Best Sales Books of All Time

Post by
David Scott
July 15, 2020
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Best Sales Books of All Time

Even though there are thousands of great blog posts, videos, and podcasts on sales out there, it's hard to beat the teachings that a good book can deliver.

If you're looking to upskill yourself, your existing team, or give a book to new hires as part of an onboarding package, these sales books are all great options

The ones published decades ago have timeless knowledge, and those published in recent years have up-to-date tactics and lessons from the unicorn companies that grew in recent years.

We've grouped the books into a few different categories:

  • Classic sales books
  • Sales books for SaaS businesses
  • Books on Sales Management
  • Books for New Sales Reps

There's something for everyone here.

Let's dive in.

Classic Sales Books

These books are those that have been around long enough and recommended by enough people that we can't see them going anywhere.

Whether you've been in sales for 20 years or it's your first week on the job, these are timeless reads that many sales professionals will end up re-reading throughout their careers.

How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

This book by Dale Carnegie isn't strictly a sales book, but it's one that everyone working in sales should read.

It's focused on self-improvement and, as you can guess from the title, is all about improving and making the best of new relationships.

You can apply many of the concepts to sales. Carnegie talks about how to focus on what your prospects want, not what you want, which is key to a good sales call.

He also discusses how to appeal to emotion and present ideas in ways that will help people see your point of view, a key skill for anyone in sales.

Wooden on Leadership by John Wooden

John Wooden knows a thing or two about leadership. "The Wizard of Westwood" won ten NCAA national championships, including a record-breaking seven in a row when he was head coach at UCLA.

His book, Wooden on Leadership, shares his principles for success, and we'd recommend anyone who wants to become a sales leader should read it.

The lessons are invaluable to people across all industries and roles.

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Dr. Robert Cialdini

Dr. Robert Cialdini shares his six universal principles of influence. These principles can be put into practice to help you become more persuasive and get more people to say 'yes' to your suggestions - a vital skill for any sales rep.

It's a book that teaches you skills that can be used with prospects, customers, and even with your internal team.

You’ll learn the six universal principles of influence and how to use them to become a skilled persuader—and, just as importantly, how to defend yourself against dishonest influence attempts:

Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss

Chris Voss, a former hostage negotiator, shares his secrets on negotiating effectively and getting your desired outcome from a situation.

The book borrows concepts from behavioural and neuroscience to show you how you can get people on your side, even in a tricky situation.

Every lesson Chris teaches in the book is based on his real-life experiences, so it's an interesting read even if you don't find the concepts to be groundbreaking.

SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham

This sales classic uses examples and learnings from 12 years of research, and over 35,000 sales calls.

"SPIN" stands for what Rackham identifies as the four stages of the sales cycle: Situation, Problem, Implication, Need-Payoff.

It's your job as a salesperson to help move your prospects through those stages, and add value to help close new deals.

The SPIN Selling strategy is tried and tested, and this book is a great way to help yourself and your team get comfortable with it.

The Little Red Book of Selling by Jeff Gitomer

The Little Red Book of Selling lives up to the name. The book fits in the palm of a hand and contains 12.5 principles on how salespeople can improve their sales numbers.

The main idea is that most buyers won't do business with people they don't know, like, and trust. Jeff Gitomer then explains how you can start to build trust with your buyers, so they value and trust you as a person, before they value your product or service.

Secrets of Closing the Sale by Zig Ziglar

One of the best quotes in this book that sums up Zig Ziglar's approach is:

You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people to get what they want.

Ziglar's book helps salespeople (or anyone) figure out the best way to get people to 'Yes'. He covers topics like how to build credibility, how to foster an attitude to help you close more deals, and how to combine logic and emotion to get your prospects to take action.

Sales books for SaaS businesses

SaaS sales is hard work, and best practices are always changing. That said, there are proven frameworks that you can follow to build an effective sales process at your company.

Here are some of the best books on the topic out there at the moment.

Predictable Revenue by Aaron Ross and Marylou Tyler

Called "The Sales Bible of Silicon Valley" by Inc, Predictable Revenue is a must-read for anyone working in SaaS.

The book goes into the systems and sales processes used by Salesforce to double their enterprise growth, adding $100 million in recurring revenue, without making a single cold call.

It's a great read for CEOs and upper-level sales management at high-growth startups looking to consistently generate pipeline to hit your goals.

Hacking Sales: The Playbook For Building a High Velocity Sales Machine by Max Altschuler

This book teaches you how to build a sales engine using the latest technology and techniques tailored to the online era.

The book is actionable, and you'll be able to take Altschuler's advice and implement it immediately.

The main downside is that he mentions many tools that are likely to end up going out of business or being sold, so it's not going to be timeless.

However, the benefits of building a streamlined and repeatable sales process are immense.

From Impossible to Inevitable by Aaron Ross and Jason Lemkin

This is a great resource for anyone in B2B or B2C SaaS.

Aaron Ross and Jason Lemkin do a deep dive into how companies like Zenefits, Salesforce, and EchoSign grew to multi-million, and billion-dollar businesses grew to their size in short amounts of time.

It's an excellent read for SaaS founders who want to identify roadblocks to growth and discover the best ways to build a system that makes hypergrowth simple.

It also contains chapters on how to manage working at a fast-paced startup with family and personal life, which is a nice touch.

Books on Sales Management

Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions: A Tactical Playbook for Managers and Executives by Keith Rosen

This book is another one perfect for managers looking to build a high-performing team at a fast-growing company and boost your personal growth as a manager.

It's heavily focused on the benefits of active coaching, and the book contains a library of coaching templates, scripts, and questions you can ask your team to coach them towards success.

Cracking the Sales Management Code: The Secrets to Measuring and Managing Sales Performance by Jason Jordan & Michelle Vazzana

If you're looking to level up as a sales manager, this book is for you. It lays out a sales operations framework that managers can use to create structure and drive results for their team.

This book is perfect for sales managers who are brand new to the job, or if you've been managing a team for a few years but feel there's still room for improvement.

Jason Jordan and Michelle Vazzana have packed the book with actionable advice that can be applied to any type of company.

Sales Management. Simplified. The Straight Truth About Getting Exceptional Results from Your Sales Team by Mike Weinberg

If your team is growing and you need a framework to lead, this book contains lots of great actionable advice.

Mike Weinberg takes a look at the main problems sales teams face, and common mistakes that lead to ineffective sales processes.

He'll help you build a high-performance sales culture, run meetings effectively, and build effective compensation plans (and much more).

The One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson

If you're early in your career and looking to climb the ladder, this book is for you.

The One Minute Manager isn't specifically for sales management, but the tips inside this short read are applicable to sales roles.

It will help you set achievable goals, improve communication with your own manager, and encourage good communication among your team members.

It's a short book, so even if you don't enjoy it, you won't have wasted that much time.

Books for New Sales Reps

To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others by Daniel H. Pink

Daniel Pink's book is a brilliant book for anyone interested in sales - and that doesn't only include 'salespeople'.

He dives into methods and frameworks to enable you to look at sales in a new way. His ABC method, "Always Be Closing", looks at the best practices to move others, and is a must-read for anyone new to sales.

The book is packed with practical advice, and in our view, your whole sales team should own a copy.

The First 90 Days by Michael Watkins

In The First 90 Days, Watkins outlines how sales reps can quickly grow within their role, whether that's as a new sales rep, a recently promoted manager, or the VP of sales.

You'll learn how to improve your leadership skills and frameworks to help you quickly and effectively onboard yourself into new roles to reach a 'breakeven point' where your company needs you as much as you need the new job.

Emotional Intelligence for Sales Success: Connect with Customers and Get Results by Coleen Stanley

Emotional intelligence is one of sales leader's new favourite phrases, and Coleen Stanley shows us why.

It's useful for anyone looking to improve their performance and work relationships as she outlines tips, insights, and even scripts to use in negotiations.

She shows us that the fundamental premise of sales isn't about selling, it's about relationship building. The lessons in this book will help you in your sales career, and chances are, you'll apply them to your personal life too.

Wrapping Up

It's hard to beat a good book.

Due to the very nature of sales, many of these books are timeless. Even the older ones are just as relevant now as they were when they were published.

There's something here for everyone, no matter what stage in your career you're currently in.

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