There are many other collections of the best sales book list and this one is my version. I focus on finding the best sales books from my perspective which stems from the sales development world. I don’t focus on cracking the sales management code here.
You’ll find other books here that will help you with the psychology of selling, sales management, building your sales team, building sales professionals and of course sales success in general. My perspective is focused on the front end of the funnel and not closing the sale or thinking about whether it’s small business sales or selling to big companies.
I love teaching people how to pitch anything and working on the science or sales process so that’s what you’re going to find in the best sales books list below. Now grab a coffee or tea and start your cold calling and sales career with the b2b sales list of books I put together below for the sales conversations you’re going to have in your new job. If you need some help on how to get into tech sales you can read up on my perspective of that too.
Challenger Sale by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson
What I love about Challenger Sale is the data behind it. Rather than focusing on the outliers of success, they compiled data from multiple industries and geographies to draw their conclusions. The conclusion is that every sales rep will fall into one of five distinct profiles but the highest performing reps fall into the Challenger profile which consistently outperforms others.
If you incorporate this with the Sandler methodology of the pain and/or gain funnel, it’s extremely powerful. The less you talk about your product and/or service the more successful you’ll be just by listening. Once you identify who the Challenger reps are in your organization – take what they are doing and duplicate it across the organization. The best way to identify that is using a tool like Gong or Chorus.ai to help you capture it and use that to help onboard and offer ongoing training for the rest of the team.
SPIN Selling by Neil Rackman
SPIN Selling is an old one but a good one. This was first published (I believe) in 1988. Can you believe in 1988 that a gallon of gas was .91c and average rent was $420.00. It’s crazy how things have changed since then but the teachings and what you’ll learn out of SPIN Selling is still relevant today.
SPIN stands for Situation, Problem, Implication and Need Payoff. By following the teachings in this book you’ll be able to dramatically increase sales volume from your strategic accounts. Neil Rackman packs the book full of illustrations, case studies and real world examples that will help you understand a great perspective that will help you with your major/strategic accounts.
The Little Red Book of Selling: 12.5 Principles of Sales Greatness by Jeffrey Gitomer
If you’re looking for a little book to keep in your back pocket when you’re in need of sales help. It’s this one. It fits because it’s small and it’s packed with some great knowledge you can always pull out if you need to. There are much more impactful books of course but if you need a cheat sheet / guide with some humor – it’s this one.
Gitomer is a fun author and you’ll always walk away with something good from this so pick it up and let me know what you think in the comments below.
Strategy and Process
Hacking Sales by Max Altschuler
Whether you’ve known Max for years through Sales Hacker or you’re just hearing about him today – you must get this book. In this book, Max will break down how to:
- Identify your target market and build your total addressable market
- Build lead lists and create targeted campaigns
- Learn hacks that will get you responses through social and email channels
- Squash the objections before they happen
You’ll also get a list of the sales tools he recommends and the ideal tech stack he recommends at the time of publishing. Go get a copy and support the Sales Hacker community.
Sales Development and Prospecting
Predictable Prospecting by Marylou Tyler and Jeremey Donovan
This is one of the go to books for me when it comes to refreshing on how to generate predictable pipeline. If you’re going to boil down prospecting into a book and what works – it’s this one. Jeremey Donovan has been at Salesloft for years and helps to build the technology side of the house and has a great podcast called Hey Sales People that’s always a lovely listen.
This book is going to make your life easier if you’re building out a sales development team for the first time or are the first sales development rep trying to figure out where to start. Marylou and Jeremey will help you identify the ideal customer profile, build account based strategies to target the right accounts along with examples of how to get to the right people you’ve never spoken to before.
The most important piece of all this is making sure you’re tracking the metrics to show success or challenges which they’ll do for you too. Get a copy and let me know what the best piece of this book was for you.
Predictable Revenue by Aaron Ross
This is the book that really started it all when it comes to account based sales development. Aaron Ross was at Salesforce.com and helped to build the original program that put salesforce.com on the map. If you’re looking to learn from one of the original wizards that’s helped shape the prospecting world in B2B SaaS – get a copy of this.
This is all about Outbound Sales and how to be friendly and not pushy. You’ll also learn the tips of the trade from 2011 when this was originally published. I would highly recommend you get a copy of this and read it alongside Predictable Prospecting so you have the 2011 version from Aaron Ross and the 2016 version from Marylou and Jeremey. I’m expecting we’ll see another version from someone soon in this post COVID world because it’s been five more years.
The Sales Development Playbook by Trish Bertuzzi
When you think of the leaders in the Sales Development space, Trish Bertuzzi leads the pack. Her team has pulled together an amazing resource that our sales community will be forever grateful for. This playbook is a great resource that is a supplement to the others above. If you’re looking to have the arsenal needed to help you with your Sales Development career – this is it.
You’ll get templates, scripts, tech recommendations and more in this guide. It’s an invaluable resource that should be on every sales development reps bookshelf.
The Challenger Customer by Matt Dixon and Brent Adamson
If you’re in the world of sales enablement – this is one of the best books out there. If you’re not familiar with the Challenger Customer – they are defined as:
An individual who, when finally engaged by a seller, takes on a unique set of characteristics. They are contrarian, push back on everything, demand more from the seller than other customers do, have specific (and often contradictory) expectations around value and timeframes for purchase decisions, tend to be skeptical about whether or not a vendor can meet their needs, and—most important—are constantly changing what they believe vendors should provide them.
In order to sell to these types of customers – you need to understand their mindset, what motivates them and how to craft a message that will resonate. If you’re looking for help with this – get a copy of this book.
Management & Operations
The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni
If you’ve ever worked on a team that just didn’t seem to gel – this is the book for you. Patrick Lencioni dives into the five dysfunctions that can plague any team:
1. Absence of trust
2. Fear of conflict
3. Lack of commitment
4. Avoidance of accountability
5. Inattention to results
This book is a business fable that highlights the importance of teamwork and how to overcome the challenges that teams face. If you’re looking for a book that will help you understand how to build a strong team – this is it. In my opinion, the first topic, Absence of trust, is the most important piece to any team dynamic. If you are missing trust in any team or relationship – it is bound to fail. The others are not less important topics but when you’re building an organization and a team, it’s imperative to start with building trust because the rest of the items in this book just link back to that. Always keep trust at the forefront of any relationship you’re building whether it’s for business or not.
Radical Candor by Kim Scott
This is a book that was recommended to me by a friend and it has forever changed the way I give feedback. The basic premise of the book is that there are two types of feedback – Feed forward and Feed sideways.
Feed forward is what we typically think of when we think of feedback – it’s giving someone guidance on how they can improve in the future. Feed sideways is where things get interesting – this type of feedback is about changing someone’s behavior in the present moment. It’s directly confronting someone about something they’re doing that’s impacting you or the team in a negative way. The idea behind feed sideways is that it’s better to have a conversation in the moment about something that’s happening rather than letting it fester and become a bigger issue down the road.
The book goes into much more detail around this concept but I think it’s an important one for sales leaders to understand. If you’re looking for a way to give feedback that will actually result in change – this is the book for you.
To Sell is Human by Daniel Pink
If you’re looking for something a little less sales focused and more about understanding human behavior – this is the book for you. In To Sell is Human, Daniel Pink breaks down why we’re all in sales whether we realize it or not. He covers topics such as why empathy is important, how to influence others and how to navigate rejection. If you’re looking for something that will help you understand people better – this is the book for you. Sometimes you’d be looking for answers on the science of selling but it’s also art. It’s hard to sell or be sold to so in the times we live in – it’s important to remember that selling is an art too – not just a science and that’s what you get from this book.
unReceptive: A Better Way to Sell, Lead, and Influence by Tom Stanfill
This book is all about how to sell, lead, and influence people who are un receptive. It covers topics such as why people are un-receptive, how to identify when someone is un-receptive, and how to change your approach to selling, leading, or influencing them. If you’re looking for a book that will help you understand how to deal with people who are un-receptive – this is the book for you. It came out pretty recently so if you need a new book to add to the list – this is a good go to for the library.
Skills & Knowledge
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
If you haven’t read this book yet – you need to. It’s a classic for a reason and it’s packed with advice on how to make friends, how to influence people, and how to be a better communicator. If you want to improve your social skills – this is the book for you. This is a book everyone should read so go pick it up and there are no excuses for not putting this into your library since it’s one of the best sales books out there.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
This is another classic that has stood the test of time. In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey covers topics such as time management, goal setting, and decision making. If you’re looking for a book that will help you develop habits that will make you more effective – this is the book for you.
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
This is a book about achieving success. It covers topics such as developing a positive mindset, taking action, and persistence. If you’re looking for a book that will help you achieve your goals – this is the book for you. It’s a great motivator for sales teams to get them amped up and thinking about their goals.
If you’re looking to master the art of selling or find a sales acceleration formula – you’ll need to get a peak at this because it is a great perspective and will help you along the way.