Joseph Brodsky once observed that ‘there are worse crimes than burning books, and one of them is not reading them.’
We think he had a point.
With the bookshop shelves literally creaking with books on sales techniques, it can be difficult to know where to begin.
So, we decided to make it easy for you to read the best that there is out there. We did all the heavy lifting for you by pooling our collective knowledge to come up with a list of great sales books.
Then we undertook the truly difficult task of chiselling our favourites down to a top 10 list.
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Here – in no particular order – are the 10 best sales books that you have never read.
1. Objections by Jeb Blount (2018)
Jeb Blount has built his reputation on turning around underperforming sales organisations in hardly any time at all. This book, however, is not about quick results – it’s about a lasting way to transform sales objections into client commitments.
Blount carefully unpicks the psychology of ‘no’ and reveals tactics and tricks to edge this over to a ‘yes’. But his book is far from a one trick pony, within you will also find proven techniques for working with today’s more informed buyer.
‘Asking is the beginning of receiving.’
‘Nothing requires a higher level of emotional control than asking for something and subsequently dealing with objections.’
‘You must ask for what you want, directly, assumptively, assertively, and repeatedly. When you fail to ask, you fail.’
2. ‘Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play’ by Mahan Khalsa and Randy Illig (2008)
A real revelation: this book not only details the strategies that can be used to win new business, but it also goes on to show you how these same tactics can be used to retain that business.
Khalsa and Illig argue that the new sales culture has moved well beyond just getting customers to buy – you have to get them to buy into you. And to do this your focus can not be on selling but on helping your clients succeed.
When you help your client reach their goal the deal close will never be far behind. When you help your client succeed then repeat business will soon come.
‘Intent counts more than technique.’
‘A tremendous opportunity exists to radically increase the success and satisfaction of both buyers and sellers. With a good fit, both parties win.’
‘Too often, the sales process is all about fear.’
3. ‘Selling to the C-Suite’ by Stephen Bistritz and Nicholas Read (2018)
Based on interviews with top executives in more than 500 organisations, this book provides an insider’s guide to selling to C-level executives.
Whereas other methods insist that salespeople ditch the pitch in favour of collaborative selling, Read and Bistritz went against the zeitgeist grain. They argue that corporate leaders aren’t averse to sales pitches so long as the salesperson approaches them in the right way.
And this book is all about the ‘right way’.
‘With the average tenure of sales directors being three years, it’s not too great a stretch to conclude that they spend their first 12 months finding out what’s broken, the next 12 months papering over the cracks, and the final 12 months shopping their CV for a new job.’
‘It’s our observation that most traditional wisdom about selling to executives is actually at odds with what executives themselves tell us works.’
‘Salespeople of the future have to actually create value, not communicate value.’
4. ‘The Introvert’s Edge’ by Matthew Pollard (2018)
Another book that turns received wisdom on its head, by arguing that introverts actually make great salespeople.
A great read for anyone who finds it hard to ask for the sale, push themselves to network (on which subject Pollard’s second book concerns itself with) or if you are just naturally introverted but find yourself in a sales role.
Pollard argues that many of the characteristics we associate with sales may actually do more harm than good. He tells us confidently that you don’t have to be pushy or gifted in communication to succeed in sales. In fact, introverts are gifted with emotional intelligence – and this can help you win more deals than anything else.
This book details exactly why shy salespeople can succeed and how you can outsell any extrovert simply by embracing your natural strengths.
‘We [introverts] don’t have the same natural abilities as extroverts. We have to make up for it in other ways … but that extra effort actually gives us an edge over others.’
‘Asking a hard-core introvert to get excited about working the room is like hiring a performing artist to get excited about accounting: it’s just not in their nature.’
‘Listen, not to answer, but to understand.’
5. ‘Eat Their Lunch’ by Anthony Iannarino (2018)
Anthony Iannarino once published ‘The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need’, but we beg to differ. This book teaches you how you can dine on someone else’s dinner by detailing how you can solidify your firm’s competitive advantage to such an extent that you win your competition’s clients.
Perfect for anyone who regularly meets the off-the-cuff objection of ‘we already have a supplier in place’, Iannarino offers a step-by-step guide to understanding the best way to enable growth and increase your market share by deliberately winning over other people’s clients.
‘If you are going to replace your competitor (i.e., eat their lunch), you’ll have to make it worth your dream client’s time, energy, and money to change.’
‘By starting the conversation about your prospective client’s world and what changes are necessary, you very naturally lead to the conversation about solutions.’
‘Let’s draw a line in the sand here. From this day forward, you will be a bulldog. No backing up or backing off, no giving up or giving in.’
6. Cracking the Sales Management Code by Jason Jordan and Michelle Vazzana (2011)
This is one of the best sales books if you’re looking for a proven and practical sales management system.
Drawing on extensive research that looks at real-world examples of how world-class companies operate and succeed, this is very much a detailed, operations manual for employing the best processes to achieve results.
While easy to read in just a couple of sittings, it also acts as a super-handy reference book that provides everything you need to use telling metrics to measure, motivate and manage your sales team.
‘We have developed a management system that will predictably link the activities in the war room to the battle on the field.’
‘Plan from the top to the bottom, and then manage from the bottom to the top.’
‘The best sales managers we’ve encountered are unconsciously competent scientists. They set rigorous expectations for their salespeople and track progress against those goals with equal rigor. They manage by analysis rather than anecdote and by measurement rather than gut.’
7. To Sell Is Human by Daniel Pink (2012)
Multiple New York Times bestselling author, Daniel Pink, shows us the human side to selling.
with more than a million copies sold in the US alone.
This is the best sales book if you want an organic approach to moving more customers to buy. Subtitled ‘the surprising truth about moving others’, the book’s premise is that selling is something we actually do every day, without necessarily being aware of it.
Pink argues that by serving customers first (and selling to them second) we mirror how humans naturally behave when they try to move the people in our daily lives that we care about to do the things that we want.
‘The ability to move others to exchange what they have for what we have is crucial to our survival and our happiness.’
‘To sell well is to convince someone else to part with resources—not to deprive that person, but to leave him better off in the end.’
‘The purpose of a pitch isn’t necessarily to move others immediately to adopt your idea. The purpose is to offer something so compelling that it begins a conversation, brings the other person in as a participant, and eventually arrives at an outcome that appeals to both of you.’
8. Mindset by Dr. Carol Dweck (2006)
Dr. Carol Dweck has earned nine lifetime achievement awards as a leading researcher in social and developmental psychology and the fruits of this study are apparent in this book that dedicates itself to helping you ensure that you achieve more of your goals.
Going well beyond the immediate application as a sales book, ‘Mindset’ deploys a simple but groundbreaking notion people who believe their abilities can develop are much more likely to eventually succeed than those who see their abilities are fixed.
This axiom is then explored to reveal how the right mindset will improve both your life and your career.
‘My research has shown that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life and whether you accomplish the things you value.’
‘Becoming is better than being.’
‘We like to think of our champions and idols as superheroes who were born different from us. We don’t like to think of them as relatively ordinary people who made themselves extraordinary.’
9. ‘Sales Management. Simplified.’ By Mike Weinberg (2015)
Mike Weinberg is very much a man on a mission to create more high-performing sales teams.
In this book he analyses the reasons that sales departments can fall short. It’s a great read for those times where targets have been missed and you are left scratching your head wondering what went wrong – and what you can do to fix it.
Calling out common, costly mistakes that can be made by the most well-intentioned sales managers. Weinberg offers practical tools and advice, that is interspersed with painfully stories from the field.
‘To truly transform the results and health of an entire sales team, the leader and the culture must be transformed.’
‘People tend to be more jealous or unappreciative of those in sales than in any other role in a business.’
‘It’s not that they’re not working. They’re just working on the wrong things.’
10. ‘Solution Selling’ by Mike Bosworth (1994)
Bosworth reputedly earns $2.8M annually from the idea of ‘solution selling’, yet his book remains a classic that is much more often referred to but deserves to be read as well.
One of the first approaches to try and throw water on the flames of high-pressure selling or a belief in the charm-effect, Solution Selling remains one of the best books out there for those dealing with complex or hard-to-sell products and services.
Within the book you’ll find a proven sales methodology that will help both you and your customers to arrive at a more profitable outcome.
‘The number one selling problem I encounter is an alignment problem – alignment between seller and buyer with respect to their needs.’
‘The best salespeople know that their expertise can become their enemy in selling. At the moment they are tempted to tell the buyer what “he needs to do,” they instead offer a story about a peer of the buyer.’
‘Logic and reason, it turns out, are not at the centre of our decision-making processes.’
The 10 best sales book you have never read
This was the list that we whittled down our suggestions to. Everyone a winner and – in our opinion – every single one criminally underread.
Help us put the sales book reading world to rights by tucking into one today.