The 10 Best Sales Books of All Time (in our humble opinion) – Part 1
Walk into a bookstore and the business section is dominated by sales books. There are thousands. But how do you find the best? Well, I’ve read many dozens and these are my absolute favorites. They built the foundation on which I’ve found mild success in the sales and marketing world. This week, I present 10 through 6, and next week (drumroll please), we’ll unveil the top 5 sales books.
10. Strategic Selling Robert Miller & Stephen Heiman
This is a fantastic sales book in so many ways. Miller & Heiman have a way of simplifying complex sales strategy – which hits hard with traditionally “non-salesy” reps. The book is very detailed in their explanation of process and utilizes real-world examples to back up their processes. They present a particularly useful expose of types of buyers you’re likely to encounter in the sales process – technical buyers, economic buyers, budget-setters, etc. The authors published a new, revised edition in 2005 as well which is worth the read.
“Persistence is an admirable quality, but it won’t get you anywhere unless the people you are persistent with believe in you and are absolutely convinced that they can trust you.”
9. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion Robert Cialdini
I was at a seminar where Guy Kawasaki was the speaker and he highly recommended this book. So I bought it and read it. Well worth the read. Not a sales book exclusively, it’s a book centered on the subtle psychology of influence. Combining deep scientific scholarship with an engaging prose style, Influence may be one of the single best works on the subject of persuasion. One stated objective is to demonstrate how we can understand and defend against pervasive non-rational influences on decision-making. As you might imagine, these principles also apply in sales and marketing to advance negotiations and even to simply get in the door.
“One of the reasons reciprocation can be used so effectively as a device for gaining another's compliance is its power. The rule possesses awesome strength, often producing a 'yes' response to a request that, except for an existing feeling of indebtedness, would have surely been refused.”
8. Selling to Big Companies Jill Konrath
I can’t say enough about Jill Konrath. We excerpted her newest (equally fantastic) book, SNAP Selling, in a previous blog, in fact. I’ve read many dozens of sales books and often wonder if authors have anything new and head-turning to add to the field. Jill surely adds a ton of value with this book. The content centers around five parts which guide the reader from understanding the complexities of big(ger) clients all the way to advancing the sale. Most notably, I enjoy her easy rapport with readers in her writing style and breakout blurbs at the end of each chapter in the form of Key Points.
“[R]ealize that you are the biggest differentiator of all. Become an expert. Know your customer's business, processes, and marketplace trends as well as they do. Deepen your knowledge of your product line, capabilities, and total solution capacity. Constantly be thinking about how you can help your customers improve their operations and reach their goals. Competitors can create copycat products and services overnight, but no one can replicate you and your brain. Your ability to provide a continuous stream of fresh ideas, insights, and information to corporate buyers will make you irresistible, invaluable, and ultimately, indispensable.”
7. The Greatest Salesman in the World Og Mandino
First published in 1968, this is a timeless classic that interweaves mythology, ethics, and spirituality into salesmanship. What Mandino essentially asserts is that, in order to be successful in sales, you must believe in yourself and the work you are doing (and by correlation the product you sell). It’s rare to find a sales book like this that moves from the “process of sales” into a more profound, life-changing understanding of the human element of sales. This book is an easy, quick read well worth your time.
"You were not created for a life of idleness. You cannot eat from sunrise to sunset or drink or play or make love. Work is not your enemy but your friend. If all manners of labor were forbidden to thee you would fall to your knees and beg an early death."
6. How to Master the Art of Selling Tom Hopkins
When you think of huge influences on the field of sales, Tom Hopkins is at the top of the list. He was one of the first to put into words the nuts and bolts of successful selling and this book succeeds on that front. For those new to the sales world, this should be one of your first reads and the fundamentals that advanced selling techniques are built on.
"I am not judged by the number of times I fail, but by the number of times I succeed and the number of times I succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times I can fail and keep trying.”
Stay tuned next week for the best 5 sales books of all time. Although to you avid sales readers, I bet you could name a few if there was a prize involved. Any guesses? Any favorites? Comment below.