23 sales books every sales rep should read

Read these to become a better salesperson.

By Josh Bean, Director, Marketing

Published December 20, 2018
Last updated September 16, 2020

As a sales rep, your time is limited. You have to find new sales leads, interact with possible customers, and close sales, which leaves time for little else. But, to advance in any career, you need to find time to hone your craft.

One easy way to do this is by reading sales books. After all, building on the knowledge of top salespeople can save time in the long run as you learn from their experience and incorporate their advice into your own sales journey.

Below are 23 sales books which focus on everything from mastering sales techniques to learning essential skills like understanding the customer mindset.

Excellent overall sales books

From sales strategies to actionable techniques, the following sales books are helpful resources for both beginners and seasoned professionals looking to master the whole sales funnel.

1. How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling

How I raised myself from failure to success book cover

“Selling is the easiest job in the world if you work it hard — but the hardest job in the world if you try to work it easy.”
Frank Bettger

In this bestselling book, Frank Bettger offers his perspective on selling through personal experiences and anecdotes. Bettger also shares his selling secrets, including how to gain confidence and the seven golden rules for closing a sale. Another cool fact about this book? It was endorsed by Dale Carnegie.

2. The Science of Selling: Proven Strategies to Make Your Pitch, Influence Decisions, and Close the Deal

“The goal of every sales process should be to guide buyers to commit to the salesperson’s message (the central route) while using heuristics (the peripheral route) to effectively convey that message.”
David Hoffeld

This book connects science with sales through neuroscience, social psychology, behavioral economics, and real-world sales examples. The author, David Hoffeld, offers tactical, practical advice on things like handling objections and structuring selling options. It's a good book for understanding how the buyer thinks and how emotions come into play.

3. Little Red Book of Selling: 12.5 Principles of Sales Greatness

“Attitude allows you to see the possibilities when opportunity strikes—because it often shows up in the form of adversity. How well do you spot opportunity?”
Jeffrey Gitomer

If you are looking for a quick read packed with information, this sales book is aimed at demystifying buying principles for salespeople in a fun, simple way. The advice and tips given by Jeffrey Gitomer are laid out in quotes, takeaways, and relevant cartoons. This read helps you overcome traditional sales obstacles.

4. The Only Sales Guide You'll Ever Need

“Most people fail because they aren't willing to do what it takes to succeed.”
Anthony Iannarino

This guide has an interesting back story: the author, Anthony Iannarino, was once on track to become a rock star. He started working in sales as a day job and ended up becoming an expert. Iannarino outlines that the right mindset is foundational for success in selling. Over 25 years of sales experiences are included in this book along with tried-and true advice on developing self-discipline, accountability, and your story telling skills..

5. The Sales Bible, New Edition: The Ultimate Sales Resource

“Sales solutions are easy once you identify the prospect's problems, concerns, and needs...with questions.”
Jeffrey Gitomer

Another read by Jeffrey Gitomer, The Sales Bible covers everything from the 10.5 Commandments of Selling to 25 proven ways to set hard-to-get appointments. Gitomer offers sales methods and strategies drawn from actual selling examples. The book is packed full of sales techniques and Gitomer suggests using the ones that match your particular sales situation.

Books on qualifying

Qualifying leads can be a lengthy process. There are a lot of questions to answer before you can determine if someone is likely to buy your product or not. Does a lead match your buyer persona? Can your business meet a potential buyer's needs? Read these sales books to master the qualification and increase the likelihood of a sale.

6. Amp Up Your Sales: Powerful Strategies That Move Customers to Make Fast, Favorable Decisions

Amp your sales book cover

“Align the customer's expectations with your commitments.”
Andy Paul

Amp Up Your Sales by Andy Paul covers the entire sales process including highly tactical information on simplifying your sales and amping up your prospecting. In this 8-part book, Paul includes an entire section on “Qualification: doing more with less” which is filled with actionable insights such as the factors that drive a poor qualification or the dangers of “mostly qualified sales opportunities.” Become more disciplined with proper customer qualification with this book.

7. The Conversion Code: Capture Internet Leads, Create Quality Appointments, Close More Sales

“Today's customers are savvy, and they have more options than ever before. Capturing their attention and turning it into revenue requires a whole new approach.”
Chris Smith

Chris Smith gives advice specifically for capturing internet leads, but also for creating quality appointments (which can save time later on). In addition to being a good book for generating more traffic, leads, and sales, The Conversion Code offers excellent advice for engaging with prospective customers online (social media, chat, blogs) and how to qualify these customers. This is a good book for selling in the digital age.

8. Questions that Sell: The Powerful Process for Discovering What Your Customer Really Wants

“Customers do not want to 'make friends'; they want to see results and substantive relationships provide those.”
Paul Cherry

Asking the right questions is key to qualifying a lead. Discover your customer’s actual needs with this book by Paul Cherry to determine if you can solve their problems. This read includes various situations and different types of sample questions you can use for each, so you learn how to effectively become a customer-focused sales rep.

Books on prospecting

Prospecting for new customers is vital to building your business. There are many ineffective prospecting methods out there, so it's important to implement a sustainable prospecting strategy which is what these books can help you do.

9. New Sales. Simplified.: The Essential Handbook for Prospecting and New Business Development

New sales simplified book cover

“The best intentions, target account lists, and powerful sales weapons are useless if we never launch the attack.”
Mike Weinberg

Mike Weinberg delves into the topic of acquiring new clients. He provides a formula for strategies such as identifying a strategic, finite, workable list of genuine prospects, using email, voicemail, and social media to your advantage, and preparing for and structuring a winning sales call.

10. Fanatical Prospecting: The Ultimate Guide to Opening Sales Conversations and Filling the Pipeline by Leveraging Social Selling, Telephone, Email, Text, and Cold Calling

“There is no easy button in sales. Prospecting is hard, emotionally draining work, and it is the price you have to pay to earn a high income.”
Jeb Blount

Based on Jeb Blount's own prospecting approach, the book gives a step-by-step guide to filling your pipeline with high-quality opportunities. Tips include the 5 C’s of Social Selling, the 5 Step Telephone Framework, and the 7 Step Text Message Prospecting Framework. This read is excellent for a comprehensive, real-world method for effective prospecting.

11. The Sales Development Playbook: Build Repeatable Pipeline and Accelerate Growth with Inside Sales

“The value of a sales development effort is measured by increased won business per account executive and/or accelerated new customer acquisition.”
Trish Bertuzzi

As you might have guessed from the title, The Sales Development Playbook is a tactical book focused on high-quality growth. Trish Bertuzzi outlines 6 elements for better sales development including strategy, specialization, recruiting, retention, execution, and leadership. This book is an excellent resource for business development with immediately actionable steps.

Books on presenting

A sales presentation can make or break a deal in your pipeline. Your language, mannerisms, and slides all work together to build a connection with potential customers. Too often, sales reps talk at the client rather than with the client. Fortunately, there are strategies for effective sales presentations.

12. Strategic Sales Presentations

Strategic sales presentations book cover

“Although there are differences, never forget that every presentation to a customer is still a sales call.”
Jack Malcolm

If you are looking for real presentation case studies, this book is for you. Jack Malcolm walks you through engaging and confident presentation delivery, including strategies for presenting to senior decision makers. A stellar presentation will ultimately depend on you, but Malcolm gives applicable steps and examples to help you reach the next level of presentation style.

13. Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal

“There are limits to the human attention span, which is why a pitch must be brief, concise, and interesting.”
Oren Klaff

Oren Klaff states that creating and presenting a great pitch isn't an art—it's simple science. He then introduces the STRONG method of pitching— Setting the frame, Telling the story, Revealing the intrigue, Offering the prize, Nailing the hook point, and Getting a decision. He reviews how the buyer will perceive your message, looking closely at the way people think. The methods in this book will help you not only create a great sales pitch but pitch anything in life.

14. The Secret of Selling Anything

“It is not how long you work at some task that determines what you’ll receive for it in exchange. It is the value someone else places upon the product or service that determines what it is worth in exchange.”
Harry Browne

Harry Browne is a successful salesman who argues against sales cliches such as the one that you have to be an extrovert to succeed. Browne uses easy-to-understand terms to explain what motivates prospects and how to communicate why your product is a good fit for their needs.

Books on negotiating

Common mistakes in negotiating sales deals include: selling a product rather than meeting customer needs, talking too much, and not addressing your prospect's underlying interests. Psychology is an important part of negotiating. You need to know why a potential customer thinks the way they do and how you can influence their thought process. The following sales books will help you do just that.

15. Go for No! Yes is the Destination, No is How You Get There

Go for no book cover

“Rather than setting goals for the number of yes’s you are planning to get each week, you set goals for the number of no’s you’re going to collect.”
Richard Fenton

It's okay to be told “no.” According to Richard Fenton, while many people are fearful of rejection/failure, you, the sales rep, need to rethink this concept. A short read, Go for No! is actually a fictional story that follows twenty-eight year old copier salesman Eric James Bratton through his specific sales problems and solutions. This story is designed to help you learn better sales techniques and teaches you how to turn a rejection into a triumph.

16. Methods of Persuasion: How to Use Psychology to Influence Human Behavior

“If you want people to perceive something more favorably, you should convey high expectations because those expectations will become a lens that will mold their perception.”
Nick Kolenda

Nick Kolenda uses principles from cognitive psychology to understand how to influence your prospect's thoughts. Learn a 7-step persuasion process that includes molding your prospect's perception, triggering social pressure, and optimizing your message. Psychology is a major component of this book, so it's a good read if you want to determine why customers think the way they do and how you can influence those thoughts. It's also got a sense of humor.

17. Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It

“If you approach a negotiation thinking the other guy thinks like you, you are wrong. That's not empathy, that's a projection.”
Chris Voss

Although not technically a sales book, Never Split the Difference was written by someone who understands how to confront any high-stakes negotiation. Chris Voss is a former FBI international hostage negotiator who illustrates how almost every conversation we have is a negotiation. He offers different ways to negotiate in different situations, from buying a house to negotiating a salary are given, but his methods can be applied to your sales negotiations for successful outcomes.

Books on closing

Trying to close a sale can be a scary moment in the sales pipeline. Either you win them over, or all your hard work is lost. But what kind of close is best? Hard or soft? How do you know what to say? Take a look at the books below for advice on successful closing.

18. Secrets of Closing the Sale

Secrets of Closing the Sale

“To get what you want, help others get what they want.” —Zig Ziglar

More than likely, you've heard of this sales classic by Zig Ziglar. Ziglar presents techniques for effectively closing a sale, helps you understand why a customer buys, and how to align their interests with what you are offering. Knowing when to speak and when to listen are two important lessons the book expands on.

19. The Lost Art of Closing: Winning the Ten Commitments That Drive Sales

“When you care about helping other people generate the results that they can’t generate without you, your outward focus is part of what creates a preference and makes you easier to buy from.” —Anthony Iannarino

Rather than alienating the customer with pushy closing tactics, Anthony Iannarino sets up a different kind of framework. He emphasizes the steps to closing you need to take long before a purchase is actually made. These include the Commitment to Invest, Commitment to Build Consensus, and Commitment to Resolve Concerns. This is a great guide for changing how you think about closing.

20. Exactly What to Say: The Magic Words for Influence and Impact

“There are two types of people in this world: those who resist change in favor of nostalgia and those who move with the times and create a better future.” —Phil M. Jones

Phil M. Jones teaches you how to know exactly what to say, when to say it, and how to make it count with potential customers. He provides instruction on how to feel in control of conversations. Not just for salespeople, this book is focused on helping you become a better communicator. It's also packed with scripts to use in conversations to influence people's decisions.

Books on nurturing

Nurturing relationships with your customers throughout the different sales stages (and after the sale has been made) is something that many reps struggle with. These books are designed to help you develop long-term, customer-centric interactions with all types of customers.

21. Aligning Strategy and Sales: The Choices, Systems, and Behaviors that Drive Effective Selling

Aligning strategy and sales book cover

“Aligning strategy and sales is the most difficult part of implementation because it involves a combination of factors: a coherent strategy, the right incentives, hiring, developing a performance culture, and sustaining field behaviors in the face of market changes largely outside the control of the seller.”
Frank V. Cespedes

While many of the books on this list are tactical, this book is focused on aligning your sales process with strategy. Written from a high-level perspective, Frank V. Cespedes suggests a framework for how your sales operations fit into the overall company. He also offers tips for proper execution. This is a good read for ensuring that your company culture is aligned with your customer relationship.

22. How to Win Friends and Influence People

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
Dale Carnegie

Written by Dale Carnegie, this book is packed with strategies that will teach you how to handle people and be likable. Carnegie emphasizes various principles such as the importance of smiling in a heartwarming way or talking in terms of the other person's interests. The book will help you improve your customer interactions.

23. Never Lose a Customer Again: Turn Any Sale into Lifelong Loyalty in 100 Days

“Across a wide range of industries, a 5 percent improvement in customer retention rates will yield a 25 to 100 percent increase in profits.”
Joey Coleman

Customer retention is the theme of this book. By breaking down the customer journey into 8 phases, Joey Coleman helps you understand why most customers leave a company within the first 100 days and how to increase customer loyalty. It's a practical read that will help you improve your customer's overall experience.

Step up your game with these sales books

Whether you're just getting started with sales or have years of experience, gaining insights from top professionals in your industry is always helpful. Add these sales books to your reading list to become a better, more well-rounded salesperson. Dedicate just 30 minutes a day to reading and you may be surprised by the results.

This post originally ran on the Base blog. Please visit www.zendesk.com/sell if you’d like to learn more about Zendesk Sell.

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