See the latest on the Roadmap to Revenue Amazon page.
I'll be brutally frank - I had this book on my shelf for a long time before picking it up and reading it. Too bad for me - I probably lost $60k of deals in the 2 months that I dragged my feet.
No more - I'm in the fan club. This book provides a crystal clear path and plan for your sales success. As the saying goes, people will pay for "how-to" information. And they will pay a LOT for "exactly-how-to" information. That is what this book is filled with.
You get exactly what to say and how to say it - what to do and how to do it - at every step and stage of the marketing, sales, and business development process.
For the skeptics who don't believe sales can be boiled down to a repeatable, consistent, clear, and improve-able process, I have three words for you: READ. THIS. BOOK.
I am going back to the drawing board in my own business to re-configure the way I sell to more closely match and mirror the way my prospects buy. In the book's lingo, it turns out I have a "light scrutiny" sales process - and the books' value only multiplies if you have a medium- or heavy-scrutiny sales process.
As a marketing expert and marketing author myself, I assure you that it would be no exaggeration to say this one book could easily return you $100k of improved sales results, even if you don't sell big-ticket complex products or services. And if you DO sell big-ticket complex products or services, implementing these strategies, tactics, templates and tools could literally be a million-dollar idea for you.
-- David Newman, author of "Do It! Marketing: 77 Instant-Action Ideas to Boost Sales, Maximize Profits, and Crush Your Competition"
Kristin Zhivago has put together a compelling argument for ensuring your business is customer-focused and how this correlates to revenue growth for businesses of any size. She then lays out a clear, well-structured methodology for you to execute on. This book truly offers practical solutions that you can implement to affect positive change - a refreshing change from most business books! I only wish I had read Roadmap to Revenue sooner.
I have worked in the video production for some years, I have been in the Movie Amistad with Steven Spielberg and 27 dresses the film stars Katherine Heigl, Matinee with John Goodman I have made TV commercials and award winning TV programs and music videos. I have also videotaped and produced many self life help, and wealth improvement programs. I have even made award winning video on improving your life and business and have marketed the programs to thousands through multi level corporations. Many copies have been distributed to instructor around the world. The curses I worked on have helped people and business get the edge they needed in both the market place and in the social psychology areas as well.
However most programs have an extensive amount of marketing written in before they get to the matter of substance in the material. I have read mountains of information on this subject of improvement and have even participated in training session in small groups.
There is only one resource that I have recently found that cuts right to the chase without endless pages of why you need this product.
The book, "Roadmap to Revenue, How to Sell the way your customers want to buy" Goes right to the heart of the matter and right past all the hype of why you need this book. The book is conclusive in its direction to success. As a person who has seen very little new under the sun when it comes to improvement programs I find this book stimulating, new and refreshing and very hard to put down. Many programs just rehash the same material over and over again and have little on how to fix what is not working.
This is a good read for the small business owner and the corporations of the world, I highly suggest it.
I am sure you will find it just as hard as I do to resist going back and looking it over again and a again...
R.S.Church, Delric Studios.
I'm reading Kristin Zhivago's excellent Roadmap to Revenue. Simple ideas, easy to read, but so very important! She maps out a clear method for marketing and sales leaders to really understand what customers want... by interviewing them. Zhivago explains that we should focus more on how customers buy (the buying process) than how we want to sell (the selling process). Sounds simple, right? But how come so many companies fail to do it.
In a way, Zhivago's advice is simple. Call `em and talk to `em. Why is it that product managers and marketing managers seem so reluctant to talk to customers? Zhivago's advice is easy to follow--you just have to make the decision to do it. Happily, she explains the process step-by-step.
So forget about social media marketing and the latest sales techniques. The first step in marketing and sales is knowing your customers. Get the basics right before you worry about anything else.
I have never seen a marketing book that actually addresses real revenue problems.
Most just pitch their solution with no regard to your customers or their buying process.
The is the only method where you can create a marketing plan that is based on facts, not just guessing.
Kristin's straight shooting style is rare in the marketing industry.
I don't know how people continually sell their customers without knowing what they are really thinking.
Her method makes perfect sense, and you'll wonder why you never interviewed your clients the way she prescribes.
This is a must read for any CEO or marketer looking for actionable revenue-driving results.
Roadmap to Revenue: How to Sell the Way Your Customers Want to Buy
This book is a must read for any small business owner. Kristin outlines a fresh view of how customers buy and then presents actionable steps for approaching sales. When you can find out why your customers buy your product/service, and why they buy from you, you can use that information to sell to more customers and clients. Trying to pitch things that are not important to your prospect doesn't work. Follow the plan in this book if you want to ensure sales success!
I have many books on marketing, sales, service, customer experience, CRM. And this is one of the most useful, most practical books that I have read. So much so that my copy is many passages underlined in red ink.
The tag line for the book says it best "How to sell the way your customers want to buy". In this book Kristin lives up to what she preaches in the book - she delivers on the promise set out in the tagline. Roadmap to Revenue provides a actionable, pragmatic and robust method (and tools and tips) for generating insight into customer needs (as buyers) and converting this into an actionable roadmap for giving giving customers (buyers) what they are looking for and thus growing you revenues.
The skeleton upon which the book hangs, the heart of the book, is the Roadmap to Revenue method that consists of three steps:
DISCOVER is concerned with figuring out how to make buying easier for the people (buyers/customers) who would benefit from the `products' you are selling. Kristin gets that there are various ways of getting at this insight including interviewing employees, conducting focus groups and using social media. She also gets their limitations. Based on that understanding and the kind of actionable insight customer interviews provide, Kristin strongly advocate interviewing existing customers to get at buyers needs and experience. Furthermore, Kristin is clear that these interviews should be carried out over the phone, not face to face. Why? Because, our customers are that much more open, more honest, more disclosing when this interviewing happens over the phone.
DEBATE involves the key players in your organisation to take part in conversations where they discuss, analyse and prioritise the feedback provided by your customers in the earlier Discover step. The objective is to come to an agreement on the "essence of your promise to your customers" and to determine which buying category your `product' falls into so that later you can determine/get to grips with the customers buying process. Kristin recommends a 2 day offsite "Brainstorming and Planning Meeting" to do the work that is necessary in this step.
DEPLOY involves taking all that you have learned and turning that into a "Buying Process Roadmap" for each of the distinct `products' that you are selling. This map will show: the different stages of the customers buying process; they concerns that show up at each stage; the actions they take; the questions that customers are asking/grappling with,;the answers that satisfy them; and the best tools for providing those answers. Once the Buying Process Roadmaps have been constructed it is time to put together the "Revenue Growth Action Plan". This is the implementation plan which sets out what you are going to do to improve what needs to be improved, to fix whats broken, to create what is needed and is not there......
I wholeheartedly recommend this book - anyone/everyone who is working to improve the performance of their business by getting a better insight into what matters to customers should read this book.
First off, I appreciate the thoughtful approach to describing typical challenges with the online selling process and the step-by-step methodology Kristin describes to overcome these challenges and survive various levels of buyer scrutiny. The first half of the book is focused on a three-step approach for improving online sales: Discover, Debate and Deploy. At a high-level, this is very similar to classical gap analysis -- understand where you are, where you need to be and how to bridge the gap between those two points. I won't give away the details of Kristin's methodology here, but there is plentiful expertise contained in the pages defining the steps in the roadmap that are well worth the price of this book.
Following the roadmap definition and a chapter on supporting the customer's buying process, Kristin dives into an interesting discussion on how to support (or survive) four layers of buyer scrutiny. This should be required reading, in my opinion, for anyone attempting to grow their online customer base. Scrutiny is positioned not as a barrier, but as a metric to which a company must respond. As the author describes, "Moving your product/service down the Scrutiny Spectrum will lower the cost of supporting the purchase - and make your business more profitable."
Perhaps the thing about this book that stands out to me is that it is focused on the right thing: The Customer. This isn't about the latest panacea for your commerce site. It's not yet another book on how social media will save you. It's not about capturing potential customers though SEO. It's straight-forward, customer-centric common sense illuminated by practical experience and driven by the desire to please the ultimate commerce critic, the customer. And, I might add, well worth the read.
I heard Kristin speak at a MarketingProfs webinar and then purchased Roadmap to Revenue
. I'm conducting interviews with our customers right now and the process has been very insightful. In fact it far exceeded my expectations. After conducting 10 interviews I can already see the ways to improve our policies and processes. In addition, many new product ideas and product improvements have come out of these conversations. I think these customer insights will help me positively influence my organization's future direction.
Thank you to Kristin for sharing her process. I highly recommend Roadmap to Revenue
- it has shown me a great way to get in touch with my customers and has helped me determine how we can better help them.
Ms. Zhivago advises businesses to stop trying to "sell" and "market". Instead try to figure out how to make the purchase easier for the customers who would benefit from your product or service.
The Roadmap to Revenue
method consists of the following three phases;
Discover ~ Interview current customers (or prospects) on the telephone to find out what they want to buy and how they want to buy it. Record and organize the information that is collected in these interviews and present the information to the leaders of your business.
Debate ~ Analyze, discuss and prioritize what the customers have told you. Identify the issues most important to the customers.
Deploy ~ Map out the customer's buying process so you can support it at every step. Develop an action plan. Your goal is to fix what is broken, and improve what needs improving. Develop strategies that will better support your customers' buying process.
The author provides detailed information to support a business that wants to make the shift from company-based to customer-based. This book provides everything you need to know to start the process. The author emphasizes that this is an on-going process that will lead to significant increases in your sales. This is not a quick or easy fix, but it will lead to long-term rewards.
I do not have a formal education in business or any of the business-related fields. This was a challenging read for me, but the book is organized in a way that a layman can understand and benefit from it. I found this book to be a very content-rich offering that really goes deep into the "meat" of business management. The author offers free pdf downloads on her blog that will support the information in this book.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is serious about taking their business to the next level. The information is this book can be applied to all types of organizations that focus on selling a product or service.
I feel like I have been given the Keys to the Kingdom. The step-by-step process that Kristin Zhivago has put in this book is amazing. It seems like the inside look of what a consultant would charge thousands and thousands for, probably because it is. But Kristin Zhivago has generously shared this with the small business person who can't afford thousands.
While it isn't an instantaneous thing, it doesn't take as long as you might think. If you are in a business where your revenue depends on sales and you don't read this book, you better pray your competitors don't either.
Kristin Zhivago's contention is that vendors of goods and services are searching in the wrong places to find answers as to why they are not succeeding in attracting potential buyers to purchase from them and thus increase their revenue. They don't recognize that their customers are the only ones that know the real answers. Posing the right questions to their customers will inform them what their customers want and how they want to buy it.
With her clear-thinking approach through verbiage that can be described as superb in its economy, Zhivago in her Roadmap To Revenue: How To Sell The Way Your Customers Want To Buy
advocates a change in the usual way companies conceive about sales and marketing. In fact, Zhivago is quite forthright in her contempt concerning some of the existing marketing techniques that hammer consumers with a great deal of noise and clutter about products and services that cost companies millions of dollars with little to show for it. She further affirms that most of the time marketing and selling are out of touch as to what your buyer really wants from your product or service and as she maintains: "Marketing and selling is what you do. Buying is what your customer does." After all, is it not the buyer that determines whether the company will succeed or not? Consequently, to improve revenue, Zhivago advocates a different approach - one which she describes as shifting from a company-centered approach to a customer-centric one. Her fundamental message is to engage your customers and listen to their needs wherein you align your organization with your customer's buying process.
After presenting her readers with a general overview, Zhivago breaks down her process into three fundamental steps which she fully treats within chapters three, four and five of the book. It is here where we learn how to interview customers, create reports, and what to do with all of the information we have accumulated. The three steps are as follows:
1) Discover: Interview your customers, find out what they want and how they want to go about buying it. This can be accomplished through the use of in-depth, one-on-one phone interviews. It is here where readers will learn whom to interview, how to interview, questions that should be posed to your customers, transcribing the interview, creating a conversation report, and distributing the report to the individuals that will be involved in a subsequent brainstorming and planning meeting.
2) Debate. Resolve the differences between what they want versus what you have to sell, and how they buy versus how you sell. In this step, you arrange whom you wish to be present in the brainstorming and planning meeting, which should be conducted over a period of two days. The participants should come from a broad spectrum of areas in your organization such as marketing, sales, websites, systems operations, and customer service. The first day would emphasize all the important issues that are important to your customers and this would be followed by building your promise by using the information garnered from your customers.
3) Deploy. Document your customer's buying process so you can support them every step of the way, then build an action plan. This step is covered in day two, now that you know what exactly you have to deliver to your customers.
The remaining chapters of the book analyze more closely how to support your customers's buying process, the four levels of buyer scrutiny which Zhivago breaks down into light, medium, heavy and intense, and finally the way to keep your company on the right path to increasing revenue.
Roadmap To Revenue
is certainly a maverick book containing act-on-it-today advice rendered by an acknowledged master who has meticulously presented information that she has garnered from her many years as a Revenue Coach to CEOs and entrepreneurs helping them increase their revenue by understanding exactly what their customers want. Moreover, the book provides great insight relevant to viewing the customer purchasing process as a whole and the need to change our attitude if we hope to increase revenue. It is one book that should be a top reading priority for CEOs and entrepreneurs who, as Zhivago states in her opening dedicating remarks, "feel a strong sense of responsibility to their customers, employees, and stakeholders, and who want to grow their businesses without resorting to the deceptive techniques used by the manipulative world."
In a sales environment in which consumers now have much more information -- and thus have much more control -- during the purchase decision process than ever before, those who sell must be much more aware of what is most important to each prospective buyer. The challenge is to obtain that information. How? In this book, Kristin Zhivago offers a "system" by which to do that. This system (best explained within the book's narrative, in context) is based on this premise: Previous and current buyers will reveal to sellers what they need to know in order to increase the chances of a sale to prospective buyers. Up to a point, I agree. That is, if approached properly, many prospective buyers will also reveal what they know or think they know about their preferences. That is the core premise of Neil Rackham's approach, "SPIN Selling
However, as revealed in recently published books such as Martin Lindstrom's Buyology
and then Brandwashed
and in Adrian Slywotzky's Demand
, it is also true of many prospective buyers that they (a) do not know specifically what they want although claim they "will know it when they see it", (b) often make emotional rather than rational decisions, (c) many of those decisions are made subconsciously rather than consciously, and/or (d) they can be manipulated by an environment within which sensory experiences can be a decisive factor.
All that said, Zhivago offers a cohesive, comprehensive, and cost-effective system that consists of three steps: Discover (i.e. find out what buyers want and how they want to go about buying it), Debate (i.e. resolve the differences between what buyers want versus what you offer for sale as well how they buy versus how you sell), and Deploy (i.e. document a buyer's buying process so that you can support them every step of the way, then build an action plan). She identifies the "what" of the process involved but devotes most of her attention to explaining its "how" and "why."
Note: I think "debate" is a very poor choice of word, even if limited to internal discussion. Surely Zhivago realizes that the objective is to accommodate the preferences of the prospective buyer. Only amateurs "debate" with customers...and seldom (if ever) win.
She devotes a separate chapter to each of these strategic objectives:
o How to support a customer's buying process
o How to support the "light scrutiny" buying process
o How to support the "medium scrutiny" buying process
o How to support the "heavy scrutiny" buying process
o How to support the "intense scrutiny" buying process
o How to keep an organization on its road to revenue
Like any other map, The "Buying Process Roadmap" defines parameters, suggests distances (e.g. information gaps), identifies options, and facilitates, indeed expedites completion of a journey. In this case, the objective (obviously) is to complete a series of sales transactions in ways and to an extent that a buyer has an on-going relationship that will result in (a) additional purchases and (b) endorsements to others within the buyer's realm of influence. In a phrase, to become what Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba characterize as a customer "evangelist."
More a quibble than a complaint, an Index is needed and there is no acceptable excuse for its absence. Other than that, those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out the aforementioned, eponymous book co-authored by McConnell and Huba and those by Lindstrom and Slywotzky as well as Fred Reichheld's The Ultimate Question 2: How Net Promoter Companies Thrive in a Customer-Driven World
(Revised and Expanded Edition).
Note from the author: I responded to Bob's review on Amazon with this comment:
Kristin Zhivago says:
I was very happy that Bob reviewed Roadmap, since I have always enjoyed his reviews and his take on business in general. I do need to comment on the word "Debate," however.
The beauty of the Roadmap method is that after the top execs have read the Conversation Report, none of them argue against the customer in the brainstorming and planning meeting. The reports they have absorbed expose them to their customers' reality, and they are literally transformed by the insights that customers have shared in the interviews. Even if the Conversation report is 50 to 150 pages long, every single executive reads every single word. It is like reading the story of your life, from a very different - and very important - perspective. And it has a profound effect on their own perception of what they are doing right, and what needs fixing.
So the "debate" in the meeting is not at all "against" the customer. On the contrary, everyone in the room is united in an effort to match their own decisions and activities to the preferences and needs revealed in the interviews and the resulting Conversation and Summary/Recommendations reports.
The only exception to this, in my experience, is any die-hard jerk in the room who has no respect for customers and who does not have a helpful character. I avoid doing business with jerks, so this usually isn't a problem, but every so often there may be one jerk in the room who drags down the meeting.
I explain how to deal with this effectively in the book, and I also help my clients replace jerks with helpful people within their organizations as part of my role as a Revenue Coach.
I liked this book a lot. I found it to be packed with much content of which a small business owner should have an understanding. Notice I didn't say I loved the book. I've given it a 5-star rating, but I came real close to giving it just 4 stars. I did not like the author's writing style. She repeated herself a lot, or said the same thing in many different ways. As a result, I felt I had to work a little bit when trying to organize the main points of the book after I had finished it. And if anybody knows me, they know I don't like to work much, not even a little bit. The book's table of contents was pretty lousy, too. I urge you to take a look at it via Amazon's "search inside" feature.
At first glance I thought this was a marketing or sales book. But after I got into it I became aware that this was a strategic planning book which is aimed at helping business owners and/or managers of companies of all sizes be more profitable by becoming customer-centric if they currently are company-centered.
Ideally the book would have been split into two parts and appendix as follows:
I. Approaches to generating revenue
>1. A company-centered organization is bad
>2. A customer-centric organization is good
>3. An emphasis on merely selling goods and services is bad
>4. An emphasis on solving customers' problems is good
>5. Marketing and sales is so company-centered
>6. Supporting the customers' buying process is being customer-centric
>7. Grow revenue by solving customer problems and supporting their buying process
II. Strategic Planning
>8. Research by doing customer interviews
>9. Analyze and strategize using the research performed
>10. Document a written plan to be customer-centric
>11. Implement the plan
Appendix. Buyer Scrutiny
>i. An overview of the 4 levels of buyer scrutiny
>ii. How to support the light scrutiny buying process
>iii. How to support the medium scrutiny buying process
>iv. How to support the heavy scrutiny buying process
>v. How to support the intense scrutiny buying process
The material I think should be included in chapters 1-7 can be found in the book. Unfortunately, you have to dig for it a little. The material that would be found in my hypothetical chapters 8-11 can be pretty much found in the book's chapters 3-5. And the content in my hypothetical appendix can be found in the book's chapters 7-11.
Probably the most value from this book can be found in chapters 7-11 and the related templates that can be downloaded from the Resources subfolder on the book's companion Web site. These resources will help considerably in doing the necessary strategic planning required to transform the company from being centered on itself to being customer-centric. 5 stars!
The author has done a very thorough job of sharing the proven methods she has developed and perfected for her many clients to help them increase their revenue by understanding the buying mindset of their sought-after customers.
What's also important is how the book doesn't resort to a zillion stories about "what worked for others" but, instead, shows you how to find out what will work for your individual situation. That's the real distinguishing characteristic that sets this book apart from the others on the market.
Any business that wants to experience increased sales absolutely needs to read this book!
In fact, every university with a Business and Marketing curriculum should make this required reading too.
I received this book as part of the recently concluded MarketingSherpa B2B Conference in Boston, and I'm so glad I did! This is a meaty and valuable book that offers tremendous value. In it, Zhivago advocates cultivating and maintaining a "customer mindset" and throughout the book, the clear and effective writing stresses the importance of aligning sales and marketing to the buying process. What's interesting is how the book details exactly how one can reverse-engineer a comopany's recent successful sales, in order to manufacture new sales in quantity.
The book's premise is powerful: only a company's customers can tell a company how they want to buy what the company sells.
I highly suggest this book to marketing and sales professionals, or those consultants that serve them. We might all know this intuitively, but do we act on this fundamental premise: the importance of cultivating and maintaining a mindful focus and awareness on the customer.
Heck, I was so inspired by Zhivago and this book I blogged about it here
After hearing Kristin speak at a conference in Boston, I bought the book and devoured it in two sittings.
What I appreciated the most was how practical the book was. Many business books touch lightly on processes, however Kristin has created a very logical and detailed path to follow for business owners. highly recommended. (she is a good speaker also!)
Kristin Zhivago shows readers how to be more customer-oriented and hence, better able to understand their customers and increase revenue as a result.
Zhivago outlines a 3-step process to accomplish this goal. The book isn't a vague outline, it provides the details and specifics for the process. For example, in the section on customer interviews, the book shows readers the words to be used in the email request, how many interviews you need to do, what percentage of each type of customer you should interview, which type of customers to select, what are the questions you should ask your customers, and why phone interviews work best.
This is a great book for anyone looking to improve their sales. It shows readers how to create a predictable and repeatable sales process.
Zhivago presents a process and perspective that are both client centric yet still driven towards the bottom line. Rather than argue about what we think our clients want and how they want it, Kristin challenges you to talk to your clients directly to find out, and she gives you the frame work to do so respectfully and successfully.
Packed full of tips, best practices, and real world examples, Roadmap to Revenue will challenge and encourage you.
For me, Kristin's latest book was better than a James Patterson thriller. I couldn't put it down. Seven hours later I had totally scribbled over my copy of the book and now plan to completely remake an aggressive new business plan I was hoping to launch momentarily.
The key premise in this book is the important "Shift" away from the traditional self-serving, company-centered approach and to a customer-centric strategy. This moves the focus of your efforts from "how you'd like to sell" on to the customer's choice of "how they'd like to buy." The concept of "put yourself in the other guy's shoes" has been around for a long time, but it's never been explained in such an easy-to-grasp way - and so easy to put to to work.
For most companies the idea of such a dramatic shift in behavior is a little intimidating, which is why this book puts so much effort into the development of an easily managed process called the Roadmap. The Roadmap is offered in three pieces. Number one is based on the process required for discovering exactly what your prospect wants to buy, using proven interviewing techniques. Number two resolves the differences between what they want to buy and what you are hopeful of selling. And number three consists of the steps needed for the process of documenting your prospect's buying procedures so that you are available to help at every step of the way - and get the rest of your company to do the right thing.
One major secret . . . don't try to interview customers in person. They'll tell you more on the phone, if you do it right. Kristin walks you through that process in great detail.
I once wrote a piece with the headline, "Nobody Buys Software From A Stranger." That's still true. In fact, nobody buys anything
from a stranger. You've got to get out of stranger mode as quickly as possible if you're going to sell anything. I don't know anybody better qualified to show you the way than Kristin Zhivago.
Author, "Embedded Word of Mouth"
"Roadmap to Revenue" is an amazingly helpful, step-by-step solution to businesses' growing challenge of continuing to thrive financially. In her characteristically crystal clear, concisely written style, Kristin lines out why the activities you've invested in may not have worked to bring in revenue -- and why you will reach your objective by taking the time, effort and focus to change the way you sell.
This is a terrific primer for anyone who's trying to manage a product or business unit in almost any industry. "Roadmap" starts with a long chapter on how to organize and conduct intense, productive conversations with your customers, and goes on to explain in detail how to translate that customer input into key decisions about your sales process, customer service, marketing budgets and priorities, and even website design. Particularly helpful is the book's classification of products into four categories of buyer scrutiny (light, medium, heavy, intense); each category gets a detailed outline of how to improve and prioritize your marketing and sales efforts, and even recommended marketing budget allocations for each type of product.
I wish every product manager, sales manager and marketing director I work with had a copy of this book!
In Roadmap to Revenue, Kristin Zhivago addresses the key issues that nearly all my clients are struggling with today -- engaging with and selling to crazy-busy, highly informed, discriminating buyers. She gives you very detailed instructions regarding how to totally rethink your sales process and go-to-market strategy so that it's aligned with how your buyers make their decisions.
This book doesn't give you a quick fix. Instead, it gives you a long-term solution that will enable your company and your revenue to keep growing regardless of the economic situation or the competitive landscape.
This book delivers superbly on the title's promise. Kristin Zhivago provides a comprehensive and practical guide to increasing revenue by skillfully eliciting and responding to customer needs. She shows in detail how to interview customers, synthesize the results and work internally across the organization to devise a plan and get everyone on board.
The book's premise is that the entire organization needs to be involved in understanding and satisfying the needs of the customer. As such, it is useful reading for anyone in a business role. CEOs, entrepreneurs, and sales and marketing leaders will find this an especially relevant and inspiring read.
The author's writing style is refreshingly down-to-earth and straightforward. Zhivago peppers the text with anecdotes from her many years of business and consulting experience, lending real-world credibility to her methodology.
The Roadmap concept is portable and can be utilized within any industry or company size. The specifics of how to customize the process for your particular business are in Chapters 7-11. If you are concerned that there aren't enough anecdotes about companies similar to yours, flip ahead and you will surely find yourself there.
The compass on the cover is an apt metaphor for this book. In a world overflowing with conflicting ideas about how to sell and market, Roadmap to Revenue offers clarity and focus: "Your customers are the only ones who know the real answers." We are fortunate that Kristin Zhivago has decided to share with us her time-tested method of finding and profiting from those answers.
Roadmap to Revenue is filled with more than just good information-it's filled with wisdom, which comes not only from Kristin Zhivago's extensive experience in sales and marketing, but also her philosophy about business. Through her writings and my experience as an entrepreneur, I have learned that successful entrepreneurs don't manipulate and coerce others into purchasing their products; rather, they discover what their customers' needs are and then meet those needs. The difference in mindset between the former and latter approaches is radical. One is based on deceit, a lack of information, fear, manipulation, and control; the other is based upon honesty, integrity and a desire to help others, and is, frankly, the approach that works. Surprisingly, many businesses operate, often unknowingly, with many elements of the fear-based approach.
Ms. Zhivago doesn't state this in her book, but as I studied the intelligent strategies therein, I noticed that unsuccessful companies tend to adopt elements of a self-centered approach to business, while successful companies are in touch with their customers' needs, which in the end, fulfills their own. Some may sincerely desire to help customers and provide them with products that meet their needs, but as Ms. Zhivago writes in her book, unless they are interacting with their customers on a regular basis, they can't know what they need.
As I read the examples of inefficient versus efficient sales practices, I wanted to jump up and down and sing, "Yes, she (Ms. Zhivago) gets it!" You don't need to be a CEO or company manager to understand that Ms. Zhivago is promoting business practices that work-you only need to be a customer or client, which we all are. Because as you read about her strategies, as a customer, you will be thinking to yourself, "Yes, I wish more businesses would do business this way. If they did, I would be a customer for life!" For example, things like knowledgeable and available customer service representatives, salespeople who actually listen instead of talk, websites that are easy and effective to navigate, and companies that know their customers' real needs instead of perceived needs, can make all the difference in the world. And Ms. Zhivago outlines very specific strategies for creating businesses where these things happen.
One concept that I really appreciated in this book was that of putting the customer first. Of course, many companies embrace this ideal, but in practice, they fail to do it for many reasons. Among these, because they sell based on what they perceive customers need, instead of asking customers themselves what they need. Also, because the salespeople either don't know how to put the customer first, or aren't motivated to do it.
I used to work for United Airlines, which enthusiastically advocated putting the customer's needs first. In practice, however, the company largely failed in conveying that it cared about its customers, because those on the front lines interacting with customers were not properly taken care of, educated, or motivated. Take care of your employees and salespeople first, and get them on board with what you are trying to do as a manager or CEO, and your customers will be happy. This is one tenet of Ms. Zhivago's approach, although there are many, many others, which I highly recommend readers discover for themselves.
It's interesting how company managers can have wonderful ideas for creating, selling, and marketing a product, and yet neglect taking care of and educating those on the front lines who are responsible for sharing that product with customers. These people are what make or break a sale, and Ms. Zhivago clearly outlines the importance of equipping, motivating and training them.
But the book does more than this. It describes every step that entrepreneurs must take to sell their products, from finding out what customers want and resolving the differences between what they want versus what they have to sell; to equipping and training company members in how to do this, and understanding what marketing methods and channels work.
Finally, this is an excellent book, not only for its wise, yet simple concepts, but also for the entertaining and clear writing. As a fellow writer and entrepreneur, I appreciated being able to glide through the concepts and words, without stumbling over excessive wordiness or confusing ideas. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn about a simple, yet profound and effective approach to sales.
Author, "Defeat Cancer: 15 Doctors of Integrative and Naturopathic Medicine Tell You How"
It all makes sense with this book. I am now not only the boss, but am now the 'Voice of the customer' in my business and it all just makes so much sense. I sometimes jump on our customer support lines every few weeks and get what the customers are saying - otherwise you're stabbing in the dark as your employees decide on what they think is best. But I've upped it a notch after reading this book because you have to go in to bat for the customer.
What the book proposes will be hard work for some people, even uncomfortable with regards to interviewing customers. But it's like gearing up for a really hard exercise routine, you will enjoy it and you will feel great afterwards even if there's a bit of aprehension to get off the couch. Talking to customers is actually pretty cool, they like being asked for their opinion.
We've made some great products, and one bomb. With the bomb product, I just built it thinking what customers would want, never even asked any, released it and no one bought it. All that money and time would not have been wasted if I'd asked some potential customers if they wanted it, or how they wanted it differently.
It's a great/important title in a business for someone - "Voice of the customer."
This is likely to be a trailblazing book for 2011. In our work on Content Marketing we are always looking for good reference texts to get across that you need to have content relevant from the customers point of view . In our pricing work, we stress having companies ask customers what is the value of their products. This book helps on both these fronts plus it is written from a sales point of view. That is important because sales packs more clout in most companies still. Zhivago has made very pertinent analyses of four types of purchasing scrutiny (from light through to intense scrutiny). She has laid out the most complete and succinct description we have seen of customer interview techniques yet. This is a must buy, must read book for sales and marketing types. There is not a wasted page in the whole book.
As a past consulting client of Kristin's, and someone who read her book "Rivers of Revenue" years ago, I was eager to download and read the Kindle version of "Roadmap to Revenue" as soon as it came out, and I bought another copy for my V.P. Marketing and his iPad. I had high expectations for this book, and I was not disappointed. It is vintage Kristin Zhivago: She has distilled her knowledge from conducting thousands of interviews for hundreds of companies, and explained "in no uncertain terms" why you need to interview your customers, how (in some depth) you should do it, what you are likely to learn, what you need to do with the learnings, and how to implement the changes you will need to make in your business. There is literally no fluff in this book, it is all reality based and eminently practical advice, with detailed action steps.
At several points in the book, Kristin makes very specific and unconditional statements about your customers' buying process, what will happen in the interviews (for example, exactly how many interviews it will take before trends emerge), how your salespeople will react when you hold a "brainstorming and planning meeting" based on the customer interview results, what will happen when your IT people say that certain changes cannot be implemented, etc. You might think that she is being simplistic and "every business situation is different," but based on my experience with this process, she's right on the money. I think she has done this so many times, with so many different companies, products, and customer types, and found these things to be so consistently true that she doesn't want to waste anyone's time with "softer" advice.
Of course this is not a magic elixir -- the hard part is figuring out exactly how you are going to address the weak points in your product/service and processes that customers have told you about in the interviews, and then actually implement the changes you need to make. While, if you make what she calls "The Shift," you probably will see a significant increase in revenue, this is not a one-time event but an ongoing process. But this is the real deal, applicable to just about any business with customers -- it is definitely NOT "yet another marketing strategy book" to read and then place on the bookshelf, or at the back of the e-reader. If, like me, you're running a business and you have so much to do that you must ruthlessly prioritize your time and attention, you would do well to force this book to the top of your list, read it of course, but then ACT on it.
Full disclosure - I'm a big Kristin Zhivago fan. I first read her 'Rivers of Revenue' about five years ago, and it became a cornerstone of my B2B mar comm business. I've since bought several copies for clients and colleagues. So I downloaded the Kindle version of 'Roadmap to Revenue' as soon as it became available. Her methodology makes it possible to reverse-engineer successful sales, so new sales can be manufactured in quantity. In this book, she lays out her methodology and processes garnered from years in the field working with corporate clients, and their customers and prospects. I lost no time in incorporating it into the research phase of all my consulting gigs.
Roadmap to Revenue: How to Sell the Way Your Customers Want to Buy contains Kristin's insights, transformed into a step-by-step guide to making more money by selling people what they need... instead of what you want to sell. Many business owners I speak with are interested in social media as a market research tool. I believe, and Kristin concurs in the book, that social media can be an effective research tool for low cost consumer products and services. But for B2B, especially complex, high ticket, long buy cycle products and services, social media is not the most efficient way to uncover the real reasons people make a buy decision.
Kristin also discusses the various research methodologies used by corporations and consultants. She makes a convincing argument that face to face one-on-one interviews and focus groups are significantly less valuable (and less cost effective) than one-on-one phone interviews. She's done hundreds of these interviews, so when she writes that the quality of the information is better over the phone, because the people are more relaxed alone in their own environment, it rings true. I like the phone interview because it saves time and money on travel.
Kristin writes that sellers no longer sell the way customers are buying. The selling system is broken. The good news? The secret to higher revenue is locked in the minds of your current customers. After purchasing and using your product or service, if approached correctly, customers are willing to provide information about their buying process:
what drove them to buy,
what they were concerned about as they bought,
how they came to their buying decision,
why they bought from you instead of your competition,
how they would sell the product or service to others, and
how they feel about it now that they have experienced it.
Roadmap to Revenue shows you exactly how to obtain this extremely valuable information, and how to use it to reliably increase your sales. Kristin has learned what works and what doesn't, and she shares all of this information with you. Your own customers are the key to higher revenue. They will tell you exactly what you need to know.
Unlike most books targeted at senior management that tell you WHAT you should do, this guide goes into extensive details about HOW to execute on each topic covered. For example, the author not only says you should interview customers, she tells you how to set up the call, what to say, and exactly what questions to ask.
The book is formatted in a very logical system of steps to help you discover and document your customer's buying process so that your sales and marketing efforts can be appropriately designed for how your buyers want to buy. Each step includes extensive examples, templates, and guidance about every detail including how the internal meetings should be run, who should be there, and what to expect from the various people in the room. Clearly, the author has conducted this process many times in various companies and is sharing her best practices from this compendium of experiences.
It is difficult to read this book without stopping to take notes about how you will implement these techniques in your own business. Ultimately, you will likely want to obtain copies for all of your managers involved in sales, marketing, support or any staff members who directly interfaces with clients. Sensitizing your team to listen and observe how clients buy, which begins long before your sales channel becomes involved, is key to consistent success in the marketplace.