Business thinking between the covers, compiled by FRANK DILLON

Business Development, how to win profitable customers and clients

by Ian Cooper

Pearson €24.99

Part of the series of Financial Times “how to” guides, this book is aimed squarely at SMEs who want to increase their sales and retention figures. Cooper has written a lively and engaging book on the subject peppered with examples and anecdotes. There are also more than 600 tips, tool and techniques described here.

For example, he presents 10 commandments of converting leads into sales. These include understanding that everyone who talks to a lead is in effect a salesperson, the need to challenge and question current approaches and results and “getting the batting order correct” – a cricketing metaphor for making sure those in your organisation who have a proven record are put in front of customers first.

Cooper also shows how online platforms can be used to win new business. Whereas most traditional external business development activities can be very expensive and have a high degree of wastage, much of what you can do online is comparatively cheap and with most social media networks is actually free. Social networking sites allow you to build up and develop credibility and relationships with prospects and potential introducers to a level not be possible any other way.

Journeys - Short Stories and Tall Tales for Managers

by Enda Larkin

Oak Tree Press €12.95

Management consultant Larkin employs the technique of storytelling to impart a series of management lessons here. Each of the 15 stories in this book is based on actual occurrences with each exploring a different aspect of management in what is an engaging read overall.

Many of the stories are linked by common themes and characters but all promote the view that our potential for success – in business and beyond – is directly influenced by the interplay between our attitudes, attributes and actions. To excel in any management role, we must reflect constantly upon who we are, how we think and what we do, is the key message here.

Learning through storytelling worked for us as children and there is no reason why stories cannot support learning in our adult lives, especially in a scenario-based topic like management, Larkin notes. Each story can be read in about 15 minutes, and while the book can be dipped in to, the author suggests reading them in sequence.

Referencing the title of the book, Larkin says that improving as a manager requires a career-long effort: it’s a journey. However, too often experience and progression through the ranks can cloud our view of ourselves, creating a false sense of security, he notes.

Revenue Disruption

by Phil Fernandez

Wiley €24.99

Companies need to undertake a fundamental change in the way they create, manage and generate revenue is the message in this book from Fernandez, which offers a range of innovative sales and marketing strategies. The author is chief executive of Marketo, which has its European headquarters and support centre in Dublin.

Firms need to discard obsolete sales and marketing models and replace them with what Ferdandez describes as revenue performance management (RPM). This process acknowledges the power of consumers to research companies and products and to make their own choices. Instead of searching for customers, businesses now need to make it easy for customers to find them.

Marketing is often seen as a cost centre rather than as a revenue generator and to offset this perception and bring marketing’s true potential to the business, marketers need to speak the language of revenue and employ hard metrics. Neither corporate sales nor marketing people are well tuned to their buyer’s journey on the road to making purchasing decisions, which often results in significant lost opportunity, the author observes. To earn a seat of respect at the corporate table, marketing needs to adopt some of the practices used by sales.