Top 25 B2B Must-Read Books of 2017
If you want to be on top of your game, taking as much advice as possible from those who have already paved the way is a smart strategy, especially if you want to avoid making similar, potentially costly mistakes.
Perusing the latest books on marketing – some fresh from 2017, some out in paperback from this year and others just too good not to mention, despite earlier release dates – can give you fresh ideas to fuel your fire, reignite your passion and create a business plan that sends your profit margin soaring.
Here’s a look at some of our favorites.
This New York Times Bestseller may have come out in 2016 (it earned a spot on Financial Times’ “Best Business Books of 2016 list), but this important follow-up to Cialdini’s 1984 “Influence: Science and Practice” is a must-read for anyone looking for insight into how to attract buyers.
In “PRE-SUASION,” Gialdini offers a more in-depth look at the art of persuasion, which for those in the know is really more science and psychology than art.
“Digging down into how people make decisions at a primitive level is the specialty of author Robert Cialdini, a guru to salesmen and marketers since the publication of his 1984 book ‘Influence.’ In his new book … he returns with more tips about how to slither your way into people’s minds and rearrange what you find there,” wrote a reviewer for the New York Post.
2. “What Customers Crave: How to Create Relevant and Memorable Experiences at Every Touchpoint” by Nicholas Webb
Mashable singled out this insightful book as a “Best New Marketing Book to Read in 2017,” due to Webb’s intelligent take on the adage that the customer is always right.
The smartest companies are more successful because they determine what their target audience really wants, and then they deliver. Doing so can turn satisfied customers into influencers who may become spokespersons for your business. Make a mistake, however, and the opposite will happen.
Making a customer’s interaction with your business easy and fulfilling (by providing content that benefits them in some way, for example) goes beyond customer service to become a meaningful customer experience.
This reference explores all aspects of digital marketing, from design to analytics, offering the most current information to address the latest evolutions in marketing platforms.
It touches on everything from SEO to content and influencer marketing, discussing the latest trends and tactics in an affable, approachable way.
Cardone’s straightforward advice for those looking to attain their goals? Work 10 times harder than everyone else.
This highly-praised book (“…like a nuclear weapon for the reader,” said Barry Poznick, executive producer of the shows “How’d You Get So Rich?” and “Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?”) is a step-by-step guide to success that encourages readers to move past the ordinary by aiming higher.
5. “Hacking Marketing: Agile Practices to Make Marketing Smarter, Faster, and More Innovative” by Scott Brinker
Contemporary marketing is a merger of technology and creativity, which Brinker showcases in this book that compares marketing to the software industry, apropos in a digital world.
This is just the right read to help old-school marketers become more comfortable in today’s faster-paced, digital-centric marketing environment.
The founder of #FlipMyFunnel (a Twitter-based online community for B2B marketers) explores account-based marketing by starting with the basics of real-time marketing, from aligning sales and marketing to using software to better align targeted campaigns.
A great guide for those who are intimidated by the strategy, the book showcases how to expand your brand’s exposure within an organization so that you’re more likely to reach those who are making the decisions, a key component to successful ABM.
7. “Digital Sense: The Common-Sense Approach to Effectively Blending Social Business Strategy, Marketing Technology, and Customer Experience” by Travis Wright
An increasingly digital world has transformed marketing as we know it, but that doesn’t mean businesses can’t excel. The key is improving how your business interacts with customers to elevate the customer experience.
This strategic playbook offers advice for creating a more effective, engaging marketing system that focuses on consumers and is suitable no matter the size of your organization.
“The next 20 years will see more change than the previous 300 and this book will help organizations build an agile strategy that gives them a sustainable model for navigating these shifts with a human-centric culture and customer experience,” said author Gerd Leonard.
8. “Behind the Cloud: The Untold Story of How Salesforce.com Went from Idea to Billion-Dollar Company- and Revolutionized an Industry” by Marc Benioff and Carlye Adler
Mark Benioff began the startup Salesforce from his rental apartment, but in less than 10 years, turned it into the fastest-growing software company in the world, and one that has revolutionized the software industry.
Here, Benioff reveals how transforming customers into advocates and boosting employee enthusiasm helped him create an innovative company that disrupted an industry.
9. “Sales EQ: How Ultra High Performers Leverage Sales-Specific Emotional Intelligence to Close the Complex Deal” by Jeb Blount
Technology has changed the essentials of sales, but this book reveals the secrets of how the top 1 percent are making quota and crushing the competition by ditching the idea of “this is how it’s always been done” and using contemporary strategies that still connect with customers on an emotional level.
“Sales EQ … presents a pragmatic, easily implementable set of facts, and reverses old world thoughts and sales process with chapters like ‘To BUY is Human.’ Sales EQ will help you understand the new standard of sales. I loved this book. Buy it. Bank it,” said Jeffrey Gitomer, author of “The Little Red Book of Selling.”
Social media presents an opportunity to connect with potential prospects while solidifying your brand’s persona. Heinz helps businesses learn how to use social media to engage with potential customers and establish a relationship long before they are ready to make a purchase, so that when they are, you’ll be the choice that stands out.
Heinz also offers fresh strategies to take advantage of social media to help boost your sales funnel with more qualified prospects.
11. “Winning with Data: Transform Your Culture, Empower Your People, and Shape the Future” by Tomasz Tunguz and Frank Bien
Big data is big news, but using it properly requires a commitment from your entire company.
While data can be used to as the backbone of your account-based marketing strategy (InsightBASE, for example, gathers digital footprints to give you important prospect information), it can also be used to help shape decision making, improve shipping and boost your business’s reputation by creating seamless customer service.
This writing duo uses real-life examples to showcase how data can be more than a buzzword, but instead, the most important aspect of your business plan.
Written as comfortably as conversation, “Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World” – out in paperback in 2017 after becoming a New York Times bestseller – explores what the world’s leaders have done to change the world using innovative ideas that eschew tradition.
Including a foreword by “Plan B’ author and Facebook exec Sheryl Sandberg (who was forced to reevaluate her life after the unexpected death of her husband), “Originals” is a bold reminder that as businesses gain more power, they have a duty to leave behind a positive footprint.
“Reading Originals made me feel like I was seated across from Adam Grant at a dinner party, as one of my favorite thinkers thrilled me with his insights and his wonderfully new take on the world,” said Malcolm Gladwell, author of “Outliers” and “The Tipping Point.”
Sinek first asks why some people are more powerful and influential than others, then breaks down how others can use the same principles in order to find their own personal power.
It turns out, some of the most influential leaders do things differently than the rest of is. Sinek teaches us how to spark the same fires within ourselves, using the same approach that made his TED talk “Start with Why” one of the top three most popular of all time.
14. “Aligned to Achieve: How to Unite Your Sales and Marketing Teams into a Single Force for Growth” by Tracy Eiler and Andrea Austin
For a long time, sales and marketing teams worked solo, each arguing over which one was ultimately the most important element of the organization. Today’s account-based marketing strategies require sales and marketing to work together, so that old way of thinking is completely outdated. Teaching – and inspiring – collaboration will bring the two sides into alignment, boosting sales and creating an environment ripe for growth.
15. “A Practitioner’s Guide to Account-Based Marketing: A Growth in Strategic Accounts” by Bev Burgess and Dave Munn
For anyone looking to implement an account-based marketing strategy, this book is a must-read. It uses the stories of some of the companies that pioneered the concept as a springboard for providing tips that help businesses new to ABM avoid the mistakes of others to create a marketing strategy that excels.
This smart how-to captured the attention of “Successful Social Selling” author Matt Heinz, who said, “Rarely do you find a practical, accessible resource that seamlessly combines sales and marketing into a coherent and motivating call to action.”
The book addresses the changes required to ignite your marketing and sales departments to elevate B2B sales, despite competition and other factors that inhibit real growth.
17. “Driving Demand: Transforming B2B Marketing to Meet the Needs of the Modern Buyer” by Carlos Hidalgo
In order to boost demand for their product or service, B2B marketers need two things – a strategy for a successful marketing campaign and a smart way to implement it. This book gives you advice on how to have both, and emphasizes the need to align departments so that everyone is approaching your business goals from the same place.
This book has been around for a few years, but it’s hard to find a better content marketing guide.
Great marketing content is strategic, and creating great content is essential for a successful marketing campaign. While you may try to avoid it, writing is essential. Here, Handley showcases how to create compelling content that gets real results, whether you’re attracting people to your landing pages or you’re developing a persona on social media.
“I just glanced at the table of contents and I’m already a better writer. Ann Handley might just single-handedly save the world from content mediocrity. Really, really ridiculously good-looking content just got an owner’s manual,” said Jason Miller, Senior Content Marketing Manager of LinkedIn.
19. “The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use Social Media, Online Video, Mobile Applications, Blogs, News Releases, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly” by David Meerman Scott
There are countless opportunities to widen the scope of your audience through marketing and PR, and this smart book tells you how to take the best advantage of all of them.
With mobile growth, social media, online video, blog posts and other opportunities for engagement becoming more commonplace, smart marketers use them as part of their marketing strategy and subsequently, they excel.
Meerman Scott reveals tricks and tips to help even marketers who are not tech savvy take advantage of the seemingly endless platforms so they can attract attention and help their business grow.
20. “Inbound Marketing, Revised and Updated: Attract, Engage, and Delight Customers Online” by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah
This guide has also been out for a few years, but time hasn’t diminished the valuable information to build a better inbound marketing campaign packed inside. Written by two marketing bloggers who are not only on top of new trends, but have also developed an understanding of what customers want and value, this insightful book will be a valuable addition to packed in this guide to inbound marketing. It offers smart advice about how to boost visibility online and increase engagement with potential consumers, as well as nurture them into becoming customers.
21. “Content Inc: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses” by Joe Pulizzi
Pulizzi is a marketing guru who understands that content is vital to any contemporary marketing strategy. Here, he explores how a new brand can use content to find its core audience, then grow in a way that benefits that targeted group.
Such customer-focused expansion, which includes the development of new products inspired by consumer wants/needs, helps a brand stand out from the competition and find success.
It all begins, Pulizzi writes, with smart content delivered in a way that reaches the right audience.
While not all businesses recognize this important concept, business is all about the customer, and creating a great customer experience – one that is satisfying and simple from beginning to end – is vital in a bid for success.
This award-winning book (too good to bypass despite its 2013 release) explores how to successfully plan and establish a seamless customer experience. Failure to do so can send consumers elsewhere, and will likely create critics rather than welcome advocates who can act as influences for your brand.
23. “The Challenger Customer: Selling to the Hidden Influencer Who Can Multiply Your Results” by Brent Adamson, Matthew Dixon, Pat Spenner, Nick Toman
Nothing about sales should be easy, say the authors of “The Challenger Sale,” who return to their successful formula four years later to reiterate that the customers your business should be targeting aren’t the ones who are, metaphorically, waiting at the door like you’re throwing a Black Friday sale, but instead, the ones who haven’t been in line all night.
By reaching for the more elusive customer, you’ll be able to focus on all the major players – B2Bs often have a large team including shareholders making buying decisions – earning the respect of everyone on the buying team.
24. “Customer Success: How Innovative Companies Are Reducing Churn and Growing Recurring Revenue” by Nick Mehta, Dan Steinman, Lincoln Murphy and Maria Martinez
B2Bs are only as successful as their customers, which means that showing your customer base how your products can help them succeed is the most effective way to generate new business.
“Customer Success” celebrates the idea of focusing on how you can help your customer (they ultimately don’t care how they can help you), which is a smart way to establish lifelong loyalty.
25. “Think Outside the Inbox: The B2B Marketing Automation Guide” by David Cummings and Adam Blitzer
Marketing automation has given sales and marketing teams a wealth of knowledge about their potential prospects, opening the door to more innovative B2B marketing campaigns. This book looks beyond email marketing and finds fresh, innovative techniques that take advantage of that knowledge to reach prospects on a more emotional level.
And that does it for now! We hope you’ve come away with a little more information than when you first got here. From all of us at True Influence, we wish you good luck and happy reading!