Title: A Good Hard Kick in the Ass – the new rules for business
Author: Rob Adams
Publisher: Arrow, 2002
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Reviewing the rules for raising capital and starting a company may not be at the top of your list of things to do. If not, rearrange your priorities. More than ever, sales people who sell business to business need to understand their customers business and the pressures acting on board members. This book demolishes some of the popular ideas about starting a company. Rob Adams has spent a large part of his career working with entrepreneurs preparing to raise large sums of money to launch software companies. You may be thinking, “That has little to do with my customers businesses”. If so, please think again. The many kicks in the ass offered by Rob’s book are to do with business fundamentals.
Boring? Definitely not. Even the Foreword, written by Mike Maples of Microsoft, zings along, leaving you wondering if you have accidentally skipped on to the first chapter. There are ten kicks and every one is worth paying attention to. Most of them have parallels in sales so this book has double the value if you plan to remain in the relative safety of a sales job.
From a sales point of view, kick number two is very significant. Have you ever caught yourself saying, “I know my customer”? For sales people, this chapter alone makes it worth buying this book. At the beginning of this chapter Rob makes the statement, “You don’t know your customers as well as you think you do.” I read this and considered how it applied to my knowledge of SalesSense customers. I thought, “you are probably right Rob”. Then, as I read on, I became increasingly uncomfortable about just how much I didn’t know. The words in this book do more than convey an idea; they make it vivid, in your face, and sometimes unpleasantly real.
In the same chapter, you will learn about validating customer need. You may be wondering what use this is to a sales person. The term describes the first step that Rob’s venture capital firm, AV Labs, has taken to test their ideas. Validating customer need is what top sales people do to qualify prospects properly. If you are tempted to think that you know what qualifying is about and that you already do what is necessary, read chapter two of this book and then ask yourself again.
At the end of each chapter, you will find a neat summary of the ‘takeaways’ in it. You would be right if you think this makes it easy to skim the book although if you do, you will miss a lot of depth, colour, and appreciation. Every chapter is full of insights and business stories. On the face of it, this is a book for people who aim to raise capital to start or accelerate a company. In fact, it contains a wealth of wisdom, backed by layers upon layers of experience. Whether you see yourself as an entrepreneur, business builder, turn around specialist, manager, or sales person, you will find gold in this book. You are also very likely to read it. I got a sense of pace and excitement from its pages that reminded me of the last time I read a great novel.
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