BEST PRACTICE: 'Rethinking sales management' by Beth Rogers

Title: Rethinking sales management: A strategic guide for practitioners
Author: Beth Rogers
Published by: Wiley

This book is not, as the title seems to indicate, a guide for sales managers, explaining how to be a good sales manager, covering, for example, how to plan, recruit, manage, motivate, develop and fire sales people, woth checklists to follow and formats to complete. On the contrary, it is a thoughtful analysis of how business to business selling has changed and is changing, and what sales people need to do to succeed.

It analyses the purchaser's as well as the supplier's view - how relationships are constructed and flourish, and how they can end. It is based on the idea of the customer portfolio matrix, which classifies customer-supplier relationships as strategic (where both supplier and customer stand to gain from a long term relationship), tactical (where both sides recognise that the short-term advantage of optimising transactions, deal-by-deal), cooperative (where the customer recognises the supplier's business strengths but not that there is potential for a relationship) and prospective (where the supplier targets the customer for the development of a relationship but where the customer does not yet recognise the value of such a relationship). It explains how to move relationships to the strategic level, but also warns against over-dependence on a few strategic customers.

The book is an excellent, concise and well-written guide, full of examples and references, based on the author's deep and sustained experience in this area. It is a thoroughly worthwhile read, not just for sales management, but also for the marketers who provide the support, context and framework within which much business to business selling takes place.

Reviewed by Professor Merlin Stone