B2B sales isn’t exactly fertile ground for riveting bestsellers. While the business genre as a whole has produced some excellent books over the last 15 years, most of these books focus on B2C, psychology, or how-to tales.
Unfortunately, this means B2B sales leaders looking for inspiration are often left either reading academic literature to get an edge or trying to retrofit tips and advice from B2C books into a B2B sales environment. While this can be helpful, sometimes it would be nice to have a book that relates directly to the world of B2B sales.
Despite the slim pickings, there are some good books written about B2B sales. In this article, we will look at three of them.
Startupland: How Three Guys Risked Everything to Turn an Idea into a Global Business
By Mikkel Svane
Intro: Startupland was written by Mikkel Svane, one of the founders of Zendesk Inc. The book follows the journey of the company’s three founders as they grew the customer service software platform from its humble beginnings in a Copenhagen loft to its status as a global company based halfway around the world in San Francisco. The book was released in 2014, seven years after the company’s formation.
Why read it? Sales leaders should read this book if they want to find out what it takes to make a B2B software company successful. At the time of writing, Mikkel was still involved in the business, meaning his insights come from direct and recent experiences.
How can it help B2B sales leaders? Startupland contains practical advice on things such as what to look for in recruits, why boring products or ideas can be successful, and scaling a business. As well as the successes, Mikkel details many of the things that went wrong during the growth of his company.
Behind the Cloud: The Untold Story of How Salesforce.com Went from Idea to Billion-Dollar Company and Revolutionized an Industry
By Marc Benioff
Intro: In “Behind the Cloud” Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff discusses the rise of the CRM company from its early beginnings before the dot.com bust of 2001 to becoming one of the leaders in the world of cloud computing. It is an in-depth look into one of the most successful B2B software companies of recent time.
Why read it? The book contains the 111 “plays” that Benioff used to grow his company. Each play is essentially a piece of advice that he used in his journey to turn Salesforce.com into one of the top sales platforms. These plays cover everything from market positioning, to recruitment, to driving growth.
How can it help B2B sales leaders? Benioff shares the strategies he has used to grow the business, including those that inspired employees and created dedication amongst customers. While not every strategy will apply to every business, sales leaders will be sure to find something of value. Of interest is the idea that, even in B2B, companies should focus their marketing on the end user, not necessarily the people making buying decisions.
The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers
By Ben Horowitz
Intro: “The Hard Thing About Hard Things” is a book about the experiences of Ben Horowitz, the founder of Opsware, a company that produces server and networking products. The company was bought by Hewlett Packard for $1.65 billion in 2007. The book was released in 2014, by which point Horowitz had left Opsware and launched the investment fund Andreessen Horowitz.
Why read it? Horowitz shares his insights into creating and running a business. Unlike some books that break down building a business into easy-to-follow tips, he suggests that becoming successful is hard work and that there are multiple strategies founders can take to success. These tips are given extra weight due to Horowitz’s success with both Opsware and his later investment company.
How can it help B2B sales leaders? The main idea of the book is about creating a culture in which challenges and difficulties are accepted, as it is only by facing challenges that organisations will be able to tackle the issues that are holding them back. The other option – pretending everything is ok –can only lead to eventual failure.
Red Flag Alert is Dedicated to Helping B2B Professionals Build Data-Powered Sales Models
One thing you’ll take from these books is that none of the successes happened in a vacuum. All of them had access to help, whether through co-founders, funding, or business tools.
If you work in B2B, Red Flag Alert is one such tool that can help grow sales. It does this by providing data-grounded insights that can help you build effective sales models. Here is how:
- Sales leaders can use detailed data on existing customers to build in-depth customer profiles. They can then build effective sales strategies based on these profiles.
- Sales teams can filter the data which contains information on every company in the UK to find leads that match their customer profiles.
- The data provided by Red Flag Alert contains 2.6 million GDPR compliant telephone records and 900,000 business emails, making starting the sales process easy.
- Sales teams can gain insights that help target pain points or challenges particular companies are experiencing that may be stopping them making a purchase.
- The data can be integrated within the company’s existing CRM, meaning it’s easy for sales teams to begin utilising the information.