Best Books on Business Development

What are the best books on business development?

Business development is the innovation and creativity of long-term value through the commitment of an organization from markets, industries, customers, and relationships. There are many books on business development and many books to choose from. The ‘best books on business development’ list do not attempt to compile every book on the subject matter. The selection of these books is believed to give the reader a well-rounded foundation from different angles that pertains to business development.

Best Books on Business Development


1. Good To Great
2. The Lean Startup
3. Zero To One
4. Blue Ocean Strategy
5. The Professional’s Guide to Business Development
6. Organizational Development
7. Learning for Organizational Development
8. Beyond Training and Development
9. Measuring Leadership Development
10. Revolutionize Learning & Development
11. Business Development
12. What, Exactly, Is Business Development?
13. New Sales. Simplified.
14. Business Development for Dummies
15. The Sales Development Playbook

1 – Good to Great | By Jim Collins

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Author Jim Collins who also wrote How the Mighty Fail, Managing the Small to Mid-Sized Company, Great by Choice, and Built to Last is also the writer of Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t. Here Collins discusses one key question: “Can a good company become a great company and, if so, how?” This book explores the formula that still holds up today from its first appearance in 2001. Collins identifies sound management practices that include; hiring the right people, focusing on the results, and specify your purpose. Despite the age of this classic manual, a careful and in-depth read that spells out the unpredictable forces of failure in companies, e.g. CEO ego, economic change, etc. 

Quotes from the book;

“Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great. We don’t have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don’t have a great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life.”

“Letting the wrong people hang around is unfair to all the right people, as they inevitably find themselves compensating for the inadequacies of the wrong people. Worse, it can drive away from the best people. Strong performers are intrinsically motivated by performance, and when they see their efforts impeded by carrying extra weight, they eventually become frustrated.”

“The good-to-great leaders never wanted to become larger-than-life heroes. They never aspired to be put on a pedestal or become unreachable icons. They were seemingly ordinary people quietly producing extraordinary results.”

“Indeed, the real question is not, “Why greatness?” but “What work makes you feel compelled to try to create greatness?” If you have to ask the question, “Why should we try to make it great? Isn’t success enough?” then you’re probably engaged in the wrong line of work.”

2 – The Lean Startup | By Eric Ries

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Learn how to start and run a successful business with Eric Ries. In his book, The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses,” Ries talks about initiating a startup in the context of an institution running under new conditions full of uncertainty to achieve something new—no matter their size. Whether a one-person garage or a 500-employee mining business, they all have one goal, to confidently go past the uncertainty and achieve their professional and personal goals.

The approach by Eric Ries is ideal for startups with enough capital and those with limited money. The method uses lessons from the validated learning, counter-intuitive practices, and rapid scientific experimentation to offer optimal results in shortening product creation cycles, progress measuring and learning customers’ needs.

Quotes from the book;

“As you consider building your own minimum viable product, let this simple rule suffice: remove any feature, process, or effort that does not contribute directly to the learning you seek.”

“The big question of our time is not Can it be built? but Should it be built? This places us in an unusual historical moment: our future prosperity depends on the quality of our collective imaginations.”

“When blame inevitably arises, the most senior people in the room should repeat this mantra: if a mistake happens, shame on us for making it so easy to make that mistake.”

“Metcalfe’s law: the value of a network as a whole is proportional to the square of the number of participants. In other words, the more people in the network, the more valuable the network.”

3 – Zero to One | By Peter Thiel and Blake Masters

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Secrets are the heart of all successes, and it’s good to note that the best secret of all time is that there are lots of inventions to be made and a multitude of uncharted frontiers for exploration. Peter Thiel, an investor and entrepreneur in the Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future, tells the ways to develop new things. He starts his argument opposing the contrarian premise that the era we are in faces technological stagnation, and smartphones are our main distractors.

It’s obvious we have faced significant technological advancement in the past, and that’s way more than just Silicon Valley and computers.  Doing something new is more comfortable and has more rewards, and that means you shouldn’t expect the next Sergey Brin or Larry Page to make another search engine or Bill Gates to create another OS.

Quotes from the book; 

“ZERO TO ONE EVERY MOMENT IN BUSINESS happens only once. The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. And the next Mark Zuckerberg won’t create a social network. If you are copying these guys, you aren’t learning from them.”

“Tolstoy opens Anna Karenina by observing: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Business is the opposite. All happy companies are different: each one earns a monopoly by solving a unique problem. All failed companies are the same: they failed to escape competition.”

“Customers won’t care about any particular technology unless it solves a particular problem in a superior way. And if you can’t monopolize a unique solution for a small market, you’ll be stuck with vicious competition.”

“CREATIVE MONOPOLY means new products that benefit everybody and sustainable profits for the creator. Competition means no profits for anybody, no meaningful differentiation, and a struggle for survival.”

4 – Blue Ocean Strategy | By W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne

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The Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant by Renee Mauborgne and W.Chan Kim comes in 46 different languages and has sold more than 4 million pieces. It’s a bestseller and provides organizations, individuals, and industries with adequate information to help them achieve strategic success. It is a masterpiece that offers a systematic approach, tools, and principles to help organizations create unique blue oceans. The book has an updated version that offers; updated info on all examples and cases in the book, making the stories updated; A reddish and smarter preface; Two additional chapters with the third one broadly expanded; the Blue Ocean strategy aims to overturn the old-fashioned thinking and introducing new strategies and paths to achieving success in the ever-competitive market.

Quotes from the book;

“As companies compete to embrace customer preferences through finer segmentation, they often risk creating too-small target markets.”

“Value innovation is the cornerstone of blue ocean strategy. We call it to value innovation because instead of focusing on beating the competition, you focus on making the competition irrelevant by creating a leap in value for buyers and your company, thereby opening up new and uncontested market space.”

“Executives are paralyzed by the muddle. Few employees deep down in the company even know what the strategy is. And a closer look reveals that most plans don’t contain a strategy at all but rather a smorgasbord of tactics that individually make sense but collectively don’t add up to a unified, clear direction that sets a company apart—let alone make the competition irrelevant. Does this sound like the strategic plans in your company?”

“The key questions answered by tipping point leaders are as follows: What factors or acts exercise a disproportionately positive influence on breaking the status quo? On getting the maximum bang out of each buck of resources? On motivating key players to aggressively move forward with change? And on knocking down political roadblocks that often trip up even the best strategies? By single-mindedly focusing on points of disproportionate influence, tipping point leaders can topple the four hurdles that limit the execution of blue ocean strategy. They can do this fast and at a low cost.”

5 – The Professional’s Guide to Business Development | By Stephen Newton

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While professionals invest years working and studying to improve specialized know-how, their clients have a hard time telling who among them is the best. Marketing specialist Stephen Newton offers a more in-depth guide to matters development, providing the best approaches and systems for creating a robust business in The Professional’s Guide to Business Development: How to Win Business in the Professional Services.  He offers step-by-step guides and relevant worksheets and charts. Stephen provides details on how to best examine potential clients through an elaborative evaluation system. The system is a bit subjective and time-consuming at first, but if you get accustomed to it, you will enjoy every bit of the learning process.

Quotes from the book;

If you lose momentum on your business development activity, your business will eventually die for lack of revenue.”

“Your…business design and infrastructure need to ensure that you can deliver the same kind of experience to every client.”

“If you can identify networking meetings that are focused on your target client base, that may be productive.”

If the client did not believe that you have the expertise to deliver a given piece of work, you would not get through the door.”

6 – Organizational Development | By Gary McLean

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Get to understand organization development better with this Gary Mclean’s book that’s made for both novices and experts.  In the Organization Development: Principles, Processes, Performance, Mclean gives more in-depth insights into different parts of organization development and avoids using complex terms by all means.  You will be wooed by how he makes even more complex steps in organizational development look easy to understand. Mclean also does caution companies to consider outsourcing organizational development when possible. The book is specially made for people who want to get into organizational-development consulting and managers getting into the field but want to be pioneers in a matter of time.

Quotes from the book;

“Most of this book is about processes – how we relate to others, how we create and support culture change in organizations, how we work across cultures, and so on.”

“Once the client and the OD professional, whether internal or external, decide that they want to work together, an agreement about the conditions, either oral or written, should be articulated.”

“Anything that can be used to help individuals understand their own culture and their own cultural awareness will assist in preparing them for…participation with team members from other cultures.”

“Management oversight, typically through an executive steering committee, will be important in ensuring that major changes are adopted systemwide.”

7 – Learning for Organizational Development | By Eileen Arney

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This is a history textbook by Eileen Arney that gives details about the history of development and learning.  In Learning for Organizational Development: How to Design, Deliver and Evaluate Effective L&D, Arney, who is a renowned developer of a master’s degree program in the human resources sector in the UK, Open University tells more about L&D evolution, teaching core things like course design, facilitation, and strategizing. She outlines the fundamentals of strategic HR, talent management, self-directed employee learning, and employee engagement. She doesn’t target L&D and OD professionals much. Instead, she offers a backgrounder for early-career professionals and HR students looking to understand better the basics of talent management trends and theory, L&D and OD as well as experts who want to understand better how to deploy L&D strategies.

Quotes from the book;

“The primary role of the L&D function is to facilitate the strategic development of the organization through enhancing and growing the capability of leadership and management.”

“In a labor market where highly skilled workers are in short supply, employers are drawing on marketing techniques to create their own employer brand to attract and retain employees.”

“Evaluation can assess how efficient and effective learning and development has been as well as supporting evidence-based choice for new programs and interventions.”

There is still a place for a structured approach to training…but this is very much the smallest part now of the work of learning and development professionals.”

8 – Beyond Training and Development | By William Rothwell

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Beyond training and development is the handwork by William Rothwell that aims to put a stop to the familiar feeling among CEOs that businesses would perform better if they don’t have to control employees. Beyond Training and Development: The Groundbreaking Classic on Human Performance Enhancement contains ideas and strategies to enable CEOs and companies to compete with the growing need for a high return on investment. He helps you understand why you should focus on an advanced training method that doesn’t focus so much on behavioral but rather on organizational goals. Rothwell offers business training programs presented in PowerPoint presentations, which are fit for training HR professionals, giving them practical ways to approach human performance.

Quotes from the book;

“Beyond Training and Development…is written for those wishing to revolutionize, reengineer, reinvent or revitalize the training function in their organizations.”

This book is an action manual for reinventing the training department by placing a new emphasis on the myriad ways by which human performance may be enhanced in organizational settings.”

“Although the HPE model provides the basis for viewing performance enhancement problems and opportunities, it does not provide sufficient guidance to training and development professionals who wish to transform themselves into HPE specialists.”

“Good intentions are not enough to improve information flow. Management, employees and HPE specialists must be genuinely committed to the process.”

9- Measuring Leadership Development | By Jack Phillips, Patricia Pulliam Phillips and Rebecca Ray

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In Measuring Leadership Development: Quantify Your Program’s Impact and ROI on Organizational Performance, HR specialists Patricia Pulliam Phillips and Jack Philips teach the importance of measuring and tracking performance as well as evaluating investments in human capital programs through decision- based data and evidence. Together with the learning Gurus Rebecca L. Ray, they outline credible and transparent strategies to help you become a development leader through understanding, collecting, measuring and efficiently reporting training outcomes.  They also offer an info-packed manual to help those looking to boost their knowledge and skill in leadership development to achieve their life goals as well as enable firms to better their decision making approaches.

Quotes from the book; 

“The science of knowing what developmental experience will result in specific competency improvements…is an extraordinary global positioning system in a world of increasingly fewer marked paths.”

“The journey is always the same for leadership development; at the end of the day, learning to effectively lead people remains a transformational process.”

“An action planning process…provides an opportunity for participants to identify specific actions they will take to improve a selected business-impact measure.”

“The number-one critical step for ensuring the application of leadership development to the job is to have the immediate manager set specific goals prior to the program.”

10 – Revolutionize Learning & Development | By Clark Quinn

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It is possible to revamp the learning and development industry, and that is what Clark Quinn proposes in the Revolutionize Learning & Development: Performance and Innovation Strategy for the Information Age. He highlights some social and technological advancements that, if not ignored, could help transform L&D into performance and development.  He presents an insightful model and highlights practical matters on production and development. His approach is big complex and demanding, but aims to awaken L&D gurus into taking action, ensuring they can seal the ever-enlarging P&D gap. It’s the ideal book for corporate learning professionals who want to revolutionize learning and development to achieve optimal success.

Quotes from the book;

“Organizations have changed, technology has changed, and the nature of work has changed, but Learning & Development (L&D) has not advanced in the last quarter-century.”

“The 70:20:10 framework…reflects workers’ beliefs that only 10% of workplace knowledge comes from training, 20% comes from coaching and mentoring, and 70% comes from learning on the job.”

“While the power is in the hands of the community members, having a thoughtful guide, beacon and evangelist is the key lynchpin role in building and maintaining a successful online presence.”

11 – Business Development | By Sherran Spurlock

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Written by Sherran Spurlock, a writer, and specialist in development and marketing, Business Development: A Practical Guide for the Small Professional Services Firm helps teach those in the technical services sector how to fuel their businesses towards success.  The book will give valuable and actionable insights to help streamline the business development process in a practical, concise, and easy-to-understand manner.  He outlines a step-to-step and straightforward process on proven ways to win more business opportunities. It’s an efficient and useful book made for business development specialists, staff professionals, managers, and company employees who offer technical professional services. The approaches and info taught here will help streamline your marketing efforts.

Quotes from the book;

“Business Development creates excitement and the momentum of growth. How Business Development is managed in a company can make the difference between a dynamic growing company and one that continuously struggles to meet payroll.”

“Business Development works best when conducted as a team effort. Everyone in the company has a role to fill, and will hold each other accountable for filling their own roles.”

“Contrary to popular belief 0 or wishful thinking – Business Development is not magic! It is a learned skill and a step-by-step process.”

“What’s the difference between marketing and Business Development? In a small company, most professionals are probably required to do some of both. A carefully crafted combination of marketing activity and Business Development effort is vital for successful business growth when resources are limited.”

12 – What, Exactly, Is Business Development?: A Primer on Getting Deals Done

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Business development is a vital growth tool for businesses whose power is underestimated, as most business owners expect to learn it while doing the job. What, Exactly, Is Business Development” offers you insights and guidelines on how to do business development precisely. The What, Exactly, Is Business Development?: A Primer on Getting Deals Done aims to help everyone achieve optimal growth in business development regardless of the current state of their business by helping you understand what business development is all about and offering solutions suited for your sort of problem. The author provides real and practical solutions from experience on matters regarding business development, providing a room for dynamic growth.

Quotes from the book; 

“Business Development is creating long-term value for an organization from customers, markets, and relationships.”

“‘Business Development’ is a job title at many companies, but what it means in practice can vary significantly from one business to another. In one company, it may essentially be a sales job, going out and forging relationships that will lead to more sales and partnerships with other companies. At another company, however, business development might be more of a strategic position, researching which markets are the best to enter, and which customers are the best to attract.”

“Selling is an important skill for every business development person to have.”

“Business development people must know how to build and manage relationships with customers, partners, employees, and other people who interact with the business.”

13 – New Sales. Simplified.: The Essential Handbook | By Mike Weinberg

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Businesses struggling to attract, develop, and close deals should look into the New Sales. Simplified book by Mike Weinberg for solutions. The New Sales. Simplified.: The Essential Handbook for Prospecting and New Business Development offers proven formulas with simple anecdotes and examples on how to attract and seal deals.  Mike humorously and honestly highlights the core mistakes salespeople and executives make, providing solutions to all the mistakes. He highlights the steps to finding and winning a potential client through telephone calls, social media, voicemail, and even email. He as well trains on business development with easy-to-understand plans on how to remove the trouble out of finding prospects and growing a new business.

Quotes from the book;

“Sales is simple. Why everyone wants to complicate it today is what confuses me.”

“Many salespeople fail to develop new business because they’re wandering aimlessly. Too often, they’re not locked in on strategically selected, focused list of target customers or prospects.”

“Salespeople who don’t have a clear mental picture of the “path to a sale” or can’t articulate their sales process usually struggle to acquire new pieces of business.”

14 – Business Development For Dummies | By Anna Kennedy

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Learn why growing a small business is not all about sales with Anna Kennedy.  In Business Development for Dummies, Anna tells you how to maximize your modest business growth with a step-to-step model uniquely made for B2C and B2B service companies. She provides details on the best client-management, strategizing, partnering, and marketing tricks to help you create an active business that will see your structure and execute the right development plans to achieve optimal success. In this book, you’ll learn; how to create a step-by-step strategy for your business development; the main parts of business development and how they differ from sales; how to develop and implement growth-oriented partnership strategies; how to integrate sales, customer management, and marketing in your company planning.

Quotes from the book;

“Discipline is a serious study of business development as a business competence.”

“Business development produces results when the discipline and practice of business development become as important as other activities such as administration, working with customers and working with staff.”

“The secret to growing your business is to get a handle on where your business is right now as regards understanding your customers’ priorities and proceeding from that point effectively and purposefully.”

“Serial entrepreneurs and leaders in society can get away with a richly varied profile, but I recommend that you stick to what you do best.”

15 – The Sales Development Playbook: Build Repeatable | By Trish Bertuzzi

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Companies tirelessly hunting for more new customers should read The Sales Development Playbook: Build Repeatable Pipeline and Accelerate Growth with Inside Sales by Trish Bertuzzi. It’s a result-oriented book that intends to help you achieve explosive growth.  With this book, you will learn the six core fundamentals of building a new business pipeline and increasing your revenues with inside sales, which include strategizing, specializing, retention, recruiting execution, and leadership. They’re all outlined in more in-depth details with all the benefits they offer to make your learning a breeze and enable you to achieve the business and personal goals you have in mind. You will also learn how to quote and measure your progress using advanced technology.

Quotes from the book;

Effective sales development means maximizing the productivity of both the SDR and the AE teams.”

“The moral of the story: promote only those you would hire. Put your SDRs through the same hiring and evaluation process you would for external candidates. No one benefits—not you, your company, sales leadership, or the SDRs themselves—when a promotion sets reps up to fail.”

“40 percent of S&P 500 CEOs come from sales & marketing backgrounds”

“Plenty of companies have suffered with acknowledged pain for years. Their biggest issue is fear that the cure will hurt worse than the illness. You need to dig for the implications of not acting. An organization that isn’t in motion is much harder to move than one that has already realized the consequences of inaction.”

Final Thoughts

This article was an attempt to consolidate the best books on business development. Obviously, the list is not an exhausted list of every book on the subject. However, the ‘best books on business development’ list attempt to orchestrate different angles and degrees on business development.

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Books Best Books on Business Development – Summaries – Quotes