The Best Sales Books (That Aren’t About Sales) Pick up a book. It'll do you good.


The best sales books aren’t always about SWOT analyzing or incentivizing or social marketing. Sometimes, they’re about psychology, farm animals, or writing.

Why? Because sales isn’t an activity separate from the rest of human endeavor. In fact, sales is a basic human activity—an exchange of resources to better the lives of both parties.

Speaker and author Daniel Pink gets this. And his list in strategy+business of the best sales books reflects his understanding. Pink is especially skilled at seeing how different disciplines can enhance each other.

For example, an understanding of psychology can make your sales leadership more effective. Or, familiarity with the creative process can help you support your team in new initiatives. Here are three of the best sales books (that aren’t about sales) for every salesperson’s shelf.

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience 

This book focuses on the moments of flow. That’s when you work on something with such total absorption, you feel unaware of yourself or of time passing. Sales reps who can make the calls and close the deals while in a state of flow may well outperform those whose don’t. In his book, Flow, Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi (Chik-SENT-meh-hi) “unpacks what flow is and how we can experience it more often.”

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life 

“This one isn’t obviously a business book, but it contains the secret to effective performance,” says Pink. It’s an especially useful book when you or your team are stuck in a sales process and cannot conceive of any way out. That moment is when you need to be able to perform at your best. Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird offers practical strategies to handle the situation well.

Animal Farm: A Fairy Story 

Pink sees an allegory about organizational behavior in George Orwell’s classic novel. (Has it ever been on a list of “best sales books” before?) It may be of particular interest to new sales teams or teams working for newer companies. This book is “the story of a startup with high hopes that eventually veers from its purpose, rewrites its once forward-thinking mission statement, and rewards incompetent executives,” observes Pink.

The lessons of Animal Farm may help you stay true to your company’s purpose and core values. This can be a challenge as you develop your sales team and strategy! But connection to purpose and value is, in fact, a major motivators for top sales performance.

What are your best sales books (that aren’t about sales)? Let us know in the comments!


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Dan Sincavage

Dan Sincavage

Dan is a Co-Founder of Tenfold and currently serves as the Chief Strategy Officer. Dan oversees the Tenfold sales organization, manages strategic partner relationships and works with key enterprise accounts to ensure their success with the Tenfold platform.

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