In previous posts, I've listed the 10 Best Business Books of 2014, the 7 Most Thought-Provoking Books of 2014, and the Top 10 Marketing Books of 2014. This post rounds out your shopping list with the year's best practical guides for people who sell.
Subtitle: Essential Strategies for Keeping a Sale Moving Forward
Authors: Tom Hopkins and Ben Katt
Why I Like It: Tom Hopkins is the Aerosmith of sales training. He's been around a long time and he still plays much of the same music, but every song is a solid-gold winner. This book is no exception. It's chock full of simple, non-manipulative sales techniques, presented in an easily-understood style with plenty of examples. An instant classic.
Best Quote: "The sales process can and should continue after the buyer initially says no. And it quite often leads to yet another no. However, when properly handled, even a half-dozen nos from a potential client can be redirected and converted to a yes without causing harm to the relationships that's being forged."
Subtitle: Get Up to Speed Quickly in Today's Ever-Changing Sales World
Author: Jill Konrath
Why I Like It: This tactical, practical, and down to earth book explains why it's now essential in sales and marketing to be a "quick study." It then provides specific techniques to help you learn and adapt more quickly to changes in your marketplace, product set, and industry.
Best Quote: "Entire industries collapse, while new ones emerge. Our volatile economy either tumbles or booms. Interest rates go up and down. Legislation alters market dynamics. Political and economic unrest on the other side of the world affects decisions being made locally. You can't influence any of these things, yet they have a huge impact on your success.... Constant change is the new normal. As sellers, we're challenged to figure out how to thrive in this ever-evolving ecosystem."
Subtitle: Connect, Collaborate, and Close
Author: Linda Richardson
Why I Like It: I may be a bit biased on this one because I know Linda personally and she's one of the nicest people I've met in the business world. Nevertheless, this book is a clarion call for salespeople and marketers alike to interact with customers one-on-one, in person and on the telephone, rather than foolishly assume that social media and other sales technology will win you clients. Linda pioneered the concept of consultative selling and founded the world's largest training firm, so she knows what she's writing about.
Best Quote: "It is not what you know about your products that clients value, but what you can do with what you know to solve their business problems. Clients must believe you understand their business challenges and that you're prepared to drive results. They expect you to anticipate their needs and add to what they know. They look for insights, ideas, and know-how. For most salespeople, shifting their conversations from product to business challenges is a leap, not a tweak. For decades there have been no fundamental changes to selling and no impetus to radically change selling models--but that is no longer the case."
Subtitle: Think Like a Marketer--Sell Like a Superstar
Author: John Jantsch
Why I Like It: Look, if you haven't already, read Jantsch's Duct Tape Marketing, buy it NOW and read it. While you're at it, buy this book too, because after you've read the first book, you'll want to learn how to apply its concepts and techniques in tactical sales situations.
Best Quote: "We don't live in a vacuum. Every idea we have, song we hear, or sales pitch we connect with is filtered through a number of elements, including our mood, our environment, and our unique understanding of the world and our place in it. All of these factors affect the value and importance we place on what we believe in, what we deem worthy of our time, and what we buy. In the same vein, while salespeople's mastery, skill, or point of view may be important and well thought-out, the context in which their ideas, introductions, and pitches are delivered is equally--or sometimes more--important."
Subtitle: Go From Relationships to Referrals
Author: Michael J. Maher
Why I Like It: Some of the best and most useful business books are cast into the form of a parable (The Richest Man in Babylon comes to mind). This book fits very much into that tradition. Through a slightly corny but quite engaging story, this book explains exactly how to build a business repositioning the process of selling as a way to help other people.
Best Quote: "As I have been blessed with greater success, I have had the privilege of teaching and coaching others to do the same. This book tells the story of many of my coaching clients and members of my team; men and women who are ready to evolve from the Ego Era to the Generosity Generation. They are ready to stop wasting money on costly personal promotion and invest in relationships. They want to build more than a business; they want to leave a legacy."
Subtitle: How to Sell Better Without Screwing Your Clients, Your Colleagues, or Yourself
Authors: Tim Hurson and Tim Dunne
Why I Like It: For reasons that escape me, most people don't realize that the "A.B.C., Always Be Closing" scene in the movie Glengarry Glen Ross is a satire of ineffective sales training. It's emphatically not a recipe for success in sales. This book takes the ABC myth head-on and explains how to sell without attempting to manipulate an unwilling customer into buying. Essential reading if you're in sales or work with salespeople.
Best Quote: "Cast your mind back to the last time you felt you were being 'sold'--the last time someone employed disingenuous flattery or transparent repetition or obvious closing techniques.... Did you know the salesperson was trying to manipulate you? How did it make you feel? Even if you eventually agreed to buy, what are the odds you'll want to do business with the person again?"
Subtitle: How to Sell Value and Differentiate Your Product With Insight Scenarios
Author: Michael Harris
Why I Like It: Over the past few years, we've seen a resurgence in aggressive sales tactics, most notably in the book The Challenger Sale. However, aggressive sales tactics (like presenting an open challenge to the intelligence of the buyer) are actually quite ineffective. This book explains how to provide insights to the customer without coming off like a jerk.
Best Quote: "Complex selling has changed, because buying has changed. In the past, buyers had to approach sellers early in the sales process, because salespeople held the keys to the information kingdom. Today, however, the days of the walking brochure salesman are dead. With the proliferation of information and advice on the internet, buyers no long need information from salespeople. What they need is insight. According to recent research, buyers are now 60 percent of the way through a sales cycle before they engage a salesperson. Why? Because they prefer to do their own research online."