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Five Classic Sales Books to Read This Holiday Season

The end of the year is upon us.  Whether your sales team has already met their goal and is taking some much needed time off, or is working while they wrap presents to meet their quota, I've always found year-end to be an ideal time for sales self-education and to focus on improvement for the year ahead.  Reading a good sales book is one of the best and quickest ways to improve sales skills and knowledge. I've also found that a really good sales book can be a an excellent source of inspiration. Here are five classic sales books to read this holiday season, all of which will motivate and inspire ensuring you have a successful 2018.

Think Like Your Customer, Bill Stinnettthink like your customer.jpg

This book is a little under the radar and certainly undervalued as you don't see it very often on other "top sales books" lists.  It has always been one of my favorites and to this day continues to be a resource and source of inspiration for me. In Think Like Your Customer, Stinnett explains why the key to landing new accounts is to understand and think about the things corporate buyers and decision makers think about and to understand how they make complex buying decisions. In essence, he teaches you to Think Like Your Customer. Young and experienced sales professionals alike who've never been in a role in which they've been on the customer end of the sales equation and have never had to make purchasing decisions  will appreciate this book because Stinnett explains the sales process through the lens of the customer.  It is this very insight that sales people need in order to be effective.  

Drawing upon his years of experience as a Fortune 500 consultant, he offers sales professionals a methodology for understanding business acumen and the inner workings of how a business runs. More importantly he shares with you what motivates executives and influences their buying decisions and walks you through how to identify and build an organizational structure and map the decision-making process, all of which helps sales people develop a winning strategy for influencing how and why the customer buys. A must read! This book will change your whole perspective on sales.  

The Sales Acceleration Formula, Using Data, Technology and Inbound Selling to Go From $0 to $100M,sales acceleration formula.jpeg Mark Roberge

As many of my customers and blog readers know, I was an early adopter of Hubspot. It has played a huge role in helping me get Menemsha Group off the ground. I couldn't do it all through networking and cold calling. I needed inbound marketing. So I was excited and full of anticipation when I learned of this book and it didn't disappoint! For the senior sales leaders out there, if you are like me, you will love this book but you may also feel a little resentment towards Roberge. You will love it because it is simply BRILLIANT. Roberge spells out in simple laymen terms how to build and effectively scale

your sales organization.  Where the resentment comes in is you will likely say to yourself "why in the hell didn't I think of this? This makes too much sense!"  To rub in further, Mark Roberge is an MIT educated engineer! He had zero sales and sales leadership experience.  He basically figured out what all sales leaders have been trying to figure out-not through experience-but by applying his engineering background to sales.  I have to say, it is prettty damn impressive.  

The Sales Acceleration Formula provides a road map for building scalable, predictable approach for growing revenue and building a high performing sales team. Most staffing leaders I speak with want to be the next $100 million staffing company and Roberge shows you how he did it at Hubspot. In this book, he reveals his formulas for success. Readers will learn how to apply data, technology, and inbound selling to every aspect of accelerating sales, including hiring, training, managing, and generating demand.  The best part is he lays out and explains his process and what he did in a very straight forward easy to understand kind of way.  A must read for IT staffing sales leaders trying to scale their business.

Pitch Anything, An Innovative Method For Presenting, Persuading and Winning the Deal,Oren Klaffpitch anything.jpeg

If you're looking for a fun and entertaining read but also educational than I suggest you pick up Pitch Anything. This is a fun, easy read. Klaff shares some really funny stories from his years of working as a fundraiser in the venture capital and investment banking world where he personally raised over $400 million! What I like about this book is that is simply focuses on the THE PITCH. Most of what we do in the staffing industry is professional sales and Klaff explains the difference between selling and pitching. But all of us, business owners, CEO's, sales reps, recruiters, leaders, we all have candidates to pitch, ideas to pitch and negotiations to engage in. Pitch Anything  will transform the way you position and pitch your ideas.  According to Klaff, creating and presenting a great pitch isn't an art--it's a simple science. He describes how the brain makes decisions and responds to pitches. I can assure you that after you read this, you will be thinking about this book every time you walk in to see a client, present a candidate or share an idea with a colleague or even a personal friend or family member.  Have fun reading this one and please let me know what you think!

Selling To Big Companies, Jill Konrathselling to big companies.jpeg

If you're not familiar with Jill Konrath than I suggest you go check out her blog. She is the one the most sought after sales thought leaders in the country. She is really, really good and I promise you her ideas and insights will not disappoint. Konrath spent years cutting her sales chops selling to big companies for Xerox and she shares what she learned in her book, Selling to Big Companies.  Just a few of the things I enjoyed from reading this book include how to develop an effective, multi-faceted account-entry campaign, strategies for overcoming obstacles and objections that derail your sale efforts, how to position yourself as an invaluable resource, and how to have a powerful initial sales meeting that builds momentum. If you're trying to crack into new accounts, especially larger accounts you need to read this book.

SPIN Selling, Neil Rackhamspin selling.jpeg

This is an all-time classic that remains highly relevant today.  If your sales team could only work on developing one sales skill in 2018, I would be willing to bet that improving their ability to ask questions would be the one to have the biggest impact.  No sales book does a better job explaining why asking questions is so important and when in the sales process to ask those questions. SPIN Selling is based on extensive research conducted by Neil Rackham and his company, Huthwaite. They examined complicated sales scenarios across 35,000 different sales calls and based on that research they were able to put to rest many of the traditional myths about sales and build their SPIN selling methodology. Their research showed that rather than telling prospects why purchasing a product or service is a good idea, and what the impact would be, sales people should be guiding their prospects to these realizations on their own by asking SPIN questions. 

SPIN stands for:

  • Situation questions: Questions designed to understand a prospect’s current situation beyond their pre-call planning research
  • Problem questions: Questions  designed to get the prospect to share with the sales person what problems they face or are struggling with.
  • Implication questions: Questions designed to probe the prospect to think about the consequences of not solving the problem and taking no action or living with the status quo.
  • Need-payoff questions: Questions designed  to prompt the prospect to consider how a situation to their problem would improve and positively impact their situation 

What sales books are you and your team reading this holiday season? What sales skills and knowledge are you working on improving as you look ahead to 2018? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below.

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