Most of the time we’re stressing the importance of activity in the field. Get out there and sell! But in the midst of all that activity, don’t miss the value of taking some time to read. You pick up sales skills, broaden your scope of experience, hone your grammar, improve your writing skills, and better understand your customers. Reading gives you another means of connecting with people — something you can always use in sales.
But not every book that builds your sales skills is a “sales” book. Here’s my top seven list — some of which may surprise you.
1. You Can’t Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike at a Seminar (David Sadler)
You don’t build sales skills by sitting in a classroom. Sales is all about doing. It’s tactical. I came across this book later on in my sales career. I was already following a similar approach to training and managing, but it helped to hear someone else articulate it.
Reading it reinforced what I’d seen as most effective — sales doesn’t have to be about forceful presentations to anyone who will listen. There’s a better — and much more natural — approach.
2. The Richest Man in Babylon (George Clason)
You may not think of this as a sales book, but it totally is. It’s about personal financial responsibility, learning to let your money work for you, and choosing wise investments. And it has two vital takeaways for salespeople.
First, salespeople need to be financially literate. The better they understand finances, the more they’ll treat their job as their own business and make better business decisions. Plus, they’ll relate to a higher level inside the organization. They’ll be able to see the financial implications of a sale for their own well-being and the well-being of their clients.
Plus, salespeople need to learn the concept of investing money so it can “have children.” What does that mean? People need to invest their money in places where it can grow and reproduce. The same is true in sales with leads and customers. How can you get your leads and customers to multiply? If you buy a lead, how will you close it and get referrals from it? Sales should reproduce.
3. SPIN Selling (Neil Rackham)
I actually didn’t love this read, but its core concept is a clutch sales strategy. It teaches you to follow a process based on the acronym SPIN. It’s an easy acronym that simplifies the steps to creating the processes you need to really boost your sales volume. You won’t reach your potential if you just shoot from the hip in your sales approach. This book gives you tools to work on your systems.
4. Simplify (Bill Hybels)
If nothing else, read the title — it’s a motto for salespeople. Sales is as over-scheduled and cluttered as any career. Simplify your approach. Simplify the next steps in your sales process. When you think about closing an individual piece of business, it can seem like there’s a long road ahead. Figure out the next step and focus on that. Don’t get so overwhelmed with the entire process that you can’t move forward.
5. Predictable Revenue (Aaron Ross)
Even though it’s written by one of our competitors, we still recommend this read. It’s a great guide for putting a scalable process in place that boosts your sales figures and improves your work culture.
6. The Game (Neil Strauss)
This book may be controversial for some, but here’s why we included it. It’s really about the art of breaking the ice. This is an easy book to get your salespeople to read but also helps them learn the secret behind sales — just ask! That’s it. After all, asking, “What does a guy like me have to do to buy a girl like you a drink?” isn’t much different from asking your prospects how to get from point A to point B.
7. The Ultimate Sales Machine (Chet Holmes)
This book touches on every single aspect of closing a sale and helps you improve each part of the process. The secret is getting your team (and clients) on the same page. Need to improve your prospecting approach? Focus on it. How do you find the dream prospects, the dream appointments? Get all of your salespeople and customers active in finding them!
There’s not ONE right book everyone should read. You may get one or two nuggets from each book. Take those and implement them. That’s how people become successful — learn what you can from others and put it into action.