Five Books Every New Salesperson Should Read

I was recently asked this question, and I sat down to try and come up with a definitive group.  I’ve got to admit, after an 11+ year career of sales and challenging myself to get better, I’ve got quite a library to narrow down.  What’s even scarier are how many are out there that I haven’t read.

So here’s my list for people new to sales.

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People– Stephen R. Covey (1989)

I’m shocked if there is anyone out there who would be called a success that doesn’t employ at least five of these habits, whether they’ve read the book or not.  When I first covered this material in college, it was like a revelation.  Now I look back at it and think, “Duh, that’s a no-brainer…”  It’s not specifically about sales, but if you don’t have some semblance of your character and priorities in line with this book, you’re going to have a hard time succeeding at anything.  Fortunately, my kids are already covering the Habits in their elementary school.

How To Win Friends and Influence People– Dale Carnegie (1936)

Speaking of classics, how about these gems?  “If you’re wrong, admit it.” “You can’t win an argument.” “No one likes to take orders.”  This is a clinical manual on timeless techniques for interpersonal communication and relations, and there’s a reason it still sells so well some 80 years later.  I have an idea where we could send 535 of them…

21.5 Unbreakable Laws of Selling– Jeffrey Gitomer (2013)

Gitomer’s Little Red Book of Selling is the top selling book on sales ever printed, and deservedly so.  I think this one is better.  The decade that passed between the two publications has seen profound changes in the way sellers interact with buyers, especially with regard to networking, brand-building, and social media.  21.5 Unbreakable Laws addresses those issues and more, in a more comprehensive tome.

The Ultimate Sales Machine– Chet Holmes (2007)

This one from the late Chet Holmes is a sleeper on this list, and as I type this, I think I should probably read it again.  Covering topics ranging from time management, hiring, marketing, effective meetings, client retention, and more, this book has had a powerful influence on my selling career, and the way I approach what I do.

Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive– Harvey B. Mackay (1988)

The first audio book I ever listened to after I started my sales career.  The ultimate guide to “acting like you’ve been there before.”  I still employ tips from this book on a regular basis, including the most impressive ways to send follow-up correspondence, how to pick up the check before it even gets to the table, and of course, the Mackay 66.

The beauty of this article is that there’s no way you agree with all five of my choices.  I could probably rewrite this tomorrow with five new ones!  I’m very interested to hear which of your favorites would make your list.