Required Reading

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With summer just a memory and fall settling in, executives are adding business books back on to their reading lists. And publishers are meeting the demand by releasing a plethora of books covering CRM, customer service, branding, sales, and other related topics. CRM Publisher Kogan Page is on a roll with three new CRM titles: In The CRM Project Management Handbook: Building Realistic Expectations and Managing Risk
, author and CRM consultant Michael Gentle reveals a tactical, rather than strategic, approach to tackling CRM initiatives, and uses case studies to illustrate that approach. He identifies the most common obstacles and offers solutions to overcome them. Gentle also identifies how to navigate such critical risk factors as company politics, resistance to change, and too many chefs. And he discusses critical success factors (e.g., organizational readiness, valid business case, realistic budget, and project scope) and how to ensure having them to support a CRM initiative. Packed with data, charts, and research, The Customer Management Scorecard: Managing CRM for Profit, by Neil Woodcock, Merlin Stone, and Bryan Foss, is based on the findings of an extensive survey that aimed to uncover the real relationship between effective customer management and business performance. The book explains the customer management assessment in detail, analyzes the results, and presents characteristics of the highest-performing companies in such areas as the customer experience, process management, and measurement. It offers guidelines for a successful CRM implementation, discusses measurement systems and analytics strategies, and presents international case studies in several verticals. CRM in Financial Services: A Practical Guide to Making Customer Relationship Management Work, also by Bryan Foss and Merlin Stone, discusses the state of CRM in financial services around the world, including the impact of e-business. It reveals trends in such areas as insurance, retail banking, and investment banking, and suggests strategies for retention and cross-selling. Service We've all heard time and again that it costs less to sell to existing customers than to cultivate new ones. In Magnetic Service: The Secrets of Creating Passionately Devoted Customers (Berrett-Koehler Publishers), authors Chip Bell and Bilijack Bell reveal the seven service secrets that help lock in loyalty for such companies as Harley-Davidson, Ritz-Carlton, and Starbucks. They offer techniques for building customer devotion, and present case studies that illustrate their strategies. To keep those devoted customers, companies must build and maintain trust, according to author and public relations expert Al Golin, founder of Golin/Harris International. In Trust or Consequences: Build Trust Today or Lose Your Market Tomorrow (Amacom), Golin reveals the strategies he used to build and enhance the reputations of such companies as Gerber, McDonald's, and Toyota. He offers advice on how to create an effective trust strategy, as well as how to determine the impact of trust in an organization. Sales Is sales science or art? Three new books offer systems for selling designed to boost the close rate of even the best salespeople. In The Science of Sales Success: A Proven System for High-Profit Repeatable Results (Amacom), author John Costell shares the secrets that propelled him from rookie salesperson to national sales manager of Fortune 500 company York International within three years of graduating college. He also provides examples, charts, and worksheets to guide readers through his sales process. Amacom also released Selling Without Selling: 4 1/2 Steps to Success, by sales star Carol Super, who reveals the strategies she uses to outperform colleagues two- or threefold, year after year. She shares her secrets for improving communication skills, improving buyer confidence, overcoming obstacles, and selling so the deal closes itself. Author and sales trainer Jeffrey Gitomer packs his top strategies into The Sales Bible: The Ultimate Sales Resource (John Wiley & Sons). Gitomer gives advice on guaranteeing meetings with decision-makers, eliminating objections, building loyalty, and doubling sales. Branding How many of the top-25 brands from 80 years ago are leaders today? Find the answer to that question and others in the brand management quiz in Brand Aid: An Easy Reference Guide to Solving Your Toughest Branding Problems and Strengthening Your Market Position (Amacom). Author and BrandForward President Brad VanAuken also offers a comprehensive guide to the brand management process, a blueprint for building high-impact brands, and a troubleshooting guide for resolving complex brand issues, including solutions for the 22 most common branding problems. The book includes a brand audit readers can conduct to determine the strengths and weaknesses of their companies' brand strategies. It's not enough to simply build a brand, companies must also protect that brand over the long term. In Defending the Brand: Aggressive Strategies for Protecting Your Brand in the Online Arena (Amacom) author Brian Murray suggests sales, marketing, and business intelligence tactics to preserve brand equity and retain the potentially lost revenue that can result from such threats as piracy and unwanted brand association. Murray illustrates his points with case studies from companies like Home Depot, Disney, and the Red Cross. Other Page Turners Broadband and mobile networks are bringing businesses closer together than ever before. In Living Networks: Leading Your Company, Customers, and Partners in the Hyper-Connected Economy (Prentice Hall/Financial Times), author Ross Dawson explains how to leverage these networks to create a competitive advantage through such means as marketing, business intelligence, and customer feedback. He discusses how these networks are creating new rules for business relationships and what those rules are. And he explains how to seize the opportunities and mitigate the risks that these growing networks present. Another technology changing the rules of business is Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). In The Call Heard 'Round the World: Voice Over Internet Protocol and the Quest for Convergence (Amacom), author David Greenblatt provides insight on the VoIP industry, the development of convergent systems and how that convergence will improve related products and services, and the impact that VoIP is having on business.
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