12 Most Important Books for B2B Sales Professionals
There aren’t many business tasks that are whole lot more difficult than selling. But without customers, there is no business! Selling well is critical to your company’s growth and its ability to thrive.
Each year, there are dozens of books written on or about sales. Many are great books, and many deserve your time and attention. But your time is limited, and you have to make choices about what books and ideas are really going to help you to produce the results that you and your company need.
These 12 Most Important Books for B2B Salespeople will help you sell more effectively and produce greater results now.
Building a Better You
It’s hard work selling and creating value for other people and other organizations. The first thing you have to work on is becoming the very best you that you can be. People are going to buy you before they buy what you sell.
1. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
For most of us, we are the greatest obstacles to our own success. Covey’s timeless masterpiece is required reading. There isn’t much better than Covey’s work on human relationships and how to have effective human relationships.
2. Mastery by George Leonard
Like any activity, and perhaps more than many, selling requires that you work to continuously develop your skills and abilities. Most of us struggle, living on the plateau, the long periods where we make no real improvements. This little, powerful book will teach you how not to dabble, how to live through the plateaus, and how to break through to massive improvement.
3. The Brand You 50 by Tom Peters
Tom’s little book contains 50 major ideas, but it is chock full of action items and lists that help you to think about how you become someone worth doing business with in the first place. I defy you to come up with less than a dozen to-do’s per section.
Where Sales Begins
These books help you understand what is required of you to sell effectively. Each of them outlines major principles, but more importantly, they also teach you how to apply those principles to your practice.
4. Trust-Based Selling by Charles Green
I just finished reading this book a month ago. Before that, I believed that trust, honesty, and integrity were table stakes when it comes to sales. They’re not. Charlie’s book provides a powerful framework for thinking about trust and for dealing with all of the areas where trust is difficult, like dealing with difficult conversations and pricing.
5. Major Account Sales Strategy by Neil Rackham
This book is nowhere near as well known as SPIN Selling, but it is, in my opinion, a more important work. This book really lays out how buyers buy, how to create value at each stage of their process, and how to manage major account sales. If you are going to win big accounts, you need this book.
6. SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham
There is no single statement that you can make on a sales call that has the ability to generate more influence than a thoughtful, well-placed question. SPIN Selling provides a model for asking effective questions during sales calls, and it works.
7. Achieve Sales Excellence by Howard Stevens
Stevens lays out seven rules that salespeople must follow, all from the buyer’s perspective. Things like, “You must be personally accountable for our results,” and “You must understand our business,” define what B2B customers now expect—and what you have to be prepared to deliver.
8. SNAP Selling by Jill Konrath
Perhaps the biggest challenge salespeople have now, even with so much information at their fingertips, is simply getting in front of their dream client. Jill’s book is the cure for the problem of gaining access. Period. Read it. Practice what she teaches. You will be better.
Gaining Business Acumen and Being Consultative
Once you are producing results, you have to take your game to the next level. This means growing your business acumen and becoming truly consultative. These books are the path to doing both.
9. Consultative Selling by Mack Hanan
If you want to sell something other than price, Mack’s book is just the ticket. It’s way down here on the list because the principles are easy to understand, but more difficult to practice. You have to move from selling price to selling an improvement in revenue, an improvement in profit, or a reduction in costs. Not easy, especially when your dream client is focused on price.
10. The Discipline of Market Leaders by Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersama
This is my favorite little book for helping salespeople understand business strategy. Once you know which of the three choices your dream client has made, you are better prepared to help them produce the results they need.
11. What the Customer Wants You To Know by Ram Charan
This whole book is about gaining and leveraging business acumen. Charan’s recipe looks a lot like Hanan’s, but it contains a story that helps to demonstrate how to use your business acumen to make sales.
12. Mastering the Complex Sales by Jeff Thull
There isn’t a better book on diagnosing your dream client’s needs. This book solves a lot of problems about how to make sure what you propose matches up to what your dream client really needs—and it helps to ensure that you win the deal!
These 12 books will build the foundation for effective selling, whether you are just starting out in sales, or whether you have been selling for sometime and want to take your game to the next level.
Featured image courtesy of MorBCN licensed via creative commons.