There are a number of “best sales books” posts on the internet. And they are very good, for the most part. In fact, I’ll put a collection of my favorites further down.This article isn’t about a massive list of resources. Bulk is not our focus. We’d rather give great sales training books .
The former is an over-served market. What’s not as well-served are picking the books best used for training reps after they’re hired. Books that companies use to make their sales forces better. Real protocols and essentials (derived from the very best books) every rep needs to succeed.
And that’s the focus of this article. Let’s get to it.
Our List of the Best Sales Training Books and Manuals
1. Write Your Own Sales Manual
Creating your own sales manual for your specific organization is the best bet for your specific products and services. And no, you don’t have to be a world-class public-facing sales professional to have a decent document for your team.
You do need a lot of thought and a good chunk of research.
Think about things like:
- Your ideal buyers (including their attributes)
- Ideal selling strategies for your products
- Are prices on the higher end?
- What do your most successful reps do to close?
- List out all books, articles and videos which caused a noticeable improvement in your sales process. NOT just any resource you liked, be objective about it.
Note: It’s also important to document behaviors you don’t want to see from reps. Things like:
- Closing too much
- Not closing at all
- General bad sales tactics
You’ll be surprised at just how much this information will propel your reps — especially if you’ve never put together the documentation before.
Supplementary Sales Training Books
I believe every company needs a sales manual of their own. Whether it be a small document, or a full-fledge course, it’s good to have a custom process.
That said, nearly every training program or course has “required reading”. I remember training for a management role in a big-box retailer. At that time, it was required to read Sam Walton: Made in America.
Which books should you include? That’s a subjective matter, but here are some of our suggestions.
Spin Selling by Neil RackHam
Who It’s For: Companies selling larger-priced goods
Why It Should Be Required:\
The book, in its entirety is based on sales studies. In other words, it’s data with commentary, not anecdotal advice from some salesperson. The book is a bit dated (originally published in the 80s), but holds up better than some sales books published a few months ago. The data inside will help any sales rep adjust their tactics.
Little Red Book of Selling: 12.5 Principles of Sales Greatness by Jeffrey Gitomer
Who It’s For: Great for everyone, especially beginners
Why It Should Be Required:
It calls itself a “little” book. I know it’s all relative, but with over 200 pages, I’m not sure it’s little. That said, the information is all fantastic, bite-sized and really written in a sort of workbook style. Each principle is something reps should know and this book could be a base for onboarding new sales professionals into your organization — especially if you hire people without previous sales experience.
Predictable Prospecting: How to Radically Increase Your B2B Sales Pipeline by Marylou Tyler and Jeremey Donovan
Who It’s For: Great for anyone in B2B sales
Why It Should Be Required:
While this book doesn’t have too many reviews, its pages hold invaluable advice for one of the most important skills for any sales pro. Think it’s closing? Think again. This book focuses on the top of funnel. Ensuring both the quality and quantity of leads heading into your buying cycle is crucial to selling. It’s not a flashy skill, but it will send you (or your reps) over the top, if the instructions are followed.
Putting It All Together (Basic Sales Training Manual Template)
We’ve talked about building out your own training manual. And also covered several books to include in your training. Now, I’ll put it together a bit into a sample document outline (with notes along the way).
If so, feel free to copy/paste this template outline into a doc and fill it in for your needs.
Sales Training Manual Template Outline
- Table of Contents
- Build Excitement/Set Expectations
Notes: The greeting is the place to share your organization’s voice with every new hire. Managers, teammates and others may greet new reps, but it’s likely your training materials will be the only consistent messaging. This makes the first few pages vital for setting the tone and communicating expectations.
- Timeline for sales training
- Day in the life of a sales rep
- “Typical sales encounter” description
Notes: The overview section is a continuation of the introduction with a lot more details. It’s not heavy training, but sets up the rest of the training by letting reps know about the timeline, how a day may look when they get started and helps them to wrap their minds around and actual sales encounter.
- Company background
- Product list/description
- Benefits for prospective buyers
Notes: Your reps need to know about the products, but they also need to know the benefit customers receive. Not just features, but the results that get people to buy. This is the right place to communicate these details.
- Target market(s)
- Buyer personas
Notes: Once you communicate why people buy, it’s time to show new reps who buys it. This involves a detailed description of your markets and ideal buyer profiles/personas.
- X approved ways to find leads
- Cold outreach
- Social media
- Follow Up
- Understanding the buying cycle
- How often to follow up
- Automated follow ups
- How often (and when) to close
- Proven closing techniques
- Closing questions
- Sales Etiquette
- Good practices
- Bad practices
- Unacceptable practices
Notes: This is the “meat” of your sales training manual. Anything you want your reps to know about selling goes here. What to do, what not to do and everything in between.
- Spin Selling
- Key takeaways from the book
- Questions about the book (for rep to answer)
- Spin Selling
Notes: Here is the best place for reading material. There may be certain things in these books that you don’t want your reps to do. It’s best to get your protocols first. You can ask open-ended questions about the book to gauge how well new reps understand the material or even have a quiz.
- List of company structure, key personnel
- Information about quotas/expectations
- Helpful sales articles
- Access to sales enablement material
Notes: Don’t just treat the last section as a “catch-all”. Only put the things that your reps will reference at appropriate times in there. Quotas will take time to understand, so having these in the resources is important. Key figures to reach out to is also good to have. Instructions on using CRMs, lead data sources and other sales enablement tools are also great additions.
Other Best Sales Books Lists We Like
- Best Sales Books: 60+ Elite Picks to Step Up Your Sales Game — SalesHacker
- 31 best sales books for leveling up your sales game in 2020 — Close
- Read Like a CEO: The 21 Best Sales Books of All Time — Yesware
Building Your Library of Sales Training Books
Researching this article, I searched far and wide for templates, pdfs and other plug and chug resources. But there just aren’t that many.
Sure, there is a training manual teaching how to sell kitchen knives door-to-door and a bunch of generic manuals (that have nothing to do with sales). And I think I know why there is such a shortage of good materials — Confidentiality.
- Want to know Disney’s Cast Member Policy — it’s everywhere.
- Feel like seeing Walmart’s training material — public knowledge.
- Want to see how HubSpot trains their sales reps — not happening.
There’s too much competition trying to get at that inbound CRM, software tool market. While they’ll share tips and tricks, what they do isn’t necessarily out in the open.
That’s exactly why you have to build your own training library built from the perfect mix of best books available and what is working in your industry/company.
What are you doing to better build your sales force?
Want to help contribute to future articles? Have data-backed and tactical advice to share? I’d love to hear from you!
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