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12 Best Sales Books You Need to Read

Selling is a difficult task that requires convincing others to do something they wouldn't do on their own. Fortunately, there are numerous sales books available to help sales reps, managers, and executives improve their skills, and this blog post recommends 12 must-reads that cover a wide range of sales concepts and techniques.
Kevin Warner
Founder & CEO
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When you look beyond all the technical aspects of modern sales — CRM platforms, automated email campaigns, lead scoring models, etc. — the entire industry revolves around one of the most difficult tasks ever known to man: one person convincing another to do something they probably wouldn't do on their own. Think about it! Isn't that what most sales interactions boil down to, at their most fundamental level?

Since this basic concept is both deceptively simple and incredibly arduous, it's no surprise that sales reps, managers, and executives need a little help now and again. Fortunately, there are scores of sales books on the market that address this core issue from a wide variety of perspectives. Here are 12 books that you need to put on your reading list ASAP:

1. How to Win Friends and Influence People (by Dale Carnegie)

What is it about? This book is a classic in the fields of leadership and sales, and covers a wide range of topics. These include how to maintain human connections when doing business, how to demonstrate personal interest in the person across from you (or on the phone with you), and why it's important to show empathy in your interactions.

Who can it help? Sales reps who are "in the trenches" and company leaders alike will find this book to be enlightening and practical, especially when it comes to the personal interactions they have on a daily basis.

2. Never Split the Difference (by Chris Voss)

What is it about? This fascinating book details some of the lessons Voss learned while working as a chief hostage negotiator with the FBI. The author relates how he developed the needed skills to defuse tense situations and save lives, and applies those same principles to the world of sales and management. For example, Voss explains why getting your conversation partner to say "that's right" can signal a shift away from confrontation and toward mutual understanding.

Who can it help? This book is a good read for salespeople at all levels, but especially for executives who engage in tense negotiations on a regular basis.

3. Little Red Book of Selling (by Jeffrey Gitomer)

What is it about? Gitomer's book is a masterpiece of brevity and practicality. It includes several tips that can help your sales team to boost their performance, and gives suggestions on how reps can deal with a wide range of real-world situations.

Who can it help? Sales reps of all experience levels will find the "Little Red Book of Selling" to be an informative read — one that can help them take their game to the next level.

4. The Psychology of Selling: Increase Your Sales Faster and Easier Than You Ever Thought Possible (by Brian Tracy)

What is it about? This book is chock-full of sales concepts, methods, and strategies that can help you to sell more successfully than ever before. Its theme focuses on how you can use basic psychological principles to increase sales, and Tracy enumerates several "key result areas" (KRAs) that salespeople need to focus on, including prospecting, building rapport, and getting referrals.

Who can it help? Tracy has created an exceptionally helpful "roadmap" that all sales reps can consult as they refine their skills.

5. Gap Selling (by Keenan)

What is it about? In "Gap Selling," sales expert Keenan discusses how salespeople can "close the gap" between the customer's current situation and their desired outcome. He digs into the importance of tactfully challenging customer assumptions, and leading the prospect to a clear understanding of how big their current problem is, and how they can effectively resolve it.

Who can it help? This is a great book for B2B sales professionals who want to focus on seeing interactions from their account's perspective, and then providing a solution that will meet all of their needs.

6. Sales Enablement (by Byron Matthews and Tamara Schenk)

What is it about? Matthews and Schenk have created a useful introduction to the concept of sales enablement, including sections on how to provide more effective sales training, feedback, and content to reps on the front line. The book also includes several case studies that illustrate the value of implementing sales enablement techniques in the real world.

Who can it help? This is an especially helpful read for sales managers and executives who want to streamline their processes and improve their team's performance.

7. To Sell is Human (by Daniel Pink)

What it is about? "To Sell is Human" is based on the premise that everybody (whether they're in the sales industry or not) is a "salesperson" in some form or fashion. As an example, Pink discusses how workmates, parents, children, and friends all persuade others to give of their resources in exchange for something they want in return (e.g., time, attention, effort, and so forth). This book encourages sales professionals to accept the pervasiveness of "non-sales selling" in their daily lives, and embrace those same techniques as part of their actual sales job.

Who can it help? Everyone in the sales industry can benefit from reading Pink's book (and even people outside of sales will find it a fascinating read).

8. Selling 101: What Every Successful Sales Professional Needs to Know (by Zig Ziglar)

What is it about? As the name suggests, "Selling 101" discusses the basics of selling. Ziglar taps into his years of experience in the industry to outline sales fundamentals in a simple, easy-to-read manner. Some highlights of the book include how salespeople can keep their customers satisfied, how they can persuade prospects more effectively, and how they can demonstrate ethics in their professional life.

Who can it help? This is an exceptionally helpful book for newer sales reps, or those who are looking for a "refresher course" in the fundamentals of persuasion.

9. Exactly What to Say (by Phil Jones)

What is it about? One of the most important components of a successful sales interaction is proper word choice. In some cases, the outcome of a conversation could very well hinge on whether a specific word or phrase is used. Jones delves into the science behind our reaction to certain words, and provides a list of "magic words" that can change the entire complexion of a conversation for the better.

Who can it help? Anyone can benefit from Jones' analysis of the human subconscious, but front-line sales reps will find his insights particularly valuable, since his suggestions can help them steer a conversation in the right direction from the very beginning.

10. Sell or Be Sold: How to Get Your Way in Business and in Life (by Grant Cardone)

What is it about? Cardone's book offers a roadmap to success that can be applied to sales and many other aspects of life. The author discusses how you can handle rejection in a healthy way, turn negative situations around, shorten the length of the sales cycle, and "get sold on" (i.e., fully believe in) the product you're selling. 

Who can it help? "Sell or Be Sold" can help even longtime sales professionals to reexamine their attitude toward customer interactions, and motivate them to try tactics that lead to better results.

11. The Introvert's Edge: How the Quiet and Shy Can Outsell Anyone (by Matthew Owen Pollard)

What is it about? To many, an introvert who excels at selling seems like a contradiction in terms. However, Pollard's book demonstrates that even naturally reserved people can learn the skills needed to become highly effective salespeople — without changing their personality. The book highlights the importance of focusing on a process that will allow the rep to stay true to themselves while propelling the sale forward.

Who can it help? This book can be an invaluable resource for salespeople who lack confidence in themselves, or feel uncomfortable with "pushy" sales tactics. However, it can also help managers and executives who want to understand the strengths of their individual team members, and optimize productivity through empathy.

12. Start with Why (by Simone Sinek)

What is it about? Sinek's book is based on the premise that every sales organization needs a "why" behind it — in other words, a core purpose, cause, or belief. Having a "why" as the foundation for your business will help you to inspire customers to take action, rather than manipulating them to do so. Sinek examines how leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Wright brothers all wondered why people do what they do, and leveraged their investigation into highly motivating words and actions.

Who can it help? "Start with Why" is a great read for salespeople at any level, and especially for company leaders who want to develop (or maintain) a clear sense of purpose throughout their organization.

If you haven't done so already, make sure that you pick up one of these books soon! They are filled to the brim with keen insights and practical suggestions on how to improve your sales performance moving forward. And if you'd like to learn more about how to implement the technical aspects of successful B2B selling, reach out to our team of experts at Leadium today.

One person convincing another to do something they probably wouldn't do on their own...Isn't that what most sales interactions boil down to, at their most fundamental level?

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