9 Essential Books For New B2B Salespeople

If you are a new B2B salesperson, this list is a curriculum. These 9 essential books will help you to build a foundation upon which to build a successful career in business-to-business sales.

If you have worked in business-to-business sales for some time and haven’t read these books, you will discover—or be reminded of—some ideas that will make you even more effective.

Who You Are and Why They Should Buy From You

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (by Stephen Covey)

This book should be required reading for anyone, regardless oftheir profession. At the heart of most of your problems, you will find one person: you. Covey’s seven habits will help get you out of your own way when it comes to succeeding in sales because it will help get you out of your own way when it comes to human relationships.

Mastery (by George Leonard)

This little book will teach you how to achieve mastery. Written by a 5th degree aikido master (one of the most frustrating and difficult martial arts to learn), Mastery will help you learn how not to dabble. It will help you understand how to live on the plateau (where it feels like you aren’t making progress) long enough to achieve your next breakthrough to higher performance.

The Brand You 50 (by Tom Peters)

Tom’s little book covers fifty ideas. But it is filled with ideas and checklists that will help you frame your thinking about how to become someone worth doing business with and someone worth buying from.

It’s a small book, but it contains enough ideas and actions items for you to work on for months—maybe years.

Read my interview with Tom here and here.

Getting In

SNAP Selling (by JIll Konrath)

The greatest struggle for most salespeople, even experienced salespeople, is just getting in. Jill’s book has some simple rules to follow that can make it easy for your dream clients to say yes to your requests for their time.

Four rules: keeping it simple, being invaluable, aligning with your dream client’s objectives, and keeping the up the momentum by focusing on priorities. Read the book and follow these guidelines and you will have an easier time getting in.

Also, read my interview with Jill here and here.

The Fundamentals of B2B Sales and Process

SPIN Selling (by Neil Rackham)

This is one of the most important business-to-business sales books ever written. The acronym stands for situation question, problem questions, implication questions, and needs-payoff questions is a formula for diagnosing and understanding your dream client’s needs—and their motivations for changing.

Most salespeople don’t do well diagnosing because they spend to little time on the implications of their dream client’s dissatisfaction and how they see the solution. This book will improve your needs-analysis and make you a more valuable partner in your dream client’s improvement.

Major Account Sales Strategy (by Neil Rackham)

Rackham’s follow up is in some ways more important than SPIN Selling. This book is more about the strategies and tactics of winning major accounts. The sections on your dream client’s needs at each stage of the buying process alone make it work it worth reading.

Consultative Selling (by Mack Hanan)

Mack’s recipe works as promised. But it isn’t easy for salespeople to execute.

Consultative selling doesn’t mean what most people think it means. It isn’t about being soft, or about not really selling. It’s about selling effectively, and it is about shifting the decision-criteria from price to cost.

Even though it isn’t easy, the sooner you get your mind around the idea that you have to move past price to the cost of a real business improvement, the better.

Understanding How To Create Value

The Discipline of Market Leaders (by Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema)

Creating value for your dream clients requires business acumen. This little book is an excellent primer on business strategies. When you understand your dream client’s strategies, you better understand what drives their needs and their decisions. You also understand how your company’s strategy choice limits your choices of clients.

What the Customer Wants You to Know (by Ram Charan)

This is another book on using your business—and financial—acumen to create value for your dream clients. In some ways it is very similar to Consultative Selling, but focuses more on demonstrating costs savings. Essential in that it a serious primer on business acumen.

Comments

comments

  • Brian Ahearn

    7 Habits is one of the most influential books I’ve ever read. Loved Mastery too. Wasn’t too keen on SPIN Selling but maybe time to reread it. Thanks for the other recs Anthony.

    • Anonymous

      7 Habits and Mastery are tops for me, too. SPIN Selling is a sales rep’s book. The first 67 pages set it up. Maybe you’d the second part better by itself?

  • http://lookingtobusiness.com Daniel Wood

    Hey Anthony,

    Great tips. I have read a few of those books (and added the rest to my wish list) but I want to highlight Stephen Coveys book, 7 habits. It it a great book for anyone in any are wanting to improve their efficiency and personal development.

    Thanks for the advice my friend.

    • Anonymous

      Lots of new reps email me this question, thought I’d type it our for them.

  • Steven Rosso

    Here’s my list:

    1. The World is Flat
    2. What Really Works: The 4+2 Formula for Sustained Business Success
    3. Relationship Marketing (McKenna)
    4. The Discipline of Market Leaders
    5. Differentiate or Die
    6. Crossing the Chasm
    7. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
    8. SPIN Selling (Rackham)
    9. Major Account Sales Strategy (Rackham)
    10. Solution Selling (Bosworth)
    11. Think Like Your Customer (Stinnett)
    12. Mastering the Complex Sale (Thull)
    12. Exceptional Selling (Thull)

    • Anonymous

      Thanks, Steven. I am no longer a fan of The World is Flat, but it does give you some understanding of the world we sell in, as well as building some business acumen.

      I dropped both of Thull’s books from this list, even though I love them both and I am a fan of his work. I think those come after you have your feet under you. What do you think?

      • Steven Rosso

        Anthony,

        I’ve contracted with The Prime Resource so I have a bit of a bias towards Jeff Thull:-) I’m not sure I would restrict him to only advanced users but generally I start those new to complex sales with Neil Rackham’s material. Also, I don’t know if you are familiar with Bill Stinnett but he has authored two really outstanding sales books, “Think Like Your Customer” and “Selling Results!”

        Best Regards,

  • http://launchsalesandmarketing.com/ brandtpage

    Excellent choices of books, I just proposed a new course at a local college here in Utah for a Sales Professionals Certificate, I will definitely mention these books here.

    At http://www.launchleads.com we have all of our employees read, Indispensable By Monday, Raving Fans, and The 100/0 Principal.

    • Anonymous

      Sounds like an interesting course. Most of these books, however, aren’t very meaningful without having the experiences to which you can relate to them and put them in context.

  • Trustdiva

    I love Jill Konrath’s Work. Her book Selling to Big Companies is always nearby!

    • Anonymous

      Me too. I love Jill; she is a great friend and a great mentor. Her phone number is always nearby!

  • http://www.coryscomments.com Cory Hintz

    Thanks for the list. I am always looking for good reading material. It looks like some of these are a good read for business in general, not just for the sales team.

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