Top Sales Books To Read in 2012

Top Sales Books To Read in 2012

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  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.

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