Which sales books should you read right now?
My top-rated podcast, Accelerate!, just marked its one year anniversary. During that time I’ve conducted over 300 in-depth interviews with world-class sales and marketing experts.
At the end of every interview I ask my guest to name the one book, excluding any book(s) that she or he had written, that they recommend that every sales professional should read. It wasn’t a requirement that they pick a sales book. However, perhaps not unsurprisingly, all of the top recommendations are sales books.
Here are the top five books, listed in order, that that every sales professionals should read right now. (Actually, it’s seven books as there was a three-way tie for the fifth most recommended book.)
1. How to Win Friends and Influence People. By Dale Carnegie.
I find it interesting that the book most frequently cited by my guest sales experts as a “must read” for today’s salespeople was first published in 1936. America was still firmly in the grips of the Great Depression when Dale Carnegie, a former lard salesman and successful teacher of public speaking, published the book that has captured the attention of literally millions of people with down to earth lessons about how to get your customers to know, like and trust you. The advice in this book is as relevant today as it was when it was first published. After all, despite what pundits might say about the primacy of the science of selling, success in B2B sales still involves a person talking to a person. And Carnegie shows, there’s an art in making the authentic connections with your customers that will result in orders.
2. SPIN Selling. By Neil Rackham
This classic from Neil Rackham, has influenced multiple generations of B2B salespeople and sales managers since its publication in 1988. The Situation, Problem, Implication, Need-Payoff model is still very relevant for all sellers today and is a great foundation for a sales process. While SPIN Selling was primarily written for enterprises selling complex products and services, I believe that all B2B sales professionals, regardless of company size and product/services sold, will benefit from understanding the tried and true strategies in this book.
3. The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation. By Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson
Enterprise sales teams are still as enthusiastic about The Challenger Sale as they were when it was published in 2011. Like any highly popular book, The Challenger Sale has attracted plenty of detractors who contend it just rehashes the widely-known best practices of top sales reps. While that may be true to a degree, the central message of this book is one that every sales rep should take to heart. It requires a commitment to self-development and learning on the part of sales reps to develop the acumen required to have effective “Challenger” sales conversations with buyers. It’s a challenge that everyone should rise to meet.
4. Think and Grow Rich. By Napoleon Hill
Originally released in 1937, one year after Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends…,” Napoleon Hill’s motivational masterpiece is still as instructional and inspirational as it was upon its publication. The 1960 version of the book has sold over 100 million copies worldwide. If you haven’t read Hill’s 13 step formula for achieving your goals, what are you waiting for?
We had a 3-way tie for the fifth most recommended book:
5.a: New Sales Simplified: The Essential Handbook for Prospecting and New Business Development. By Mike Weinberg.
A modern classic full of Mike Weinberg’s trademark blunt talk about what you’re doing wrong now and what you need to do to build your sales using proactive new business development. It’s a worthwhile read because you’ll walk away with an easy to follow framework that takes the mystery, and the fear, out of how to be an effective new business sales rep.
5.b: To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others. By Daniel Pink.
Daniel Pink’s NY Times best-seller starts with the premise that most of us work in jobs that require us to influence others in order to get our work done. More than a book of practical sales advice, To Sell is Human challenges us to rethink many of our long held assumptions about what it takes to become an effective influencer in many different environments.
5.c: The Greatest Salesman in the World. By Og Mandino.
A short parable about developing the essential behaviors that will drive a lifetime of success and fulfillment. Through the lessons contained in the 10 scrolls that are revealed to his protagonist, Hafid, Mandino shows that everyone has in them the potential to achieve their goals. Don’t be put off by the religious underpinnings of the story. This is a insightful book that you will continue to refer back to throughout your career.
Be sure to join the conversation on Accelerate! Six days a week I have informative, unscripted conversations with the best and brightest minds in sales, marketing and leadership. Click here to view a catalog of all past episodes. Subscribe and listen on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play Music, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts. If you enjoy what you hear, please take a minute and leave a review on iTunes.