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Best Books on Sales

Updated on November 20, 2014
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Heidi Thorne is an author and business speaker specializing in sales and marketing topics for coaches, consultants, and solopreneurs.

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If searching for books with tips that will magically increase your sales with a mere turn of a phrase or tactic, the following list of best books on sales is not for you! The books featured here contain solid advice and tips on the real skills that salespeople need to develop: communicating, relating and influencing.

While a couple have been around for quite a while, most choices are recent additions to the sales field, focusing on reaching today's difficult markets.

(Note: Now that Amazon has settled its issues with Illinois, I am once again an Amazon associate and may receive a commission from your purchase of these books. But I hope you'll buy them to support the authors, too. With one exception which I received as a conference participant, the featured books were not provided to me free for review. So what you'll find here are my genuine reader reviews and recommendations. Enjoy!)

To Sell is Human

Providing a totally new perspective on sales, in To Sell is Human, economics expert Daniel Pink suggests that everyone is truly in sales.

This is not an attempt to expand sales forces by pushing off sales duties on employees who might not normally have selling in their job descriptions. Rather, it is an assessment of what people really do all day.

Pink's position is based on research with the What Do You Do at Work? study which surveyed over 9,000 people. The study found that we all spend 40 percent of our days in selling activities... selling products and ideas, as well as influencing and persuading others for efforts that are not purchase related.

This is a huge paradigm shift in the fields of sales and human resource management.

You, Inc.

An author featured on Best Books on Marketing, Harry Beckwith scores for sales, too, with his book (co-authored with his wife, Christine) You, Inc.: The Art of Selling Yourself.

Right at the beginning, Beckwith says "Living is selling." He contends that we've been selling ideas to others--parents, teachers, friends--since we were kids. Though written in 2006, the same message resonates throughout and is confirmed by To Sell is Human which was published in 2013.

In the same classic Beckwith style from Selling the Invisible, chapters are quick, one to few page affairs. A few are only one sentence long! Filled with stories and memorable tips for communicating, relating to and influencing people, this book drives home the fact that "life is a sale."

Little Red Book of Selling

Jeffrey Gitomer's Little Red Book of Selling is, literally, red and little. But the principles inside are big!

A national columnist on sales, Gitomer provides pithy, practical sales advice in his 12.5 (yes, that's 12.5) principles of sales greatness. The book is filled with lists, checklists, and fun little cartoons which illustrate sales success tips and attitudes.

Building selling skills such as networking, public speaking and creativity are also covered in simple to implement steps.

Sales Bible

Another rock solid resource from Jeffrey Gitomer, The Sales Bible: The Ultimate Sales Resource provides even more lists and checklists to help salespeople "make sales while others are whining."

Every step of the sales process is covered including networking, presentations, objections and closing techniques. Yet, unlike many sales books, the principles are described in easy to understand language that focuses on creating relationships for the long term, not just immediate sales.

Increasing Revenue From Your Clients

A selection that also made the Best Books on Marketing list, Increasing Revenue From Your Clients provides a solid roadmap for classifying clients based on their sales potential and value to the company. Many companies mistakenly and unprofitably provide the same level of service to all customers, regardless of their purchase level and cost to service.

From a marketing perspective, this can assist in the development of customer service programs and promotions. But from a sales perspective, this is a time management and productivity tool to make selling professionals more effective.

Tough Calls

While many books on selling focus on difficulties with salespeople, Tough Calls: Selling Strategies to Win Over Your Most Difficult Customers by Josh Gordon takes a wholly different approach by focusing on problematic customers.

Even the recognition that there are difficult customers will come as a comfort to many frustrated salespeople. And the entire cast of customer characters are included:

  • Egomaniac
  • Incompetent
  • "It's Not in the Budget"
  • Abrasive
  • Does Not Like Your Company
  • And 15 others.

Psychology of Selling

A classic in this list is Psychology of Selling by master salesman, trainer, speaker and author, Brian Tracy. For those new to face-to-face or consultative selling, this is a great training resource. If selling includes a lot of road time, getting this--or any of Brian Tracy's programs--on audio is a great investment.

Some of the closing techniques may seem a bit dated for today's highly resistant consumers and online buying realities, but are worth knowing to help bring some sales to closure.

How Two Sales Tips Saved Two Weeks of Time Per Month

A personal example...

Though there are a lot of sales trainers and experts out there, I've found Brian Tracy to be the most helpful of the lot. His audio programs literally changed my sales career in many ways. Here's just one example.

When I took on a newspaper advertising sales position, my territory literally spanned hundreds of square miles. In Psychology of Selling, Tracy notes that some salespeople spread out their calls so that there's a nice solid hour of drive time in between, making them feel like they're doing something when they're really not. That really wasn't my problem. I was just trying to accommodate my clients... or so I thought. Took me two to three weeks to meet with everyone.

In his other audio programs (I can't remember which one of so many I've listened to!), he noted that calls should be geographically grouped together to save time. Tell clients that you will be in their area on such and such a day and make as many appointments in that area as you can.

Another Tracy tip was don't leave an appointment without confirming a next step, be it an appointment, follow up phone call, exchange of documents, etc. Then I started making sure that I made a next appointment with the client before I left the office.

When I started employing these two simple steps, I was eventually able to complete my entire round of clients in a solid week of road work. Saved me one to two weeks that could be used more productively pursuing other business.

Disclaimer: Any examples used are for illustrative purposes only and do not suggest affiliation or endorsement. The author/publisher has used best efforts in preparation of this article. No representations or warranties for its contents, either expressed or implied, are offered or allowed and all parties disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for your particular purpose. The advice, strategies and recommendations presented herein may not be suitable for you, your situation or business. Consult with a professional adviser where and when appropriate. The author/publisher shall not be liable for any loss of profit or any other damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages. So by reading and using this information, you accept this risk.

© 2013 Heidi Thorne

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