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.
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.
Get my 2nd book: The Lost Art of Closing
"In The Lost Art of Closing, Anthony proves that the final commitment can actually be one of the easiest parts of the sales process—if you’ve set it up properly with other commitments that have to happen long before the close. The key is to lead customers through a series of necessary steps designed to prevent a purchase stall."
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