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Book Review: 'Five Proven Strategies from the World's Sales Leaders'

Over the Labor Day weekend, I picked up a book titled Sales Growth: Five Proven Strategies from the World's Sales Leaders. It was authored by Thomas Baumgartner, Homayoun Hatami and Jon Vander Ark, with a foreword written by CEO Marc Benioff.

What makes this a great read for sales leaders at any size organization is the real case-study examples the authors used to prove their strategies. Within each defined strategy, the authors broke out the specific steps required to achieve the stated goal. This provided a detailed description of how specific sales leaders approached a problem.

The authors, all consultants from McKinsey and Company, took data elements and individual interviews to produce almost a handbook-style guide that should be on every sales leader's shelf. When I read these kinds of books, I tend to have a pen in my hand and fold over the page corners where I find the key important points; after 225 pages of this book, I counted 19 pages folded! 

While many of the authors' examples are from enterprise and global organizations, the concepts and lessons are appropriate for any sales organization. The first key point that I came across is in a section called "Sales Experience Matters." There, the authors emphasized the importance of the customer's sales experience. They challenged sales leaders to ask themselves, "What do my customers want from the sales experience?" I know that when I craft sales process maps for clients, this question is always considered, and I always focus on creating some sales action or tool that is unique and that our competition is not doing.

The second point I picked up on was the need to focus on improving sales operations. That's all operations including all non-quota-carrying activities that support quota-carrying activities. What are you doing is this area?

Lastly, the authors focus on changing the culture within the organization. They highlight several great examples of sales leaders building momentum and driving new program initiatives. Examples included increasing the tempo within the sales team, increasing the coaching and sales management interaction, and demanding results, results, results!

The last chapter includes a great table with 12 questions that can be used to assess your sales organization. Within each question, the authors define "Good" and "Great" best practices.

Overall, this is a good read with many ideas that will keep you occupied during any airplane ride or a day on the dock! What good business-oriented book have you read recently?

Posted by Ken Thoreson on September 06, 2012