A mind can only hold so much information and when that mind ceases to be its contents if not passed on are forgotten. Then too not all minds are alike, and where one person seems to have a photographic memory another is incessantly forgetful which is why writing has allowed lesser mortals to stand atop giants and learn from them and push further than would have been possible without writing, and without books.
Think of it as our first technological augmentation that increased the brain power of humanity. I don’t know of any majorly successful person who isn’t interested in learning and therefore reading, Take it from Bill Gates: “You don’t really start getting old until you stop learning, every book teaches me something new or helps me see things differently”.
Reading allows you not just to learn new ideas but can spark invention by inspiring you to mix old ideas into something new, to improve upon your existing ideas.
With that in mind we’ve compiled a list of ten books that’ll help you rethink and reinvigorate your sales strategy, these are some of the most famous and tried and tested books in the sales space.
The ten best sales books
Based on 12 years of research and 35,000 sales calls, Neil Rackham distilled the lessons into a single powerful sales technique. It’s pretty simple and can be boiled down to a sales methodology where you just ask the right questions instead of focussing on closing.
- S: Situation
- P: Problem
- I: Implication
- N: Needs payoff
By asking the right questions you demonstrate empathy for the prospect, build trust and get to the bottom of what they want.
Successful people ask a lot more questions during sales calls than do their less successful colleagues. We found these less successful people tend to do most of the talking.
Situation questions are there to provide you with the background information you’ll need to properly assess the prospect’s needs. Problem questions are designed to get to the pain points of the prospect and the issues they face daily when trying to operate their business. They’re designed to get to the core needs of the prospect.
Implication questions are as the title would imply the consequences for the prospect of the problems. By asking them you want to impress upon the prospect that the problem(s) are significant and in need of being redressed.Needs payoff questions on the other hand focus the prospect’s attention on your solution. By asking these questions you get the prospect to understand that your solution can alleviate the problem and get them to parrot back the benefits.
This classic sales book and New York Times Best Seller has sold over 3 million copies and been translated into thirty languages, not bad for a book that seeks to influence and persuade people.
The book can be broken down into six principles:
Dr. Cialdini dives into each one with what they are, the power of each principle and real world examples of how they work to persuade and get something from people whether it be how the Hare Krishnas exploded their donations to this little gem from the chapter on reciprocity from a student of Dr. Cialdini:
About one year ago, I couldn’t start my car. As I was sitting there, a guy in the parking lot came over and eventually jump-started the car. I said thanks, and he said you’re welcome; as he was leaving, I said that if he ever needed a favor to stop by. About a month later, the guy knocked on my door and asked to borrow my car for two hours as his was in the shop. I felt somewhat obligated but uncertain, since the car was pretty new and he looked very young. Later, I found out that he was underage and had no insurance. Anyway, I lent him the car. He totaled it.
So the only way on earth to influence other people is to talk about what they want and show them how to get it.
This is one of the first best selling self improvement books, it discusses how to use people’s desires and ego to move them to your advantage, it’s a classic of the genre and with the best title of any book on this list.
Part of persuasion and sales isn’t simply having the best pitch in substance but it’s about style too, to be able to flatter and move people with charm is a huge advantage over the charmless.
It describes the various techniques to get people to like you, how to handle people and win people over to your way of thinking and change people without giving offense or breeding resentment.
Challenger sales were developed by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson in 2011, they looked through thousands of sales reps and found that there were five common profiles:
- The Hard Worker: A self motivated striver who puts in the work and loves feedback.
- The Relationship Builder: Is great at building a rapport with clients and is generous with the amount of time they give each prospect.
- The Lone Wolf: An independent type that follows their own instincts
- The Problem Solver: A reliable and details oriented type.
- The Challenger: Focused on the end goal, loves to debate and doesn’t mind pushing the customer out of their comfort zone
Out of these five profiles the challengers represented 40% of the top performing reps in Dixon and Adamson’s analysis.
Challengers win by understanding the way the prospect works and seeing the flaws and drawbacks and pointing out a better way, to get the prospect out of their comfort zone and see a new way of doing things. The challenger sales method is especially useful in complex sales situations where taking charge can be more beneficial in moving things along.
What are the 12.5 principles?
- Kick your own ass.
- Prepare to win, or lose to someone who is.
- Personal branding IS sales: It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.
- It’s all about value, it’s all about relationship, it’s not all about price.
- It’s NOT work, it’s NETwork.
- If you can’t get in front of the real decision maker, you suck.
- Engage me and you can make me convince myself.
- If you can make them laugh, you can make them buy!
- Use CREATIVITY to differentiate and dominate.
- Reduce their risk and you’ll convert selling to buying.
- When you say it about yourself it’s bragging. When someone else says it about you its proof. 1
- Antennas up! 12.5. Resign your position as general manager of the universe.
This little book is a must read for entrepreneurs and business owners as it gives you a crash course into selling, from finding the decision maker to being able to pitch in a way that is both understandable and excites the guy who cuts the cheques.
The book is relationship driven, referral orientated and finding out what the core buying motives of the customer are and then taking the right actions to get the sale.
If you generate leads through outbound sales then Predictable Revenue is a must read for you. It provides a how-to guide to create a repeatable and scalable lead generation process without cold calling.
Instead of making cold calls to get in touch with prospects, they recommend sending cold emails to generate referrals to the decision-makers first, who then are likely to expect your call.
The next stage involves setting up the qualification call to figure out whether there’s a mutual fit between the prospect and sales rep, then from there you can focus on “selling the dream”. It’s a process that allows you to measure your effectiveness at every stage and then over time hone it to become a successful sales conversion machine.
Tom Hopkins earned himself over one million dollars in his first three years as a salesman, and he distills the lessons learned in this excellent guide to selling. He examines every stage of sales and selling, from sales calls to initial meetings, follow-ups and long-term strategies providing useful tools and tips to level up your sales skills.
He also goes into “money study”, the learning to earn fivesome which when mastered allows you to acquire new knowledge quickly and thoroughly.
Take impact for example the more you’re interested in a subject the more details you’ll remember about it and the better you’ll be able to talk about it. This applies in sales, if you can motivate yourself to master your pitch and speak with enthusiasm it’ll help you when dealing with prospects. If you can psych yourself up to learn you can do it more effectively and faster.
Everyone is always selling, you’re trying to move someone to do something that you want them to do. You’re selling them on it, and there are no natural born sales people. It doesn’t matter if you’re an extravert you can still be a terrible salesperson because you talk too much and listen too little, and if you’re an introvert you’re too shy and timid to close; ambiverts make the best sales people.
Daniel offers great exercises to hone your skills and tips to make your offering more clear from offering less choices to empathising the potential of the product, not the achievements. He also covers how to approach clarifying the motives of others so you can then proceed to move them in the direction you want.
In this book Oren Klaff uses the latest developments in neuroeconomics to hack the brain and take advantage of how the brain reacts to make sure you stay in control of every stage of the pitch process.
The three processes to help you pitch and sell anything are:
Your pitch must speak to your audience’s neanderthal brain. Make yourself the prize. Use multiple so-called frames to trigger a gut decision in your favor
Let’s take number 3, there are multiple ways to create a gut decision such as a time frame i.e. we’re likely to sell out next month which creates a fomo (fear of missing out) reaction in the prospect.
Chet Holmes was a selling master. He doubled sales for nine divisions of a Charlie Munger company, in the book he goes over the 12 key strategies you need to implement to succeed:
- Effective time management
- Instituting higher standards and regular training
- Effective meetings
- Becoming a brilliant strategist by taking a strategic approach by educating your prospective customers so that you set the buying criteria.
- Hiring superstars.
- Targeting your best buyers
- The seven musts of marketing – You can’t rely on just using one marketing method to attract new customers.
- Better presentation skills
- Winning the best buyers
- Sales skills
- Follow-up and client bonding
- Goals and measures – Standard material done well.
It’s a really thorough book that focussed on continued action and maintaining focus in order to succeed in sales.