Most people think business-to-business (B2B) sales is all about relationship building. Get to know your customer, become a part of their inner circle, so they trust you and therefore buy from you.
However, the largest number of top performers are more likely to use a much more challenging style…
In The Challenger Sale, Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson claim there are five main profiles – you can think of them as behavioural styles of sorts – that sales reps may fall into when engaging in a B2B sale.
Most people have a lot of what I call ’head trash’ when defining what sales means. And many believe that the “Relationship Builder” is the way to go – building advocacy and getting to know the customers in order to sell to them.
However, their findings show that only 7% of the top performers primarily use this style to sell, and 40% of the highest performers primarily use the “Challenger” style.
That is, a style of sales that involves pushing the customer outside their comfort zone. Debating with the prospect and asking them the hard sales questions. Understanding the customer’s business so deeply that you teach them something they didn’t even know they needed to know! Truly challenging them.
But the key takeaway is that Challengers are made, not born. You can be taught how to become a Challenger, even if you are naturally one of the other styles of salesperson.
If sales is where you most struggle with in your business, and you haven’t yet read the Challenger Sale, this is one to pick up immediately. These are classic concepts that simply work and aren’t going away anytime soon.
How you sell can often be much more critical than what you sell, so by combining an effective style with an appropriate number of steps in your sales process, you can quickly create a powerful sales machine in your business.
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Our previous top business books recommendations:
- One Minute Manager
- The Slight Edge
- American Icon
- Jonathan Livingston Seagull
- Work Rules
- The Advantage
- Crucial Conversations
- The Values Factor
- The Sales Acceleration Formula
- The 4 Hour Work Week
- Life in Half a Second
- The Chimp Paradox
- The One Thing
- Start With Why
Best Business Books to Read: One Minute Manager
Have you ever revisited a book and found that it was completely different and a lot deeper than how you remembered it? The book has not changed, you have. And now the lessons are a lot more relevant.
Here is one of the books that you may want to read again.
One Minute Manager is an incredibly short but powerful book by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson that highlights three rather simple techniques for being a great manager. Those are “One Minute Goals”, “One Minute Praisings” and “One Minute Reprimands”.
The book itself may be a few years old now, but its concepts are still as relevant today as they ever were. If you haven’t read this one yet, then make sure you pick it up – it won’t take you much longer than a few hours to read.
And if you have read it, you might want to consider sending it to the other managers in your life. I recently gave it to one of my team, and I’m confident it will truly help them to become a better manager.
Who in your business would this book be relevant to today?
Discuss Management Strategy At Mastermind
If you hadn’t heard already, we are hosting a round-table discussion with just a few businesses. We will deep-dive into what strategies may help those particular businesses achieve even more growth. Team management is almost definitely going to feature.
Best Business Books to Read: The Slight Edge
It has been a while since I’ve read a book that has the potential of massively transforming both mindset and activities. I came across such a book earlier this year, and it has already resulted in a massive shift in my thinking that I’m confident is going to have a tremendous effect on my life.
The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson is more than a business advice book – it’s a whole philosophy and a way of thinking that reaches into all areas of your life.
The fundamental idea is that the simple daily choices you make – small actions – create a compound effect that results in your desired future (like when we talked about having a big business mindset).
The real key takeaway here is that you do not need to be making grand gestures and dramatic changes in order to build your future. You just need to have a small, simple daily discipline that you apply consistently.
And that last word is the most important part: consistency of approach is the key to achieving this massive end result.
What makes it difficult? This principle relies on you being able to focus on the seemingly insignificant rather than the enormous breakthroughs. You need to be able to focus on the end result, not the immediate one, which is not the way most of us instinctively think.
However, when you train yourself to do this – when you apply some small effort in a consistent way – it really will get the results and you can become the master of your future.
Remember, Simple Disciplines + Consistency + Time = Massive Results!
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Best Business Books to Read: American Icon
This is a book that the New York Times has called a “compelling narrative that reads more like a thriller than a business book.”
It describes how one of America’s most established companies turned around from its death throes in the mid-2000s and restored itself into a modern, sustainable and profitable business in the modern world.
This is not your standard management book where they take you through step-by- step a structure that you can apply as well. Instead it is an engaging tale of how maintaining and growing profitability has to come alongside the development of company culture and closely managing how the teams within your business work.
If you are looking for a read that will inspire you on bringing a new level of leadership to your business then American Icon by Bryce G. Hoffman is a book to read.
Alan Mulally’s struggle to restore the seminal automaker, Ford Motor Company, to growth and profitability is a real page turner and absolutely stuffed with learnings for business leaders of every sort.
Best Business Books To Read: Jonathan Livingston Seagull
Sometimes the best books for business are not those that are directly about business concepts or strategies, but instead those that are allegorical tales that teach you about mindset.
This uncomplicated book is one from which I think many business owners can draw inspiration to continue to moving themselves and their businesses forward…
Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach is a story about a seagull that is driven by a dissatisfaction with the status quo. He is constantly striving for the next goal in mastering flight and perfection. That drive takes him to places beyond what any regular gull could possibly achieve.
The story is a reflection of the way we humans are always seeking to build upon what we are, and what our community has already achieved, so that we can peak to a new level in everything we do. We see ourselves as something different, something better than that that has come before us, and we feel the need to use that to create a better world.
This is not something unique to this story – any tale of heroism, any comic book superhero, will reflect this human desire to be more than we are.
But what I really like about this book is that it really drives home how you cannot listen to those around you who tell you that the things you know you can achieve are “impossible”. It shows that there is always a ‘next level’ to get to, and all you have to do is learn the right skills and put in the right kind of effort to get there.
It is an easy-to-read story without extraneous details. I would recommend it to anyone who is seeking that extra bit of inspiration to continue striving for ever more impact with the work they do.
Have you read Jonathan Livingston Seagull? Share with us your learnings and ideas from the book in the comments below.
Best Business Books To Read: Work Rules
This month’s book recommendation actually comes from one of my clients. I’m currently in the process of reading it and I can already safely recommend it as a book that any business owner should read.
Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead is a really excellent book for reflecting on the philosophy of running a business and managing people.
Google is one of those businesses that is constantly upon a pedestal for being a great place to work. It therefore does make sense to pay attention to what the Head of People Operations at Google has to say, right?
But Lazlo Bock does not just cite his own experiences in this HR manifesto of his. In fact, he emphasises something that I always say myself: base your decisions on data, not your gut. And so he shows how the design of Google’s programs has been shaped by a lot of studies and analytics – which is very interesting to understand.
It highlights how you really need to consider the organisational structure of your business, and the kind of feedback channels that you have created, if you really want your business to grow organically with superstar team members.
Have you read Work Rules? Share with us your learnings and ideas from the book in the comments below.
Best Business Books To Read: The Advantage
This has been one of those books that is so complete and holistic that it is hard not to recommend it to almost every business owner I meet. It focuses on a subject that most leaders and leadership teams often unconsciously disregard.
It is unfortunate that that is the case, because a focus on this ‘health’ aspect of business can often be the difference between a successful company and a booming, thriving and expanding one.
The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business is like a culmination work by Patrick Lencioni. It takes all the more specific ideas he has written about previously – on marketing, sales, strategy etc. – and brings them together to talk about a much more encompassing idea: organisational health.
What Lencioni demonstrates is that business leaders may be missing out on a massive advantage that is right there already in their business. To access it, they need to stop thinking about how to get smarter and instead look to get healthier.
When he talks about a company being “healthy” in this organisational sense, he is saying a company needs to install and sustain each of the Four Disciplines:
Build a Cohesive Leadership Team
In other words, it’s about unifying the management, operations and culture in a business to create a well-oiled machine that produces consistent and sustainable results. And if you manage to create this kind of healthy business, the superstars that you spend precious time recruiting for your team will never want to leave.
Lencioni summarises and pulls together some important concepts that I myself have talked about before: your vision and values as a leader is critical to the business, you need to ensure you have systems in place to help guide your team, and meetings need to be effective and frequent.
If you are a business owner, or a business leader who is looking to take their company to the next level of growth, it may be worth giving this book a read for the mindset that he is giving you. With the right mindset, you can make the right kind of changes to start shaping up your business for growth in the right direction.
Best Business Books To Read: Crucial Conversations
Have you ever wanted to be that person who “keeps cool” during an intense situation? Have you seen that superstar manager who manages to keep their wits about them in a crisis and wonder how he or she can operate under pressure so well?
When a situation becomes emotionally charged, dealing with people and communicating your feelings increase in importance. Ironically, it also becomes a lot more difficult for most people to evaluate what is the best way to handle the conversation – meaning they often behave at their worst in some of the most important situations.
This week’s Business Reading recommendation is a book that teaches you how to tackle these sort of conversations in a way that keeps you on your desired path.
In Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler, you are delivered a set of tools that help you think about – and hopefully better handle – conversations where emotions run high. These tools have proven to be a useful already with many of the business owners and executives who are business coaching with us in London at the moment.
We all have our ‘buttons‘ – the things that manage to goad us into an emotional reaction rather than a measured response. While not every tool in this book will apply for your situation, I highly recommend reading it for the parts that do speak to you.
You may end up discovering something about your leadership style or your staff training methods you did not even realise was holding you back from being an even better manager of your business and your team.
Take from this the tools that help you to learn how to fix misunderstandings, how to approach disagreements in a positive way, and how to share your story or your view. If you do, I can bet you will start to see the results not only in all your business relationships, but in your personal ones too.
Best Business Books To Read: The Values Factor
The Values Factor is based on some great research done by Dr. John Demartini and I find that it really does unlock a lot of ways that you could be finding more fulfilment not only in your business, but in the rest of your life as well.
It contains a great questionnaire that I highly recommend you go through to help you highlight what is really important to you.
The rest of the book starts to explain why your values will help you achieve success. To me, this book also massively underlines that when you try to work with someone else – especially in a business context – you need to make sure you are conveying your values, but also putting them in the context of the other person’s values.
When you start understanding what drives the actions of your colleagues, or your customers, or your partner, you can really start to have very successful relationships in all areas of your life and business.
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Best Business Books To Read: Triggers
Business owners often blame themselves when their business starts to falter. While usually there are a number of reasons for declining business – most typically they haven’t implemented systems correctly – sometimes there are some behavioural changes that do need to happen.
Often, these changes are not about focusing on your personal capabilities. In fact, it is often about the environment that you are in and the way that that affects how you behave.
My coach, Marshall Goldsmith, has taught me so much already that it would be amiss of me not to recommend this book.
It contains some powerful strategies that I have passed on to my own clients and frameworks which I have used myself to achieve significant results.
Triggers is all about behavioural change, which is something that I wrote about in depth just a few weeks ago in the four-part blog series – how to eat the Pie of Change. That framework is one he has included in this book and is just one example of the strategies Goldsmith has to offer from his wealth of experience as a life and business coach.
Key learning points from Triggers:
- Enable self-awareness of your environment. Understand what triggers are good and which are bad and how you behave when you encounter them.
- It is not just about identifying “problems” or bad factors – behavioural change is about progress and development of the positive triggers.
- At the end of the day, the principle reason is to allow your brain to function for self-motivation, self-development, self-evaluation & self-progression.
- The key word throughout is self – you need to know yourself, and what are your good and bad external factors.
Business owners who I have shared these frameworks with have often come away with results that astound them. Developing your personal life and understanding how you react to your environment almost invariably has effects on your business as well.
After all, a solid hand on the wheel steers a steady ship.
So if you feel like your ship needs steadying, I would recommend reading this book and perhaps learning to identify your personal triggers.
Best Business Books To Read: The Sales Acceleration Formula
Almost every business owner hopes to make their next £1 million, £10 million or even £100 million with their next brilliant idea.
The problem that most come up against – and the issue I have seen with most of my business coaching clients in London – is that conventional ways of scaling sales do not work as intended.
This book contains a ground-breaking new way of looking at the sales process – and one that resonates heavily with a lot of the business strategy we teach at London Coaching Group.
Hubspot’s Mark Roberge uses a unique methodology that breaks down the entire sales process into four systemised formulae:
- The Sales Hiring Formula – which involves ensuring you are hiring sales people using the right predictive indicators, which have been tested and measured to match your company.
- The Sales Training Formula – debunking the “ride along” technique and instead focusing on a repeatable scoring system that trains all your sales people the same way, focusing on key metrics of success.
- The Sales Management Formula – ensuring that salespeople are held accountable and managed using the same process, which targets their individual areas of improvement rather than a blanket approach.
- The Demand Generation Formula – which involves using inbound marketing to draw in leads so your sales people can shine. Outbound marketing alienates your potential customers, so instead it is about training sales people to guide prospects in the right direction while being helpful.
Why we really love this book is that it is almost perfectly in-line with the way we coach clients to take a metric-focused approach to growth by building repeatable systems that naturally allow – and encourage – scaling.
Whether it’s through hiring champion salespeople or teaching your team the killer sales questions, or ensuring you are segmenting your customer base properly – the fact is sales is NOT just an art: there is a science to it and there is a formula.
Once you have found the right formula for your business, it can be used over and over again to take you to new heights of growth.
I highly recommend using the methodology in this book to systemise your sales funnel, empower your team, and bring new scaling possibilities to your business.
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Best Business Books To Read: The 4 Hour Work Week
I have read this book twice already. I have picked it up again and I am still finding new ways to help not only myself, but also my clients dramatically improve productivity using the ideas within it. It is one of those business books that you want to keep on your bookshelf.
The 4-Hour Workweek is an absolute must-read for business owners who want to achieve as much as they possibly can. The concept is centered on the Pareto Principle – more commonly known as the 80/20 Principle. The book breaks it down into four sections:
- Definition – what’s important to you?
- Elimination – remove the distractions from your life and focus down on that 20%. Learn to say “no”.
- Automation – outsource and systemise so that things can run without your constant attention.
- Liberation – take yourself out from the expected and do things differently to suit your needs.
I cannot tell you how useful this book has been for me and my business coaching clients to truly reduce the clutter and focus on where the true value lies. It is worth buying yourself a copy – and to go back to it over and over.
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Best Business Books To Read: Life in Half a Second
I picked up this book recently and I absolutely had to share it. It offers a great perspective on your life and, I hope, will inspire you to rethink how you are approaching your goals and dreams.
“Life in Half a Second: How to Achieve Success Before It’s Too Late” explains how compared to the life of the planet, of the Universe, your life is but half a second long. That’s all the time you’ve got to make something of yourself and to succeed in life.
Setting you up with that mind-set, the author then walks you through these “five doors” that are a part of his fact-based formula to achieving success. I have to say, there’s little here I can disagree with. The most important thing to note is that his steps are well proven with the use of hard data from thousands of studies conducted over decades.
These aren’t just some ideas of his, or even advice built from his personal experience. This is a method to achieve success that’s tried and tested. Not sure I can recommend it any more highly. A fantastic piece of business reading for the holiday season.
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Best Business Books To Read: The Chimp Paradox
Some books we read once, maybe twice. Some books, and usually the best kind of books are like workbooks that we keep returning to time and again. Every time we read it, we get something new out of it for our current context. The Chimp Paradox is one of those business books. Most of our clients know about this book – mainly because we always recommend it as essential business reading. Recently, we opened it again and simply had to write a recommendation to every business owner out there.
For those of you who haven’t read it, the Chimp Paradox:
- Helps you understand the three parts of your brain and how they each affect your decision-making.
- Describes how the “chimp” part of your brain, the emotional part, can hijack your thought processes, leading to self-sabotaging thoughts or behaviour.
- Uses metaphors to make the concepts easier to understand combined with case studies and practical examples the illustrate them clearly.
The concepts that are explored here are critical for business owners to understand. In today’s world, there is almost no margin for error – every business decision you make must be as precise and accurate as possible to give you the best chance of survival. If you haven’t read it yet, then bump it up the list of books to read this month – I would call it essential reading for any business owner. And if you have read it before, consider picking it up and reading through a few of the chapters again. You might be surprised at what you find there.
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Best Business Books To Read: The One Thing
This has become one of my favourite books and I simply had to share it.The important learnings from this business reading:
- A single domino can topple many things – if you prioritise one important thing that has a knock on effect to bring you greater, wider success. Success is built sequentially.
- There are 6 myths that are keeping you from focusing on the one thing: everything matters equally, multitasking, living a disciplined life, willpower will get the job done, living a perfectly balanced life, and that big is bad.
- There are 4 thieves of productivity: not being able to say “No”, the fear of chaos, mismanagement of your personal energy, a poor environment that doesn’t support your goals.
- You can stay on track by continually asking yourself one simple question: “What’s the one thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”
I cannot recommend it enough for any business owner – whether you feel like you are already productive or not.
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Best Business Books To Read: Start With Why
In this book, I have picked up some really great nuggets on how to inspire clients and team members to take actions.The key learnings to pull from this piece of business reading:
- Start by identifying your purpose, cause or vision.
- A great leader move through the rings of the “Golden Circle”: establish the mission (“Why”), then move outwards to get to the “How” and “What”.
- What’s the reason you “get out of bed in the morning” – that’s your “Why”.
- The “How” is your unique selling point, or what makes your audience want to buy what you’ve got to sell.
- The “What” is the more literal aspects of your product.
- The key is the order: leaders who go the other way around, starting with “What” and moving down to “How” and “Why” find less success.
- The reason: “people don’t buy What you do, they buy Why you do it.”
- You should aim to do business with customers who share your core beliefs – so they can become fans and recommend others to you.
- When hiring, you should also consider how they fit into your values: your best employees and future company leaders will have to share your passion.
Happy reading – and implementing!
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