areas:

  • People – As buying processes change, employee competencies need to shift as well, but some hiring practices only exacerbate difficulties. However, “customer focus” is a perennial slogan but not a behavioural reality at most firms. 
  • Process – As the lines between online and in-person sales are blurring, companies need to unbundle traditional channel arrangements. An understanding of buying journeys must inform relevant sales activities.
  • Pricing – Pricing can build or destroy profits in a changing landscape where it is more transparent than ever. So, linking pricing with a value proposition, sales model, and selling behaviours is essential.
  • Partners – Selling now means working with partners that are influential during the buying journey and after the sale. The options have increased, and so has the managerial complexity. Realigning the role of channels in sales programs is critical.
  • Productivity – Customer acquisition plays an essential role in a company’s success, yet many C-suite leaders are out of touch with sales activities. Leaders need to close this gap.

Sales Management That Works digs deep into how companies can maximize their efforts to attract and retain customers in this new environment. It is a valuable read for multiple audiences seeking to enhance their understanding of the reality of sales (what works and what doesn’t): students, newbies, experienced sales professionals and, perhaps most importantly, those C-suite executives (especially CEOs and CFOs) who have never really taken the time to explore the sales environment. See “New Sales Realities”, pages 26-27, for more from Frank Cespedes.

About the author

Dr Frank V Cespedes is the MBA Class of 1973 Senior Lecturer of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. Before joining HBS, he was a Research Associate at Harvard and worked at Bain & Company, an international strategy consulting firm. He is the author of six books, including Aligning Strategy and Sales and Concurrent Marketing.

Sales Management That Works: How to sell in a world that never stops changing was published on 23 February 2021 by Harvard Business Review Press. £23.00, Hardcover, ISBN 9781633698765. Stand-out marketing

Stand-out marketing

by Simon Kelly, Paul Johnston and Stacey Danheiser

Stand-out marketing

How do we get customers to choose us over our competitors? In a crowded market, it’s imperative to demonstrate that you understand what your customers value and to communicate how you can solve their problem better than the competition. 

Stand-out Marketing presents original research (some of which was originally published in the Journal) that compares the content produced by organizations in a range of sectors. This demonstrates that customers are left swimming in a “sea of sameness” by copycat marketing that makes choice difficult.

On the back of this unique and fascinating research, Stand-out Marketing sets out a framework of five competencies for business leaders, marketing and sales professionals to successfully differentiate themselves from competitors. These include seeing the next competitive move, staying in tune with your customers and becoming indispensable to them, activating and evaluating initiatives, as well as building an organizational culture that enables these competencies. Featuring interviews with industry experts, tools and exercises throughout, Stand-out Marketing will help companies stand out, deliver genuine value, and achieve competitive advantage.

About the authors

Dr Simon Kelly pioneered the move from product-push to value-based selling while he was Marketing Director (SVP) at BT. A “pracademic”, he was a Senior Lecturer at Sheffield Business School and is currently a Lecturer in Marketing and Sales at York Management School. He is CEO of Cohesion Marketing Services and a Principal of Shake Marketing Group.

Dr Paul Johnston is a visiting lecturer at Nottingham Trent University, Sheffield Hallam University in the UK, and the IESEG management school in Paris. Prior to this Paul spent 20 years in the gambling and electronics games industry with board-level roles in competitive strategy, key account management, marketing research, and product innovation.

Stacey Danheiser is CEO and founder of SHAKE marketing group, a strategic marketing consulting firm based in Denver, Colorado. Prior to starting her own consultancy, she spent 15 years as a marketing and sales enablement leader at large companies across cable, telecommunications, financial services, and banking sectors.

Stand-out Marketing: How to Differentiate Your Organization in a Sea of Sameness was published by Kogan Page on 3 December 2020, EAN: 9781789664829

Transformational Selling

by Philip Squire

Transformational Selling

For years, salespeople have struggled with clichéd views of how they sell; at the same time customers have become more sophisticated and discerning. The result is that the technique of salespeople controlling the sales conversation and learning how to influence the customer no longer works. Selling Transformed introduces the new world of selling and addresses the reasons why salespeople are so poorly perceived.

Selling Transformed provides fresh, tangible ideas on how to develop better sales practices. Focusing as much on the customers as on the sellers, it explains key theories of selling effectively and introduces four proven strategies based on the values customers look for in salespeople: authenticity, client-centricity, proactive creativity and being tactfully audacious. The book explains what customers look for in salespeople and advises on how to develop and deliver these values.

About the author

Dr Philip Squire is CEO of sales business school Consalia. He is a subject-matter expert for the UK sales degree apprenticeships and is co-founder of the International Journal of Sales Transformation.

Selling Transformed: Develop the Sales Values which Deliver Competitive Advantage was published by Kogan Page on 3 December 2020, EAN: 9781789665352

Selling Professionally

by Beth Rogers with Jeremy Noad

Selling Professionally

As the forward to Selling Professionally says, “There is a common misconception that selling is an art. It isn’t. It’s a professional service that helps customers get what they need or want.” To become a sales professional, you need to understand what to do, how to do it and how to do it well.

Selling Professionally will help aspiring sales professionals do just that. It has been published in partnership with the Association of Professional Sales, the not-for-profit organisation founded in the UK to build professional standards, trust and education across the sales sector. As such, this book is designed to equip early-career professionals with the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed to succeed in sales – and at the highest level. As the authors themselves say: “This textbook has been designed to help you to master the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed to become a world-class sales executive.”

Using a blend of robust research and real-life examples, Selling Professionally succeeds admirably in its aims, offering comprehensive and easy-to-understand access to the information and skills that ambitious sales professionals need to turbocharge their careers.

I anticipate that many readers will keep this book as a handy reference for whenever they need a quick refresher on a specific aspect of their sales toolkit. This book is an invaluable guide in any sales professional’s learning journey and is an essential handbook for anyone embarking on their career in sales.

About the authors

Dr Beth Rogers is known for pioneering the topic of sales in higher education and has worked with numerous universities and professional bodies in Europe. She is a Visiting Fellow at Cranfield University School of Management and formerly Head of Marketing and Sales subject group at the University of Portsmouth School of Business and Law. Before her academic career, she worked in business development roles in the IT sector.

Dr Jeremy Noad is an award-winning sales and marketing professional with over 25 years’ experience. Over the past ten years he has worked with businesses in over 50 countries to grow revenue, increase profits, and improve productivity and effectiveness. He is an advocate for improving the professional status of sales, and has been the Research Review editor for the International Journal of Sales Transformation since its inception.

Selling Professionally: A guide to becoming a world-class sales executive was published by Rethink on 12 October 2020, ISBN 978-1781334775

Founder of the International Journal of Sales Transformation | + posts

Nick de Cent is the founder and editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Sales Transformation. A business journalist for over 35 years, he has been covering sales since the mid-1980s and has been a strong advocate of enhancing its professional status. He has freelanced for the Financial Times and edited the Sales Performance supplement in The Times. He also writes and edits extensively on behalf of corporate clients, including a Big 3 management consultancy and a top four global executive search firm.
Contact: editor@journalofsalestransformation.com.