Most sales leaders manage staffs of varying degrees of experience - frequently from different generations. They might work with a newer rep with only a year on the job or a thirty-year veteran. Each salesperson views their experience through a different lens.
Managers in this situation often ask for resources that can assist with sales staffs of varied tenure. My response: have them read a classic book about sales. New reps get a "boot camp" experience with some basics. Experienced reps enjoy and benefit from the refresher course.
My list of classics includes:
The Little Red Book of Selling
by Jeffrey Gitomer
Sometimes called the book for those who don't like to read, Gitomer's book has twelve short, to the point chapters - and crazy cartoons. Part motivational and part instructional, every sales professional on your team will come away with an "Aha!" moment.
Secrets of Closing a Sale
by Zig Ziglar
Many successful salespeople and business leaders feel they "owe" Zig Ziglar. Others think he sets the bar for the sales book genre. This is the first sales book many sales professional ever read. Sharing his own experiences as well as stressing professionalism, warmth, and integrity, Ziglar shows us all how to close a sale.
How to Master the Art of Selling
by Tom Hopkins
Sales professionals often mention being given this book as a gift by parents, mentors, and managers. Seasoned veterans re-read it on a regular basis. Specific, organized, and practical, the skills and strategies Hopkins mentions still translate in this modern day.
by Linda Richardson
Richardson isolates and focuses on the sales call itself, offering a straightforward five-step process:
- CONNECT with your customer immediately
- EXPLORE customer needs thoroughly and quickly
- LEVERAGE your solutions persuasively
- RESOLVE your customer's questions and objections confidently
- ACT when the time is right
Though many other aspects of selling are equally critical, the ability to orchestrate an effective and productive sales call remains key to success within the profession.
The Psychology of Selling
by Brian Tracy
Brian Tracy never finished high school. He fell into sales accidentally, working long hours with limited success. Willing to learn from others, he listened and prospered. In this book he shares his strategies and techniques for repeatable, quantifiable, and sustainable success in sales.
Why These Books?
Potential objections across all generations include, "Some of these books were written before the Internet!" or "Many of these were published over a decade ago!" or "They wrote those books using typewriters!"
My response: "Yes, I know. Isn't that great? Some of these sales titans sold millions of dollars in products and services before having the ability to research a potential buyer on LinkedIn or elsewhere. Imagine what you can learn."
Great books stand the test of time. Generations still read and enjoy classics from Edith Wharton, Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Generations of salespeople will benefit from reading and digesting these sales classics.