• Greg Meehan

The Sales Books I Wish I Knew at the Start of My Career

Any good blog begins with a "Top X " list so, I thought this might be a good starting point.


If you haven't figured it out already, I've set up this small space on the interwebs as a sales, revenue, and leadership resource.


Over the last 13 years my learning habits have accelerated and I thought, "why not share this with the people that are in the same boat as me, you guys and gals!!"


I've read, and will continue to read, a lot about sales and I'll tell you this: I haven't even scratched the surface.


The reason for the sheer volume of content is quite straightforward; sales in a nutshell is about working with people - and people are complicated and forever-changing. This means you, not only have to learn about sales, you'll also need to be an amateur psychologist, a content strategist, a marketer, a researcher, and a communications expert.


WOAH!


Nevertheless, you've got to start somewhere, and if I was going to reset and start all over again in my sales career I would start with these 6 books.


These books will equip you with solid foundations and the skills you'll need to be successful in sales. They are a great kick-off point to get you moving and thinking differently about sales.


I know, I know. I'll be hearing people moaning about "What about this book?" "What about this Author?". I get it - there are many awesome sales authors out there to learn from and all of them have great information about how to be better at selling.


Nevertheless, I believe these books will provide the foundations you will need to then go on to explore other material on Sales. I believe these are essential reading for people getting into or ramping up their career in sales.


So lets dive in..


**I use affiliate links in these blogs which basically means I get paid a small commission for each book purchased from the links. This helps me fund the site and keep doing the thing that I love: Reading cool stuff (and some not-so-cool-stuff) and sharing with you my findings.


 

The Sales Experience
The Sales Experience

I like to think about the sales process in this way, broken down into specific sections. It helps me understand where I need coaching and training either through a mentor, advisor, or self taught. It also allows me to be deliberate about what I should be focusing on to get the best results at that moment in time.


  1. You'll notice the banner at the top - this is the overall Sales Experience that the client has when working with you.

  2. Then you are on to Prospecting - building your pipeline.

  3. (This should be 2a) Since Cold Calling is also prospecting

  4. Then, once you've secured your discovery meeting, you'll need to learn what to do 'in Meeting'.

  5. Then on to the 'final' part of the sales process - moving the prospect to become a client (better known as Closing);

  6. AND FINALLY- Objection Handling - What to do when the deal stalls




The Sales Experience

The Sales Bible by Jeffrey Gitomer


Some of the stuff I love in this book:

  • The easy to digest content in bitesize and well formatted chunks

  • The short, sharp lists of action items which can be immediately applied and measured.

  • The no BS, no fluff language. It is what it is.


Some stuff to be aware of:

  • Some of the concepts are getting dated. See how you can take the learnings and apply them to modern day selling.


I believe one of the most important things in sales is to really understand what it takes to be a sales professional (FYI, contrary to popular misconception….its not about the commission). There are a number of books I could recommend here but The Sales Bible by Jeffrey Gitomer, has by far been one of the most impactful books I read early on in my sales career.


The book draws upon Gitomer's decades of experience and learning, and puts it all into an easy to digest catalogue of sales best practices. Not just process and methodology but also, mindset and expectations. This will take you back to basics and give you a great sense of what it means to be a sales professional (because basically, if you don't have a good set of foundations, it's going to take you a hell of a lot longer to strip them down and start all over again later on)

Prospecting (i)

Fanatical Prospecting by Jeb Blount


What I love about this book:

  • It’ll give you everything, literally everything you need to be effective at building a pipeline.

  • The tools and skills you develop are transferable all the way through to your eventual C-level title

  • It gives you mindset advice and how you should be thinking about applying the techniques

  • It shows you why you’re failing and tells you how to correct it. Giving you back control.


Some stuff to be aware of:

  • It gives you everything, but its only one resource and is limited by the depth it can go into. Chapter 15 for example talks about cold calling but there is much more to delve into on this topic. (Read next book recommendation)


No sales resource list would be complete without having our man, Jeb Blount on it. Coined as the hardest working man in sales, Jeb has written a collection of books on sales, and you should check them out.


Fanatical prospecting is one of those books that, as soon as you're done, you think, 'how did I miss this?!'.


In essence, if your pipeline is weak its pretty much all your fault and your demise could’ve been avoided if you had just put the work in about 30 days ago. Prospecting is the lifeblood of any sales pipeline, if you're not actively pursuing new potential clients CONSISTENTLY then you'll be dead in the water in no time.


Sales = Pipeline = Prospecting.

Fanatical Prospecting will give you a 360º look at everything Prospecting. From objectives, to channels, to ownership, through to messaging, and RBOs. You'll get everything you need to do one of the THE MOST important jobs in sales: FINDING NEW CLIENTS.




Prospecting (ii)

Smart Calling by Art Sobczak


What I loved about this book:

  • It gives you and end-to-end system for preparing and making good sales calls

  • It gives you scenarios and frameworks you can implement immediately for better results

  • It shows you how to give value and gain commitment without sounding like sleaze-bag.


Some stuff to be aware of:

  • Honestly nothing - this is a proper classic


Google 'Cold Calling' and you'll get a bunch of 'Top 10 Tips', 'Why Cold Calling is Dead', and 'Never Cold Call Again' links that'll jump to the first couple of pages. Fundamentally, however, the skills of being able to pick up the phone, make a connection and ultimately win a client is the best skill you can have in business (not just sales, but in business).


Cold calling, or as Art calls it, Smart Calling is a universal and timeless skill that will serve you well in being able to connect with people virtually. The default nowadays is to use email sequencing, social selling, WhatsApp, WeChat, iMessage, whatever channel except for picking up the phone and connecting with someone.


The reason is simple: It’s scary and people are fearful about what might happen when the person you are calling actually picks up the phone. Often times people will let the fear of picking up the phone completely override the want / need to keep their job... It’s crazy!


However, I don’t think its entirely your fault (I’ll let you off the hook here, pun not intended), you just need a system, a process, a methodology, and an execution plan to get you going. Art Sobczak’s book "Smart Calling", does just that and more.


Cold calling is an act of prospecting but I believe it needed a special place on this list all on its own... it's THAT important. The skills you'll pickup (pun intended) from this can be translated across any form of communication you decide to use to reach out to people. This classic book covers some great stuff!


As I've moved through my career to now being a CRO I still use the learnings I got from this book to engage with people and help move deals along. Equip yourself now and you'll be indispensable to any organisation.




In Meeting

Let's Get Real or Let's Not Play by Mahan Khalsa


Mahan Khalsa's Order Framework
Mahan Khalsa's Order Framework

What I loved about this book:

  • The simple process flow illustrations which allow you to see the conversation flow in practice

  • The simple ORDER frameworks for navigating a discovery / qualification call


Some stuff to be aware of:

  • This is great for B2B sales and has some applications for B2C however, not everything will be as relevant.


I need to remember who recommended this to me so I can go and give them a bunch of cash! This was one of those books that I picked up which immediately resonated and I'm quite sure this is where my sales mantra “Think Help, Not Sell” originated.


The thing I loved about this book was the clear message: Your intentions count for everything when engaging with potential clients. Just like Gitomer talks about in his literature - if you’re just out for a commission you’re not going to get very far.


“Helping clients succeed is not just an euphemism for sales, it is the essence of sales”

This sentence should punch you in the face. Sales is helping - Helping is sales.


In this book, Mahan Khalsa will give you a traffic light framework to help you identify when you should be digging into potential red lights that could upset your sale later down the line.


You’ve gotta keep your pipeline full which will allow you to be able to walk away from deals that just don’t fit your offering. (Refer to book #2).




Success / Closing

The Perfect Close by James Muir


Some of the stuff I love in this book:

  • The simple examples show how easy it is to execute the perfect close

  • The illustrations make a great cut out for your desk as a reminder

  • The Perfect Close can be used in almost any decision-making situation


Some stuff to be aware of:

  • Like with anything, if it gets too mainstream and too overused people (ie; buyers) become numb to it and it becomes less and less effective.

  • However, using this 2 step questioning method/framework will guide you to structuring your own perfect close (or you can simply use it as is!)


The biggest reason I didn't pick up this book sooner than I did was simply because of the title. I mean, c'mon - if someone is going to call their book 'The Perfect Close', surely its BS!!


Well, I was wrong.


The book is a one-stop-shop for helping you close deals or move them out of your pipeline gracefully. When I was first getting into sales there were a few things that made me anxious, and being able to ask for the sale was one of them. I didn't have a clear strategy around how to do this (or what to do if the buyer said no). This book gave me that.


"So wait, you're telling me this is actually the perfect close??"


The perfect close can be found on Chapter 12 of the book but the simple premise is:

  1. It’s a 2 step process

  2. It’s a question!

  3. It’s a timing question


The Perfect Close
James Muir's The Perfect Close

It's as simple as that, which is what makes it so perfect.


The best way to get good at it is repetition, repetition, repetition which you can do with your peers and colleagues in the form of role plays.




Alright, we are on to the home stretch.


You've got everything lined up and you are now a sales pro 👀….


Alas, the buyer has other plans and hits you with the classic "No thanks, I'm not interested"


Oooof...


OBJECTIONS.


Typically these (or rather the inability to handle them effectively) are at the heart of any dead pipeline.




Objections

Objections by Jeb Blount


What I loved about this book:

  • It eliminates the stress you get around "What If" situations

  • There are easy-to-implement frameworks which you can use instantly and start getting better results.

  • It's cuts through the BS and puts you in control of objection handling


Some stuff to be aware of:

  • You've gotta build you're EQ to know when clients are being upfront with their objections and actually can't move ahead, otherwise you'll be pissing people off.


Jeb Blount, in this awesome book captures everything you need to know about Objections and handling them.


Whereas the Perfect Close helps you to address the 'what happens if they say no at the end of a buying journey', Jeb's book goes deeper into all types of objections, the psychology behind them, as well as the frameworks you can use to tackle them head on.


Lets be clear on a few things:

  1. Objections are normal in sales. Think about how you like to buy. Sometimes you like stuff, sometimes you don't. When you don't, you tell the salesperson.

  2. Objections are often the start of the conversation, not the end. Objections open up opportunities for you to understand more about your buyer.

  3. Objections tell you the buyer is listening. If they are just nodding along and not engaged, then no sale will happen.

  4. Objections are good, you find out what the buyer does or does not like.

  5. Objections can throw you off. If you are not prepared then your emotions will take over and you'll simply fumble at your responses... I know I have done this HUNDREDS OF TIMES.


 

There ya have it!


There is a universe of Sales books out there and new ones are being printed every single day! I'll be reading and sharing as many as I can so you can choose which ones are suited for your current situation.


My aim of this blog is simple - provide you with useful tools, tips and tricks to help move you along in your career faster.


As with any content you pick up, you won't see any success at all if you don't practice what you learn. The good thing is, it's entirely up to you.