Ahh, holidays. The traditional time to spread joy and good cheer.
Many companies promote a culture of gift giving (and, of course, receiving). For some sales and marketing professionals, however, this time-honored ritual causes unnecessary stress.
Why worry about being creative, or being labelled too practical? Instead of choosing 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, workplace culture, predictive analytics and statistical modeling.
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 so 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, that I purchased a copy for everyone on my Sales for Life team. In addition, the author not only taught one of the best sales training classes I’ve ever attended (Sales for Life notwithstanding, of course) 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. Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek
How do you view your workplace? Do you dread going to work, or do you love what you do? In a thought provoking analysis, the author relates individual brain chemistry to both optimizing team performance and leadership development. Fascinating read.
9. Saleshood: How Winning Sales Managers Inspire Teams to Succeed by Elay Cohen
Who’s the most important member of your sales organization? The author postulates that a great sales manager is the differentiator and offers a guide to building winning sales teams, driving productivity, and growing a business with your front-line sales manager at the helm. Good stuff.
10. (Tie) Regression Analysis by Example, Fifth Edition by Samprit Chatterjee; or 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 multiple linear regression analysis modeling formula 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? If you want to talk about improving your team’s performance, click the green button below to schedule a call with me and we’ll chat.