Nearly a third of people in the UK say they don’t read in their free time yet statistics show most CEOs and executives actually read an average of 4-5 books per month. So the leaders, the ground breakers, the innovators and the product makers find great value in picking up a book. The same applies to sales leaders. There are countless titles offering advice and expertise on virtually every sales topic, from negotiating and influencing, to processes, profiling and pipelines.
To help you separate the wheat from the chaff, we have created our top list of must-reads for new sales leaders. This is by no means a definitive list and we are certainly not receiving any royalties for our recommendations. However, we’d like to think that with a combined 60 years of experience shared between our three managing partners we know how invaluable it can be when you come across a book that could help to shape your career.
Dan Donovan, Managing Partner (leads the sales analytics practice)
Selling to Win – Richard Denny
The first book I ever read about sales, gifted to me by David Baker a long-time friend of the author. Published in the eighties but still highly relevant today, it is recognised throughout the world as one of the most effective and powerful sales-improvement guides. The book was a great influence on my early career and made me realise that selling is a balancing act of knowledge, skills and attitude.
Rethinking Sales Management – Beth Rogers
An expert in her field, Rogers is the Principle Lecturer of the UK’s first Master’s degree in Sales Management. This is a concise guide for sales managers based on a well-known sales management technique the ‘customer portfolio matrix’. The book will enable sales leaders to see their strategy from the customer’s point of view, allowing them to set realistic objectives that add real customer value and refine their processes to bring maximum results.
Selling for Virgins – David Baker and Lucy Ryan
You might think I’m biased as the authors were my mentors when I started in the sales performance industry 15 years ago. However, this is a fascinating (and funny) read based on real sales lore and war stories from the front line of sales. Baker and Ryan have joined forces and give a real insight into their different but interdependent approaches to professional selling. The book combines intuitive and kinaesthetic observations with accuracy and highly developed processes. And a welcome dose of humour.
Recommendations from Pascale Hall, Managing Partner (leads the Sales Playbook practice)
The 6 principles of Influence – Robert Cialdini
Imagine being able to harness influence as a skill and to be able to use it when the situation calls? Cialdini draws on years of research to introduce the 6 principles of influence that will help sales leaders to persuade others – reciprocity, consistency, social proof, liking, authority, and scarcity. I’m recommending this as I know the principles work in practice. In fact, it helped me win my biggest ever deal by using the author’s principles in negotiation preparation.
Beyond Reason – Daniel Shapiro
Gives practical examples and tips for how to use, control and decipher emotions in the context of negotiations. This book will help sales leaders identify their emotional hot buttons and the core concerns of both their customers and team members and explain how to manage those emotional needs. Explores how emotions might change the approach to negotiation preparation, identification of bargaining alternatives, application of ethics and resolution of conflicts.
Cracking the Sales Management Code – Jason Jordan
A must-read for every sales leader, this book refers to sales management as a science and gives practical steps to identify the metrics needed to manage towards success. Based on extensive research into how world-class companies measure and manage their sales forces, it reveals the manageable activities that actually drive sales results including frameworks, metrics and best practices.
Recommendations from Des McCluskey, Managing Partner (leads the Change Management & Implementation practice)
The Tipping Point – Malcolm Gladwell
A fascinating insight into how messages spread. The book explains and analyses the ‘tipping point’, that magic moment when ideas, trends and social behaviour cross a threshold, tip and spread like wildfire. Helps the reader to realise that not all customers are the same and highlights the need to profile customers and find ‘connectors’ to make ideas spread. The principle applies at a market level, in big deals and in account relationships.
Getting Naked – Patrick Lencioni
A great book that explores the highest levels of consulting. Includes lots of ideas on inspiring customer loyalty and gaining competitive advantage in tough times. Key moment of the book talks about ‘enter the danger’ – how to be honest with customers based on your expertise, not customer service and telling them what they want to hear. Following the advice could help sales leaders gain more credibility and build stronger long term relationships.
TILT – Niraj Darwar
This is the first book I read as a lifelong sales person that enabled me to see the true value of marketing. Explains how important it is to for organisations to have both sales and marketing aligned and in sync with the customer end of the value chain. It’s a game-changer that will encourage sales leaders to rethink their strategies and ‘tilt’ them more towards the customer and the buyer’s journey.