Mezzanine’s founder Lisa Shepherd has just released her third book called “Walking on the Moon”, a business fable about a fictional company called ClinTek that is struggling to find its way in the new business landscape. We sat down with Lisa to ask a few questions about her inspiration for the book and why executives of Business-to-Business (B2B) companies need to learn about strategic marketing.
What inspired you to write Walking on the Moon?
I wrote Walking on the Moon (WOTM) because I wanted to find another way to share best practices in B2B sales and marketing. I've written two previous books on the topic and I think they're full of valuable information (I’ll admit I’m biased!). But both those books are written in an academic way, which doesn't work for everyone. Walking on the Moon turns B2B marketing lessons into a story, which I hope will help readers easily internalize the learnings.
How did you come up with this title?
Naming a book is always challenging! I knew I wanted a title that wasn't a 'text book' title. I was thinking a lot about analogies for explaining the difference of selling today versus selling 10 years ago. I had finished the manuscript and it was getting close to the time I had to submit it to the publisher, but I still didn't have a title. One day there was a story about the anniversary of the first moon landing on July 20, 1969. That was the 'Aha!' moment. I thought about what it's like to walk on the moon compared with walking on earth, and it made sense in the context of today’s new way of selling.
What did you base the story on?
The storyline and all of the characters in WOTM are based on my experiences in the last decade. John Davidson is an amalgam of perhaps a dozen CEOs I've worked with. And the ups and downs of ClinTek as it transitions from traditional selling to a strategic sales and marketing system are all situations that I've seen companies face. ClinTek goes through quite a lot in an 18 month period — not every company has all of those ups and downs, but every company has certainly experienced some of them.
Why did you choose to tell the fictional story of ClinTek and John Davidson?
I was inspired to write a business fable by fable writers like Patrick Lencioni, Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson, John Warrillow, and others. I know people don't have a lot of time for reading, so I wanted to make the advice in the book as easy to digest as possible. A fable seemed like the best way to do that.
If there was one thing you could tell CEOs like John Davidson, what would that be?
I've learned in my career that there is very little I can tell CEOs like John Davidson. What I hope is that they ask me something, because if they ask a question, they're more likely to be interested in the answer. One question that I think is valuable to ask is, "If you were in charge of sales and marketing at my company, what would be your plan to generate revenues in the next year?" That's not something I have a pat answer to, it takes some work, but I think it's a question that delivers a lot of value.
You share 8 lessons, as well as specific tips and details for building a strategic marketing plan. Why include this content?
For me, the most important thing for the book to accomplish is that readers can apply what they learn. It's always important to me that there is a practical application section in a book. I hope people will read the book and use its lessons for years to come.
Why is WOTM important to business leaders at this time?
The story in WOTM is something that many businesses have either gone through or are currently going through. In the new world of selling, a lot of business owners are struggling to find their footing. I hope this story helps them connect the dots to what the future for their businesses and revenue generation can look like.