Saturday, July 7, 2012

Think Twice Before Promoting Your Best Salesperson

Do the best salespeople make the best sales managers? Almost unanimously, when we ask sales leaders this question, the answer is "no." Yet paradoxically, and too often, sales leaders look for candidates among the sales ranks and select the best salesperson for the manager job. They assume that because an individual was successful in sales, that individual will be successful in management too.

Of course, many great salespeople can and do become great managers. But this is not always the case. Too often, when a super-salesperson gets promoted to manager, one or more of the following happens:

  • He (or she) can't let go of his old role. He takes charge of customer relationships and jumps in to close deals, undermining salespeople's motivation and confidence and weakening their relationships with customers.
  • He manages by results only. He expects everyone to produce the same results that he got as a salesperson, but isn't good at coaching and giving people constructive feedback on how to get there.
  • He avoids administrative responsibilities. He becomes frustrated by the many routine but important tasks that headquarters requires of him.

Before long, the salespeople he manages stop learning and growing. They become disenchanted, disengage from their work, and may even leave the company. Soon, district performance is in jeopardy.

What it takes to succeed in sales is different from what it takes to succeed in management. Salespeople succeed when they meet customer needs while achieving the company's financial goals for their territories. Sales managers also succeed by meeting customer needs and achieving objectives linked to company goals. But the manager is not the hunter, the playmaker, or the center of action. Managers contribute to customer and company success when their team of people is successful.

Managers are coaches, not players; they get satisfaction from achieving objectives through others. When a salesperson gets promoted to manager, it's no longer about "me" — it's about "the team." Managers help people grow by walking around with a watering can in one hand and a bag of fertilizer in the other.

Unless you select salespeople who have the characteristics it takes to do the next job well (not just those who have demonstrated success in their current job), your sales management team will be average at best.

What can you do to ensure that the right people get selected for the sales manager job?

Medical device company Boston Scientific has a formalized corporate program for selecting and developing internal candidates for sales manager positions. According to Chris Hartman, Vice President, Central Zone, for Boston Scientific's Cardiology, Rhythm and Vascular Group, "We seek candidates from the sales ranks who have demonstrated excellence not only by generating strong sales results, but also who have demonstrated success in teaching others to sell by acting as a mentor to new salespeople, and who have demonstrated success in managing through exposure to leadership opportunities such as a field training role or participation on a sales advisory board or steering committee. Our management assessment and development program tests and trains candidates on competencies such as coaching, performance management, interviewing, and negotiation. The program provides many opportunities for both the candidate and the company to evaluate fit with the sales manager job."

What should you do if an excellent salesperson who lacks managerial characteristics wants to become a manager and threatens to leave if not promoted?

Sometimes, just talking to the individual about what the manager role entails and what it takes to succeed in the job are enough to encourage an unsuitable candidate to withdraw from consideration on her own. If that doesn't work, test her in the role; say by giving her responsibility as a mentor or field trainer, in addition to her sales job. She may discover that the role is not something she enjoys. It's also possible that you'll find out that your initial assessment was wrong. If that's not the case, summon the managerial courage to tell the individual that she is most valuable as an individual contributor. It's better to lose one good salesperson now than it is to risk losing an entire district down the road due to ineffective management.

Cardinal Health uses dual career paths as a way to address the situation. "This enables our sales organization to keep many of the best and brightest salespeople who are most valuable as individual contributors," says Sandy Cantwell, Vice President of Sales Operations. "You can succeed by becoming a manager or by becoming a 'super salesperson.' We have a formal career road map for both management and individual contributor roles. Our top sales role, the Strategic Account Vice President, is roughly equivalent in level to a Regional Vice President on the managerial side."

Select and develop those salespeople who have strong managerial tendencies for sales management positions. At the same time, understand that success as a salesperson alone is not a good predictor of success as a sales manager.

Thanks to Andris A. Zoltners, PK Sinha, and Sally E. Lorimer / Blogs HBR / Harvard Business School Publishing / Harvard Business School


The Book Of General Ignorance By John Mitchinson, John Lloyd

The Book of General Ignorance

The Book Of General Ignorance By John Mitchinson, John Lloyd

List Price: $21.00
Price: $14.28 & eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping on orders over $25. Details

Availability: Usually ships in 24 hours
Ships from and sold by

199 new or used available from $0.60

Average customer review:
(88 customer reviews)

Product Description

Think Magellan was the first man to circumnavigate the globe, baseball was invented in America, Henry VIII had six wives, Mount Everest is the tallest mountain? Wrong, wrong, wrong, and wrong again.

Misconceptions, misunderstandings, and flawed facts finally get the heave-ho in this humorous, downright humiliating book of reeducation based on the phenomenal British bestseller. Challenging what most of us assume to be verifiable truths in areas like history, literature, science, nature, and more,

The Book of General Ignorance is a witty "gotcha" compendium of how little we actually know about anything. It'll have you scratching your head wondering why we even bother to go to school.

Revealing the truth behind all the things we think we know but don't, this book leaves you dumbfounded about all the misinformation you've managed to collect during your life, and sets you up to win big should you ever be a contestant on Jeopardy! or Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.

Besides righting the record on common (but wrong) myths like Captain Cook discovering Australia or Alexander Graham Bell inventing the telephone, The Book of General Ignorance also gives us the skinny on silly slipups to trot out at dinner parties (Cinderella wore fur, not glass, slippers and chicken tikka masala was invented in Scotland, not India).

Thomas Edison said that we know less than one millionth of one percent about anything: this book makes us wonder if we know even that much.

You'll be surprised at how much you don't know! Check out THE BOOK OF GENERAL IGNORANCE for more fun entries and complete answers to the following:

How long can a chicken live without its head?
About two years.

What do chameleons do?
They don't change color to match the background. Never have; never will. Complete myth. Utter fabrication. Total Lie. They change color as a result of different emotional states.

Who invented champagne?
Not the French.

How many legs does a centipede have?
Not a hundred.

How many toes has a two-toed sloth?
It's either six or eight.

How many penises does a European earwig have?
b)None at all
c)Two (one for special occasions)
d)Mind your own business

Which animals are the best-endowed of all?
Barnacles. These unassuming modest beasts have the longest penis relative to their size of any creature. They can be seven times longer than their body.

What is a rhino's horn made from?
A rhinoceros horn is not, as some people think, made out of hair.

Who was the first American president?
Peyton Randolph.

What were George Washington's false teeth made from?
Mostly hippopotamus.

What was James Bond's favorite drink?
Not the vodka martini.

Product Details
  • Amazon Sales Rank: #30935 in Books
  • Published on: 2007-08-07
  • Released on: 2007-08-07
  • Format: Deckle Edge
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Dimensions: 8.54" h x 1.10" w x 5.94" l, .94 pounds
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • 288 pages
Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly
If you think you're a trivia expert, British TV men Lloyd (producer of the hit comedy shows Spitting Image and Black Adder) and Mitchinson (writer for Quite Interesting) may disabuse you of the notion that you're a true scholar of random facts-and quickly. Their surprisingly lengthy tome is jam-packed with real answers to a number of less-than-burning questions-camels store fat, not water, in their humps; only five out of every 100,000 paper clips are used to clip papers; the first American president was in fact Peyton Randolph-that you nevertheless may be embarrassed to have completely wrong. Although some of the entries rely on technicality more than actual excavation of obscure fact (Honolulu is technically the world's largest city, despite the fact that 72% of its 2,127 square miles is underwater), these page-length entries prove entertaining and informative, perfect for trivia buffs and know-it-alls; it also makes a fine coffee table conversation piece and a handy resource for prepping clever cocktail party banter.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

"Trivia buffs and know-it-alls alike will exult to find so much repeatable wisdom gathered in one place."
New York Times

"The Book of General Ignorance won't make you feel dumb. It's really a call to be more curious."
The Associated Press

"Ignorance may be bliss, but so is learning surprising information."
Hartford Courant

"You, too, can banish social awdwardness by having its endless count of facts and factoids at the ready. Or you could just read it and keep what you learned to yourself. Betcha can't."
New York Daily News

"To impress friends with your cleverness, beg, borrow or buy John Lloyd and John Mitchinson's The Book of General Ignorance, an extraordinary collection of 230 common misperceptions compiled for the BBC panel game QI (Quite Interesting)."
Financial Times

"This book would make even Edison feel small and silly, for it offers answers to questions you never thought to ask or had no need of asking as you already knew, or thought you knew, the answer."
The Economist

"Trivia books, like any kind of mental or physical addiction, are both irresistible and unsatisfying. By the standards of the genre, this one has something approaching the force of revelation. Answering silly questions suddenly seems less important than taking the trouble to ask a few."
—Melbourne Age

"Eye-watering, eyebrow-raising, terrific . . . moving slightly faster than your brain does, so that you haven't quite absorbed the full import of one blissful item of trivial information before two or three more come along. Such fine and creative research genuinely deserves to be captured in print."
Daily Mail

"This UK bestseller redefines 'common knowledge' with factoids that will inform and entertain (or at least liven up your next cocktail party)."
OK! Magazine

About the Author

JOHN LLOYD is the producer of the hit British comedy shows Not the Nine O'Clock News, Blackadder, and Spitting Image.

JOHN MITCHINSON writes for the British television show QI, and drinks in the same pub as John Lloyd.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews

206 of 214 people found the following review helpful.
5I guess I thought I knew more than I did...
By R Schmidt
"This book is for the people who know they don't know very much." This comment, in the introduction of The Book of General Ignorance, sets the stage and presents the authors' challenge. I started reading it with a "Who do they think they are fooling" attitude.

They made me a convert. This book only gets more interesting as you continue reading it.

Some of the knowledge nuggets aren't big secrets, and in fact read as "trick questions," like "What is the tallest mountain in the world?" The trick is, "tallest," not "highest." Got it? Mauna Kea in Hawaii, not Mt. Everest.

Then, what is the most dangerous animal that has ever lived? Answer? A mosquito, responsible, the authors say, for the deaths of about 45 billion humans. Of course (and they know this), one mosquito isn't responsible for these deaths, there are many species of mosquitos, and mosquitos really don't (directly) kill anybody.

Trick question again.

Then there were the questions that didn't hold any surprise at all: "What is the main ingredient of air?" Answer: nitrogen.

But it got more interesting. What man-made objects are visible from the moon? None. Many are visible from "space" (a mere 60 miles above the surface of the Earth), but the moon is too far away. What is the biggest thing that a blue whale can swallow? What are violin strings made of?

There are so many questions answered, that there is something here for everybody.

This is better than Trivial Pursuit, because of the explanations given. This should be an entertaining book on CD to listen to on a long trip, and can easily be turned into a game for adults and kids.

So I started reading it with a chip on my shoulder, and the authors made me a believer. Interesting, indeed. The book just kept getting better.

And my favorite factoid? What is the longest animal alive today?

Hint... it is not a blue whale.

73 of 75 people found the following review helpful.
5You may be more ignorant than you know . . . but don't worry, so is everyone else.
By S. Falk
At last, the American release of what is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating books you could ever hope to delve into! Whereas most trivia books contain "facts" of dubious origin and little consequence, it's clear that the authors of this book have gone through great pains to dig out and verify the most interesting tidbits from the realms of history, nature, science, and culture. Let's go for a few examples (edited heavily for space; the book is far more detailed).

Q: How many words do Eskimos have for snow?
A: Actually, no more than four. Although it's often said that Eskimos have dozens or even hundreds of words for snow, there are at most only four root-words for it, and that's drawing from all Eskimo languages. (They do, however, have more than thirty words for demonstrative pronouns, where speakers of English only have four.)

Q: Who invented the telephone?
A: Contrary to what you've been taught, it was not the famous A. Graham Bell! Credit goes to Antonio Meucci, a brilliant but ailing Italian inventor, whose patent fell into the hands of Bell, a young Scottish engineer. Meucci died before his case against Bell could come to fruition.

There are hundreds of more questions to the end of fascinating and delighting the reader. However much you think you know, there will be mountains of information in here to surprise you--and that's quite the point. In the words of co-writer John Lloyd, "This book is for the people who know they don't know very much." As the authors hope you will come to understand, one's best hope in life is to recognize that one is generally ignorant, for it is simply impossible to know any but a sliver of the wealth of knowledge contained in and about the world. By admitting this, one is then motivated to ask questions that matter, for everything can be interesting when looked at in the right way . . . it's just that most people fail to look.

But it goes further than that. "The Book of General Ignorance" is just one piece of a cultural phenomenon that has its roots in Britain. It was originally written as a textual accompaniment to the hugely-popular television show "QI", which operates under the philosophy that curiosity--for its own sake--is worthwhile. The show is unlike anything broadcast on American screens, featuring panelists who try desperately to claw their way to the answers to questions they are posed (questions not unlike those appearing in the book). While they're rarely correct from the off, it's the mere delight in discovering the truth that ends up being, unfailingly, uproariously funny. The show's a joyful celebration of the fact that questioning the world around us need not be an impenetrably erudite or boring endeavor. [...]

In the meantime, pick up this book, and once you've been thoroughly impressed, buy it for your friends as well. It'd make a lovely gift for birthdays and the holiday season, assured to please scholar and dilettante alike. Recommended with cherries on top.

43 of 44 people found the following review helpful.
5Very fun trivia book!
By Tim F. Martin
_The Book of General Ignorance_ by John Lloyd and John Mitchinson is a remarkably fun book to read, essentially a collection of questions followed by an essay answer for each one, not organized really into any significant way (though questions dealing with the same subject might follow one another).

This book would be fun for any lovers of trivia and deal often with questions that people think they might know the answer to but really don't. What's the tallest mountain in the world? Think you know right, Mount Everest, at 29,029 feet? Nope, it is Mauna Kea. Though it is a modest 13,799 above sea level, measured from its seabed base to its summit, it is a whopping 33,465 feet in height, almost three-quarters of a mile higher than Mount Everest. What's the driest place in the world? The Sahara right? It is dry alright, getting just one inch of rain a year but it is the third driest place on Earth. The driest in fact is Antarctica, as some areas of the continent have not seen rain for two million years. The second driest is the Atacama Desert in Chile, which averages 0.004 inch of rain a year, and some areas have not seen rain for four hundred years. You have been told that Eskimo is a rude term right, that the preferred term now is Inuit? True, Inuit is the preferred term in Canada, but Alaskan Eskimos are perfectly happy with the name as they "are emphatically not Inuit, a people who live mainly in northern Canada and parts of Greenland." In fact there are many types of Eskimo, of which the Inuit are just one type (the others include the Kalaallit of Greenland and the Yupiget and the Alutiit of Alaska). Think the first turkeys eaten by English-speaking peoples were the Pilgrims? Nope, Turkeys first reached Europe in the 1520s, brought from their native Mexico by Spain and sold throughout Europe by Turkish merchants, by 1585 becoming a Christmas tradition in England. Perhaps you have heard that chop suey is actually an American dish. Not so, according to this book, it is a local dish of southern Canton, where it is called tsap seui, which means "miscellaneous scraps" in Cantonese, brought over by early Chinese immigrants to California. How many states of matter? Three right, solid, liquid, and gas? Nope, more like fifteen, as the list includes such states as plasma, superfluid, degenerate matter, fermionic condensate, Bose-Einstein condensate, and strange matter.

Others questions and answers deal with just plain odd things that I didn't know. Croatia for instance gave the world the necktie, as Hravat is the Croation word for "Croat" and where the word cravat comes from. In the 17th century, Louis XIII of France kept a regiment of Croatian mercenaries during the Thirty Years War who as part of their uniform wore a wide, brightly colored neck cloth by which they became known, a style that was later much copied in Paris. St. Bernard dogs have never, ever carried barrels of brandy around their neck; the myth comes from an 1831 painting by a young English artist named Sir Edwin Landseer, who in his work _Alpine Mastiffs Reanimating a Distressed Traveler_ painted two St. Bernards, one with a miniature brandy barrel around its neck which he added "for interest." _Ursus arctos_ is not the scientific name for the polar bear, it is the name for the brown bear, as ursus is Latin for bear and arctos is Greek for bear. The Arctic, interestingly enough, is named after the bear, not the other way around, as it is "the region of the bear."

I have only one complaint about the book. Though it does include a helpful index, it lacks any mention of sources. Though not presented a serious scholarly work but merely a fun book to read, it might have nice to include some list of references.

To Get Uninterrupted Daily Article(s) / Review(s) Updates; Kindly Subscribe To This BlogSpot:- Via "RSS Feed" Or " Email Subscription" Or
"Knowledge Center Yahoo Group
Amazon Magazine Subscriptions Amazon Books Amazon Kindle Store
Amazon Everyday Low Prices, Sales, Deals, Bargains, Discounts, Best-Sellers, Gifts, Household Consumer Products


The Reinventors: How Extraordinary Companies Pursue Radical Continuous Change By Jason Jennings

The Reinventors: How Extraordinary Companies Pursue Radical Continuous Change

The Reinventors: How Extraordinary Companies Pursue Radical Continuous Change By Jason Jennings

List Price: $26.95
Price: $14.94 & eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping on orders over $25. Details

Availability: Usually ships in 24 hours
Ships from and sold by

64 new or used available from $8.78

Average customer review:
(14 customer reviews)

Product Description

How the world's most successful companies stay relevant through constant transformation

For most businesses, success is fleeting. There are only two real choices: stick with the status quo until things inevitably decline, or continuously change to stay vital. But how?
Bestselling leadership and management guru Jason Jennings and his researchers screened 22,000 com­panies around the world that had been cited as great examples of reinvention. They selected the best, verified their success, interviewed their leaders, and learned how they pursue never-ending radical change. The fresh insights they discovered became Jennings's "reinvention rules" for any business. The featured companies include:
• Starbucks—which turned itself around by mak­ing tons of small bets on new ideas. Fresher store designs, better food products, and free Wi-Fi were a few of the results.

• Apollo Tyres—which launched the Apollo Academy to train everyone and reinvented how it finds, keeps, and grows people. It went from five hundred million to two billion in annual sales in only a few years.

• Arrow Electronics—which found success by solving problems that drove its customers crazy and has become a twenty-billion-dollar electronics giant by shifting its focus from selling commodities to custom tailoring solutions.

• Smithfield Foods—which faced a PR crisis over the way it slaughtered animals and polluted the environment and transformed itself by hiring an environmental activist and empowering him to transform the company's ethos.

• The Anderson-McQueen Funeral Home—which instead of lamenting the growing popularity of cre­mations opened its own profitable cremation center and turned the entire industry upside down.
If you're ready to toss same old, same old out the door, The Reinventors will become your road map to successfully pursuing continuous change. It will help your company stay relevant for years to come.

Product Details
  • Amazon Sales Rank: #16695 in Books
  • Published on: 2012-05-10
  • Released on: 2012-05-10
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Dimensions: .0" h x .0" w x .0" l, 1.00 pounds
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • 256 pages
Editorial Reviews

About the Author

JASON JENNINGS is the bestselling author of It's Not the Big That Eat the Small—It's the Fast That Eat the Slow; Less Is More; Think Big, Act Small; and Hit the Ground Running. USA Today named him one of the three most in-demand business speakers in the world. He and his family divide their time between Tiburon, California, and Timber Rock Shore in Michigan. Visit
Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful.
5Now I'm a believer
By Dan Coughlin
When it comes to Jason Jennings new book, The Reinventors, I would like to quote Neil Diamond: Now, I'm a believer!

Ten years ago I was serving as an outside consultant for a senior-level executive team in a Fortune 200 company. The person in charge of the group talked about reinvention ad nauseam. He would say to his employees, "You need to reinvent yourself. You need to reinvent the way you do employee performance reviews, the way we serve our customers, the way we look as a business, and the way you dress to work." He would pound on his desk, and whenever employees heard the word reinvention their eyes would start to roll. He was so obsessed with reinvention that he practically reinvented his organization to death. He wanted his company to reinvent everything about itself even when it didn't make sense to do so. As a result, I developed an adverse feeling toward the word reinvention.

Then I read this magnificent book, The Reinventors, by Jason Jennings. At the foundation of this book are two tremendously important insights:

First, you should always be willing to reinvent every aspect of yourself, your team, and your organization. Nothing should be sacrosanct. You should be willing to consider for reinvention your values, your mission, your vision, your strategy, your tactics, your products and services, your approach to clients and the marketplace and every other aspect of who you are as an individual, a team, and an organization.

Second, you should never reinvent anything about yourself or your organization unless it makes sense to do so. You should never reinvent some aspect of yourself or your organization just for the sake of reinventing it.

The magic of The Reinventors is found in these two critically important concepts. The greatest companies in the world are willing to constantly reinvent themselves, but they only do so when the reinvention makes sense.

Rarely has a business book ever been more timely than this one. Due largely to the world's dramatic increase in internet activity and the management of data, more people are connected in more ways around the world than ever before to an exponential degree. Change has always been constant, but now there is a constant rate of highly accelerated change. This means every month provides new world opportunities for every enterprise from small to large.

Consequently the ideas in The Reinventors have tremendous practical value right now. Here are some of my favorite ideas from the book:

Build a culture of change and growth. To me, a culture is how people consistently behave. Consequently, if you build an environment where people consistently look to change and grow in meaningful ways, you proactively prepare yourself to deal with changes in the marketplace. Rather than being forced to change, this type of culture is always ready to change when the changes make sense.

One of my favorite stories in the book is in the introduction. Jennings talks about going back to his hometown where he grew up. He finds almost of the businesses he once admired have shut down. In asking long-time residents what had happened, he found the common denominator of failure was an unwillingness to change as the market changed. This is a story so many of us can relate to and makes a powerful point: we can never assume that what worked in the past will work in the future.

Another great example of this in the book is the story of Anderson-McQueen Funeral Home on pages 60-67. It's a great story of how a very traditional business reinvented itself in a declining market and dramatically increased its sustainable, profitable growth.

Kiss a lot of frogs. This is the title of Chapter Four and it makes so many good points about the importance of trying a lot of small ideas to see which ones work and which ones don't. In this chapter, Jennings uses the famous example of the reinvention of Starbucks to highlight the importance of testing lots and lots of small ideas in order to find the necessary insights to reignite a big brand name. Jennings wrote on page 90, "A culture of small bets is a learning culture in which people discover the right paths to new destinations." I think that idea applies to every type of organization.

Who stays, who leads, who goes. This is the title of Chapter Five and it explores the importance of having the right people in place in order to effectively reinvent an organization on a consistent basis.

Forever frugal. On page 153, Jennings wrote, "The lesson is clear: Having too much money or too many resources can actually get in the way of successful reinvention." His point is a powerful one. It's not that having money stashed away is a bad thing. The problem occurs when people think they can throw money at a problem in order to make it go away. That kind of undisciplined approach is what creates even bigger problems. Regardless of your resources, the key is to approach reinvention with a very tight handle on your spending. Invest in small ways, but learn from every action you take.

Ask WTGBRFSTM: What's the Good Business Reason for Spending This Money? This is my favorite question in the book. It is one of the reasons why Jennings has convinced me to be a believer in reinvention. It gets to the very heart of never reinventing just for the sake of reinventing. I encourage you to ask yourself this question every time you are considering to reinvent yourself or your organization.

I encourage you to study The Reinventors very closely. This is a book for the ages, but particularly for this age.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful.
5Change the DNA of your organization for survival and victory
By Mike Grant
Jennings makes it crystal clear: the cost of resisting change in a world that demands constant change should fill every businessperson with dread. We're talking once-thriving commercial downtowns practically abandoned. Busy factories grinding to a halt. It's why everyone must become a reinventor.

He walks you through the process of learning to transform your organization. And shows how not just to stop at finding a better way to go from A to B, but explains how to become a serial reinventor, with the knowledge and momentum to go beyond, to C, D, and E.

Bu this means you must be not just providing value to those willing to pay.... but CONTINUALLY providing value. No gaps. No periods of "reconfiguration." To do this, you must keep growing. Because the people in your organization who can create change need the rewards for their efforts to be there.

So Jennings will show you how to have a highly motivated team that is able to keep ahead of customers constantly changing wants and needs. But he warns, conventional wisdom won't provide continual growth. And so he one by one knocks down the excuses which can prevent growth: Excuses like "It's poor economy," "The ability to grow is not under our control," and "We're too old or big."

Building a culture of growth is a necessity for every organization that wishes to thrive. This has never been truer, and will only become increasingly necessary. No company is entitled to success. It's only through reinvention that companies arrive at the top. And it's only through reinvention that they stay there.

This is destined to be the fundamental text for organizational transformation for years to come. This timely book will wear well, but read it now. The moment for reinvention for your business has not yet passed. But it may soon.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful.
5Chris F
By Chrisfad
I've read all of Jason's books, and he does not disappoint with The Reinventors. Jason has the unique ability to paint a picture of a company that is sophisticated and insightful not only for the business expert, but for an everyday reader. I highly recommend Jason's latest book the Reinventors.


Word Of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking By Andy Sernovitz

Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking

Word Of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking By Andy Sernovitz

List Price: $15.95
Price: $10.85 & eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping on orders over $25. Details

Availability: Usually ships in 24 hours
Ships from and sold by

59 new or used available from $9.64

Average customer review:
(143 customer reviews)

Product Description


Foreword by Seth Godin. Afterword by Guy Kawasaki.

Master word of mouth marketing with this fun, practical, hands-on guide.

With straightforward advice and humor, word of mouth expert Andy Sernovitz will show you how the world's most respected and profitable companies get their best customers for free through the power of word of mouth.

Learn the five essential steps that make word of mouth work and everything you need to get started. Understand how easy it is to work with social media, viral marketing, evangelists, and buzz. Start using simple techniques that start conversations:

- 3 Reasons People Talk About You

- 4 Rules of Word of Mouth Marketing

- 5 Ts of Word of Mouth Marketing

- 6 Big Ideas: Deep Stuff That Changes Marketing Forever

Find out what sparks the irrepressible enthusiasm of Apple and TiVo fans. Understand why everyone is talking about a certain restaurant, car, band, or dry cleaner -- and why other businesses and products are ignored. Discover why some products become huge successes without a penny of promotion -- and why some multi-million-dollar advertising campaigns fail to get noticed.

Open your eyes to a new way of doing business: Honest marketing makes more money, because customers who trust you will talk about you. Learn how to be the remarkable company that people want to share with their friends.

Product Details
  • Amazon Sales Rank: #13709 in Books
  • Published on: 2012-04-30
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Dimensions: 6.10" h x .91" w x 9.06" l, .79 pounds
  • Binding: Paperback
  • 240 pages
Editorial Reviews

''I highly recommend this book because it is so practical, tactical, and hysterical.'' --Guy Kawasaki, author of Rules for Revolutionaries

''It's brief. It's elementary. It's obvious. But the truth often is. Read this book to relearn what you always knew just in time for it to change your business life.'' --Bob Garfield, co-host of NPR's On The Media

''No one knows word of mouth (the good, the bad, and the measurable) better than Andy Sernovitz.'' --Peter Fader, Professor, Wharton School of Business

''A quick, practical, and extremely useful guide to word of mouth marketing.'' --Emanuel Rosen, author of The Anatomy of Buzz

''This book is to Gladwell's The Tipping Point as engineering is to physics. If you want to understand the deep sociological theories behind interpersonal communication, this isn't the book for you. If you want to understand how to harness interpersonal communication to drive your business, then buy this book.'' --David Godes, Associate Professor, Harvard Business School

''Great book on WOM. Nicely written.'' --Jack Trout, author of Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind and The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing

''Word of mouth is the valuable currency in today's advertising-saturated world. Andy Sernovitz has written a book packed with ideas on how to do word of mouth marketing the right way.'' --Jackie Huba and Ben McConnell, authors of Creating Customer Evangelists

''Andy brings it together perfectly: the vision, the strategy, and the practical how-to. It's all here.'' --Geoff Ramsey, CEO, eMarketer

''It's an actionable guide for anyone looking to capture the power of word of mouth. Andy has written a book that shows just how simple it is to get people talking about your business. You should read this book and then tell a friend.'' --Brad Santeler, Kimberly-Clark

''A primer chock-full of great stories, tips, and exercises to make you a better word of mouth marketer, no matter what size company you work for. Read it, and you will increase your influence with your customers and make yourself more influential in your company.'' --Ed Keller and Jon Berry, authors of The Influentials

''It's easy to agree that word of mouth is important. But it's time to become students of how it works and why it is so valuable to our customers. Start or continue your journey by reading this book.'' --Bob Pearson, Dell

''Andy's approach is practical, affordable, and, best of all, ethical. Don't waste your money on mass marketing: Spend it on this book and start people talking.'' --Greg Stielstra, author of PyroMarketing

''The coolest book on the hottest topic in marketing and communication. Andy tells it all and tells it like it really is. The Five Ts are the best organizing framework for word of mouth I have seen yet. Use them and profit. No hype. No smoke and mirrors. No overblown promises.'' -- Don E. Schultz, Professor Emeritus-in-Service, Northwestern University

''There is no wasted word in this practical guide. Pure nuts-and-bolts how-to's for people who want to start implementing a word of mouth marketing program today. Other books cover the theory, but Andy gets to the actual action best.'' -- George Silverman, author of The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing

''Another must-read if you're at all interested in word of mouth marketing.'' --Mark Hughes, author of Buzzmarketing

''Andy Sernovitz's book will give all marketers a reason to talk. Sernovitz not only legitimizes word of mouth marketing, he provides THE road map to what drives it.'' ----MaryLee Sachs, Chairman, U.S., Hill & Knowlton

''As I read through Word of Mouth Marketing, I felt, more than anything else, relieved. Relieved that we finally have a marketing author who understands the simplicity (and complexity) of this business; who recognizes that honesty is the only workable policy for advertisers; and who see --You'll learn how to be that remarkable company people want to share with their friends.

''As I read through Word of Mouth Marketing, I felt, more than anything else, relieved. Relieved that we finally have a marketing author who understands the simplicity (and complexity) of this business; who recognizes that honesty is the only workable policy for advertisers; and who sees that in a flat, information-flooded world, nothing but the right product -- a product fashioned around your customers' needs -- will cut it. Sernovitz has managed to achieve a pretty rare twofer in providing a simple, tactical, how-to guide that anyone could use to improve their communications efforts, while simultaneously sketching out a whole new philosophy for marketers and advertisers everywhere. Oh, and the guy has fun anecdotes and a readable style too. Seriously, I know you're bored silly by all those marketing texts and I am too, but this one's worth your time.'' ----Jonah Bloom, Executive Editor, Advertising Age

From the Back Cover
You can have amazing word of mouth. This fun, practical, hands-on guide will teach you how.
What sparks the irrepressible enthusiasm of Apple, IKEA, Harley-Davidson, Southwest, Zappos, and Patagonia fans?
Why is everyone talking about a certain restaurant, car, band, or dry cleaner -- and why are other businesses and products ignored? Why do some products become huge successes without a penny of promotion -- and why do some multi-million-dollar advertising campaigns fail to get noticed?
In this book, word of mouth expert Andy Sernovitz will teach you exactly how you can create passionate, loyal fans that do your marketing for you, for free.
We're going to get specific: where to start, what to do, and how to make it successful. You'll learn how to use word of mouth to become more profitable, how to spend less on marketing, and how to make your customers happier.
You'll learn how to be that remarkable company people want to share with their friends.

About the Author
Andy Sernovitz teaches word of mouth marketing and social media. He is the author of "Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking." He leads, the community for social media leaders at the world's greatest brands, and, where marketers and entrepreneurs learn to be great at word of mouth marketing.

Andy taught word of mouth marketing at Northwestern University and internet entrepreneurship at the Wharton School of Business, ran a business incubator, and started half a dozen companies. He created the Word of Mouth Marketing Association and the Association for Interactive Marketing. His fantastic blog is called "Damn, I Wish I'd Thought of That!" (

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews

116 of 118 people found the following review helpful.
5Word of Mouth Marketing - An Essential Read!
By Dana
I recently finished Andy Sernovitz's new book, "Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking". Actually, I finished it a while ago, but haven't had time to do a full blog review.

The book is a quick read - 4hrs total, give or take, and it's packed full not only of WOM theory and a bit of history, but also with some concrete ideas from real WOM marketers and a checklist or two to boot. I love checklists!

The really "shocking" thing about this book, is that it's not one of those "wow, wouldn't it be cool if our company could do that" like "Blue Ocean Strategy, but rather, a book about WHAT EVERY BUSINESS SHOULD ALREADY BE DOING WITH THEIR MARKETING. Seriously, let's look, at what the book tells me to do.

You need the Five Ts. Talkers, Topics, Tools, Taking Part and Tracking.

* Talkers: Find people who will talk about you

* Topics: Give people a reason to talk

* Tools: Help the message spread faster and farther

* Taking Part: Join the conversation

* Tracking: Measure and understand what people are saying

Andy has another tidbit that worth the price of the book (or a visit to his site). The Word of Mouth Marketing Manifesto:

1. Happy customers are your best advertising. Make people happy.

2. Marketing is easy: Earn the respect and recommendation of your customers. They will do your marketing for you, for free.

3. Ethics and good service come first.

4. UR the UE: You are the user experience (not what your ads say you are).

5. Negative word of mouth is an opportunity. Listen and learn.

6. People are already talking. Your only option is to join the conversation.

7. Be interesting or be invisible.

8. If it's not worth talking about, it's not worth doing.

9. Make the story of your company a good one.

10. It is more fun to work at a company that people want to talk about.

11. Use the power of word of mouth to make business treat people better.

12. Honest marketing makes more money.

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful.
5A brainstorming guide to becoming remarkable
By Lindy Dreyer
This book is exactly what it promises to be...a fun, practical, hands-on guide to the art of word of mouth (WOM) marketing. This book is about getting back to the basics and fueling your desire to build a remarkable organization. The quick summary of what's in the book...

* 3 Reasons People Talk About You
* 4 Rules of Word of Mouth Marketing
* 5 Ts of Word of Mouth Marketing
* 6 Big Ideas: Deep Stuff That Changes Marketing Forever

The first 59 pages of the book give a thorough, yet concise, overview of the concepts of WOM marketing. For me, the really juicy stuff began on page 61--the HOW-TO section. (That's the pragmatist in me.) Page after page, I found myself writing down ideas, usually a spin-off of something Andy's seen or done...which is a considerable amount. Going back through my notes, many of these ideas are things we can do right away along with things we should have always been doing, but somehow got off track. This book is like a brainstorming helps you focus on the WOM concepts that matter most.

Word of warning...if you're looking for detailed, data-driven analysis of WOM, this is not your book. Most of the negative reviews on Amazon criticized the book for being too "obvious" or "simple." I'd argue that it's the simple and obvious ideas that make this book so powerful, not just for marketing and PR professionals, but for anyone in your organization who interacts with your customers and prospects.

BONUS: One of the 5 Ts of Word of Mouth is TOPIC. People often latch onto the most unexpected topics and we need to have the courage to run with it. Andy uses the example of RedEnvelope. Their unexpected topic? Beautiful gift packaging. I've personally ordered from was a gift for my mom. The first thing I heard from her after she received the gift? "The package was just beautiful! It came in this great red box with a giant bow!" She told all her friends about her "gift in the big red box." Not only did I look like the world's greatest daughter, but RedEnvelope likely got a few new customers.

What's your big red box?

52 of 61 people found the following review helpful.
1basic concepts presented as something fresh and radical
By Ala "Prompter"
I've just gotten into WOM marketing and so I assumed that my knowledge on the subject is limited. After reading this book, however, I came to think that I could be a marketing guru as well. The ideas described in this book could be summarized on three pages and still those pages would not be worth reading! Rules such as: make your message interesting or make it short or make it easy to remember are obvious for all those who are capable to think logically. Others (e.g. Chinese banquet example) are simply ridiculous!
I expected to learn a lot from this book. I learned nothing new. Plus, the book appear to contradict all the rules he lists: it could definitely be shorter and more interesting!


How Excellent Companies Avoid Dumb Things: Breaking The 8 Hidden Barriers That Plague Even The Best Businesses By Neil Smith, Patricia O'Connell

How Excellent Companies Avoid Dumb Things: Breaking the 8 Hidden Barriers that Plague Even the Best Businesses

How Excellent Companies Avoid Dumb Things: Breaking The 8 Hidden Barriers That Plague Even The Best Businesses By Neil Smith, Patricia O'Connell

List Price: $26.00
Price: $17.68 & eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping on orders over $25. Details

Availability: Usually ships in 24 hours
Ships from and sold by

59 new or used available from $11.89

Average customer review:
(26 customer reviews)

Product Description

Every day, seemingly intelligent and successful companies make headline news for poor decisions that can cause their business to stumble and make many of us scratch our heads in wonder. Why would such a successful business make "that" strategic decision? Neil Smith, with more than 20 years of experience leading large-scale performance improvements, reveals the hidden barriers that limit excellent companies from reaching their potential, and cause even the smartest managers and leaders to falter. During his experience transforming some of the top global businesses, Smith has identified 8 barriers that exist in every organization and prevent them from implementing literally thousands of ideas to improve the way they work:

Avoiding Controversy

Poor Use of Time

Reluctance to Change

Organizational Silos

Management Blockers

Incorrect Information and Bad Assumptions

Size Matters

Existing Processes

Rich with anecdotes and case studies, Smith identifies the ways in each of these barriers interrupt your own business.  He then outlines a fast and proven process in which 12 principles of business transformation can break down the processes that hold companies back.  What Smith offers his readers is the same thing he offers every day to the major companies he works with,  A PROMISE that by following his insights,  the company will be able to increase communication, simplicity, and profit to levels never before attainable.

Throughout the book, Dr. Richard Levak has contributed personality and organizational insights that shed light on why an individual or an organization behaves in contrary ways giving you a better sense of why these internal walls exist and how to be aware of your actions in your day to day life. 

Product Details
  • Amazon Sales Rank: #9097 in Books
  • Published on: 2012-06-05
  • Released on: 2012-06-05
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Dimensions: 9.57" h x .79" w x 6.30" l, .90 pounds
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • 240 pages
Editorial Reviews


"Neil Smith has helped create incalculable shareholder value and customer loyalty for companies across America and around the world with one 'radical' idea:  Our own employees know where the barriers to success are, and they know how to break them down so the CEO and the management teams can drive the vision and strategy we set for our companies."--Brian T. Moynihan, chief executive officer, Bank of America Corporation

"This exciting book, How Excellent Companies Avoid Dumb Things, provides an in-depth look at the structural and behavioral barriers that keep organizations from outstanding performance, and offers a clear set of principles to get on track. Neil Smith's brilliant insights into removing these barriers and empowering employees to produce creative ideas are a must-read for managers everywhere."--Bill George, professor of Management Practice, Harvard Business School, former chairman & CEO of Medtronic, Inc. and author of True North

"Neil Smith makes "A Promise" for transforming your organization, and I can attest from his work with us at NYSE Euronext that he delivers. In this book, he outlines the process by which any company can become more efficient and profitable while reducing complexity. It is a must-read for any company that wants to improve its performance and for any manager who is serious about adding value to their organization."--Duncan Niederauer, chief executive officer, NYSE Euronext

"This book provides a practical, common sense guide to the main stumbling blocks facing business leaders and how to deal with them."- John Quelch, dean of China Europe International Business School (CEIBS), Shanghai

"A top-notch consultant reveals his secret sauce! Crisply reasoned and crisply written, this book is a virtual how-to-do-it manual for improving your company. If it doesn't give you dozens of good ideas, you haven't read it."-- Alan Blinder, Gordon S. Rentschler Memorial professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University and co-author of Economics: Principles and Policy

"This book is a great gift to leaders facing the 8 barriers because it underscores how critical it is to engage employees across the entire organization.  Dumb things, goodbye! "--Frances Hesselbein, president and chief executive officer of Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute, former chief executive officer, Girl Scouts of the USA and author of My Life in Leadership

"A helpful reminder on how lack of oversight on even commonplace issues can interfere with an enterprise's productivity and success, this work will appeal to managers and leaders alike."—Publishers Weekly

"Neil Smith provides brilliant insights and great practical advice, based on his global expertise in helping excellent companies challenge the status quo and improve performance.  Move this book to the top of your inbox." -- Martin Sullivan, deputy chairman of Willis Group Holdings PLC and chairman and CEO of Willis Global Solutions

About the Author

Neil Smith
, CEO of Promontory  Growth and Innovation (PGI), has for the last 20 years focused on helping large corporations dramatically improve performance and profitability by growing revenues and innovatively reducing costs. Smith has led initiatives across a number of industries with some of the strongest companies in the U.S. including, Mellon Bank, Willis, and North American Van Lines. He recently spearheaded the highly visable initiative across Bank of America, and a firm he co-founded was responsible for projects at Heinz, Detroit Edison and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee. His efforts have helped increase profits at top companies by 20 percent or more.

Patricia O'Connell, former Management Editor at, brings more than 20 years of writing and editing in a variety of subjects, including business, leadership, and strategy. 

With contributions from Dr. Richard Levak, a nationally recognized personality expert who has been in private practice for over thirty years and has a growing practice in organizational consulting, assisting businesses with executive hiring, development and teambuilding.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful.
5How to overcome the major (hidden) barriers to a "goldmine" of resources and opportunities within your organization
By Robert Morris
With Patricia O'Connell, Neil Smith has written an exceptionally thoughtful and thought-provoking book. Whereas in Sydney Finkelstein's book, Why Smart Executives Fail: And What You Can Learn from Their Mistakes, the focus is on the performance of individuals, Smith focuses on lessons to be learned from excellent companies whose employees generally (but not always) avoid or overcome hidden (albeit "natural") barriers. These barriers, "individually and collectively, can prevent employees from taking actions that are in the best interests if the given company. In short, the barriers are the reason the company does dumb things, not the employees themselves."

Smith devotes a separate chapter to each of the barriers (Chapters 1-8) and then shifts his attention in Chapter 9 to "Twelve Principles for Breaking Barriers" and provides "A 100-Day Process for Breaking Barriers" in Chapter 11. I commend Smith on his skillful use of two reader-friendly devices at the conclusion of each of the first eight chapters: "Barrier in Brief" (Takeaway and Solution) and "Look at Your Organization" (Inaccurate Information and Bad Assumptions). Also, throughout his narrative, Smith also provides five mini-commentaries contributed by Richard Levak: "Why People Avoid Controversy" (Pages 22-25), "Why People Procrastinate" (38-40), "Why People Are Reluctant to Change" (50-52), "What's Behind Management Blockers?" (85-87), and "How to Change Corporate Culture" (209-212).

As I worked my way through this book, I was reminded of passages from two recently published books. First, from Judgment Calls: Twelve Stories of Big Decisions and the Teams That Got Them Right in which Thomas Davenport and Brooke Manville explain how and why decisions made by a Great Organization tend to be much better than those made by a Great Leader. Why? While conducting rigorous and extensive research over a period of many years, they discovered - as Laurence Prusak notes in the Foreword -- "that no one was looking into the workings of what we term [begin italics] organizational judgment [end italics] - the collective capacity to make good calls and wise moves when the need for them exceeds the scope of any single leader's direct control."

Organizational judgment must not only be discerned but also managed. And precautions should be taken to ensure, as Prusak notes, "that the courses of action taken by organizations are more grounded in reality and a shared sense of what is right." In recent years, the rapid emergence and development of social media enable organizations to become even more grounded in what has become an expanded reality. Only through an open and inclusive collaborative process can the use of social media enable any organization to tap the collective genius of its stakeholder constituencies.

In his latest book, Brilliant Mistakes: Finding Success on the Far Side of Failure, Paul J. H. Schoemaker asserts, "The key question companies need to address is not `[begin italics] Should [end italics] we make mistakes?' but rather `[begin italics] Which [end italics] mistakes should we make in order to test our deeply held assumptions?'"

Excellent companies achieve and then sustain success with sound collective judgment, their management calls. Meanwhile, as Schoemaker correctly suggests, their leaders view mistakes as (potentially) valuable assets, not as "failures." Schoemaker notes that one CEO obtained some empty L'eggs pantyhose plastic eggs, sprayed them with gold paint, and used them when awarding the "best mistake of the month." That is, the mistake from which the most valuable information was obtained. As Thomas Edison never missed an opportunity to point out, understanding what doesn't work is critically important to determining what does.

What Smith offers in this book is a cohesive, comprehensive, and cost-effective process by which almost any organization (whatever its size and nature may be) can achieve its strategic objectives. How? By avoiding or overcoming "hidden" or at least unrecognized barriers such as the eight on which Neil Smith focuses. I agree with him that most organizations already possess most of what they need to succeed. It remains for their leaders to locate the "goldmine," then allocate appropriately and supervise effectively its precious resources.

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful.
5Very insightful book with concrete suggestions
By Lionslurking
If you were running a company of say 5,000 employees and someone offered to work with some of your senior managers over the next 100 days and at the end of that time, your company's net income would be increased by 20% of more, and your employees felt empowered and you eliminated silos and bureaucracy, would you be interested??

Read the book---Neil Smith lays out very clear examples of what makes his process work---it's amazingly simple and compelling.

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful.
5Insightful business book
By Manager from New Jersey
With businesses constantly making the headlines with stupid actions its amazing companies survives. And these faux paus and mistakes continue year after year. Finally an author with a lot of experience discusses how even simple changes to a system (yes, even complex multinationals) can make a serious and significant impact. Who among us has not run in the silo problem, or the "that's not how our process works" administrative wall. Neil Smith here describes these restrictions and show how to break down the walls and make changes that have a real impact to business. Buy it... for just over $17 bucks just one change in your division will make it worth your while. It's an easy read, filled with examples. You'll be able to put some of the advice to use right away.