These 4 sales books will give you an unfair advantage

Ordinary people seek entertainment. Extraordinary people are passionate about learning and improving. And the most successful of us are avid readers.

Reading helps you gain perspective, stay fresh, educated and informed, dramatically improve writing and speaking skills, and spend your time wisely.

Readers realize that 5 wasted minutes every day over the course of a year is more than an entire 24 hours wasted that could have been spent reading.” — Matt Duczeminksi

Unless you’re Warren Buffett, you probably don’t have time to spend 80% of your day reading, but one study showed that 94% of the wealthy read daily vs. only 11% of the poor.

Here’s the best on your quest to be an Ivy League Street Fighter.

1. Power Base Selling for the Ivy League Street Fighter — Jim Holden

How is this not on every top 5 best sales books list? Unclear, but that’s how you’ll gain an unfair advantage when you read it.

Originally published in 1990, it’s strikingly still relevant in 2015. Jim specifically wrote this for more complex sales with many decision makers but it is useful for any sales person trying to figure out an org chart through LinkedIn.

It’s one of the few books I’ve read multiple times because there is so much value applicable through different stages of my sales prowess.

One thing that really stood out that improved my sales prowess is mapping out who is the real decision maker. Jim calls them the fox.

Spoiler alert — The fox is not usually the top of the org chart.

2. Question Based Selling — Thomas Freese

There is no doubt questions are crucial to the selling process — but some questions are really dumb — especially open-ended questions before you’ve built any credibility.

Do you know how German Shepherds and Gold Medals are related? Neither did I — but the imagery stuck when he explained how value propositions resonate for different people. For example, some people want to be the best, and are looking for solutions to help them get there. However, most of us just don’t want to regret making a horrible choice.

“While some people run fast toward Gold Medals, many others run even faster from German Shepherds.” Thomas Freese

Tom did an amazing job about setting the stage to give the right combination of sales philosophy and sales judo — where the rubber meets the road.

The most powerful question I learned from this book is: “To what extent is (business need) important to you?”. When used in the right context — your customers will truly spill the beans.

3. Blueprints by Jacco van der Kooij

If you’re in SaaS sales, this book is the gold standard in building out effective modern sales teams. Peppered with TLAs (three-letter abbreviations), this is the perfect book to learn the best practices for SDRs to AEs, how to think about CAC in terms of MRRs and business profitability.

“Sales has as much ‘black magic’ as any other discipline. What is lacking from sales is a proper process, tool stack, defined skill set and an organizational structure to support it.” — Jacco van der Kooij

Here’s 2 powerful lessons I took away from the book:

  1. Should your quota-carrying closers be prospecting? NO. Well, not if you’re trying to build a predictable and scalable sales team. It doubles the sales cycle and is expensive.
  2. Content should NOT be owned only by marketing — sales is about providing value through relationships. And like Tinder, many start online. Sales people should use content as their cold call.

4. Psychology of Selling — Brian Tracy

Sometimes the best advice is the most simple. This book was extremely motivating and easy to read from the first chapter.

Brian Tracy gives a great overview of sales, and the power of positive thinking with enough insight to start using his tips immediately.

Only about 3% of adults have written goals. And these are the most successful and highest-paid people in every field. — Brian Tracy

Mr. Tracy also gave an interesting rationale on why asking questions is so powerful to the sales process. People comprehend 650 words per minute, and most people only speak in the range of 100–150. This is one key why people are easily distracted when you speak to them.

Tips I learned from the book to improve conversations:

  • When you ask someone a question — they have to spend 100% of their effort focusing when they are answering.
  • Visual queues — helps people focus on the key points.
  • Screenshare — the more interactive the better.

Pro-tip: Show them your face. GoToMeeting did a study that showing your face increases close rates by 34%. You don’t have to be a model, just be a real person.

2 questions:

  1. What sales book did I miss that inspired you?
  2. Are you free for a 30 min virtual book club August 7, 2015 at 12p PST? Comment below, and follow me at @justdansmith. Next on my list is Zig Ziglar’s — The Art of the Close.

Honorable mentions:

  • Predictable Revenue — Aaron Ross
  • The Hard Things About Hard Things — Ben Horowitz
  • Crossing the Chasm — Geoffrey Moore
  • Challenger Sale — Brent Adamson
  • The Lean Startup — Eric Ries
  • Zero to One — Peter Thiel
  • Saleshood — Elay Cohen

Image credits: athleticawards.com, imoveilive.com, winningbydesign.com; cinemababu.com, throughtheacademiclookingglass.wordpress.com, izquotes.com, tech889.blogspot.com

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