Not every book on this list was written in 2012, but as usual this list represents the 11 sales & marketing books I read in 2012 that had the biggest impact on me, and that I’d recommend to almost anybody in a sales or marketing role. There’s a good mix of topics, formats and perspectives here for all literary tastes.
1. Getting Naked by Patrick Lencioni
This book was written with professional services firms in mind, but anybody with customers will gain from Patrick‘s perspective. The gist is that vulnerability, counter-intuitively, can be the key to accelerating customer loyalty. It’s a short read, but one of the most valuable books I read this year.
2. Scientific Selling by Nancy Martini
Sales will always be a mix of art and science, but we have technology and insights available to us now that make it far easier to precisely diagnose and respond to prospect needs. This book goes even further, and helps organizations understand the unique drivers of their internal sales staff, helping them sell at peak productivity and results. Highly recommended.
3. The Challenger Sale by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson
There are well-written sales books every year, but it’s rare a book is published that fundamentally changes how an entire industry approaches the sales process. SPIN Selling did that years ago, and throughout this year it’s become clear that The Challenger Sale is doing it again. They key takeaway focuses on helping your customers see their world, and the path to their desired outcomes, in a fundamentally different way than they do today. In the process, you’re more than just a salesperson. You’re a guide, a leader, an enabler, a visionary. That’s a powerful position.
4. How to Close a Deal Like Warren Buffett by Tom Searcy
Tom Searcy is one of the most consistently great writers and speakers I’ve met. His previous book, his frequent keynotes and his regular blog posts are always fantastic. This fall Tom published a deep-dive into how Warren Buffett approaches deal-making with tangible takeaways for anyone in a selling position. It’s an entertaining read on its own, with great lessons to boot.
5. Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business by Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine
This is one of those “easier said than done” books, because following its advice requires some fundamental changes in how you make daily decisions, how and where you gather feedback, and how you prioritize what’s most important in the months & years to come. I doubt many readers will be able to drive dramatic, customer-facing change immediately in their organization, but the ideas in this book are worth marinating.
6. Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World’s Greatest Companies by Jim Stengel
Failure is the path to innovation, and a steady stream of ideas (the good, the bad and the ugly) are required to drive the kind of innovation market-leading companies require to achieve and sustain their position. This book offers a blueprint for not only what innovative, “idea factory” organizations looks like, but also how to put that kind of environment into practice in your business right away.
7. Secrets of Closing The Sale by Zig Ziglar
This is a Zig Ziglar classic, published originally in 1985, that I finally read (for the first time) earlier this year. There are certain books in every discipline that become eternal, that resonate no matter how other factors change. Scientific Advertising (written in 1921) was one of them, and several Zig Ziglar books are in that same category. Whether you sell for a living or simply want to understand how good salespeople operate, do yourself a favor and read this book.
8. New Sales. Simplified: The Essential Handbook for Prospecting & New Business Development by Mike Weinberg
I’m getting a little tired of people saying we live in a “buyer centric” world. I’m also tired of talking about what “Buyer 2.0” means. This book ignores the pretense and gets right to the tactics. It’s truly a blueprint for how to build a sales pipeline in today’s selling environment.
9. Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play: Transforming the Buyer/Seller Relationship by Mahan Khalsa and Randy Illig
This is a great book focused on putting authenticity, truthfulness and hard-earned credibility at the center of your prospect and customer relationships. These shouldn’t exactly be novel or new concepts, but this book puts a refreshing perspective on how to do it well, and how to create significant competitive advantage for yourself and your company in the process.
10. Predictable Revenue: Turn Your Business into a Sales Machine With the $100M Best Practices of Salesforce.com by Aaron Ross
If you want to emulate the sales, marketing and rapid growth best practices of Salesforce.com in its early days, read this book. It lays everything out – the processes, the tactics, the sales & marketing execution that kick-started their incredible growth. It’s a quick read, and highly actionable.
11. Seeing the Big Picture: Business Acumen to Build Your Credibility, Career & Company by Kevin Cope
This short book explains fundamental financial concepts to the majority of us that, if we’re honest with ourselves, know we don’t really understand them well enough (if at all) to take action on them when we see them. Things like balance sheets, cap tables and other basic financial concepts are explained in plain English. Recommended for anybody in your organization without a finance background or education.
What was on your reading list this year? What sales or marketing books would you add to this list?