The 9 Best Sales Books of 2020

Refine your persuasion skills with these top reads

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In theory, becoming better at sales is super easy to explain: you get better at sales convincing more people to buy your product. But of course, it’s never that easy, really. You need knowledge, skills and empathy. The best salespeople have a deep understanding of psychology, human behavior, strategy, have made a long and short-term plan and are experts on the industries of themselves and their clients. And sales books are a great resource to harness those traits. Read on to find the best sales books to buy for novice and experienced salespeople alike.

Best Overall: Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Listen

Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Listen
 Courtesy of Amazon

Your brand is more than just a product: It’s an idea and a story. This 2017 book by Donald Miller tops the Amazon Best-Seller list in Sales and Selling for a reason. In the book, Miller builds a method for improving sales using seven universal principles that focus on telling compelling stories and teaching salespeople how to empathize and connect with their clients. The book explains not only how to tell a story, but how to tell whether or not your audience is compelled by it. It also walks you through the steps of creating effective messaging for all media platforms as well as for advertisements.

Best Classic: SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham

This 1988 classic by Neil Rackham is a classic for a reason. All the new-fangled research and psychology in the world won’t turn you into a great salesperson unless you know how to apply it to your work – and use it to seal the deal. You have to know the right questions to ask and the order in which to ask them. You have to make sure clients understand that they need something and that all that ails them will only be fixed once they buy your product. You have to be customer-centric and you have to be empathetic.

SPIN, the title of the book, is an acronym for the type of questions to ask: situational, problem, implication and need-payoff. These four categories were determined after interviewing thousands of salespersons around the country, and when practiced, understood, and applied correctly, these techniques will turn you into a better salesperson as well.

Confused? Well, thankfully, the 197 pages of Rackham’s book will explain it all.

Best By A CEO: The Psychology of Selling: Increase Your Sales Faster & Easier...

Sure, a lot of people can write a great book and promise success after success. But doesn’t it make sense to trust someone with proven results? The author of this work, Brian Tracy, is the CEO of his own company – and used to be the CEO of a $265 million development company.

So, what’s in the book itself, other than decades of experience?

Lessons on improving your self-esteem and confidence through basic psychology. It sounds simple, but it packs a powerful punch. Not only will you learn how to use science to motivate yourself – you’ll also learn how to motivate others through emotion and logic at every part of the sale. If you need a refresher on the basics, this is definitely a book to keep on your shelf – but if you’re experienced, you’ll also be well-served by the concise and practical structure.

Best for Wolf of Wall Street: Way of the Wolf: Straight Line Selling...

Whether or not you’ve seen the crazy movie featuring Jonah Hill and Leonardo DiCaprio, if you have Wall Street aspirations, you’ll want to read this book.

In the riveting 256 pages, Jordan Belfort, the real-life maven the movie was based upon, takes you step-by-step through the process of becoming an expert in closing deals and earning dough. Previously, Belfort charged nearly $2,000 and required you to take an online training to learn this method, so the $15 or so you’ll spend on this book is a relative steal. No matter how old you are, you’re sure to learn something from this book. Aspiring leaders, sellers, CEOs and entrepreneurs alike will benefit from the enclosed tips and secrets.

Most Versatile Sales Book: Sell or Be Sold: How to Get Your Way in Business/Life

This book doesn’t just teach you how to sell things: It teaches you how to convince anyone that an idea is a good one. Whether you’re pitching a product to a team of potential investors, telling your boss about a system you want to implement, selling a plan to a client or even trying to convince yourself to use the gym in your basement more than once a year, you definitely have a lot to learn from this book. The author of this book, Grant Cardone, is an expert on basic selling principles that can apply to any industry. It also teaches you skills that will help you cope with failing to make a sale, rejection and build resilience. As a bonus, you’ll learn how to sell in a bad economy and fight your fears.

This book might improve your work life – but it’ll definitely improve your overall outlook on the process of persuasion.

Best for Motivation: Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Selling things takes knowing how to tell a great story and knowing how to convince someone, of course. But a key component of being a great salesperson that’s often overlooked is knowing how to motivate those around you, both clients and higher-ups, as well as friends, family, students and children.

You might think that money is the best way to inspire someone into action or deed, but Daniel H. Pink, the author of this and 10 other bestselling books, thinks otherwise. His key theory is that we all have a deep desire and need to be creative and in control, as well as to improve ourselves and those around us.

Lest you think it’s all a gimmick, Pink backs up his work with forty years of psychological research.

Best for Higher Sales: Trading Up: Why Consumers Want New Luxury Goods

Despite the throngs of wealthy yogis and minimalists touting a lifestyle where less is more, the age of luxury is far from dead. CEOs and their secretaries alike still spend on comfortable quality clothing, delicious food and wine and top of the line sporting goods. Of course, these products come with a price: and it’s up to you to learn how to convince people to buy more of them.

This fascinating story traces the historical rise of what the authors, Michael J. Silverstein, Neil Fiske and John Butman, see as the cultural forces that created the market for luxury goods and today’s retail market. Interestingly enough, it is the middle class, not necessarily the world’s wealthiest, that are buying more and more of these goods. The rise of social media influencers and traditional celebrities alike is key to understanding this trend – but a deep dive into the companies that sell luxury goods is also in order, and provided by this book.

No matter the product you sell, learning how to command a premium price for it is certainly useful.

Best for Managers: Sales Manager Survival Guide: Lessons From Sales' Front Lines

Sales managers often struggle and have to learn how to navigate the position on their own. This book earns its survival guide title by walking readers — step by step — through what it takes to become an excellent sales manager. Knowing how to hit your numbers requires many skills. From hiring exceptional talent to leveraging sales systems and tools to honing your coaching skills, author David Brock shares great strategies for accomplishing all that and more. Sales Manager Survival Guide: Lessons From Sales' Front Lines breaks down what to focus on your first 30 days as a new manager. It then proceeds to review what to do during your 60- to 90-day tenure. Coaching is a big part of the book, too. Brock shares exactly how much of your time you should be spending with your reps to get the best results. 

Best on the Future of Sales: Next Is Now: 5 Steps for Embracing Change

Things are changing at a rapid pace in business and technology. Sales can be affected by Google and social media algorithms in the blink of an eye. Securing sales and maintaining a profitable business requires embracing change — not just after a quarterly meeting but on a daily basis. Lior Arussy is one of the world's leading authorities on curating positive customer experiences and embracing customer-centric transformations. He works with some of the biggest brands, encouraging them to champion change in an effort to stay relevant.  He applies this same knowledge in Next Is Now, sharing his best strategies to overcome victim mentality. He also reframes change, so it no longer kills morale and productivity​ but makes it a game-changing opportunity. If you want to improve your sales over time, it is crucial to look toward the future and be flexible. This book will help you and your team stay on top.