10 Sales Books that Will Improve Your Sales Game
The ongoing Covid pandemic has certainly slowed down business for everyone. Though software companies were uniquely poised for shifting successfully into a remote workforce, the hiring process may be put on hold for some tech companies and job seekers. Travel for in-person interviews will likely be postponed, and companies might need to allocate their finite resources toward business continuity, rather than investing time in the process of sifting through talent. But remember there’s a silver lining to every cloud—especially in software sales.
With the economy slowed down and quarantines enforced in many states, job-seekers will be stuck at home—the perfect place to deepen their selling skills, strengthen their resume, and build up their confidence. While it’s easy to use this time to catch up on Game of Thrones and order pizza (because going to the grocery store is too dangerous), it’s important for serious job seekers to take advantage of these weeks to improve their sales strategy.
Though experience, sales metrics, and consistent dedication to one vertical are all strong selling points on a resume, nothing can top a great first impression. Confidence in your abilities and knowledge of how to sell effectively go a long way toward building yourself up into a desirable candidate, no matter where you are in the sales process. Whether you’re seeking a role as a sales development rep, outside sales rep, account executive, post-sales account manager, or sales manager, there is always room to improve.
So that said, let’s take a look at some of the best books to step up your sales game:
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill has been a sales bible since it came out in 1937. Highly acclaimed by many career salespeople, Hill’s work is a primer on developing a sense of purpose, having a positive mental attitude, and accessing the power of your subconscious mind. The 13 steps to success outlined in his book are based on 20 years of research, and even today his work is referenced by some of the biggest names in sales.
How to Win Friends and Influence People is another oldie but goodie, written by self-improvement guru Dale Carnegie in 1937. With over 30 million copies sold, it’s one of the best selling books of all time, and Time has ranked it one of the 100 most influential books. Carnegie empowers sales professionals with simple tips like these: be genuinely interested in people, encourage them to talk about what matters to them, be a good listener, and smile.
Spin Selling is the end result of Neil Rackman’s million-dollar research venture spanning more than a decade, in which he examined effective sales performances. Rackman has boiled down the successes he observed to a simple formula: situation, problem, implication, need-payoff (otherwise known as SPIN). This simple formula will help you improve your selling skills with organic techniques, some of which you may already be using, but haven’t perfected.
The Psychology of Selling by Brian Tracy will help you—as indicated by its subtitle—Increase Your Sales Faster and Easier Than You Ever Thought Possible. Tracy begins his book by acknowledging that salespeople are vital to the success of any business, but that small differences in sales ability can result in enormously different results between sales professionals. He emphasizes the importance of a salesperson's self-concept—the key to their success both professionally and personally—while examining the motivations of buyers and driving forces of sales conversations.
To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others by Daniel Pink for sales professionals who feel that the old playbook is not working. Pink provides fresh perspective through practical insights about how to make your message clearer and more persuasive. Sales is not just about selling items, but ideas and techniques, which require a grasp of motivating factors behind decision making—a topic Pink has written about in other books, and leveraged as a political speechwriter.
Secrets of Closing the Sale by legendary motivational speaker Zig Ziglar is a primer on one of the most important parts of the sales process: sealing the deal. Of course, while there are many key metrics to measure the success of a salesperson, close ratio is one of the most important. With 700 discussion questions to pique the interest of prospects and 100 examples of closing a deal in different situations, Ziglar’s 1982 book is still a key strategy guide helping salespeople bring their game to checkmate.
The Sales Acceleration Formula by Mark Roberts is a must-read for sales leaders who want to increase the selling power of their team. The subtitle—Using Data, Technology, and Inbound Selling to go from $0 to $100 Million—makes it very clear that this book is all about scaling your sales operations. Roberts certainly has some knowledge on the topic of leveraging technology and data to increase inbound leads and drive up revenue, he’s the former CRO of Hubspot.
The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes will help transform your output by providing value, capturing that value in a system, and giving that value to clients who will need it and appreciate it. With so much sales discussion centered around the process, it’s refreshing to read something that focuses on the importance of value. Holmes was referred to as one of the top 20 advocates of positive business change nationwide, helping the sales teams he worked with to blow away the competition and their own expectations for performance.
Cracking the Sales Management Code: The Secrets to Measuring and Managing Sales Performance by co-authors Jason Jordan and Michelle Vazzana is all about analyzing which metrics really matter, and which ones sales leaders should focus on in order to lead their sales team to success. Cracking the Code will help sales managers understand the science of zoning in on the important metrics you need to measure and manage, so you’re not distracted by the ones that don’t.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steve Covey has been a much beloved staple in professional development since 1989. Covey helps salespeople effectively hit their goals by aligning with true north principles like proactivity, envisioning the end goal, priorities, positivity, and others. These tips are presented in the paradigm of growth from dependence to independence to interdependence. Covey’s book has sold over 25 million copies world wide and has been rated by Time as one of the 25 most influential business books.
A final word about these great sales books
The truth of the matter is that you should always be working hard to improve your sales game. Software sales is a field with many opportunities, but companies still cannot afford to waste their time hiring ineffective salespeople. They want a team that will advocate the product, while finding the best solution for their clients—a flexible process of interdependence and flexibility in product development that is unique to the software industry.
And if you’re currently a software sales manager or looking to upgrade into such a role, you will need a solid grasp of how to motivate your team and surpass your goals. Sales management is a mixture of art and science—the art of human interaction, and the science of analyzing and responding to performance metrics.
These books will help those in software sales improve their sales game, which in turn will improve their sales metrics. Sales professionals currently searching for a new company can use this current lull in activity to read some of these books and improve their selling power. When they appear at their next interview or start that next job, they’ll be better positioned for long-term success.
If you’d like to talk more about what makes an effective salesperson or sales manager, let’s discuss it. Whether you’re a job seeker looking to improve your resume and find the right company, or a software company looking to find the right talent, I can help you make that match. Send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s connect.