The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.
― Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!
Sales is an ever-evolving field. Each time there’s a change in any industry, the world of sales has to adapt. It’s true. So much has changed in the last two decades. Many would argue that old-school salespeople have no profitable skills in today’s market.
Well, we think that’s just plain wrong.
More than mastering any technological innovation, there are a set of soft skills that every successful sales professional must develop and polish. Reading top sales books is an excellent way to get up to speed with the whole concept of selling beyond making sales.
We put together own essentials list: Top sales books that we think every serious sales professional must read at least once. Some of these books are classics–yes, old. But as you know, most sales techniques and strategies are evergreen–you just have to master adapting them to situations.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a seasoned sales superstar or someone wanting to get a foot in the door, there’s a treasure of knowledge in each of these books that you’ll l enjoy no doubt.
Little Red Book of Selling: 12.5 Principles of Sales Greatness by Jeffrey Gitomer
One of the most popular sales books in the market, the Little Red Book of Selling is a mix of technique blueprint and motivational prose. It underscores the need to highlight the drive a salesperson needs to succeed. No wonder it is one of the best sellers in the market. This book speaks to sales pros who are getting slumped by periods of frustration and no conversions.
Written in a conversational tone, the Little Red Book is filled with anecdotes and real-life experiences that are unforgiving in its blunt wit. It is easy-to-read, engaging, and full of actionable lessons.
Some say that the Little Red Book is a motivational book rather than a sales book. We think that sales is as much about mindset as it is about hard skills. Pick this book up. Motivation guaranteed.
Selling 101 by Zig Ziglar
A book focused on sales cycles, Selling 101 is a condensed version of Zig Ziglar’s 1993 book Ziglar on Selling. The content is helpful for newcomers and veterans alike. This quick read (less than 100 pages) gives a clear and insightful overview of the selling process.
In the book, Ziglar teaches salespeople how to get to the root of prospects’ needs. The chapter on needs analysis is one of the most concise and actionable pieces of content intended to help sales professionals. A list of the top sales books cannot be complete without a Ziglar book, and Selling 101 is the best one to get if you haven’t read his work yet.
How to Master the Art of Selling by Tom Hopkins
Tom Hopkins was a high roller salesman during his time in the profession. In his many years in the business, he has a solid base–his principles and experiences that he associate his success with. In this book, he tells the story of his success. Like many sales professionals, his career started slowly. But in those months of struggle was where he developed, discovered, and applied the sales techniques he now globally known for.
Of course, as with any sales book author, Hopkins’ track record of success is his badge of authority. He turned a failing career into a sales operation earning millions. His book has sold more than a million copies to date.
Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely
An inspiring and entertaining read. Dan Ariely asserted in Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions that the human brain operates outside logic and rationality. His claims are not purely opinion. Backed by studies conducted at MIT and other universities, Ariely provides insight into people’s decision-making process.
Through lighthearted storytelling, Predictably Irrational touches prominent themes in the sales world. From arbitrary pricing, the power of “free”, social norms transforming into market standards, expectation management, and other subjects, the book tackles topics that every salesperson should master to understand human behavior. Ariely seeks to cancel out the randomness in interpreting buyer behavior–and that has to be a goal for all sales pros.
SNAP Selling: Speed Up Sales and Win More Business with Today’s Frazzled Customers by Jill Konrath
SNAP Selling is a book that has so many lessons, it can stand as a sales bible. This book focuses on adapting to buyer behavior to get sales. Konrath highlights the importance of identifying areas of leverage when dealing with a prospect. In detail, she discusses the importance of connecting–but more than a deep elaboration, she gave actionable tactics to spot these areas of leverage. One of which is identifying trigger events that she listed in the book.
SNAP Selling provides sales professionals with a loot bag of insight while challenging the reader to dig deep and think of breakthrough practices.
S-N-A-P is the acronym for Konrath’s sales process. Read the book to find out what it is!
SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham
The influence of SPIN Selling is difficult to fathom. Originally published in 1988, it is a mainstay of sales professionals’ bookshelves–young and old. The book discusses a powerful sales process that outlines the four types of questions that sales professionals should be asking. It is a handbook that clearly presents a step-by-step sequence that, when done right, easily transforms leads to sales.
SPIN Selling is the product of analyzing 35,000 sales calls carried out by highly-competent sales professionals. S-P-I-N is an acronym for four groups of sales questions that are designed to extract interest from even the most uninterested prospect.
- SITUATION questions
- PROBLEM questions
- IMPLICATION questions
- NEED-PAYOFF questions
Neil Rackham was one of the earliest proponents and champions of customer-centric selling. SPIN Selling is certainly one of the top sales books that are evergreen.
You Can’t Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike at a Seminar by David Sandler
David Sandler of the Sandler Sales Institute has a naval background. From this, Sandler uses the metaphor of submarine compartments to describe techniques and stages of the selling system.
These stages are:
- Upfront Contract
His sales system is still regarded as one of the most adoptable, adaptable and effective systems in sales. Sandler quips that to be a good salesperson, you have to at least be a professional too. It won’t work if you just do sales on the side. You have to make it your purpose. Sandler is intolerant of half-baked commitment to sales. He explicitly says that unless a salesperson goes full-time, there is little to no chances of success. Conversely, it is the same feeling of failure you’d have to get used to in the trail toward success.
Widely regarded as one of the most masterful pieces of sales prose, this book marries psychology, real-life sales experience and personal struggles of sales professionals to paint a complete picture of the world of selling and how to succeed in it.
As for what the title means, you’d have to read it to find out.
What are yours?
There’s no shortage of sales gurus willing to share their experiences and wisdom.
It’s no surprise that there are literally enough sales books to last you a lifetime of reading. But, of course, the real value of these books can only be tested out when you apply it to your own operations. Sure, we missed a lot of other top sales books–many of which are equally deserving of a spot on the list.
We will surely put together another installment of this list.
For now, we’d love to hear your own list of top sales books. Care to share? Let us know in the comments!
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