by MarketSource

Top 12 Books Every B2B Sales Leader Should Read This Summer 

 

The long, lazy days of summer are just ahead. Whether you vacation at home or far away, you’re going to have some down time. And there’s no better way to make use of that time than to kick back with a good book in hand. 

And if the pandemic has taught sales leaders anything, it’s that we all have a lot to learn. We could all benefit from the fresh perspectives and sage advice of others who have been where we are now, inspiring us to do better.  

In an age of blog posts, whitepapers, and email newsletters, it’s easy to get caught up in a whirlwind of short-form content. However, spending time with an actual book will be well rewarded. Sales and leadership books offer a deeper dive into the research and philosophies underpinning B2B sales success. Their lessons will get you thinking critically about what it means to lead and how you can use your position to drive real change.   

The best sales management books convey the challenges that come with being a sales professional and provide insight into everything from effective relationship-building to the psychology of leadership. Since there’s no shortage of excellent titles, narrowing down the long list of options will likely be your hardest struggle. 

To help you expand your professional library, we’ve identified a few of the most noteworthy sales and management books from the last several years, as well as some classics worth checking out. Set aside some quality time, cozy up in a comfortable chair, and enjoy these helpful — and even fun! — reads. You can also take a look at these 12 book suggestions on our Amazon list. 

1. To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others, by Daniel H. Pink

Why Read It? 

In this groundbreaking book, Daniel H. Pink argues that, whether we recognize it or not, everyone is involved in sales to some extent these days. This reality bears repeating as you take on a role in B2B sales management. While your day-to-day responsibilities may look somewhat different than those of the professionals you oversee, the concept of selling still pervades everything you do. 

The book examines the concepts that underscore the never-ending sales process. Pink takes a fresh look at the evolving nature of sales, picking apart ideas we’ve long taken for granted. For example, rather than rest on the familiar trope of the sales acronym ABC (Always Be Closing), he proposes a compelling alternative that he calls “Attunement, Buoyancy, and Clarity.”  

In To Sell Is Human, he also offers new spins on the classic elevator pitch. Pink’s advice will encourage you to apply a sales mentality, whether you’re looking to motivate your team members or taking on challenges in your personal life. 

2. Sell with a Story: How to Capture Attention, Build Trust, and Close the Sale, by Paul Smith

Why Read It?  

Organizational storytelling coach and leadership expert Paul Smith attracted attention with his 2012 hit Lead With a Story, which helps readers craft compelling narratives to encourage collaboration, promote diversity, and achieve a variety of other key business objectives.  

In his follow-up, Sell with a Story, Smith continues to highlight the power of storytelling, this time emphasizing how a well-crafted story can deliver instant emotional impact. 

This book is invaluable if you’re a sales manager looking for new, more personable ways to encourage and connect with your team. Smith shows you how to use storytelling, a method that your team members may find more accessible than your typical sales practices.  

Let the lessons gained through this read drive your coaching efforts as you help your team make pitches, handle objections, and, of course, close important sales.  

3. Never Split the Difference: NegotiatingAs If Your Life Depended On It, by Chris Voss 

Why Read It? 

An FBI hostage negotiator may not immediately seem like your go-to source of information for sales management, but you might be surprised how applicable the takeaways from this book are to your job.   

From high-stakes negotiations to everyday conflict resolution, you’ll find that this guide will make you feel empowered to take on situations you once found nerve-wracking. 

To get the most from this information-packed book, consider tackling it over the course of several weeks. This will allow you to apply its techniques in your own life and start to utilize the strategies that’ve been honed and perfected by negotiation mastermind Chris Voss. 

4. The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You, by JulieZhuo 

Why Read It? 

Every manager has questioned their own competence and struggled to lead with confidence at some point in their career. Author Julie Zhuo understands this full well: She felt overwhelmed when taking on her first position in management. She quickly learned, however, that the most effective leaders are made — not born.   

The Making of a Manager aims to help you exercise your developing management muscles so that you can continue to thrive as you lead your team to greatness. Although primarily targeted at rookie managers, Zhuo’s book provides plenty of details that can help even veteran managers make key improvements as they motivate their team. 

5. David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, by ‌Malcolm Gladwell 

Why Read It?

At first glance, a book about underdogs might not seem like a natural fit for successful sales executives. But this Malcolm Gladwell bestseller holds important lessons that are relevant to anyone. Its value for sales management is quickly evident, as it focuses on the power of adversity to spark your greatest success stories.  

If nothing else, this bestseller is interesting and entertaining. Its stories include an alternate take on the legend of David and Goliath, as well as intriguing dives into the minds of civil rights leaders, cancer researchers, and many other influential individuals who have managed to find their power despite dealing with huge disadvantages. If you’re feeling stuck as a leader or unable to get your team out of a rut, this book just might inspire the paradigm shift you need.  

6. Sales EQ: How Ultra High Performers Leverage Sales-Specific Emotional Intelligence to Close the Complex Deal, by ‌Jeb Blount

Why Read It?

Jeb Blount is best known for titles such as Fanatical Prospecting and Virtual Selling, but some of his greatest insights lie in this hidden gem. Offering a detailed look at the psychology behind selling, he shows you relevant research and data that can be integrated into the sales process. He empowers sellers to take advantage of what he calls the “ultimate buyer’s market.” 

The challenges that Blount lays out in this book are no doubt worrisome. As he explains, the strategies that once paid off in both sales and management are no longer always the keys to success. He looks at how the sales world continues to transform while highlighting real areas of opportunity using examples of elite groups of professionals who are crushing it in today’s competitive environment.  

Equipped with Blount’s advice, you’ll feel better prepared to take on both the challenges and possibilities of modern sales as you motivate your team to do the same. 

7. People Follow You: The Real Secret to What Matters Most in Leadership, by ‌Jeb Blount

Why Read It? 

Another excellent read from Jeb Blount, this book goes beyond sales to focus on management. Its easily digestible format highlights five main solutions for influencing team members and improving their performance.   

This resource provides a framework for developing strong interpersonal relationships under the assumption that employees are more likely to respond to managers they like and trust. Blount strongly believes that leaders should rely on personal powers such as persuasion, rather than resorting to the power of authority.  

Although packed with actionable information, Blount’s management manifesto boils down to one main message: People don’t work for paychecks or perks — they work for you.  

8. Sell the Way You Buy: A Modern ApproachTo Sales That Actually Works (Even On You!), by ‌David Priemer  

Why Read It? 

After years in management, you may begin to feel out of touch with the current realities of sales. If you’re in need of a refresh, look to this book for help. While reading it, you’ll be reminded of the critical nature of empathy, both in closing sales and motivating your team.  

Written by former Salesforce VP David Priemer, Sell the Way You Buy uses a combination of behavioral science research and personal anecdotes to adapt long-held sales philosophies and strategies for today’s unique environment.  

9. It’s the Manager: MovingFrom Boss to Coach, by Jim Clifton and Jim Harter  

Why Read It? 

If you’re struggling to connect or build rapport with your team, the problem could lie with how you frame your role. Do you think of yourself as a boss? Or as a coach? It’s the Manager will help you define your position and use this newfound understanding to be of better service to the team you’re leading. 

This book is inspired by — and chock-full of data from — Gallup research, and suggests that managers are capable of making or breaking entire organizations. You’ll get a close-up look at Gallup’s findings regarding the future of work, as well as how managers fit into the ever-evolving workforce.  

Clifton and Harter tackle subjects most authors fail to cover. They explain concepts such as artificial intelligence and remote work — important concepts that are already influencing the professional landscape of the future.  

You’ll come away understanding how you can improve your leadership capabilities today, and how you can expect to take on new leadership challenges as the work world continues to transform in the digital age.   

10. The First-Time Manager, by Loren B.Belker and Jim McCormick  

Why Read It? 

This classic may have been published over four decades ago, but it remains relevant today. Despite its name, this is an essential title for new and experienced sales managers alike. Mostly, though, it’s a must-read for novice managers still trying to find their footing.  

In its seventh edition, this respected title provides updated information on everything from managing across generations to making the most of today’s digital performance appraisal tools.   

11. Surrounded by Idiots: The Four Types of Human Behavior and How to Effectively Communicate with Each in Business (and in Life), by Thomas Erikson 

Why Read It?

At times, your team members’ behavior and approach to sales can seem downright perplexing. How you handle both their gaffes and successes will depend, in part, on your understanding of what drives them. You’ll find it easier to determine this after you’ve powered through this bestseller, which has sold well over 1.5 million copies. 

Author Thomas Erikson will introduce you to four main personality types, each seeing the world in dramatically different ways. As you encounter descriptions of these types of people, you’ll naturally find yourself identifying which members of your current and past teams fall into each category. You also might discover where you yourself land. In doing so, you’ll learn how to better communicate, adapt negotiations, and improve team dynamics. 

12. Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity, by Kim Scott

Why Read It? 

As a leader, you’re expected to handle two essentials that often seem diametrically opposed: genuinely caring about your team members while also challenging them to do better. This can be a difficult balance to strike. As former Google and Apple executive Kim Scott points out, it’s easy to fall into the traps of “obnoxious aggression” or “ruinous empathy.”   

In Radical Candor, Scott will help you avoid common management pitfalls and motivate you to carve an alternate path defined by honest yet compassionate feedback. You’ll learn how to be both a firm and kindhearted leader, all while producing impressive results.  

Get Reading! 

As you grow your sales leadership reading list, don’t be afraid to draw inspiration from a variety of resources. You’ll be amazed by the range of valuable takeaways you can find in both cutting-edge and classic books. 

This is your opportunity to level up your sales management game — no matter how much experience you have under your belt — and maybe just rediscover the joy of reading books.

MarketSource can help you put top sales management lessons into action with practical solutions that fit your business. Let’s start a conversation today.

View these 12 books on our Amazon list.

Topic: B2B

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

By delivering a swift and seamless expression of your brand in support of critical business objectives, MarketSource can help you achieve better experiences, better relationships, and better sales.

At MarketSource, an Allegis Group company, we believe better sales begin with better relationships. Our proven alternative to traditional outsourced sales is led by a proprietary process that helps businesses thrive by fostering deeper connections between people and brands.