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.
Books are organized in the following sales pipeline categories:
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.
“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.”
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.”
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.
“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?”
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.
“Most people fail because they aren't willing to do what it takes to succeed.”
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..
“Sales solutions are easy once you identify the prospect's problems, concerns, and needs...with questions.”
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.
“Align the customer's expectations with your commitments.”
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.
“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 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.
“Customers do not want to 'make friends'; they want to see results and substantive relationships provide those.”
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.
“The best intentions, target account lists, and powerful sales weapons are useless if we never launch the attack.”
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.”
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.”
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.
“Although there are differences, never forget that every presentation to a customer is still a sales call.”
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.
“There are limits to the human attention span, which is why a pitch must be brief, concise, and interesting.”
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.
“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 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.
“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.”
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.
“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 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.
“If you approach a negotiation thinking the other guy thinks like you, you are wrong. That's not empathy, that's a projection.”
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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.”
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.
“Across a wide range of industries, a 5 percent improvement in customer retention rates will yield a 25 to 100 percent increase in profits.”
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.