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Sales - 11 min READ

11 Sales Prospecting Books Every Salesperson Should Read

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Author photo: Kimberlee Meier

Kimberlee Meier


We all know the spiel about successful CEOs—they read an average of 60 books a year (or 70… or 80, depending on who you ask).

But as a salesperson, how many are you reading?

Learning the art of sales prospecting, especially B2B sales prospecting and B2C sales, is a marathon—not a sprint—and the best way to get there is by learning from the pros.

Here are 11 sales prospecting books to add to your reading list this year.

1. The Sales Development Playbook: Build Repeatable Pipeline and Accelerate Growth with Inside Sales

By Trish Bertuzzi

the sales development playbook.

Who’s the author?

Trish Bertuzzi is the chief strategist at The Bridge Group, a company that's helped more than 200 B2B companies dominate their sales targets through strategy and metrics.

What it's all about

This book has a clear focus: teaching companies that need new customers how to get them through sales development.

The success of any B2B company falls on how effectively a sales team is able to land new prospects—and get them into the pipeline (at the right stage).

Bertuzzi shows you how to do just that by growing and nurturing your own sales team.

From the book itself…

“There’s a fundamental misunderstanding of how to “do” sales development. Again and again, I see Company B copying and pasting bits and pieces of what Company A is doing (or, more accurately, what it appears they are doing) and failing to maximize its own results. From the outside, it’s easy to see that a given company (or competitor) has sales development. But it is next to impossible to see why, how, and if that approach is right for you.”

Good for...

Gaining a complete understanding of sales development.

What the reviewers say

“We recently reworked our sales model and introduced specialized roles such as SDRs, AEs and CSM. (This book) covers everything from the concept to managing a team. If you are looking to introduce an SDR function, this book is an absolute must!” - X

Pro-tip: Learn about 5 ways that sales teams can prospect more effectively in this webinar.

2. SPIN Selling

By Neil Rackham

spin selling.

Who’s the author?

Rackham is the founder of Huthwaite International, one of the largest sales training and negotiation course providers in the world. He’s worked to help companies such as IBM, BP, and British Airways understand buying behavior and sales strategy.

What it's all about

An oldie, but a goodie. SPIN Selling was written in 1988, but a lot of the core lessons about identifying your customers’ needs are still relevant in today’s market.

Rackham focuses on the idea that large-scale sales require different strategies than small-scale sales. The book will show you how to figure out what your customer needs, limit objections from prospects, and close more effectively.

From the book itself…

“Because most writers and training designers have made the inaccurate assumption that what works in a small sale will automatically work in a large one, people have unfortunately come to assume that these traditional techniques are equally valid in major sales....”

Good for...

Learning how to adapt different strategies for small and large sales operations, and also how to scale them.

What the reviewers say

“It's a simple methodology to help the seller get more out of their conversations; through asking decent questions which ultimately helps with qualification.”

3. Fanatical Prospecting: The Ultimate Guide to Opening Sales Conversations and Filling the Pipeline by Leveraging Social Selling, Telephone, Email, Text, and Cold Calling

By Jeb Blount

Fanatical Prospecting sales book.

Who’s the author?

Jeb Blount is the CEO of Sales Gravy, an online community that has trained more than 360,000 sales professionals.

What it's all about

Fanatical Prospecting is a practical, clear guide on why you should always have prospecting as your number one sales priority.

Blount says the biggest killer of any business is an empty prospect pipeline. It’s also why sales teams that don’t consistently prospect end up failing.

Inside the book is a step-by-step guide on how to find and fill your pipeline with qualified prospects.

From the book itself…

“The enduring manta of the fanatical prospector is: One more call. Prospecting is the air they breathe. They don’t whine like babies about not having enough leads or cry at the coffee machine with all of the losers about how they don’t understand why no one is buying today.”

Good for…

Packing your prospect pipeline so full of leads your team won’t know which one to call first!

What the reviewers say

“It reminded me of the importance of prospecting and how you can’t rely on all the hyped new selling techniques. Go back to basics, hit the phone, fill your pipeline, improve and enjoy your process with this book.”

4. High-Profit Prospecting: Powerful Strategies to Find the Best Leads and Drive Breakthrough Sales Results

By Mark Hunter

High-Profit Prospecting: Powerful Strategies to Find the Best Leads and Drive Breakthrough Sales Results

Who’s the author?

Mark Hunter is the founder of The Sales Hunter and regularly gives and keynote addresses to companies like Novartis, Mattel, and Lenovo.

What it's all about

Who says you need to throw out the old when you’re bringing in the new?

Hunter’s book merges new strategies with proven practices so you can bring newfound confidence to your prospecting. It’s filled with advice on emails and telephone scripts, when to make phone calls, and how to make the most of your referrals.

From the book itself…

“I’m all in favor of embracing the Internet, and many of the strategies shared in the book are built around leveraging its power. Even so, you cannot rely on the Internet alone.”

Good for…

Keeping a healthy number of prospects in your pipeline through a mix of traditional and modern tactics.

What the reviewers say

“Mark is "old school" and I don't mean that in a negative way. In fact, I know he would be flattered. To be successful in sales requires hard work, leads and deals don't just arrive, they have to be found and fought for.”

5. Predictable Prospecting: How to Radically Increase Your B2B Sales Pipeline

By Marylou Tyler

Predictable Prospecting: How to Radically Increase Your B2B Sales Pipeline sales book.

Who are the authors?

Marylou Tyler is a Fortune 1,000 consultant and sales trainer, while Jeremy Donovan runs sales strategy at Gerson Lehrman Group (not to mention being the author of the bestseller “How to Deliver a TED Talk”).

What it's all about

Instead of focusing on all aspects of prospecting, Predictable Prospecting hones in on how B2B companies can get big-ticket prospects in their funnel.

It lays out how sales reps can create new opportunities (consistently). Plus, there’s a section on how to land high-revenue clients.

From the book itself…

“Most sales professionals still lack the confidence and ability they need to hit the ground running because they haven’t developed a strong sense of how to position the value of buying from their company rather than from the competition.”

Good for...

How to find predictable high-revenue prospects and weed out the unreliable ones.

What the reviewers say

“What do you get when you take a Head Sales Strategist and combine that with a Sales Process Improvement Expert? A coming together to give a new perspective on what is one of the most challenging aspect of the sales process - prospecting.”

6. New Sales. Simplified: The Essential Handbook for Prospecting and New Business Development

By Mike Weinberg

New Sales. Simplified: The Essential Handbook for Prospecting and New Business Development sales book.

Who’s the author?

Mike Weinberg is a sales consultant, coach, and founder of The New Business Sales Coach.

What it's all about

Contrary to what a lot of people say, Weinberg states that while repeat customers are great, new customers are where your business will really boost its bottom line. And for that, you need a formula for prospecting, developing, and closing deals.

Enter… New Sales. Simplified, which shows you what most salespeople do wrong and gives you an easy plan for how to fix your prospecting strategy.

From the book itself…

“The best intentions, target account lists, and powerful sales weapons are useless if we never launch the attack...”

Good for…

Coming up with a formula to find prospects and develop a relationship that works for not only you, but your prospects too.

What the reviewers say

“Prospecting is (naturally) a huge part of the sales process and the book contains a lot of valuable steps on how to handle prospecting calls. The author explains why it's important to ask 3 times for a meeting and tells you how to do it as well as how to leave a voicemail message after your third one.”

7. The Sales Acceleration Formula: Using Data, Technology, and Inbound Selling to go from $0 to $100 Million

By Mark Roberge

The Sales Acceleration Formula: Using Data, Technology, and Inbound Selling to go from $0 to $100 Million.

Who’s the author?

Mark Roberge is an advisor to HubSpot and was formerly the Chief Revenue Officer of the company’s Sales division.

What it's all about

Behind every great company is a great team.

One of Roberge’s core messages in The Sales Acceleration Formula is that a great sales team starts at the hiring stage. And if a sales member isn’t right for your team, you should move on.

It’s also got a killer section on how to apply data, technology, and inbound selling to every aspect of your sales process.

Oh, and it’s endorsed by SPIN Selling author, Neil Rackham.

From the book itself…

“When the unique strengths of the salesperson align with the company’s sales context, it is a beautiful thing. When they do not, it becomes an uphill battle.”

Good for…

Building a great sales team that knows your end goal. A team that will battle in the trenches with you.

What the reviewers say

“Highly recommended for startups who want to build sales teams but aren't sure on what the first steps are, and I'm sure even seasoned sales leaders will learn a lot from the later stage guidance and examples in this book..”

8. Secrets of Closing the Sale

By Zig Ziglar

Secrets of Closing the Sale.

Who’s the author?

Zig Ziglar has worked with multiple Fortune 500 companies to improve their leadership and sales operations, as well as their employees’ personal growth.

What it's all about

Not all prospecting techniques can be boxed up into tactics and data. Ziglar’s book looks at how to use persuasion to close deals with prospects.

How can you convince someone to make a purchase? Do your clients truly believe that you're looking out for their best interests?

Here are some foundational methods that every salesperson should know to overcome the basic reasons behind why people don’t buy.

From the book itself…

“The objective of every sale is to make certain the customer gets fair value, and if he gets more than fair value, not only do you have the sale but you’ve built a customer who will, in turn, help you build other customers.”

Good for…

Beginners in sales, or just salespeople who want to learn how to convince people to buy, as well as deal with challenging and demanding prospects.

What the reviewers say

“This is a fantastic book. While it is especially valuable for beginners and first-year sales reps, it has value for anybody in the profession. As an experienced sales professional myself, I will say that this won't teach a seasoned sales veteran any new information about HOW to sell, but it will help to realign your thoughts with WHY they buy. Huge difference there that we sometimes become jaded to after many years in the business.“

9. Combo Prospecting: The Powerful One-Two Punch That Fills Your Pipeline and Wins Sales

By Tony Hughes

Combo Prospecting: The Powerful One-Two Punch That Fills Your Pipeline and Wins Sales.

Who’s the author?

Tony J. Hughes is a sales consultant, keynote speaker, as well as a top LinkedIn B2B sales influencer.

What it's all about

This book is a prospecting one-two punch.

Specifically geared towards B2B companies, Combo Prospecting aims to decipher some of the more complex pieces of the modern sales environment.

If you’ve ever struggled to merge traditional sales strategies with modern tools like social media and Linkedin—this one is for you.

From the book itself…

“Selling, like boxing or MMA, is both scientific and mystical, both art and brutality.”

Good for…

Understanding how traditional and modern prospecting techniques work best if they’re merged.

What the reviewers say

“We often hear that the modern buyer is tech-savvy, better informed and further along the buying process than ever before. Equally, salespeople have better tools to connect with prospects, automate their touchpoint cadence, gain insight into buyer behavior and utilize potential influencers to reach the most senior people. For these reasons, there has never been a better time to combine modern techniques for building meaningful relationships on multiple levels – if you know how.”

10. How to Win Friends and Influence People

By Dale Carnegie

How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Who’s the author?

Dale Carnegie is a pioneer of the self-improvement genre; you’ve probably heard of this book, even if you haven’t heard of him.

What it's all about

The oldest book on our list—written in 1936, in fact. Although this book isn’t specifically about prospecting, it’s an ultimate guide on how you should communicate with people.

If you’ve ever struggled with dealing with prospects in difficult situations, Carnegie will show you the way. By using language, you’ll learn how you can change your prospect’s opinion—without forcing them to.

From the book itself…

“People are more likely to accept an order if they had a part in the decision that caused the order to be issued."

Good for…

Building and maintaining amazing relationships with your prospects.

What the reviewers say

“This book is divided into four parts. The first half of the book discusses techniques in handling people and how to have people like you. The final half of the book gives instructions about how to win people to our own thinking and how to be a leader by changing people without offending them or causing resentment.”

11. Agile Selling: Get Up to Speed Quickly in Today's Ever-Changing Sales World

By Jill Konrath

Agile Selling sales book.

Who’s the author?

Jill Konrath is a speaker and sales strategist whose client list includes IBM, Microsoft, Accenture, Staples, and Hilton.

What it's all about

Salespeople: do you know what you are to your customers? Do you know what you represent to them? Yes, these are odd questions to start off a book a review with, but if you’re going to read this book—prepare yourselves. It’s not going to be pretty.

Konrath says that, to buyers, the average salesperson is nothing more than someone pushing products onto them without adding any value.

This book aims to help any sales rep adapt to their surroundings. It can also guide you to adapt to individual prospect and new sales tools—quickly.

From the book itself…

“As sellers, we need to up our game and become the person our customers want to deal with. Stop doing what’s no longer effective and embrace this challenge.”

Good for…

Learning to stop worrying about your own sales outcomes and focus on your prospect’s rollercoaster customer journey.

What the reviewers say

“Agile Selling gives salespeople the tools they need to get up to speed quickly, find value and relevance with their buyers, even techniques to work with marketing for messaging and content.”

Make prospecting your priority, not an afterthought.

The authors have spoken: prospecting should be one of, if not your main priority as a salesperson.

Cheesy sales tactics and cold-calling without solid strategies just won’t cut it in today’s sales world. (Not to mention that most sales reps hate coming across as pushy, second-hand car salesmen).

But the good news is, once you learn the best ways to prospect, you’ll be able to embrace it.

Soaking up these words from these sales prospecting books will give you the tools to build up the quality and consistency of your own sales funnel. Speaking of which, you can learn more about sales funnel management here.

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