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Aligning Strategy and Sales: The Choices, Systems, and Behaviors that Drive Effective Selling Hardcover – September 2, 2014

4.4 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“A great sales book . . . With thoughtful, clear, and engaging examples, Cespedes provides a framework for diagnosing and managing the core levers for effective selling in any organization.” — Sales Pro Insider

“…the best sales book of the year. I know we’ve got a few months left in 2014, but I’m not too worried that I’ll be proven wrong—I’ve been waiting for a sales book like this one for a long time and the odds that another will appear before December 31 are long indeed.” “…Aligning Strategy and Sales is well worth the cover price.” — strategy+business magazine

“With so many books focused on the elevator pitch, closing the sale, or other minute sales techniques, Aligning Strategy and Sales is a refreshing change of pace.” — 800 CEO READ

“…the book is a must read.” — Gartner

Frank Cespedes was named one of the “Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers” by Top Sales World

ADVANCE PRAISE for Aligning Strategy and Sales:

Lou D’Ambrosio, Chairman, Sensus; former CEO, Sears Holdings and Avaya Inc.—
“Finally . . . a business book with real, pragmatic insight about the crucially important, but often ignored, discipline of sales and why it’s vital to any plausible strategy. Written in an effective and sometimes edgy tone, Aligning Strategy and Sales is a compelling playbook for companies looking to accelerate their growth.”

Jeffrey Bussgang, General Partner, Flybridge Capital Partners—
“You spend a lot on sales. A LOT. Read Cespedes’ wise words to get a better handle on how to make your sales investments pay off through smart, strategic alignment.”

Charles Wilson, CEO, Booker Group—
“It often feels like salespeople are from Mars and strategists from Venus. Little wonder so many strategies fail when tested by real-world customer contact. Whether you are in sales, strategy, or a CEO, you should read this book. It addresses thorny issues like culture and compensation, and it will help you get results.”

Mardia van der Walt, Senior Vice President, Middle East and Africa, T-Systems International—
“The execution of strategy within an organization is dependent on two critical elements: the creation of a culture that enables strategy execution, and the ability of the sales force to execute on the sales tasks aligned to the strategy. And this is what Frank Cespedes manages to do with Aligning Strategy and Sales.”

Jeanne O’Kelley, cofounder and CEO, Blueprint Technologies—
“Frank Cespedes has brilliantly captured why aligning strategy and sales is so darn difficult. He walks you through the alignment process in a methodical yet witty manner, reminding you of the nitty-gritty intricacies that will provide the wind in the sails of your strategy. This book should be required reading for all senior executives and sales managers.”

About the Author

Frank V. Cespedes is the MBA Class of 1973 Senior Lecturer of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. He has run a business, served on the boards of established corporations as well as start-ups, and consulted to companies around the world. He is the author of six books and many articles in Harvard Business Review, the Wall Street Journal, California Management Review, and other publications.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press (September 2, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1422196054
  • ISBN-13: 978-1422196052
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #112,585 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is great for specific audiences, but will leave others unsatisfied and wanting more.

Pros:
-Very good overview for someone new to sales or with a narrow role trying to expand their understanding of how their individual selling role fits into the broader company. Provides a survey course of all the key sub-functions / adjacent functions and how they are critical for a successful sales operation (finance, HR, compensation, incentive systems, sales operations, recruitment, training, management, marketing, etc.). This book will allow the reader to understand how the different pieces of the machine interact and operate with a more nuanced understanding of their organization.
-For more seasoned executives, individuals with a critical interface with sales, or those middle managers looking to expand their roles, this book acts as a checklist to ensure best in class behavior. Each chapter should produce a number of opportunities to evaluate yourself against best in class and identify ways in which your current model may not be totally aligned.
-For an academic this book is exceedingly practical and real-world rather than pie in the sky ideas. It understands that sales is not easy or totally controllable and does not suggest "consulting" solutions.

Limitations:
-The book intentionally takes a very high level perspective. An individual looking to go deep on any one topic or to get the latest innovation in management thinking should look for best of breed books elsewhere.
-Cespedes at times can be a long-winded writer, taking a bit longer than the reader would like on specific topics often not core to sales
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Format: Kindle Edition
Forbes called this perhaps the best sales book ever. I found that this is true in many ways. First it is hard to find a more thorough book that looks at the interaction of strategy with sales. As well this book details the inherent complexity and variability in sales roles and people. We know that this reproach works as we over the years have adapted our practise in sales /revenue improvement through much of what the author details. Through iteration and adapting many skilled sales leaders would find much to agree with in this book , and much that sheds a fresh view on things. I would easily think this is the best sales book of the year. I only add that our practise helps companies strengthen a sales framework like in this book with a structured marketing framework that also aligns strategy with marketing. This is a good five hour read, this first time , but do not stop there.
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Format: Hardcover
In this stunning book, Professor Cespedes combines the verve of a practitioner, the sweep of a professor and the soul of a poet into a book that manages to be both relevant and refreshing all at once.

This is a book that eschews barely warmed over consulting aphorisms in favour of blunt reality and makes most strategy books look like packet fortune cookies sitting wanly in front of a succulent and fragment Peking Duck dinner. Even more importantly, this is not a book filled with shallow answers but designed to provoke deeply insightful questions. Strategy may be hard, but with books like this, getting to the answers should become easier. Outstanding.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Buy it. Read it. Apply it. Share it with everyone in your department.

This book should be required reading for every startup sales leader. I can personally validate Frank's research with my experience creating, leading, and executing the B2B sales strategy at GrubHub. Frank's insights provide a clear path for turning strategy into focused and specific actions.

If you're a startup sales leader, I recommend reading this book along with The Lean Startup, The Innovator's Dilemma, Discipline of Market Leaders, and Predictable Revenue.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I heard the author on Harvard Business Review Podcast and I had very high hopes for this book. As a practicing international salesman for over 23 years in the high tech market, I totally agree with his premise that companies need to better align their strategies with sales. Like all books of this nature, it starts by telling what happens when a company does not align their strategy with sales. I already knew this without having to read this section. Coming from Harvard, I thought this book would be super intelligent. Wow, was I wrong. The book was extremely mundane and very boring. I cant believe I read the whole book. I don’t even get what he was trying to say. He went off on subjects that were super not relevant. The problem with his suggestions is that sometimes they can work in an organization and sometimes they don’t. Thus being the case, why make these bold statements. Not one diagram made sense. It was just dribble and pointless arrows.
I would have written this book totally different. First, he never really defines what a company strategy is. He assumes we already know. Im not convinced he knows anything about sales. A company can have a global strategy, which is dressed up by marketing, but the sales person must adapt the global strategy to the specific country, account type, distribution eco-system and so on. That is the talent and value of the sales person. THAT’S WHAT HE SHOULD HAVE WRITTEN ABOUT. The executive management cant micro manage to make sure the global strategy is align with sales because that would be a serious waste of time. They can at a higher level. Here is an example of how stupid this book is.
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