Josh Waitzkin once said, “The key to pursuing excellence is to embrace an organic, long-term learning process, and not to live in a shell of static safe mediocrity. Usually, growth comes at the expense of previous comfort or safety.”
We must always be learning and striving to grow. We must exist outside of our comfort zones to be successful in whatever we choose to do.
That means we must keep working on our sales skills from a business perspective. If we are unable to sell, then we are unable to exist.
Sales is something that comes naturally to some people. It can be a constant, uncomfortable experience for others. When there is experience, training, and practice as part of the learning process, anyone really can sell anything.
One of the easiest ways to improve the learning process is to read great books.
“I think of life as a good book,” Harold Kushner once said. “The further you get into it, the more it begins to make sense.”
If you’re looking for a way to improve your sales, then try reading one of the best sales books of all time. It will give you the information you need to implement new, effective sales practices into your daily routine.
Our Recommendations for the Best Sales Books to Read
1. Secrets of Closing the Sale by Zig Ziglar
This book is a real winner for those who are new to the idea of sales. It’s perfect for a first-time entrepreneur, someone leading a start-up, or if you’re thinking about a career in sales.
Ziglar provides over 700 question examples that you can use to get to the next level. It also offers you 100+ examples of how you can close a deal, depending upon the situation that you’re facing in the moment.
More importantly, you’re taught the ethics of a good sale. If you don’t have enough belief in what you’re doing to offer it to your friends or your family, then you should question the value your business offers to others.
“It is unwise to pay too little,” Ziglar teaches. “When you pay too much, you lose a little money, that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything because the thing you bought was incapable of doing what it was bought to do.”
2. To Sell Is Human by Daniel H. Pink
If you’ve been involved in sales processes with your company for some time, then you’ve likely recognized that traditional selling techniques don’t work these days.
Moving people means you must do more than come up with a gimmick that lets you get your foot back in the door if you were rejected. You must be able to know how to move individuals individually.
That means being able to provide a clear message to your future customers. It means learning how to become more persuasive.
It also means knowing how to generate referrals from your current leads and customers. Instead of trying to upsell them something, find a way to “upserve” them instead.
“To sell well is to convince someone else to part with resources,” writes Pink, “not to deprive that person, but to leave him better off in the end.”
3. SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham
More than $1 million was spent on this book to examine the components of an effective sales performance. This book outlines the author’s findings from that research, along with an overview of the principles behind this specific technique.
SPIN is an acronym which stands for “situation,” “problem,” “implication,” and need payoff.”
What is unique about this sales book is that the outlined techniques shared feel organic almost immediately. Many readers may even discover that they have naturally incorporated elements of the SPIN technique into their approach already.
Because there is such a high level of relatability found in this book, it becomes easier to implement the ideas and advice which are being offered.
“Successful people ask a lot more questions during sales calls than do their less successful colleagues,” writes Rackham. “We found that these less successful people tend to do most of the talking.”
4. The Psychology of Selling by Brian Tracy
The process of selling something successfully can be divided into two categories: personal motivation and personal skill.
Anyone can sell something if they are taught the skill of selling. This book helps to serve as a guide to anyone who may feel like they are struggling with the actual process of selling.
it goes beyond the process of each transaction to look at selling as a career. It will help you be able to build, grow, and then maintain a successful career by taking a common-sense approach to customer engagement.
“The key to success in selling,” writes Tracy, “is for you to start a little earlier, work a little harder, and stay a little later.”
5. How to Master the Art of Selling by Tom Hopkins
This book offers techniques that are proven to work in real-life situations. There are hundreds of different ideas to implement, helping your idea or product receive more acceptance.
Although it was initially published over 25 years ago, the book is frequently updated and revised to incorporate new techniques or refine the current ones.
One of the most useful areas of the book is its detailed index. Within it, you’ll find legitimate answers to almost any sales objection you may hear.
Then you can work toward building the connections you’ll need to continue the selling process. It’s also one of the few sales books out there that is almost 100% full of great content instead of banter or filler.
“No one limits your growth but you,” says Hopkins. “If you want to earn more, learn more. That means you’ll work harder for a while; that means you’ll work longer for a while. But you’ll be paid for your extra effort with enhanced earnings down the road.”
6. The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino
This book was first published in 1968. Despite its age and overall size, it still remains an invaluable resource for salespeople and should be included in every library.
Instead of offering specific techniques or practicums to follow, this sales book is more about developing the “spiritual” side of the sales process.
To become great at sales, you must first have faith in yourself and your own abilities. Then you must believe in the work that you are doing. Through the use of parables, in the form of scrolls,
It becomes a resource on how to live life successfully.
“Wealth, my son, should never be your goal in life,” writes Mandino. “Your words are eloquent, but they are mere words. True wealth is of the heart, not of the purse.”
7. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
Based on almost 20 years of personal research, this sales book provides the reader with 13 specific steps that lead toward success.
It looks at sales as more than a process that can be duplicated. The author recommends that a definitive purpose be developed for each targeted lead.
You’ll see the benefits of having a positive mental attitude when engaging with potential customers. With the right attitude, you can literally be the master of your own destiny.
“Before success comes in any man’s life, he is sure to meet with much temporary defeat, and, perhaps, some failure,” writes Hill. “When defeat overtakes a man, the easiest and most logical thing to do is to quit.”
“More than 500 of the most successful men this country has ever known told [me] their greatest success came just one step beyond the point at which defeat had overtaken them.”
Of course, the principles found in the pages of this book are just as relevant for women as they are for men.
8. Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions by Keith Rosen
This book argues that the best sales performers are coached to be better. It is more important to have managers implementing best practices and encouraging core competencies than it is to keep training salespeople.
Although this book is written for the sales manager, the techniques on conversation building, culture establishment, and coaching scripts are useful for anyone in any position with sales responsibilities.
You’ll discover how to leverage what you observe. You get to see what the power of authentic feedback provides and how it can lead to behavioral changes.
Most importantly, it looks at how you can boost your sales productivity while still reducing your overall workload.
“You can talk yourself right out of an effective coaching opportunity,” writes Rosen. “Be cognizant of how directive you are being. Lead and sell with questions, not answers.”
9. The Sales Acceleration Formula by Mark Roberge
Sales is more than an ability to find the right people to listen to a compelling pitch about what you’ve got. It must include an awareness and knowledge of how technology impacts the modern selling process.
Buyers today progress on their own through your sales funnel. That is why CRM tools, such as lead scoring, are such an important part of modern selling.
A buyer is already researching solutions to a problem they have. They’ve likely found an answer that they like with your business.
Your job becomes simple. You must be able to convince them that the value proposition they’ve discovered is true.
“Trust is like blood pressure,” Frank Sonnenberg wrote in Follow Your Conscience. “It’s silent, vital to good health, and if abused, it can be deadly.”
10. The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes
This book can be described as a recipe for sales success. It offers a 12-part program which is specifically spelled out for the reader for implementation.
That’s not to say following the recipe outlined is an easy process. Far from it, in fact. You must be very disciplined in your sales approach to implement the advice offered.
Then you must be determined to create a path toward success for yourself. You’re taught that being in sales is more than a job. It is a lifestyle commitment that becomes part of your definition of self.
“The one who gives the market the most and best information will always slaughter the one who just wants to sell products or services,” says Holmes.
Give your leads something that is valuable. Expect nothing in return for it. When you’re successful in doing this, you create what is called a “value deficit.”
Although some customers will always take what you give, then want to take more, most people love to return a favor. If you give someone something that is valuable, there’s a good chance you’ll receive something valuable (like a sale) in the future.
11. Agile Selling by Jill Konrath
Every sales journey is unique. Although the skills employed by good salespeople are relatively the same, the approach to those skills is individualistic.
The same is true for buyers. There is a need to embrace a strong value proposition from a buyer perspective. How value is defined, however, is an individualized journey.
Having the two perspectives, from the buyer and seller, come together in a meaningful way can be a difficult process.
This book shares techniques that salespeople can use to adapt their own approach to match up with the needs of their buyers more often.
“Never go behind someone’s back,” suggests Konrath. “If you need to meet with people other than the person you’re currently working with, make sure you find a valid reason for it and, if possible, engage your current contact in setting it up.”
12. The Challenger Customer by Brent Adamson, et al.
What is great about this book is that it helps salespeople be able to identify “Mobilizers.” Mobilizers are people that rally others to your business. These are the people who are the go-getters, the teachers, and even the skeptics.
If you talk with these people, then you have the chance to offer a real value proposition to your targeted market. They drive productive change within your audience.
Far too often, we avoid these people because selling to them can feel difficult. They might argue your sales points. They might object to the sales process altogether.
This book teaches you how to overcome those difficulties to promote a stronger, longer lasting sales pitch for your business.
13. Smart Calling by Art Sobczak
Is cold calling dead? Should you focus on inbound marketing instead of outbound marketing?
With this book, the argument is made that a lack of skill on the phone is what leads to a lack of sales opportunities. The author goes as far as saying that salespeople make “dumb mistakes” in the first 10 seconds of a call which stops them from closing the deal.
“I’ve seen many sales reps who thought they were being productive by sending out mail,” notes Sobczak. “In fact, they were just busy.”
Once these mistakes are identified, you’re giving practical advice on how to implement a better approach which creates engagement with people.
That way, you can focus on offering a value proposition that is meaningful to the prospective customer instead of sounding self-important.
14. The Science of Selling by David Hoffeld
Hoffeld looks at three core categories of research to improve individual sales processes: neuroscience, social psychology, and behavior-based economics.
This sales book takes you through an approach that is based on evidence-based practices which have been thoroughly researched.
It shows you how to secure commitments through an incremental process, find solutions for objections, and even reduce the influence your competition may have on your best leads
“The peripheral route of influence refers to factors that are outside of the message itself,” writes Hoffeld, “but still have considerable sway on how we make decisions.”
“It includes essential elements of selling, such as building rapport, compellingly presenting a product or service, and enhancing trust.”
15. Cracking the Sales Management Code by Jason Jordan and Michelle Vazzana
Like it or not, sales processes are successful because of information that is tracked from each encounter. By identifying critical activities, then developing meaningful metrics around them, it becomes possible to create a journey toward success.
This book helps the reader be able to identify various actions and analytics which should be implemented and tracked. It is meant for sales managers and the C-Suite, though anyone can glean helpful truths from the content.
“First, you need to ensure that you have enough selling effort to sufficiently cover your target markets,” Jordan and Vazzana write. “Second, you must develop a sales force capable of effectively selling your products and service.”
“Third, you need to focus them on the right types of customers. And finally, you must provide them with guidance on what types of products to sell.”
16. Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff
We all pitch something every day. Even if we’re not creating a formal pitch, we’re talking to our family and friends about things that are important to us.
If you can pitch effectively, then you can sell anything. This book provides the reader with ideas that can help them literally pitch anything.
The principles included here can be used to pitch a higher salary, a new business opportunity, or what you’d like to eat for lunch. It really is that effective.
To be successful, it isn’t always about how hard you work. Sometimes the method you use to make a great pitch will set you apart from your competition.
Then you must evaluate how your pitch is being received by its audience. You learn to recognize when a pitch is being rejected for some reason, allowing you to take charge of the situation to generate the results you want.
“When you are reacting to the other person, that person owns the frame,” writes Klaff. “When the other person is reacting to what you do and say, you own the frame.”
17. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Even though this book was written in 1936, it still offers relevant advice that makes the sales process easier
Much of the advice you’ll find in the pages of this book feel like common sense when you see them.
- Begin your approach in a way that is friendly.
- Become genuinely interested in other people and what they are doing.
- Notice improvements in others and take time to praise them.
It’s always good to have a reminder about the basics of relationship forming from a sales perspective. Life gets busy these days. We can sometimes forget about these basics.
Carnegie makes this observation: “Flaming enthusiasm, backed up by horse sense and persistence, is the quality that most frequently makes for success.”
18. Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman
Being intelligent is important for a successful sales experience. Being emotionally intelligent may matter even more.
There are 5 crucial skills of emotional intelligence to discover within the pages of this sales book. You’ll discover how success is defined in how we take care of ourselves, how we approach work, and even how we engage within the context of a relationship.
By engaging the rational mind and the emotional mind, it becomes possible to shape your destiny in the world of sales.
“Leadership is not domination,” observes Goleman, “but the art of persuading people to work toward a common goal.”
19. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabet Glibert
Even the most confident salespeople with a history of performing well experience fear occasionally when approaching a new customer.
The difference between top performers and everyone else is that they have learned how to live beyond that fear.
You’ll find that the beginning of this book encourages you to embrace your creativity. You are asked to stay curious, open, and playful in what you do. You are a “something.”
This book is not an instructional guide for sales. It is a book that will encourage to look deeper within yourself to create an authentic approach to your leads and customers.
“Do whatever brings you to life,” writes Gilbert. “Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.”
Strategy: How to Crush the Competition by Martin Anderson
To create consistency in your sales approach, you must have a strategy to follow. Although some salespeople can “wing it” toward success, most people will fail without the presence of a strategy.
Over half of over-performing representatives responded to a Harvard Business Review survey saying that they were held accountable for meeting quotas or setting high goals, while only 26% of under-performing reps said the same thing.
According to the author, most businesses fail within 18 months because of this issue.
You’ll discover how to create a competitive advantage with this sales book. It offers tips to survive and thrive. In doing so, you’ll be able to grow and maintain a successful idea.
21. Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek
Why do some teams pull together to create amazing results and others fail?
The author goes back to a conversation he once had with a general in the Marines. “Officers eat last,” the general told him.
As the author watches, the junior Marines ate first. The senior Marines took their place at the back of the line. Then the leadership followed.
If a sales team is filled with paranoia and self-interest, then it is filled with distrust. That is why the leaders of a team must also eat last.
Leaders must sometimes sacrifice their comfort – even their success – for the good of those they supervise. If a sales team is unable to do this, then the business has little chance to be successful.
First, Break All the Rules by Gallup Press
Rules are in place for a reason. Rules are also supposed to be broken when they no longer apply to the situation.
Far too often, we use outdated rules to dictate the actions we take every day.
Even rules that are held sacred by conventional wisdom deserve to be broken if doing so leads to more success.
“Great managers disagree,” the book says. “Acquiring varied experiences is important, but peripheral, to a healthy career. It is an accessory, not the driving force.”
How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling by Frank Bettger
The story of Frank Bettger is always one worth reading.
When the author was 29, he was a failed salesman for insurance. In just 11 years, he transformed himself into the owner of a country estate and could’ve retired If he wanted to do so.
Within this book, he shares his journey and the decisions he made along the way to find success.
Key elements, such as enthusiasm and confidence, play key roles in the ability to close a sale. Bettger also shares 7 excellent rules that he always followed to close deals.
“Smile your best smile at everyone you see,” he wrote. “Think about all the things you have to be thankful for… and smile. The world will smile with you.”
24. The 10x Rule by Grant Cardone
There is an interesting proposition given to the reader right away within this sales book: how do you REALLY think about yourself?
Many salespeople gauge their success based on what they see their colleagues able to achieve. They take the information they see, create an average from it, then seek to achieve results that reach that average.
Most people who set a goal for themselves fail to keep striving once they reach their targets. If your target is to be average, then this book suggests that you will always be average as a salesperson.
To improve results, you must begin to increase how you see yourself. By increasing your expectations by at least 10 times what they are today, then tomorrow can generate better results for you.
“I suggest that you become obsessed about the things you want,” writes Cardone, “otherwise, you are going to spend a lifetime being obsessed with making up excuses as to why you didn’t get the life you wanted.”
25. The 7 Levels of Communication by Michael J. Maher
First impressions matter.
If you are unable to create a warm, positive introduction with your leads, then you’re losing one of your most valuable encounters in the sales process.
This book takes you through specific steps that will help you be able to implement policies and procedures that will help you make the most of this encounter. That way, you can build relationships that turn into long-term sales opportunities.
Then the trust you build with each prospect can lead to even more referrals.
Although this book is intended for realtors, the lessons learned here are valuable for every entrepreneur in any industry.
“Each and every day, someone, somewhere in my city, needs my services,” writes Maher. “My job today is to find that person. Internalize this and you’ll be able to think like a top producer.”