News & Opinion

Inside the Longlist: Marketing & Sales

Blyth Meier

November 16, 2016


The five finalists in the Marketing & Sales category highlight a clear trend emphasizing the role of emotion in the decision-making process.

After a few years of being apart, marketing and sales books have once again been consolidated into the same category in our awards process, reflecting the further meshing of these two areas within most companies. Marketing and sales goals, strategies, and staffs must be tightly aligned in order to produce the results needed in today’s competitive marketplace. The books in this category blur these lines and others—encompassing customer service, business strategy, design, and interpersonal communication. Marketing and sales are inextricably linked not only with each other, but with all aspects of business. Changes in one create changes in all.

And while none of the finalists here eschew the importance of analytics and big data, there is a clear trend emphasizing the role of emotion in the decision-making process. It is a given today that all serious sales and marketing efforts have multitudes of reports on hand to shed light onto any desired aspect of customer behavior. But what about the things that are not captured in clicks, likes, opens, or abandoned shopping carts? That is where these five books come in. Look at what your customers are saying about you, even if they are shouting angrily in a public space. You will learn something about your business. Take the time to find out small details about your customers, even if you have no idea what their love of refrigerator magnets might tell you about their buying habits. Put yourself in the shoes of your customers as they step through your sales process, and tune in to those places that generate irritation. Change them. Make it easier to make the right choice. Look at your brand through the same eyes you would look at a blind date. Would you fall in love with them? Would you marry them? When a potential client says no, realize you have just started to get to the point where they can really hear you.

Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers by Jay Baer, Portfolio

Like other books on this list (Small Data and Never Split the Difference), Jay Baer’s newest takes the emotions of your customers as seriously as your company’s bottom line. Hug Your Haters uses customer service as a marketing tool focused on customer retention. On a core level, marketing and sales are about nurturing relationships between your brand and your customers. What Baer presents is a troubleshooting guide for that relationship; couples counseling for companies and their customers. After a polarizing election season, our country could use a good long look at these strategies to learn how to really listen to each other not with the goal of being right, but rather making better the situation at hand.

Martketing: The Heart and the Brain of Branding by Javier Sanchez Lamelas, LID Publishing

For twenty years, Javier Sanchez Lamelas worked at the highest levels of marketing for Coca-Cola, holding posts across Europe, South America, and at their Atlanta headquarters. During that time, he wrote a manual to get his global teams quickly up to speed on his marketing philosophy. That manual turned into this book, which presents the rare chance to learn the marketing methodology of one of the world’s most iconic brands. His approach focuses on the emotional component of marketing, arguing that when someone falls in love with a brand, the instinctive part of the brain takes over, and you have won a customer for life. His global lens on marketing holds lessons for both corporations and small businesses alike.

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended on It by Chris Voss with Tahl Raz, Harper Business

While Roger Fisher and William Ury’s landmark negotiation book Getting to Yes emphasized separating emotion from the situation at hand, former FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss’s approach dives straight into those murky and uncertain waters. His approach, called Tactical Empathy, embraces the fact that in most heightened interactions, we are dealing with the animal, emotional, and irrational parts of our brains. I was unable to put down this book, and not just because of my weakness for spy stories. Voss’s hard-won practical strategies combined with Tahl Raz’s engaging storytelling make this a must-read for those in sales or marketing, and anyone who wants to influence decision makers in any venue.

The Power of Fifty Bits: The New Science of Turning Good Intentions Into Positive Results by Bob Nease, Harper Business

Each second, our brain receives over ten million bits of information, of which we can only process fifty. Yes, five-zero. This simple yet powerful fact is the frame for Bob Nease’s approach to design for behavioral change. In essence, the cognitive limitation of our brain wires us for inattention and inertia. Even though at a base level we are well intentioned, many of the systems we interact with everyday are structured in a way that unintentionally inhibit our participation, thus creating a “intent-behavior gap.” How can you get your customers off the couch and engaged in what you are selling? Reduce barriers at every level of the decision-making process. Nease deftly applies his strategies to situations as disparate as kidney donation, homeless pet charities, and Girl Scout cookies in this highly readable approach to systems design.

Small Data: The Tiny Clues That Uncover Huge Trends by Martin Lindstrom, St. Martin's Press

Danish brand consultant Martin Lindstrom has made a career of noticing, of looking up from his screen and scouring his environment for hundreds of thousands of details that fly under the radar of today’s holy grail of big data. More of an ethnographic researcher than pure marketer, he gathers a wide range of clues—from refrigerator magnet arrangement and grocery lists to unused toy train sets and geographic patterns of diabetes—in service of understanding the unmet desires of customers. At a time when the crushing weight of digital tracking makes us feel like numbers and not people, Small Data reminds us that our individuality is still powerful and matters quite a deal to marketers, salespeople, and the world at large.


*We announced our shortlist on December 6th. To see which of these books will be in the running to be named our book of the year, you can find the 2016 800-CEO-READ Business Book Awards Shortlist in this channel.

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