Mark’s Top 5 Sales Books for B2B Growth Companies

 

It amazes me how few salespeople today have a genuine thirst for knowledge and improving their craft.  Would you like to go to a doctor for a knee replacement only to find out he hasn’t brushed up on any of the latest medical journals?  I’m guessing not.

Certainly the sales shelf at your local bookstore (or the category on Amazon) can be quite overwhelming, so in this article I have provided my top 5 sales reads for B2B growth companies.

 

THE NEW STRATEGIC SELLING

Robert B. Miller & Stephen E. Heiman

Most small and medium-sized organizations take a very tactical approach to selling.  And it’s no surprise — this is simply the nature of most entrepreneurs — they fight tooth and nail to grow their businesses and for the most part, survive and make sales based on their wits and knowing when to do the right things.

When I give these very tactical clients a copy of The New Strategic Selling and they spend a weekend digesting it (OK, perhaps a couple weekends…it’s not the easiest read in the world), they react as though I have just let them in on some secret that “only the big guys know” and they suddenly realize how they have been outsold by larger, more strategic sales organizations with a lesser product or service on a rather frequent basis.

This book is an absolute must-read for anyone whose business relies on closing complex B2B sales.  It provides insight into the buying forces that come into play in these complex B2B settings and more importantly, a framework to use in order to successfully navigate the complex sale.

Once your team begins to understand the intricacies and motivations of the various buying influences involved in a deal (economic, user, technical and coach) it will open up a whole new way of thinking about what actions to take to move the deal forward.  The red flag concept will also open your sales team’s eyes to courses of action they hadn’t previously considered, which begins to change the dynamics of how you execute on your sales process.

 

PREDICTABLE REVENUE

Aaron Ross

Heralded as “the sales bible of Silicon Valley” by Inc. Magazine, Aaron Ross’ Predictable Revenue reveals some common tactics of scrappy, high-growth technology companies that are very applicable to most B2B companies looking to scale.

Ross places a great emphasis on outbound demand generation as a major tool for companies looking to materially increase revenue (a philosophy similar to what we prescribe at In the Funnel).  The book also gives some solid advice when it comes to digging deeper on your prospect’s needs and motivations to be able to articulate the value you bring to the table.

Ross tells readers in the book that “Prospects should earn proposals”, which is a great mindset to have within your sales process.  Too many sales reps suffer from premature proposal syndrome, and in my experience, this leads to a much lower than normal close ratio due to the proposal being generic and not specifically addressing the prospect’s desired business outcomes.

 

TO SELL IS HUMAN

Daniel Pink

The popularity of Daniel Pink’s To Sell is Human is partly based on the fact that it digs into the human aspects of sales and selling in a way that is even interesting to those not engaged in the sales profession.  For those of us who do make a living in sales, however, the book provides a different angle than most sales books, focusing on emotional intelligence and the psychological aspects that can push a good salesperson closer to great. 

This superbly-written book underscores the importance of honesty, directness and transparency not only to improve your sales outcomes, but also your life and relationships in general.  It also provides a simple set of values to look for when hiring new sales talent into your growing business.

When highlighting the traits of a successful seller, I loved the discussion around ‘buoyancy’.  As Pink explained it – the combination of “a gritty spirit and a sunny outlook” – is something that many in the sales profession – even veterans – simply lack.

 

NEW SALES. SIMPLIFIED.

Mike Weinberg

The thing I like most about Mike Weinberg’s approach in New Sales. Simplified. is (as the title might suggest) the simplicity.  Weinberg uses a refreshing, anecdotal approach to describing his sales methodology...which in many ways is close to the approach that In the Funnel uses in our own business and also prescribes to clients.

Weinberg’s methodology revolves around the sales story, which will change the way you think about your ‘pitch’ by revolving it around the customer and what problems you can solve for them.  I see so many companies making the mistake of plugging features and functions and then wondering why they lost their last 5 deals.  What they don’t realize is that by re-framing their offering as a solution to a business problem (or a way to open up new opportunities), it’s much more compelling to the buyer.

Like many of the books in this list, Weinberg is also a huge proponent of outbound prospecting (or as he calls is, proactive telephone calls).  He offers a number of very practical tips that I have personally tried with great success in our own outbound efforts and working with clients.

 

FANATICAL PROSPECTING

Jeb Blount 

I know at this point it may feel like I’m beating a dead horse – okay Mark, we get it…prospecting it important!  Jeb Blount’s Fanatical Prospecting is a phenomenal book for sales development reps and sales hunters who are charged with bringing in new logo business.

Beyond laying out an excellent, very practical framework for successful prospecting, Jeb addresses key topics such as mindset, measurement and maximizing efficiency while also offering advice on overcoming some of the most common hurdles salespeople face when prospecting for new business.

One of my favorite sections in the book contrasted the behaviour of professional salespeople and high performance athletes.  How many top-tier athletes constantly measure their performance, know their statistics and study game tape with the goal of self improvement?  The answer is: all of them. Why shouldn't high performance salespeople do the same!?

I would love to hear about some of your favorite sales books, so please reach out and let me know on Twitter: @MarkCoxSales.


Mark Cox, Managing Partner at In the Funnel Sales Consulting, is a sales expert who has led sales organizations in technology, services and consulting for his entire career. Mark has sold, structured and negotiated some of the largest single-sale transactions in North America (including a billion-dollar transaction with a top-10 U.S. bank).
In the Funnel Academy is an online learning platform for entrepreneurs, business owners and sales leaders looking to accelerate their sales growth.