We are often asked the question “what are the best sales books” and it is a tricky question to answer. With the number of options now into the tens of thousands, it really is a gamble in terms of whether your time investment will improve your sales ability. As we are a team of dedicated learning professionals with a penchant for sales in particular, it is only fair that we took the time and drummed up a list of sales books we have taken value from over the years. To call this list the best sales books of all time is a call we can’t make (we haven’t read all of them!) but we can safely say that every book on this list will not be a complete waste of your time (and some have the capacity to change your life). So without further ado, and in no particular order, we present a list of our best sales books.
New Sales. Simplified.: The Essential Handbook for Prospecting and New Business Development
By Mike Weinberg
Secrets of Closing the Sale
By Zig Ziglar
What is the best way to persuade someone to take action? Do our customers, clients, or patients believe that we are looking out for their best interests? These are just a couple of questions that successful professionals need to ask every day. Full of entertaining stories and real-life illustrations, Secrets of Closing the Sale will give you the strategies and guidelines you need to become proficient in the art of effective persuasion.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
By Stephen R. Covey
Full disclosure, we are privileged to be the NZ licensees for FranklinCovey programmes. In saying that; there is a reason why it has been an international best seller since its initial release in 1990. Whilst not necessarily a “sales” book, the lessons taught are applicable to many walks of life, sales included. This book is one of the front runners in the personal effectiveness space and we can say by experience that the principles taught in this book can change lives. If you are to read one FranklinCovey book, make it this one.
Little Red Book of Selling: 12.5 Principles of Sales Greatness
By Jeffrey Gitomer
Short and sweet, this book is packed full of relevant and accessible sales tips and methods. Described by many as “all killer, no filler” at 220 pages it definitely comes in as one of the shorter books on the list. While it is arguably aimed more at Sales novices, even the most experienced sales person will almost certainly take something away from the time they spend with this book. It is also packed full of humour, making the read easier than others.
Fanatical Prospecting: The Ultimate Guide to Opening Sales Conversations and Filling the Pipeline by Leveraging Social Selling, Telephone, Email, Text, and Cold Calling
By Jeb Blount
As you may have pieced together by the title, this book focuses largely on one of the most important and tricky areas of a sales persons job, the task of prospecting. Fanatical Prospecting is filled with strategies, techniques, and the tools you need to fill your pipeline with high quality opportunities. Often a sales persons success is determined by the quality of their pipeline and Blount provides the best bet strategies for avoiding a lead drought.
Words that Sell: More than 6000 Entries to Help You Promote Your Products, Services, and Ideas
By Richard Bayan
Your sales process beginning to feel a bit like groundhog day? Think of this book as a thesaurus ready to breathe some life into your tired sales patter. All up this book contains more that 75 lists of powerful and persuasive phrases, a crash course in basic copy writing and number of tools to jump start you creatively. Perfect for professionals who need to win customers – by mail,online or in person.
Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative-Thinking Techniques
By Michael Michalko
This book is aimed more at creativity than being a dedicated “sales” book. However any successful salesperson will tell you that being able to think creatively is one of the keys to their success. From the linear to the intuitive, this comprehensive handbook details ingenious creative-thinking techniques for approaching problems in unconventional ways. Full of hints, tips, puzzles and tales, this book is a great word for personal growth.
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
By Robert B. Cialdini
Why do people say yes? This book focuses on precisely that. Once you understand why yes’s occur you are in a better position to be able to will them into existence. Backed by 35 years of scientific research, this book will shed light on effective methods of persuasion alongside how to defend yourself against master persuaders.
The Art of War
By Sun Tzu
Having been penned in the 6th century BC, this book is easily the oldest on our list. While the overarching theme is that of war, the lessons underpinning the story are ones that are still as relevant today as when they were first written. His work has been applauded by sports coaches, business mentors and leaders from a range of disciplines. While it does take a bit of work to mentally substitute out some of the issues with modern day ones, the lessons it can teach are worth the effort.
How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling
By Frank Bettger
At 29, Bettger was a failed insurance salesman. By the time he as 40 he owned a country estate and could of easily retired. Bettger reveals his personal experiences and explains the principles that he developed and perfected to achieve his level of success. He shares instructive anecdotes and step-by-step guidelines on how to develop the style, spirit, and presence of a winning salesperson. First released in 1992, this principles mentioned are all still largely relevant today.
Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade
By Robert B. Cialdini
In his second book on our list, Cialdini explores what separates effective communicators from truly successful persuaders. He provides the theory that optimal persuasion is achieved only through optimal pre-suasion. In other words, to change “minds” a pre-suader must also change “states of mind.” A very timely read as sales people continue to be hit with increased volumes of why things can’t be done from their prospects.
By Seth Godin
Winners do quit, and quitters do win. This is the pretense of this bestseller from marketing visionary Seth Godin. The “dip” as referenced in the title can be viewed as a barrier to overcome. Godin toys with the idea that winners win because they spend the time to find the right Dip to conquer. A unique take on what drives success and it is extremely relevant in today’s fast paced society.
Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In
By Roger Fisher
First published in 1991, this book has helped millions of people across the world discover a better way of negotiating. Based on the work of the Harvard Negotiation Project, Getting to Yes offers a proven, step-by-step strategy for coming to mutually acceptable agreements in every sort of conflict. The great thing about this book is that it has been updated regularly to ensure the teachings are all still relevant.
How To Sell Your Way Through Life
By Napoleon Hill
Written at the heights of the Great Depression, How to Sell Your Way Through Life explores a crucial component of Achievement: your ability to make the sale. Ringing eerily true in today’s uncertain times, Hill’s work takes a practical look at how, regardless of our occupation, we must all be salespeople at key points in our lives. Unlike other books on this list, this book gives you one beautifully simple principle and the proven tools to make it work for you.
Mastering the Complex Sale: How to Compete and Win When the Stakes are High!
By Jeff Thull
In a sales environment that relies less on volume and more on closing one or two big fishes a year? This book is the one for you. It touches on the competitive landscape of the modern world, the internal battles that your potential customer is likely facing and how to smoothly navigate your way to a position of being the first choice. This book really highlights how important professional customer guidance is in this day and age.
The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs
By Carmine Gallo
It is no secret that Steve Jobs was one of the modern day masters of public speaking. He didn’t just convey information in his presentations; he told a story, painted a picture, and shared a vision. He gave his audience a transformative experience that was unique, inspiring, and unforgettable. This book breaks down what made his presentations so special, and how to achieve similar results yourself. A must read if your role requires presentations through out its sales process.
Eat Their Lunch: Winning Customers Away from Your Competition
By Anthony Iannarino
Sales is tough and is only getting tougher. Many sales people work in highly competitive industries with products seen as very much similar to their own. For you to win, someone else has to lose. This book is great for understanding the nature of competition, relationships and provides a large range of strategies to ensure you are the one eating the competitors lunch, not the other way round.
Heavy Hitter I.T. Sales Strategy
By Steve W Martin
This book aims specifically at selling in a technical environment. While it may seem niche at first glance, if you can see the forest for the trees you will quickly find a lot of very helpful tips for winning the approval of C level decision makers. A must for IT solution sales people but also worth a dabble if this isn’t your related field.
The Greatest Salesman in the World
By Og Mandino
Referred to by many as their “sales bible” this short book is one that can be consumed in pieces or in one reasonably short sitting. If you were to follow the authors advise however, it would take you close to ten months to complete it. The instructions are to read Scroll I (Chapter 8) three times a day for thirty days straight. Only after completing the thirty days of reading Scroll I, should you continue to Scroll II (Chapter 9) and so forth through Scroll X (Chapter 17). While we don’t necessarily suggest you follow these instructions, we do suggest giving it a once over at least.
By Linda Richardson
In Perfect Selling , Linda Richardson presents a five step plan for success and suggests that nothing can have a greater impact on increasing sales results than improving what happens when a salesperson and customer are “in the moment” during the sales call. A slightly different take on the sales process from many of the others on this list, making it well worth your time. It’s also a New York Times best seller, which only lends weight to its credibility.
Sell or Be Sold: How to Get Your Way in Business and in Life
By Grant Cardone
Whether it’s selling your company’s product in the boardroom or selling yourself on a healthy lifestyle, everything in life can and should be treated as a sale. And as sales expert Grant Cardone explains, knowing the principles of selling is a prerequisite for success of any kind. In Sell or Be Sold, Cardone breaks down the techniques and approaches necessary to master the art of selling in any avenue. You will learn how to handle rejection, turn around negative situations, shorten sales cycles, and guarantee yourself greatness.
As previously mentioned, this isn’t a list of the “best sales books”, rather books we can say definitely have some value for those wanting to further these sales skills. Happy reading and learning!