A List: CRM(ish) Reading Worth it.

Sorry to have dropped off the radar for awhile. I was on the road.
Written by Paul Greenberg, Contributor

Sorry to have dropped off the radar for awhile. I was on the road.  First in Chicago having facilitated a customer event with Sword Ciboodle customers at the Union League Club - one that included a presentation by Brian Carey of Sears on what Sears is doing to improve the customer experience. Actually, for me, eye opening since Sears is NOT the place that I would choose as among the most progressive when it came to customers - but they are.  I also found out as if to punctuate a VERY good presentation that Sears will allow customers to buy stuff from other companies on their site.  Amazing.

I then went to Scottsdale, ostensibly to do what was a cocktail (not bad, "doing" a cocktail as an engagement) for Sage's CRM group at Gartner's annual CRM symposium - all about Social CRM BTW, but ended up little at the conference (though I did the cocktail) and more at Sage HQ where I met with the ACT! and SalesLogix teams and did an all-hands (totally about 180 folks I think) on "What in Hell is Social CRM? 21st Century Edition."  A responsive intelligent crowd.  The time spent with the teams was well spent too. Without going into details, since I can't,  I will say that ACT! 2010 is a quantum (social) leap over previous editions and other contact managers that I've seen and adds functionality that is close to placing it competitively with simpler CRM systems, including a social dashboard (for the want of a better term) and e-marketing capabilities (OEMed from Swiftpage).  VERY impressive. Impressive enough for me to break a tradition of not writing about contact managers - which aren't CRM - normally.  I will be writing about ACT! 2010 at some time in the near future.

But that brings me to this post. One other reason I fell off the radar - as noted by several of my friends and colleagues - is that I have been finishing up the 4th edition of CRM at the Speed of Light - which is done for the printed edition (due in late November) and almost done for the 5 web chapters which will be freely distributed, starting before then.

All that book prep got me to thinking about other books on social CRMish or CRM otopics that are well worth it since there are a surprising amount out there.  I've read a lot of them and decided that I would pass on to you the ones that I truly thought were excellent. This isn't all the books out there that I liked but they are many that stood out to me.

So here goes:

  1. The New Influencers and Secrets of Social Media Marketing both by Paul Gillin. A classic tandem.  These two books in combination provide you with a superb overview (The New Influencers) of the social media market and opportunities in business and the tools/techniques (Secrets...) - a true how to.  As fast as the market is moving, I HIGHLY recommend picking up both of them for their combined knowledge.
  2. Sales 2.0 by Anneke Seley and Brent Holloway - Hands down the best both compendium and how to book out there to date on selling in a social world - loaded with case studies and examples and just damn well written. Anneke, a pioneer in CRM, knows her stuff.
  3. Managing Customers for Profit by Dr. V. Kumar - Even though it has the dreaded term, "managing customers" in the title, this is actually one of the most important books on how to measure customers value proposition scientifically out there. It takes customer lifetime value and adds the dimensions of customer referral value and customer brand value to the mix, blowing away Net Promoter Score (NPS) in the bargain - in a good way that is.  A seminal work on customer value - especially social customer value.
  4. The Future of Competition and The New Age of Innovation by C.K. Prahalad and co-authors.  These are masterworks on co-creation and well worth reading for that. The former is the "what is co-creation?" and the latter is the "how do you deliver co-created works?"   Get 'em.
  5. Return on Customer by Don Peppers and Martha Rogers - a critical work on how focusing on customer value returns value to stakeholders all across the business universe.  The equations aren't the key here - the content rules.
  6. Barack 2.0: Barack Obama's Social Media Lessons for Business by Brent Leary and David Bullock.  Easily the best work of the many that are out there on how to apply what President Obama's campaign successfully did to your business environment.  This one is a "do it now!"  Really.  Now. Git.
  7. Putting the Public Back in Public Relations by Brian Solis. This is the handbook on using social media in the world of P.R. - not just what to do, but highly insightful on why you have to do it.  If you're a P.R. or marketing maven, or even flack, read this.
  8. Trust Agents by Chris Brogan. I've just finished reading this on my Kindle (2) and trust me, this one is a keeper.  This is one of the best books I've ever read on how to influence via the web.  Brogan, a major  social influencer, wild child and all around good human being - not only gets this stuff but can articulate it so well that even a novice will be able to figure this out - without him talking down to you big shots out there.
  9. Your Call is Not That Important To Us by Emily Yellin.  Probably the best book on the state of customer service and how to do something about it I've read. This is VERY strong on the actual agent based customer service world  and its failures and the best practices for doing it right. Very important book.
  10. Seeing What's Next by Clayton Christensen et. al.  When it comes to discussing innovation, anything by Clayton Christensen is groundbreaking. You could have chosen any of this other books here. I just chose this because he shows how to use innovation and disruption to forecast change effectively - which actually seems to work. Ask Denis Pombriant. He did that with salesforce.com.
  11. The Cluetrain Manifesto by Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls, and David Weinberger.  This is a seminal work on the social customer. In fact, its the seminal work on the social customer. You have to read this one. I have the original. The link is to the revised 10th anniversary edition that just came out which I haven't read yet.  This one set the bar for the new relationships between corporate and customer.
  12. The Experience Economy and Authenticity by Joe Pine II and James Gilmore. Both seminal works - lots of seminal works in my list it seems.  The Experience Economy set the tone for consumable experiences as a core customer requirement back before the century.  Authenticity set the tone too - for the use of honesty and the appearance of honesty as a corporate requirement.
  13. Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff.  This one covers the universe that social customers/people now live in and what social media and communities are doing to enhance and transform that universe. There is no better book on that subject out there now. None.

For now, that's it. Are there others I could have put on the list?  Of course! I don't have only 15 or so books that I think are great. These are top of mind and standouts.  There's also many I haven't read yet.  Plus I have to get going.

Yes, the praise for these is effusive but that's because I think these are great books and that's why I'm recommending them (duh.).   Please do me the honor of reading them. They are so worth it.

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