Reading a book is one the easiest and most cost-efficient ways to work on personal development. In the world of sales, where the job of perfecting the message is never done, creating a personal culture of learning is crucial. It’s easy for sales professionals to get in a rut, and easy to think that you’re already at your best. Unfortunately that doesn’t stop the sales landscape from constantly changing. Whether it’s the type of communication used to sell, the products being sold, or industry trends, there’s always something to learn. If there’s always something to learn, there’s always an opportunity to improve your sales craft.
Finding Time to Invest in Yourself
The key to developing a personal culture of improvement through reading is to find a schedule that works for you. Incorporating special “you” time into your life for reading may seem impossible, but a little creativity and persistence can go a long way. Don’t let a tough schedule be an excuse. Everyone is battling long work hours, after-hours events and personal commitments. Instead of seeing your current schedule as a conflict to achieving your reading goals, look at it as an opportunity. When can you incorporate sales development reading time into your regular schedule?
- During your commute. If taking the train or bus is your game, stop checking Facebook updates and get reading. If you drive, considering getting an Audible membership and listen to your books instead.
- During meals. Skip watching TV while eating dinner and pick up your book instead. Enjoy your work lunches? Ditch your gossiping coworkers and devote some time to developing your sales craft and personal skills.
- During wait times. We spend a large portion of our life waiting. Whether it’s for a doctor’s appointment or the dog groomer, take advantage of this extra time forced into your day to get in a few extra pages of reading.
These are all great ways to sneak reading time into your day, but you can always build in dedicated time too. Wake up 30 minutes early or skip nighttime TV and grab your book before bed. No matter how you choose to do it, finding time for your personal development is a high return investment you can’t afford to pass up.
Choosing the Right Investment
When it comes to reading, getting the motivation and finding some down time is only half the battle. There are literally TONS of sales development books out there, so how are you supposed to pick one? A few key tips for picking your next literary adventure:
- Check out reviews online. Perusing reviews from previous readers can help provide some insight on what kind of takeaways or return on investment others got from the book. Take a look at the reviews and see if you have anything in common with the other people who enjoyed the book. If you do, chances are you may find it a valuable read as well.
- Research industry specific options. If you work in a niche or complex industry you may find something related to that particular market more valuable than a general sales book. Do a quick search online to see what popular options come up, and then revert back to reading a few reviews.
- Ask for recommendations. Find co-workers or mentors who have a style you respect and see if there were any books that influenced their personal development. If you already admire a lot about these people, you may really enjoy their taste in sales development books too.
2016’s Top Reading List for Sales Leaders
We’ve gone ahead and selected some of our favorite books for sales professionals looking to develop their skills. Check out our picks for top reads geared towards sales and leadership development:
- Grit to Great
Published in the second half of 2015, Grit to Great: How Perseverance, Passion, and Pluck Take You From Ordinary to Extraordinary, discounts the belief that people get ahead by simply being lucky or having the right connections. Instead, authors Linda Kaplan and Robin Koval focus on the larger quantity of successful people that have worked hard and put in the sweat-equity to get where they are. Think of this book as a guide to success no matter where you’re starting.
- Extreme Ownership
A #1 New York Times bestseller, Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win, explores the importance of leadership in success. Authors Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, also creators of SEAL leadership training, detail the mentality and principles used by SEALS to complete impossible combat missions. This book helps empower average people to lead and win using techniques proven by the best of the best.
- “To Sell Is Human”
Author of To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others, Daniel Pink, argues that no matter whether sales is your actual profession or not, we’re all in the business of sales. Pink talks about the “new” sales picture, and explains why some of the classic sales rules no longer apply. This book is your guide to relevant ways to develop your sales skills for today’s world.
- The Best Damn Sales Book Ever
Warren Greshes, author of The Best Damn Sales Book Ever: 16 Rock-Solid Rules for Achieving Sales Success, puts together an easy to understand guide to sales with practical ideas that his readers claim lead to big results. Fans say new sales reps and veterans alike can use this book as an impactful tool for growth.
- Guerrilla Selling
Guerrilla Selling: Unconventional Weapons and Tactics for Increasing Your Sales tackles innovative ways for sales professionals to make a difference in their professional life, and their personal life too. This book can help you make small tweaks to your existing processes for big results. Reviewers say it’s meaningful for all levels of sales professionals.
- The Accidental Sales Manager
Author of The Accidental Sales Manager: How to Take Control and Lead Your Sales Team to Record Profits, Chris Lytle, explores the idea that simply being the top sales rep doesn’t mean you’ll be a successful manager. This is a great book for both new and experienced sales managers to ensure they’re using the top techniques for developing sales talent.
- Emotional Intelligence
Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, takes a closer look at the science behind why humans behave the way they do. Goleman breaks down the data into five skills of emotional intelligence, and how to incorporate them in our daily lives. Check out this book if you’re looking to explore a new angle of your sales game.
Often regarded at the “bible of business” the well respected book, Winning, is a management guide for all levels and all roles within an organization. Author, Jack Welch, is best known for his straight-talk style with real world applications. This book is a great choice for sales professionals looking to build their leadership and management skills.
- The Art of People
Author of The Art of People: 11 Simple People Skills That Will Get Your Everything You Want, Dave Kerpen, argues that mastering people skills is the true key to success. Understanding how to connect with people could arguable be the most important aspect of sales, making this book a must read for all sales professionals and leaders.
Do you have any other must-read book suggestions for sales professionals looking to develop their skills? We’d love to hear about them!