The sales learning curve is steep. So, it's important to hear from experts, who have developed the skills to deal with sales challenges over decades. You'll find it's much easier to learn from their mistakes, instead of just jumping in feet first.
You might currently be picking up the phone, shouting "PLEASE BUY MY PRODUCT", hanging up, and waiting for them to come crawling back to you. This also might not be working.
Tom Corley, author of Rich Habits, found that people who make more than $160,000 a year read for self-improvement, education, and success. On the other hand, those with an annual income of $35,000 or less read almost primarily to be entertained. It seems that the books you pick up reflect directly on your career.
So, just for you, we went and asked a few of our residential sales experts to recommend their favourite sales books, each providing a different insight and revelation of the industry.
These evergreen books offer tips, tricks, stats, and facts which will help you understand the minds of buyers, establish positioning techniques, and get you that all-important meeting. Then, it's time to sell.
Let's jump in...
Effective Sales Enablement: Achieve Sales Growth Through Collaborative Sales and Marketing by Pam Didner
Marketing consultant Pam Didner has developed "sales enablement" as a solution to help salespeople develop effective strategies in their work, and utilise the latest technologies. She urges marketing and sales to cooperate and collaborate, and explores current sales methology and social media.
Written from a marketers perspective, the book goes beyond sales training and development. Pam presents a number of creative approaches to improve sales enablement strategies, processes, and programmes.
"Sales enablement" involves marketing in supporting the sales force, and increases sales by optimising the sales process. It is the package of processes that companies assemble to equip their sales professionals to do their jobs.
The book shows its reader how to:
- Understand trends that impact sales
- Become a better marketer with ways to support sales
- Integrate sakes elements into select marketing programmes
- Integrate marketing elements into select sales programmes
- Assemble a top sales enablement team
- Leverage the latest and greatest technologies.
Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal by Oren Klaff
Recommended by: Frenci Bardhi, Business Development Manager.
Pitch Anything is a well-known book, and for good reason. At its core, it simply teaches you how to pitch.
But what people often don't consider is everything surrounding the day of the pitch itself. This might be prospects who keep you waiting, decision-makers who leave early, or execs scrolling through Twitter instead of listening.
So, Oren Klaff writes about the power dynamics that surround pitching i.e. status, framing, and neediness, and how to manage these themes effectively.
Klaff's technique states that the pitch presentation breaks down into four sections:
- Introduce yourself and the big idea: 5 minutes
- Explain the budget and secret sauce: 10 minutes
- Offer the deal: 2 minutes
- Stack frames for hot cognition: 3 minutes.
Basically, Klaff isn't talking about PowerPoint. Or slides. Or wearing your best suit. Instead, he looks into how you should frame a pitch.
This can stretch from what to say during the pitch, to how to ensure the conditions are conducive to success before you even begin to speak. The book believes that success is dependent on the method you use, not how hard you try.
"Better method, more money," Klaff says. "Much better method, much more money."But most of all, Pitch Anything introduces the "STRONG" method of pitching, which can be put to use in your business:
- Setting the Frame
- Telling the Story
- Revealing the Intrigue
- Offering the Prize
- Nailing the Hookpoint
- Getting a Decision
Influence: Science and Practice by Robert Cialdini
Influence: Science and Practice is a psychology book which looks into the ways people are influenced by a specific group: "compliance professionals".
Written by Robert Cialdini, Professor of Psychology at Arizona State University, the work presents the idea that in a world where everyone is overloaded, and overwhelmed, with seas of information, they tend to fall back on a simplified decision-making process. This means individuals tend to tilt towards generalisations.
So, the premise of Influence is to teach the reader how to use basic psychological strategies to persuade their conversational partner.
These tactics aim to get a person to eventually buy products, using the six ways people can be influenced. These are: Reciprocation, Commitment and Consistency, Social Proof, Liking, Authority, and Scarcity
- Reciprocation. The act of giving to get. People will reciprocate even if you offer them something small at first.
- Commitment and Consistency. Several case studies suggested that once you get someone to commit to a certain idea or perspective, they’re more likely to want to be consistent with that belief.
- Social Proof. Society is constantly looking for social cues on what’s appropriate. People like to follow the crowd, but also are more likely to follow the crowd if they feel the leader is like them in some way.
- Liking. People are more likely to be persuaded by someone they like. This can include people with the following qualities: attractiveness, similarity, compliments, cooperation and conditioning, and association.
- Authority. People are more likely to agree to something if the source is an authority figure.
- Scarcity. People immediately see something as far more desirable if they feel like it’s out of their reach or of a limited supply.
Way of the Wolf by Jordan Belfort
Recommended by: Frenci Bardhi, Business Development Manager.
Jordan Belfort, played by Leo (DiCaprio of course) in the hit movie Wolf of Wall Street, uses this book to reveal his step-by-step sales and persuasion system, the Straight Line Selling system.
"I'm the Wolf of Wall Street. Remember me? The one who Leonardo DiCaprio played on the silver screen, the one who took thousands of young kids, who could barely walk and chew gum at the same time, and turned them into world-class closers using a seemingly magical sales training system called the Straight Line? The one who tortured all those panic-stricken New Zealanders at the end of the movie because they couldn’t sell me a pen the right way? You remember."
This was the system he used when he was making millions on Wall Street, and the one he is teaching at seminars. After his conviction and parole, of course.
The system involves specifics such as:
- The importance of the first impression and how to make it count
- The importance of self-belief
- Getting into the groove where you are ready to sell
- Body language and what works
- Sales funnel and qualification
- The conversations with the prospect
- Sales scripts and how they exponentially improve selling
- Art and science of looping i.e. handling objections
Predictable Revenue by Aaron Ross
Recommended by: LXA recommended book choice 📚📖
One of the most influential books on sales is Aaron Ross' Predictable Revenue, which provides a step by step process to achieve repeatable and scalable lead generation through outbound. But with none of the cold calling.
The book, Predictable Revenue is categorised into 11 chapters:
- Chapter 1: Where the $100 million came from. Gives a brief outline of the book.
- Chapters 2-3: Cold Calling 2.0 techniques. The essence of the book – outbound prospecting strategy Cold Calling 2.0 is covered in these chapters.
- Chapters 4-6: Best practices to build a repeatable sales process. These chapters get into the nitty-gritty of building a repeatable and scalable sales process.
- Chapters 7-11: Aligning leadership with talent. These chapters explore the hiring and management practices of sales professionals.
Cold Calling 2.0 is one of the biggest concepts that emerge from the book. This formula is simple: outbound sales prospecting generates predictable leads. Predictable lead generation leads to predictable revenue.
This book transformed the structure of outbound sales from the old-hat cold calling operation to a targeted process. So, Aaron recommends the following four-step framework:
- Have two specialised roles in your sales team – one for prospecting and the other for closing.
- Systematic execution of the Cold Calling 2.0 technique.
- Consistently experimenting and improving existing techniques to build a repeatable sales process.
- Substantial focus on hiring and development practices.
Want to hear all this genius IRL? Come and hear Aaron Ross speak at AntiConLXA Global this year!
The Sales Acceleration Formula by Mark Roberge
The number of competitors in recent years has almost doubled, according to Mark Roberge. So, in order to stay relevant and win, companies can either innovate, or sell-out to their rivals.
However, Mark believes that innovation provides only a limited advantage. The industry will always catch up.
Mark was one of the early employees of HubSpot, way back when they only had four people in the office. His job was to create scalable and predictable revenue growth.
As an engineer, he set to work by creating an analytical approach to devise a formula for sales. This led to the addition of 450 sales and support personnel, the bringing onboard of 10,000+ customers from 60 countries, and the scaling of their revenue to $100 million.
All in seven years. The formula he used was dubbed the "Sales Acceleration Formula". Very apt.
- Part I: The Sales Hiring Formula. So, first things first, You need a sales team. According to Mark, “world-class sales hiring is the biggest driver of sales success.”
Step one: define the characteristics of a successful salesperson. According to Mark, the characteristics of a successful salesperson include coachability, curiosity, intelligence, a track record of past success, and work ethic.
Step two: Find top-performing salespeople
Step three: Determine your ideal first hire.
- Part II: The Sales Training Formula. Often, sales training does not take into account the individual skills of your salespeople. So, Mark suggests a systemised training programme around the buyer journey, the sales process, and the qualifying matrix.
- Part III: The Sales Management Formula. Mark believes that sales coaching is the most critical lever to drive sales productivity. Plus, it's best to choose just one skill a month to focus on.
- Part IV: The Demand Generation Formula. This part details the move from cold calling, to inbound. The shift involves the need for salespeople to position themselves as thought leaders via blogs and social media.
The Challenger Sale by Brent Adamson and Mathew Dixon
The Challenger Sales model posits that with the right training, coaching, and sales tools, all employees can take control of the customer conversation like a Challenger. So, it's possible to create a high-performing Challenger Sales team, but it takes considerable effort and training.
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