During my transition Finlay James I had a month of garden leave to see out as part of the exit from my former employer. Friends and family responded with unadulterated jealousy when the topic came into conversation and all expected I spend 4 weeks in blissful relaxation. That’s not what I had in mind though.
I’ll be the first to admit that keeping on top of the list of books I really want to read is a perpetual challenge so I used this ideal opportunity to catch up and tick some off. These are in no particular order but I’ll share some of the highlights that I’d strongly recommend sales leaders make time to pick up either in which ever format you enjoy most.
Sales EQ - Jeb Blount
I'm a huge fan of all Jeb’s work - I was going to cheat and include 2 of his books but won’t, Fanatical Prospecting gets an honourable mention though. Sales EQ is a no BS guide on a modern, customer oriented sales approach. Buyers are more educated than ever and many sales organisations really need to rethink their approach. The highlights for me were the chapters on strict qualification of opportunities and murder-boarding with your team to weed out junk from pipelines. It wont suit everyone 100% but there are some fantastic insights in there. It’s less tactics and hacks and more human connection.
The Accidental Sales Manager: How to Take Control and Lead Your Sales Team to Record Profits - Chris Lytle
I’ve seen this happen in my own industry and I know it’s prevalent in many others. An amazing individual contributor has an absolute stormer and gets promoted to running the team. With only the knowledge of how to achieve success for themselves it can be hard then taking on the responsibilities of a group of people and needing to worry about their number and performance. This book is good for people taking the step up. Its full of practical tips on building your team, training and developing them, running sales meetings and measuring performance, managing top performers, inspiring middle ones and letting mediocre ones go.
Drive - Daniel Pink
Two things this isn’t:
1. A book about motoring.
2. Something every sales leader will agree with.
To motivate employees who work beyond basic tasks, giving these three factors are argued to increase performance and satisfaction:
Autonomy — Our desire to be self directed. It increases engagement over compliance.
Mastery — The urge to get better skills.
Purpose — The desire to do something that has meaning and is important. Businesses that only focus on profits without valuing purpose will end up with poor customer service and unhappy employees.
This point of view overlooks high earnings and anchors back to these principles as the framework for performance. I have my own doubts having worked with people who hate their job and willingly forego all of the above for a higher OTE than somewhere of that philosophy. This is a food for thought read whichever way you see it - for or against and worth the investment in time either way.
Meditations - Marcus Aurelius
Some eyes are going to roll at this one but indulge me. I’m a history grad with an obsession for philosophy in my formative years. I revisited this last year and it’s an absolute gem. Marcus Aurelius was a Roman Emperor who was also a philosopher. Let's hold our horses though. I'm not for a minute making even the slightest comparison between leadership in sales to commanding one of the largest and most enduring empires in human civilisation.
The reason this makes the list is because it was never meant to be published. These are the private diaries of Aurelius meant purely for himself.
These writings are a leading form of stoic philosophy. Stoics believed in the goodness of things, no matter how bad they were at any given time. In short:
-Logic doesn’t always make sense, but everything happens for a reason.
-Life is too short to complain. (I need to remind myself of this more)
-The only pain you suffer is the one you create yourself.
I'm sure you can already relate and everyone needs a dose of this. In short it really opens your mind with ideas to keep level headed, especially in challenging circumstances. Most lists of this nature are filled with Zig Ziglar and Brian Tracy – this is a good wild card alternative.
Here are some others that aren’t getting a write up but definitely require a mention:
Sales Management. Simplified - Mike Weinberg
Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions: A Tactical Playbook for Managers and Executives - Keith Rosen
The Sales Development Playbook: Build Repeatable Pipeline and Accelerate Growth with Inside Sales - Trish Bertuzzi
So there you have it. I was really pleased to crank through so many great books and it’s really renewed enthusiasm to keep it up. I got an Audible subscription which has been invaluable, because let’s face it, sitting down and reading is a luxury time can often not afford.
Let me know your thoughts, if you find any of these useful or I’ve missed something great you want to recommend.