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Segmentation, Revenue Management, And Pricing Analytics

By Tudor Bodeau and Mark Ferguson, 2014, Routledge, New York, NY

Reviewed 24 Sep, 2015

First, recognize that this is a technical book that gets into the mathematics of what much of the current pricing software does to come up with price recommendations. The authors get into segmentation, forecasting, and various price analytics. I do wish they had a bit more on pricing in B2B, but overall, it was a good read for those who want to dive into the numbers.

Sales Effectiveness Training: The Breakthrough Method to Become Partners with Your Customers

By Carl d. Zaiss and Thomas Gordon, Ph.D., 1993, Penguin Group, New York, NY

Reviewed 20 Aug, 2015

This book has been sitting on my “to read” shelf for a while. Every time I looked at the title, it didn’t seem worth the effort. Well, I was wrong. While an old book, it has a number of great discussions on being a better listener and having better communications with your customers. It might not help you with a price-focused purchasing agent, but it sure will help you deal with the other stakeholders in the account who might go to bat for you next time you get into a negotiation. It is worth the effort. And thanks to whoever recommended it!

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

By Carol s. Dweck, Ph.D., 2006, Random House, New York, NY

Reviewed 23 Jul, 2015

This book is all about how people think about things. Of course, there are some people with what is termed a “fixed mindset” who tend to think about things wrong and those with a “growth mindset” who think about things right. Is it as simple as that? Actually, yes, it is. After years of research and working with students and patients, the author presents the simple facts that, if followed, can lead to success in life, love, and business. I learned how I both succeeded and failed as a parent by encouraging very different mindsets with my kids—but don’t worry, they both did just fine.

On Writing and Stephen King. From: On Writing: The Memoir of the Craft

By Stephen King, 2000, Scribner, New York, NY

Reviewed 23 Jul, 2015

If you don’t mind, this is going to be more about writing than a book about writing. We just finished the second edition of Negotiating with Backbone. It went to the publisher last Wednesday, just in time for the Fourth of July. The book will be on the shelves or in the mailboxes by late October. With my last few books, I realized that I have finally become a writer. It’s not that I’m good or bad at it, that’s for the reader to figure out (OK, and the editor, too). It’s that I actually enjoy writing. When the publisher asked for this edition, I agreed quickly and actually looked forward to the daily writing and rounds of editing and rewriting. I’m at the point where I actually enjoy thinking about what to write and putting it down on paper. It wasn’t always like that. Some of my earlier books were torture; lots of procrastination and nothing exciting whatsoever.

When I am writing at the book level and since I love to read, my rule is: no business reading during that time. So, as luck would have it, I’m reading Stephen King’s current book Finders Keepers. In it, he makes the statement: “you can’t teach writing, you can only learn it.” That got me thinking about how I finally got on the right track to being a writer. It wasn’t from all of the books on how to structure sentences and punctuation.   Those were drudgery. The book that really got me started was King’s book On Writing. It’s a combination of his life as a writer; how poor he was when he started, some of the jobs he had to do, and his first glimmers of success as a writer. And it’s about the tricks he learned and subsequently taught along the way. It was quite a fundamental book for me, since it finally gave me a chance to find my voice as a writer. For that I’m quite grateful.

On another point, Mr. King has stayed true to his craft as a writer. He is certainly one of the most prolific writers in the US for the past four decades. He clearly enjoys writing, but he also enjoys crafting a story that brings the reader along for the ride. He hasn’t resorted to working with other writers and continuing the same storyline ad infinitum as Patterson and Clancy have done. King is just a homespun Maine boy who has brought people like me a great deal of quiet pleasure over the years. And he has helped me become a writer. I’m just hoping that I can stay true to the craft as he has done.

Left Brain Right Stuff: How Leaders Make Winning Decisions

By Phil Rosenzweig, 2014, PublicAffairs, New York, NY

Reviewed 18 Jun, 2015

I started this book thinking it was just another book on complex decision making. I was wrong. This book takes the area to a new and valuable level. The author does a terrific job of delving into the business of how firms put together complex bids in construction and business acquisitions. In doing so, he takes the basic understanding of The Winner’s Curse to a new level by adding issues of leadership and the ability to shape beneficial outcomes after the job is won. This was a good read.

Simple Rules: How to Thrive in a Complex World

By Donald Sull and Kathleen M. Eisenhardt, 2015, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston, MA

Reviewed 18 Jun, 2015

This is a terrific book and a must-read for every pricer and professionals in other management fields. Over the years, I have developed a number of rules for myself (an action recommended in this book, by the way). The first, most important, one has been KISS…keep it simple stupid. In the complex worlds of pricing, consulting, business, and certainly academia, there is a strong tendency to overcomplicate things. That’s the wrong way to do it. If you really want to get things done, you have to reach across the aisle to salespeople, factory and operations people, and senior managers. As you do that, KISS is the rule that will help you accomplish important things. Pricing touches all other elements of a business, and you need that to be successful in your job. Let me give you a recent example. We had an internal training session on costing for pricing. The training team was asking me for some advice for their session, and I told them one story from this book. The story was about research done with 1200 starting entrepreneurs. 400 were trained extensively on the complex rules of accounting. 400 were given a few very simple rules like: put business money in one drawer and personal money in another. 400 were given no training. When they subsequently ran their businesses, the first and third group performed about the same (!). The “simple rules” group absolutely kicked butt; they grew sales and profits much better than the others. Our guys got the point and gave a terrific presentation on a very complex and often misunderstood area in pricing, and they did it simply without trying to complicate things. Bottom line: It should be at the core of how we think and talk. Come on…go get the book and read the darn thing.

High Output Management

By Andrew S. Grove, 1983, Random House, New York, New York

Reviewed 28 May, 2015

Yikes…this book is 31 years old! I can’t remember who recommended it, but it was a good read, written by the guy who drove Intel to where it is today. There is a tendency for people to want to only read new books. That’s a mistake. I enjoyed learning about some of Dr. Grove’s insights in how he grew Intel. The presentation is in very simple terms, so the book didn’t get boring (as many do). For those of you working in matrix organizations, additional insights in this area make this book worthwhile, as do his discussions on managing complex organizations.

The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers

By Ben Horowitz, 2014, Harper Collins, New York, NY

Reviewed 19 Mar, 2015

This is a book for a special group of people – those who are or want to be CEO of a company. For those of you who are or do, this is a terrific book. The author was CEO of several high tech companies and faced the beast of failure enough times to have learned some good lessons about people, organizing, and managing a business. There isn’t much “rah-rah glory” stuff here. It’s all about how to deal with the loneliness and tough decisions that come when you’re at the top of a struggling firm. He provides those lessons with more than enough detail that this is about the closest book I’ve seen to be an instruction manual for CEO’s.

7 Tenets of Taxi Terry: How Every Employee Can Create and Deliver the Ultimate Customer Experience

By Scott McKain, 2014, McGraw Hill, New York, NY

Reviewed 19 Feb, 2015

I started this book thinking, “Rats, here’s another book about a great taxi driver. I’ve heard all this stuff before”. Well, I was only half right. It is a book that builds on lessons learned from a great taxi driver, but the additional stories and lessons are a) quite insightful, b) fun to hear, and c) more than worth the effort for most of us. The book is really about how we all can impact the customer experience. While the focus does tend to be B2C, there is more than enough to keep us B2B people entertained. It is a very worthwhile read.

Unlocking Yes: Sales Negotiation Lessons and Strategy

By Patrick Tinney, 2014, Centroid Marketing, Ontario, Canada

Reviewed 22 Jan, 2015

This is not a book with a new model or dramatic new insights into the field of selling. It does have lots of gritty and valuable lessons on better negotiations, planning, process, and results. Every so often a book comes along with a lot of good ideas to think about – this is one. A good read. The author sent me this book to review, and it might be hard to find. I suggest you go right to:

Insight Selling: Surprising Research on What Sales Winners Do Differently

By Mike Schultz and John E. Doerr, 2014, John Wiley and Sons, Hoboken, New Jersey

Reviewed 18 Dec, 2014

There are a lot of sales books out there that are rehashing old programs and do little to really move the field forward. This is not one of those books. The authors research successful salespeople and look at the tactics they use with their customers. As such, it is a bit like The Challenger Sale, but this book uses the research to introduce a dramatically new model of how to develop and enhance customer relationships. It’s a very worthwhile read.

Winning at Pricing: How High-Tech Product Managers Can Avoid Common Mistakes That Defeat Pricing Strategies

By Dawn Pugh, 2013, Kaleah Publishing, San Jose, CA

Reviewed 18 Dec, 2014

In writing this book, the author draws heavily from the classic work Competitive Advantage by Prof. Michael Porter. In fact, that’s the only books she draws from. So that makes this a basic Cliff Notes version of his book for technology product managers. But the book really lacks adequate detail for them. It’s a valiant effort with some interesting points but not worth your time.

Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street

By John Brooks, 1959, Open Road Publishing, New York, New York

Reviewed 01 Sep, 2014

This book was recommended by someone, because Bill Gates says that “John Brooks is an unbelievable business writer.” Well, that’s true. His stories are very well researched, include interviews with the important parties, and shed a great deal of understanding for important issues—of the time. Here’s the problem: The stories are 40-50-years old. As a student of business history, I enjoyed most of them and learned a lot. There are some good stories of how the government works with financial institutions, business failures (Edsel) and successes (Xerox). If you’re not a business history geek, don’t bother.

Slingshot: AMD’s Fight to Free an Industry from the Ruthless Grip of Intel

By Hector Ruiz, 2013, Greenleaf Group Press, Austin, TX

Reviewed 01 Sep, 2014

For those of us involved with the battle, this is an interesting book about the lawsuit that AMD filed against Intel for restrictive trade practices. For the rest of you, this is a good book to learn about how far a company (Intel) will go to control an industry.

The Chemistry of Strategy: Strategic Planning for the Not-Yet-Fortune 500

By John W. Myrna, 2014, Global Professional Publishing, Kent

Reviewed 21 Aug, 2014

A good business book should add an important insight to the field of strategy. This one doesn’t. It does give a simple pragmatic look at strategy for a small business and more. It’s really about things to think about in running a small to medium (heck even a large) business. Good discussion of risk and some good stories.