Avoid the unnecessary stress of choosing the perfect gift for your sales and marketing industry colleagues.
Why worry about being creative, or being labelled too practical? Instead of giving an ordinary gift card or an oh-so-special article of clothing (a tie – really), or perhaps some “home” baked goods, feed the intellectual curiosity of your colleagues and co-workers with the following list of thought-provoking sales books.
I realize some of the titles are not “traditional” sales works. Nevertheless, give this unique gift, or perhaps start your own holiday tradition and think about how reading the right book (or at least listening to an audio file) may help to advance your professional career.
Call this collection eclectic, but you will never call it boring. Finish reading all of the books on this list and you will be well-versed in sales and marketing strategy, personal and professional motivation, leadership, customer insights, predictive analytics and statistical modeling.
These books are just too valuable not to share. The information contained within their pages (or for the truly non-traditional, in an audio file) will cause you to take immediate and truly life-changing action.
You may even learn something new. A holiday miracle, indeed.
1. Feel the Fear… and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers, Ph.D.
Sales may not be a mystical practice, but a mind-body connection certainly exists. I am a huge proponent of the psychology of sales, especially mindset and self-actualization, having incorporated creative visualization and positive mindset shift with great success throughout numerous sales teams and organizations. It all begins with this book, written nearly 30 years ago, but with insights about the fear lodestone that still ring as true today as the omnipresent children’s song (Let it go, let it go…)
2. Grow Regardless by Joe Mechlinski
Full disclosure: this book is written by my friend and colleague from Johns Hopkins. Even if that were not true, I strongly believe in the tenets of Grow Regardless, which are universally applicable for any organization, regardless of size; for any individual, regardless of title; and for any person, regardless of profession, who truly possesses an achievement-based mindset. In addition, the author not only taught one of the best sales training classes I’ve ever attended, he also predicted he’d write a New York Times best-selling book. (Creative visualization, anyone?)
3. To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others by Daniel H. Pink
If you haven’t read Daniel Pink’s masterpiece about the art and science of selling – it’s not too late – but you shouldn’t wait much longer. Pink describes the six successors to the elevator pitch, the three rules for understanding another’s perspective, the five frames that can make your message clear and more persuasive – defining what he calls “the surprising truth about moving others.” Information asymmetry is dead. Don’t let your career die, as well. Read this book.
4. Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne
This is first book of what I jokingly refer to as the “KTT Trilogy” – three books that defined my success as a consultant across three distinct practices: sales, marketing, and public relations, regardless of vertical. The premise of this ground-breaking book is contained in its subtitle: 1) create uncontested market space 2) make the competition irrelevant. My only disagreement lies with the authors’ conclusions about pricing models, but otherwise, this book contains a useful framework to analyze the cost/differentiation side of your competitive strategy.
5. Purple Cow by Seth Godin
Book No. 2 of the Trilogy may be a true marketing book, but its premise is relevant to both marketing and sales. The author asks a simple question: how will you become remarkable? Learn the answer and differentiate your product, service, and even your individual brand, from your competition and transform (i.e., win more) business.
6. Choosing to Cheat by Andy Stanley
The final book of the Trilogy covers one of the more controversial topics in the business community. Anyone who has ever struggled with work/life balance may find a surprising resolution to the issue after reading this book, which presents a strategic plan for prioritizing your family (gasp) over your career – while still achieving success. Warning: Choosing to Cheat contains religious references. Anyone offended by the mention of God or the Bible should turn away.
7. Attack of the Customers by Paul Gillin (with Greg Gianforte)
Here’s a secret – customer service is a differentiator. The relationship you build with your buyer doesn’t end when the deal is closed. While this book primarily describes social media crisis communication strategies, using real-life case studies as examples, the actionable engagement solutions are relevant to improving your buyer interactions – both pre and post-sale.
8. Fanatical Prospecting by Jeb Blount
The simple difference between top sales performers and non-performers is closed deals. And the number one reason for failure in sales is an empty pipeline. The sub title of this book is The Ultimate Guide to Opening Sales Conversations and Filling the Pipeline by Leveraging Social Selling, Telephone, Email, Text, and Cold Calling. Learn how to keep the pipeline full of qualified opportunities and avoid debilitating sales slumps.
9. High Profit Selling by Mark Hunter
Do you believe a sale at any price is better than no sale at all? Everyone wants to make a sale, but there is a big difference between making sales…and making profitable sales. Hunter describes a step-by-step method to move towards a profit-centered approach, eliminating the word “discount” while strengthening your relationships and your bottom line.
10. Sales Management, Simplified by Mike Weinberg
Why do some professional sports teams consistently win, while others consistently lose? Talent is a factor, of course, but coaching, culture and leadership within the organization are unsurpassed. The same holds true for sales teams. Give this book to your sales manager. Today. You’ll both be glad you did.
11. (Tie) Regression Analysis by Example, Fifth Edition by Samprit Chatterjee
Logistic Regression Using SAS: Theory and Application, Second Edition by Paul D. Allison
In sales (and marketing) data tells your story. If you want to know who’s going to buy from you and at what particular time during your selling cycle, it’s a good idea to brush up on your predictive analytics/modeling. I’m a data scientist at heart who loves applying hard-core multi variable linear regression analysis and data modeling to determine sales outcomes/sales process results that yield a strategic marketplace advantage. Confused? Read book 1 – an excellent foundational book with relevant examples. Already using SAS and want to understand it better – then book 2 is for you.
Do you have a suggestion for a “must-read” sales or marketing book that’s not included on this list? Please share in the comments section below.
Kevin Thomas Tully has employed the principles of Social Selling long before the term entered the popular business vernacular. With a C-level background in Sales, Marketing, and PR, Kevin built multi-million dollar sales infrastructures and trained award-winning sales teams across variable verticals both as an entrepreneur and corporate officer. Kevin believes that the most important business skill is the ability to build integrity-based relationships. You should, too.