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Sales - 13 min READ

9 best sales books to add to your reading list in 2019

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Author photo: Kimberlee Meier

Kimberlee Meier


Fifty years ago, the sales game was all about the hard sell. Now, the game has changed.

To survive in today’s sales world, you need to focus on relationship-building, customer experience, and modern sales tactics to get your wins.

And some of the most effective tips for improving your sales game this year will come from learning from the pros. Here are nine of the best sales books you need to add to your reading list this year.

1. Eat Their Lunch: Winning Customers Away from Your Competition

Who’s the author?

Anthony Iannarino is known as a sales leader and an international speaker. His sales blog is read by more than 500,000 people every single month.

What it's all about

Let’s get real. To make big wins to your bottom line, you’re going to have to target some of your competitors’ customers.

Iannorina says sales is “a zero-sum game: your win is someone else's loss.” This book is about finding the best ways to grab customers from your competitors. You’ll also learn how to set your sales priorities straight and rank prospective new clients by how much you stand to gain from bringing them on board.

The book also dives into how to build a systematic contact plan for different stakeholders, so you can win over the right people at any organization you’re targeting.

From the book itself…

“Growth requires taking market share from your competitors, while they try to do the same to you. How else can you grow 12 percent a year in an industry that's only growing by 3 percent?”

Good for…

Stealing prime customers from your competitors. Hey, not all is fair in love and war, right?

What the reviewers say

“The key to winning against the competition is creating more value. That is both easier and more difficult than you might expect. To illustrate this fact Anthony lays out his framework of the four levels of value creation. Within this framework, we learn many important and sobering dynamics – including the fact that it’s far more important than just product and service alone or even delivering business results.”

2. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

By Cal Newport

Who’s the author?

Cal Newport is a writer and assistant professor of computer science in Washington, DC who coined the term “deep work.” He runs the popular website Study Hacks: Decoding Patterns of Success.

What it's all about

This isn’t a sales book on the surface, but it will make a massive impact on the overall success of your sales game.

Newport’s term “deep work” refers to your mind’s ability to have complete focus on a demanding task—without any distractions. He claims it's a skill that will help you to quickly master tactics, digest complicated information and get better results in less time.

In short, deep work could give you a secret sales superpower. So get your head out of your social media accounts and your email, and use this book to refocus your efforts back into your work and your clients.

From the book itself…

“Deep work is necessary to wring every last drop of value out of your current intellectual capability.”

Good for…

Getting into the right mindset to achieve a high level of focus on your tasks—and crush your sales targets.

What the reviewers say

“If you want to separate yourself from the crowd by accomplishing important things or if you want your team/organization to accomplish important things, Deep Work has what it takes to go to the next level. A must-read for our email/social media burdened world.”

3. Objections: The Ultimate Guide for Mastering The Art and Science of Getting Past No

By Jeb Blount

Who’s the author?

You might have heard of Jeb Blount from his work in helping sales organizations reach peak performance. He runs leadership and coaching skills courses over at Sales Gravy.

What it's all about

There are few one-size-fits-all solutions in sales, and not all the paths that lead to closing a deal are the same.

Blount’s book focuses on prospects, territories, products, industries, companies, and sales processes, how they differ in the B2B space, and more so, what objections you’re likely facing.

The book is all about going beyond the inevitable “no” you’re going to hear from prospects in your role as a salesperson, and finding a way to cut through their psychological buying barrier. It’s filled with techniques on how to overcome buying objections and win over skeptical prospects.

From the book itself…

“Sales is an unnatural profession. We are hardwired as humans to avoid rejection. Yet, success in sales requires the endless pursuit of rejection; and, it is the fear and avoidance of the emotional pain caused by rejection that is the top reason why sales professionals fail.”

Good for…

Turning harsh skeptics into your biggest buyers.

What the reviewers say

“If you get into enough sales conversations, you will find objections from your prospect. Being able to identify these sometimes tricky objections, understand them, isolate them, and leverage a consistent framework to turn things around, are all massively important when it comes to closing deals. Without this skill, you are competing with one hand and one leg tied behind your back.”

4. The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results

By Jay Papasan & Gary Keller

Who are the authors?

Gary Keller is the co-founder of Keller Williams Realty, Inc—the largest real estate company in the world. Jay Papasan is a former editor at HarperCollins and is known for his work as an event speaker and corporate trainer.

What it's all about

Not every sales book you read should focus on tactics and mind games—The ONE Thing is proof of that.

This read focuses on having fewer distractions in your day. You know the distractions we mean. The onslaught of emails, texts, tweets, messages, and meetings that are holding you back from your true potential in your job.

It’ll teach you that your ability to do your job well is shaped by what’s going on around you and that your personal, spiritual and family life all have a massive impact. After reading this book, you’ll be able to cut through the clutter in your life, build momentum towards job goals, and stay on track in your professional life.

From the book itself…

"Going small" is ignoring all the things you could do and doing what you should do. It's recognizing that not all things matter equally and finding the things that matter most. It's a tighter way to connect what you do with what you want. It's realizing that extraordinary results are directly determined by how narrow you can make your focus.”

Good for…

Taking a step back from targets and realizing how every aspect of your day can affect your success as a sales rep.

What the reviewers say

“I like that the authors made the connection between a long term goal and the tasks that we should do on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly basis to achieve that goal. The chapter on success habits was an ah-ha for me especially the section on approaching problems and developing great answers to them.”

5. Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It

By Chris Voss & Tahl Raz

Who are the authors?

Tahl Raz is obsessed with how businesses and technology are changing the world and how people live. Chris Voss is an ex-FBI agent who is a professor of negotiating, not to mention he advises Fortune 500 companies through complex negotiations.

What it's all about

Ever felt like a deal is going to benefit one party more than the other?

A great deal will always have a good outcome for both sides, and that’s the aim of Never Split The Difference. The book is a practical guide of nine core principles (counterintuitive tactics and strategies) on how to get the best deal for both parties in a negotiation.

It’s not specifically aimed at sales reps; it was written to help people with anything from buying a car to re-negotiating their rent. But the core principles will work in any situation. They’re about giving your sales negotiation skills a competitive edge in any discussion.

So, whether you’re trying to win over a prospect or upsell a current client, the persuasion tactics will give you the upper hand.

From the book itself…

“Think about their perceived losses. Never forget that a loss stings at least twice as much as an equivalent gain”

Good for…

Learning how to achieve winning deals for not only you but your prospects as well. This one is alllll about building relationships.

What the reviewers say

“It is a book on taking care of others and yourself at once, on how to become your best without damaging the other part in communication. I see a trend in books on dealing with personal and professional matters with this new, much more human approach, and this book is a great example of this. This time, the topic is fair negotiation and not giving up your wants.”

6. The Relationship Engine: Connecting with the People Who Power Your Business

By Ed Wallace

Who’s the author?

Ed Wallace is Chief Relationship Officer of Relational Capital Group. His regular client list is full of Fortune 500 companies looking to build better relationships with their customers. (Here are more tips on how to do that.)

What it's all about

The sales world is changing. If you aren’t focusing on nurturing your current clients, you risk losing out on building meaningful relationships with customers who are willing to shout about your brand.

While sales reps focus on forming relationships, it’s often maintaining the connection that they fail at. The Relationship Engine shines a light on the value of nurturing core relationships in your business, and gives you a practical guide on how to build them and get the most out of them.

Wallace lays out a clear path for sales reps to follow so they can put their customers before processes and make the most out of every interaction with their clients.

From the book itself…

“Relationships hold companies together and fuel future growth. From connecting with customers to forging high-performing teams, success depends on everyone working well together. Yet many leaders prioritize potential relationships and take established ones for granted. They shouldn’t. Research reveals that these core relationships are often the weakest…and can prove more vital than missed networking opportunities.”

Good for…

Building epic relationships with your clients—both old and new.

What the reviewers say

“This book is highly relevant for any leader who seeks to significantly improve the quality of his or her relationships with his internal and external clients. Building relationship capital can be done intentionally, and Ed Wallace offers a clear recipe for strengthening those key business relationships that will fuel your success.”

7. Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success

By Adam Grant

Who’s the author?

Adam Grant is an American psychologist who specializes in psychology in organizations.

What it's all about

Relationships are a company’s bread and butter. They’re what hold your company together and give it the power to create massive growth in the future.

From connecting with customers to forging high-performing teams, Grant’s book focuses on how building a successful brand starts with working well together in every aspect of your company.

The book’s main message is to not forget about existing relationships. Sure, you should be trying to bring new clients on board, but what about your existing clients? Don’t take them for granted. Putting as much effort into your core relationships, along with new clients you bring into the company, can be your true recipe for success.

From the book itself…

“For generations, we have focused on the individual drivers of success: passion, hard work, talent, and luck. But today, success is increasingly dependent on how we interact with others. It turns out that at work, most people operate as either takers, matchers, or givers. Whereas takers strive to get as much as possible from others and matchers aim to trade evenly, givers are the rare breed of people who contribute to others without expecting anything in return.”

Good for…

Combining productivity with building epic client relationships so you get the best out of both worlds.

What the reviewers say

“I have not seen much evidence-based work on the effectiveness of networking: it is good to see that if you are very generous with your time and contacts that this is likely to enhance your career - provided you don't let yourself be used as a doormat.”

8. The Perfect Close: The Secret To Closing Sales - The Best Selling Practices & Techniques For Closing The Deal

By James M Muir

Who’s the author?

James Muir is a big name in the B2B sales space and has made a career out of training sales professionals.

What it's all about

If you’ve ever felt pushy or salesy when trying to close a deal with a prospect, put The Perfect Close on your reading list.

It will teach you how to not be that pushy sales guy, and instead give you a clear path to closing deals with your prospects. The book is split into two parts and helps you to look at sales in a different way. Next time you’re dreading trying to close a deal, the book will give you a framework to educate your clients, make them feel in control and simultaneously advance the sales process.

From the book itself…

“The latest science shows that old counterproductive closing tactics hold you back. You should be using a simple approach to increase your number of closed opportunities and accelerate your sales to the highest levels while remaining genuinely authentic.”

Good for…

Closing and advancing every sale in your pipeline.

What the reviewers say

“This is about continually advancing the sale, qualifying for commitment and adding value rather than the traditional view of closing. Some very simple (once we know about them) approaches to keeping sales moving through the sales cycle. Highly recommended.”

9. The Modern Seller: Sell More And Increase Your Impact In The New Sales Economy

By Amy Franko

Who’s the author?

In a previous life, Amy Franko worked for tech giants IBM and Lenovo. Now, she owns Impact Instruction Group which trains salespeople in the B2B space.

What it's all about

Do you feel like making a sale is getting harder? It’s not just in your head. These days, prospects are less loyal, there are more decision-makers in a company, and clients are expecting more for less.

Franko says all of these factors have led to a shift in what prospects and clients need to succeed, and how they want to interact with and buy from companies. There’s only one solution: you need to change up the way you win new clients, deliver sales results and grow existing business.

The Modern Seller dives into the new sales economy and what you need to do to overcome the hectic demands of a modern salesperson.

From the book itself…

“Welcome to the new sales economy. The intersection of business, technology, and cultural dynamics, all affecting the ways our prospects and clients interact with and buy from us. Anyone in a role that touches sales has to adapt if you’re going to succeed—this means new mindsets, skillsets, and tools.”

Good for…

Bringing your sales techniques into the modern era and getting rid of your bad (old) sales habits.

What the reviewers say

“The profession of sales is changing as technology, culture, and the workforce shifts. Amy provides a great perspective on these shifts and helps guide sales professionals to success. Highly recommended for anyone from a sales veteran to a new salesperson.”

Sink or swim: these sales books can help you win in 2019.

Have you noticed the clear theme of nurturing customer relationships in the sales books on our list? It’s not a coincidence.

Changing your sales mindset from focusing on hard sales to nurturing customer relationships is now key to surviving in the profession. Your prospects need to know you’re going to look after them, and they need to know your company is going to be there for them if they run into problems.

Drop any tactics that you learned 10 years ago. They won’t cut it in today’s sales world. Instead, focus on building and nurturing relationships with clients that will give your business strength and a profitable future.

Curious and want to learn more? Read about the 6 Ways to Build Customer Relationships and Win Over Prospects.

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