Are you new to sales? So now what? Start reading! Sales can be a challenging profession, but the good news is there are a variety of great books on sales that can help you become more successful.
The following are 10 sales books that I recommend. While this list may not be a typical recommended reading list, these books can help you build a strong foundation for your selling career.
1. Personality Plus: How to Understand Others by Understanding Yourself (1982) by Florence Littauer
You probably won’t find this book on any other reading list. Author Florence Littaurer says that successful salespeople “read” other people quickly and accurately. They understand the clues that customers give and what they mean for a customer to buy. Personality Plus gives you an easy-to-understand method to understand other people so you can help them to make great buying decisions.
2. NLP at Work, The Difference That Makes a Difference in Business (2002) by Sue Knight
In this book, you will learn about customer clues that you need to be aware of as you sell. Paying attention to these clues will help you build rapport and trust with your customers. You will learn how the words you use affect the sales process and how to choose the right words to improve your sales. Author Sue Knight is so thorough in her approach, after reading the book, I almost felt like I had just taken a college course.
3. Strategic Selling: The Unique Sales System Proven Successful by America’s Best Companies (1988) by Robert B. Miller and Stephen E. Heiman
Selling strategy is a key component of successful selling. Strategic Selling will give you an excellent understanding of the key players who make and influence buying decisions. You’ll be able to develop a successful sales strategy when you understand who these people are and their functions in the buying process.
4. Influence: Science and Practice (2008) by Robert B. Cialdini
The tools of a salesperson’s trade are words. You must understand how to use words to influence and persuade. Influence: Science and Practice has been my Bible for understanding influence in sales. I have used its principles in my sales strategy throughout my career for great results. You might think that influence is manipulation and coercion. It’s not! Influence is ethical persuasion. Using influence shortens your sales cycle so your prospect can make a great buying decision. Robert Cialdini shows you how to help your customers buy.
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5. SPIN Selling (1988) by Neil Rackham
I tell people that the most important skill in selling is listening, but eventually you do have to talk—that’s when your questions count. You must ask strategic questions that uncover reasons why your customer should buy. SPIN (Situation, Problem, Implication, Need payoff) strategy is the best model I’ve seen for uncovering customer problems, needs, and wants. Use this method and I predict you will find it easier to have customers realize why they should buy.
6. Winning by Negotiation (1980) by Tessa Albert Warschaw
Negotiating is a key component of selling and business. Winning by Negotiation provides you with valuable tools to develop your negotiating strategy. You will learn about reading people, evaluating what you negotiate, and selecting your negotiating tactics.
7. Getting Past No: Negotiating Your Way From Confrontation to Cooperation (1991) by William Ury
Why do I have two books on negotiating on this list? I think you should read any book on negotiating! You will learn something from all of them. You must master negotiating to be successful in sales. Getting Past No: Negotiating Your Way From Confrontation to Cooperation offers a nuts-and-bolts approach to negotiating. From preparing to negotiate, setting expectations, using powerful words, and evaluating alternatives, this book has all you need to become a better negotiator.
8. A Whack on the Side of the Head: How to Unlock Your Mind for Innovation (1988) by Roger von Oech, Ph.D.
This is another book not likely to be found on other recommended reading lists; however, I think it’s too important to leave off. A key component of selling is generating innovative solutions to customer challenges and problems—that’s where your thinking comes in. Roger von Oech’s book shows you how to develop creative solutions. I use the ideas often and they help me create better solutions.
9. Six Thinking Hats (1999) by Edward de Bono
Edward de Bono’s method for group problem-solving involves the metaphorical six colored hats. Each represents a type of thinking to quickly arrive at a solution when a group (or individual) is involved. Too often, people make decisions without proper evaluation, both emotionally and strategically; de Bono’s method addresses those situations in Six Thinking Hats to help you arrive at better and faster solutions, which is just what you need in sales.
10. Monday Morning Sales Tips (2009) by Maura Schreier-Fleming
I couldn’t end the list without recommending one of my books! Selling requires all of the skills I’ve mentioned: reading people, negotiating, and questioning. You also must stay motivated and deal with disappointment. Monday Morning Sales Tips helps to hone all your selling skills so you can succeed.
Reading is your ticket to success
You may think you don’t have to read if you want to be successful in sales. That would be wrong. As Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Mary Schmich says, “Reading is a discount ticket to everywhere.” Salespeople who read have a discount ticket to sales success.
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