Top Sales Books To Read in 2012

2012 Red Dice graphic
2012 Red Dice graphic

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My list of top sales books to read in 2012 consists of books that were published during 2011 and contain innovative, fresh ideas about selling, customer expectations, and how to improve your ability to win new business customers. While the title says “Sales Books” I encourage marketing pros, business executives and entrepreneurs that need to win the support and dollars from others to read these books as well.

I must admit that I read quite a bit, so I have read most of the classics in the sales profession such as Neil Rackham’s Spin Selling and Selling to Big Companies by Jill Konrath amongst others. This list does not include any of those classics but rather, what I believe will become some of the new additions to the sales classics list.  They are not all “sales” books per se, but provide terrific insight into skills that a salesperson will need to acquire like presenting to a virtual audience over the web. What they will also do is guide you in your strategic and tactical planning by exposing new and emerging trends within your customers and their preferences in the buying process. Most of these authors are new voices, with fresh ideas and perspectives that will expand your thinking about how you approach your professional life.

The dynamic between sales person and buyer has changed in many ways over the last few years. The books below will challenge much of the traditional guidance for sales success, and take into account the many new web tools and social platforms that were simply not available just a few short years ago.  They are listed in no particular order, each with it’s own unique gifts of insight and wisdom to share.  If you are not in sales yourself, but looking for a gift this holiday season, give one of these and you will receive thank you’s all year.

1. The Challenger Sale – Taking Charge of the Customer Conversation

Attempts to answer the age-old question: What’s the secret to sales success? If you’re like most sales leaders you will answer by saying that it is fundamentally about relationships. The authors claim you are wrong – they say the best salespeople don’t just build relationships with customers, they challenge them.

The need to understand what top-performing reps are doing that their average performing colleagues are not drove the authors to investigate the skills, behaviors, knowledge, and attitudes that matter most for high performance.  What they discovered may be the biggest shock to conventional sales wisdom in some time. If you want to know what the sales teams at industry titans like Hewlett-Packard are being trained in, this is the book to read.  Kindle Edition- Click here

2. Pitch Anything – An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading and Winning the Deal

This book was recommended to me by Dan Waldschmidt, known for his “edgy” approach to sales, and it didn’t disappoint. It introduces a concepts of “frames” and the importance of doing your homework, positioning, and the impact of knowing what you have to offer. Whether you’re selling ideas to investors, pitching a client for new business, or even negotiating for a higher salary, Pitch Anything will transform the way you position your ideas. I found it an easy, entertaining book to read by introducing a concept and then telling a story of a real-life application of that concept in practice. I have had my kids and wife even read this book and have it in both hardcover and Kindle version so that I always have it with me.  Kindle Edition-Click here

3. The Social Media Sales Revolution

The authors make the bold claim: “Cold-calling is history-your future is in Social Media!” The growth of LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook have revolutionized how business is done. Professionals of every type-including your prospective buyers-are migrating in droves to social media to find solutions. If you want their business, you have to be there, too.

Traditional sales methods like cold calling are no longer effective. Social media platforms are now your best tools. The Social Media Sales Revolution reveals the enormous opportunities now available for developing relationships and gaining new customers by leveraging the power of social media marketing. This is one of the books that I have read twice, and is full of highlights. Ignore this book at your own risk. Kindle Edition-Click here

4. Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard

“Change is hard.” “People hate change.” These are some of the common quotes heard early on in the research done by authors Chip and Dan Heath into change. What occured to them as their work continued is that if people hate change, they have a funny way of showing it. Every iPhone sold serves as counter-evidence. So does every text message sent, every corporate merger finalized, every aluminum can recycled.

They found answers in the research of some brilliant psychologists who’d discovered that people have two separate “systems” in their brains—a rational system and an emotional system. The rational system is a thoughtful, logical planner. The emotional system is, well, emotional—and impulsive and instinctual. This is one of those books that is not listed under sales, but an innovative sales person or leader will immediately see the connection that can be made to the sales process. I highly recommend this book for anyone who cares about increasing your customers. Kindle Edition-Click here

5. Rainmaking Conversations: Influence, Persuade, and Sell in Any Situation

Conversations make or break everything in sales. Every conversation you have is an opportunity to find new prospects, win new customers, and increase sales. Rainmaking Conversations provides a proven system for leading masterful conversations that fill the pipeline, secure new deals, and maximize the potential of your account.

Rainmaking Conversations offers a research-based, field-tested, and practical selling approach that will help you master the art of the sales conversation. This proven system revolves around the acronym RAIN, which stands for Rapport, Aspirations and Afflictions, Impact, and New Reality. You’ll learn how to ask your prospects and clients the right questions, and help them set the agenda for success.

Armed with the knowledge of the markets you serve, the common needs of prospects, and how your products and services can help, you can become a trusted advisor to your clients during and after the sale. Sounds interesting doesn’t it?  You will also learn about additional resources including a power-packed blog, webinars, newsletters and Twitter tidbits. This one should be high on your reading schedule. Kindle Edition-Click here

6. Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive

Small changes can make a big difference in your powers of persuasion. This book is made up of 50 short mini-chapters that share nuggets and research on how to tackle almost any sales situation. With a credible base in psychology, the author tells you what you need to know, clearly and without a lot of pointless throat clearing. Get the goods on social proof (people do what the majority do even if it is bad).

Some examples explain how to learn to take a negative and make it a positive(yes our products cost more than xyz firm, but they last longer; couple the negative with a positive that relates to or negates the negative. If you like to read in short bursts, this book and the format will be perfect for you.

7. Selling Change

I met the author Brett Clay while attending the Sales 2.0 Conference in March of 2011 in San Francisco, and realized that he is from Seattle as am I.  I have had the privilege to work along side Brett in events and activites since then and have been telling every sales leader and executive I meet about Brett’s book, Selling Change. It has won a ton of awards worldwide over the last year for good reason. Change is in every aspect of our society, and understanding how to not only be aware of it but to sell the benefits of change can be career-changing.

If you are leading a company, a sales team or even simply your personal sales territory you need to read this book from cover to cover.  I now have it on my Kindle and in hardcover and use it as a reference frequently. If sales success is important to you or someone you know, get this book.  Kindle Edition-Click here

8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There in Sales!

I received this book in the mail from the publisher a short time ago and put it on the stack of books that I want to read. One day on a slightly boring webinar (yes it happens) I picked it up for something to do, and I didn’t put it down until late that night. I found this book to be one of those that was easy to read, packs plenty of insight into each page.  I especially enjoyed reading all the examples of real sales people facing real challenges and how they were able to achieve success in challenging situations.

The authors, each accomplished in their own right, have collaborated to deliver a book that I have given as a gift to several of my clients. They made the promise that they would help the reader “Discover the 16 habits your customers want you to give up” and they did that and much more. You will thank me after you have read this book!  Kindle Edition-Click here

9. The Virtual Presenter’s Handbook

Web-based presentations are live presentations tha bring the power and influence of dialogue to presenters and attendees who can be anywhere in the world.  In this book, virtual presentation expert Robert Courville reveals his secrets for planning and delivering online presentations that stand out from the norm.

If  you haven’t yet started doing web presentations, I recommend you get with the program. If you are conducting online sessions already, you will immediately appreciate Roger’s tips and recommendations for everything from preparation and planning your presentations, holding the attention of your attendees, and how to avoid the common mistakes that most presenters make when presenting virtually.  He answers questions like “Should I use VOIP or Telephone” and “what are the most important activities to do prior to and immediately after your event”. He shares best practices in recording your web presentions, which equipment do you really need to ensure a successful event, and much more.  My copy is dog-eared from travelling with me across North America and serving as a reference for the common challenges and for some of those that I had not anticipated.

10. The Now Revolution: 7 Shifts to Make Your Business Faster, Smarter and More Social

Whether you know it or not, everyone in sales is now in the media business! The social web has changed the way we do business forever. The future of your company is not in measured, considered responses and carefully planned initiatives. Business today is about near-instantaneous response. About doing the best you can with extremely limited information. About every customer being a reporter, and every reporter being a customer. About winning and losing customers in real-time, every second of every day. About a monumental increase in the findable commentary about our companies.

Having the time and information required to make a considered business decision is a luxury – a luxury that’s quickly facing extinction. Yet business hasn’t adapted to this evolution. And adapt you must.

This book isn’t about how to “do” social media. Instead, The Now Revolution outlines how you must retool your organization to make real-time business work for you rather than against you. Read about seven shifts that will help you make your company faster, smarter, and more social. Kindle Edition-Click here

Each of the book titles listed is a link to the book on Amazon.com.  At the end of each overview is a link to the Kindle Edition if available. These links are affiliate links in which I will receive a small commission from Amazon. How else can I afford to feed my Starbucks habit?

There are many other excellent books, so I encourage you to share them in the comments area below for others to read.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 22 comments
John - 3 years ago

Thanks for the list, Miles.
Switch is a great book. I’d also add People Buy You: The Real Secret to what Matters Most in Business by Jeb Blount, have you read it?

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Miles Austin - 3 years ago

Thanks for telling us all about “People Buy You: The Real Secret to What Matters Most in Business”. I have not read it but just added it to my Kindle wishlist. I always enjoy Jeb’s ideas and observations anyway.

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BobH - 3 years ago

Agree completely on Switch. For any sales force transformation it is mandatory reading. Those two guys are brilliant and I recommend their monthly column in Inc.

Wasn’t a big fan of Rainmaking Conversations as I found it just a rehash of old stuff and nothing original.

On my list is Strengths Based Selling (http://amzn.to/tltobl). As a big fan of the whole “First Break All the Rules” stuff from the Gallup organization, this one makes sense.

Bob

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    Miles Austin - 3 years ago

    Bob,

    I appreciate your perspective on Rainmaking Conversations though I did learn some new perspective.

    I have started to sense though, some of what you have, that there is a lot of the old thinking still out there. If you pick up any of the books on this list, let us all know if you find one that stimulated you with new, fresh ideas on successful selling.

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Dave Brock - 3 years ago

Great list Miles, I’d add a couple more:

Jack Malcolm’s Bottom Line Selling—It’s the only book I know that focuses on business acumen, understanding what your customers’ financials really mean, how to present financial value. Frankly, I’m shocked there are so few people addressing this isssue. Jack’s book is very pragmatic and focused.

Also, Charlie Green’s and Andrea Howe’s Trusted Advisor Fieldbook (just hot off the presses) is a really pragmatic guide to building trust. It’s a fantastic resources and a must read for sales people and sales executives.

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Miles Austin - 3 years ago

Dave, Your contributions are so very welcome here. I own Jack Malcolm’s book but for some reason I just haven’t gotten around to starting it. You might have been able to push me into action.

Have not hear about Trusted Advisor Fieldbook, so will add that one to my stack in the near future.

What do you have coming up in your Partners in Excellence blog this month? (http://partnersinexcellenceblog.com/) Always great to have you stop by and share your thoughts.

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Michele Price (@prosperitygal) - 3 years ago

Miles there is a book I think is worthy of your list. The Effortless Yes via Julie Steelman. Having read countless books on sales, hers found a way to help me put into my own language the process with confidence.

http://www.juliesteelman.com/the-effortless-yes-book/

I can imagine having had this 25+ years ago, can you see road runner beep beep!

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    Miles Austin - 3 years ago

    Great to see your recommendation Michele. I have not heard of Julie’s book previously, so clicked over to Amazon to learn a bit more about it. The reviews sound very positive and highlight the benefits, especially for an entrepreneur, or anyone that is struggling with the whole “sales” thing in the first place.

    I have added it to my personal Kindle list to read in the coming months. Will send you a note after I have read it.

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Brett Clay - 3 years ago

Thanks so much for recommending Selling Change, Miles!

I’m excited to report that it has also been published in Taiwan and China. And will soon be published in Brazil, Poland, and Korea.

I hope readers get a lot of value from it!

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Lois Creamer - 3 years ago

Great post Miles! The Social Media Sales Revolution is actually written by one of my clients, Landy Chase! He’s a great guy, terrific speaker and knows sales. Thanks for these recommendations.

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    Miles Austin - 3 years ago

    Should have known you would be a driver behind the scenes. I hope that I will be able to work with you on one of mine!

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Adon Rigg - 3 years ago

Miles

Can I offer you a copy of my book “insightful Selling” it is about impacting the income statement using the S.A.L.E.S Formula. Just released

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    Miles Austin - 3 years ago

    Adon, Thank you for your kind offer. I welcome the opportunity to read your book. My mailing address can be found on the “About” tab at the top of the blog, I will add it to my LinkedIn Reading List app when I receive it. Thanks for letting everyone know about your book-the link at Amazon is http://amzn.to/s76eFo

    Reply
Don Brown - 3 years ago

Thank you for mentioning my book, Miles! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

Happy Sales,

D Brown

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    Miles Austin - 3 years ago

    Judging from the response from readers of Fill the Funnel, it appears you will have a new group of fans surging right after the holidays with strong click through for your book. I know that my recommendation will generate thank you’s for me and more sales from those that take the time to read it. Excellent job.

    Reply
Relationship Books - 3 years ago

I always visit your website and I really love the content. Thank you for sharing such beneficial articles!

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