As the title of this blog states, I’ll provide a list of top books sales leaders should read for high performing teams. But let me preface this post by saying that I’m not intending to leave anyone out, and if I’ve left your book off this list, I apologize. I had some specific criteria for this list:
The books on this list were consumed in 2016, although I read some before and came back to them this year.
The books had to be audiobooks available on Audible. I consume books in three places: on the commute to and from work, on the 50-60 flights I take per year, and when I’m at home cutting the grass. So audiobook format was a must.
With that in mind, here are the books I recommend you check out if you’re a sales leader managing high performance teams.
1) The Trusted Advisor by David H. Maister, Charles H. Green, and Robert M. Galford
The Trusted Advisor is an important read if you’re a services business or a complex selling organization. In examining the way they sell—even from an inside sales perspective—Salesforce.com and other major enterprise organizations are showing the trend that companies are building digital sales departments.
Inside sales professionals in these organizations have Social Selling as part of their DNA, meaning that they use social as a centralized sales methodology in their organization. But strapping social onto another core methodology is around consultative selling.
The Trusted Advisor is about having your sales professionals approach your customers authentically and objectively, like a coach. Your sales reps are true consultants who are helping buyers through the buyer’s journey.
This may align to one of your solutions or it may not. If it doesn’t align, your sales pro has the gumption and tact to help that buyer find the solution that’s right for them—even if it comes from one of your competitors.
While it may seem corny and not all sales pros think this way, this book is an eye-opener on getting your team to build massive amounts of trust and value with buyers.
Ultimately that buyer may not be able to buy with you today, but because you’ve built trust with them, and they see view your opinions and advice as being sound, they’ll come back to you in the future.
2) Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising by Ryan Holiday
Growth Hacker Marketing helps you understand that marketing has many opportunities to fuel your sales team. Your sales team should not be responsible for driving 100% of all the sales leads, and marketing shouldn’t be an afterthought. Twenty-five percent or even 50% of your sales pipeline can be fueled through marketing.
You as a sales leader have to understand the impact that digital content marketing and effective growth hacking has on your inbound lead generation and the success of your sales pros meeting sales quota attainment.
In 2016 and beyond, it’s vital that you become a partner with marketing to create better content that converts, to organize that content for the sales pros, and for them to be able to distribute into customers’ hands easily and scientifically measure the results of all these concepts to see how they’re affecting the buyer through their journey (the content consumption story).
The third book is actually a two-for-one deal:
3A) Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions: A Tactical Playbook for Managers and Executives by Keith Rosen; and
3B) Sales Management. Simplified.: The Straight Truth About Getting Exceptional Results from Your Sales Team by Mike Weinberg.
These two books reinvigorated my understanding and validated the importance of one-on-one coaching from line manager to sales pro.
Sales Management Simplified in particular made me reflect on what we do here at Sales for Life in Social Selling and how critical one-on-one coaching is to keep our sales pros accountable for the proper activities and actions required to be strong Social Sellers.
These books are great at getting everybody focused in on the most important metrics that move the needle and provide tactics on how you can improve the performance of an individual through coaching.
4) The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard
My business partner recommended that I read The One Minute Manager because as Sales for Life grows, sometimes professionals in our team would have problems or pitfalls or challenges. And I realized that in growing an organization, I was spending so much of my time running from meeting 1 to meeting 2 putting out fires.
The premise of this book is that is every team leader runs a business unit—so if you’re running a sales organization, you have business units and department heads that are responsible for running their own part of the ship.
When they come to you, the executive, they should bring you only the most critical KPI numbers. And more importantly, every time they meet with you with a problem, they have to outline both the problem AND suggested solutions in one minute or less.
No one is allowed to come to you with problems anymore; they’re only allowed to come to you with a problem and suggested solutions so you can make a decision quickly.
This book helped me think of how you as a leader can really optimize your time in allowing your line managers to self-manage themselves and only come to you with the most critical data points and critical problem to solution from the solution conversation.
5) The Sales Acceleration Formula: Using Data, Technology, and Inbound Selling to go from $0 to $100 Million by Marc Roberge
We’ve done many webinars and events with Marc Roberge at Hubspot. And they’ve been critical in fueling ideas and growth for our own business. In fact, we’ve modeled many of the things they’ve done, such as:
- Direct integration of sales and marketing.
- The fueling of their business through inbound lead generation and leveraging digital content marketing.
- The way their SDR’s approach the conversations with buyers. These conversations are highly contextual and fueled by digital insights and the digital fingerprints that a buyer leaves on a company’s digital assets.
Hubspot also debunked the myth of what people think are the most important sales skills that people require.
People think negotiation, or presentation skills are most important. But in fact, Hubspot proved that it was other innate skills like a thirst for knowledge and growth, and a desire for continuous learning that were the most critical skills for successful sales pros.
Here at Sales for Life, we agree with Hubspot’s findings, and believe the best sales pros are those that are willing to learn. And this book is a great book that has definitely helped us in our evaluation of sales professionals.
*All book photos from Amazon.