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The 10 Best Books to Read in 2010 - Part I

Charles W. Eliot once said, "Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers." The profession of selling is fortunate to have a multitude of counselors who are willing to share their insights with their peers. Below is Selling Power’s selection of the best books to read for sales managers and salespeople to boost sales productivity, to improve sales and to increase customer value. These ten books contain hundreds of valuable ideas that - if applied correctly - could easily increase your sales by 10% - 30% in 2010.

1.     Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions: A Tactical Playbook for Managers and Executives by Keith Rosen

How many salespeople on your team are not employing their full potential? 50%, or more? What stands in the way to greater performance isn’t something they don’t have, but something they don’t get: professional coaching. The sad truth is that most sales managers don’t have the skill set that it takes to make a positive difference in their salespeople's performance.
Most managers act as “super closers” and at the same time they complain about their salespeople’s inability to improve. Their approach to coaching is “telling and yelling.” The good news is that Executive Sales Coaching shares a proven process where sales managers and salespeople can co-create new skills in a fail-safe environment. The outcome: salespeople will create their own solutions.

This book will show you how you can
  • Help salespeople use their hidden capacities to solve their own problems
  • Create a culture of accountability where salespeople strive to live up to their commitments
  • Establish a climate of constructive collaboration that allows people to grow
What do I think? There are only a handful of great sales coaches. Keith Rosen is one of the top three in my mind. His book shares all the essentials you need to achieve a positive transformation of your sales team in 2010.

The downside: Once you’ve opened your eyes to the amazing possibilities of coaching salespeople, you’ll become hyper-critical of other sales managers who are stuck in the old ways of managing by “telling and yelling."

Meet the author: Keith is the founder of Profit Builders (www.profitbuilders.com), a leading sales training and sales coaching training company. I had the pleasure of videotaping Keith Rosen during a coaching session with an inside salesperson. If you are a sales manager, I recommend that you watch this six-minute video.

2.     The Funnel Principle: What Every Salesperson Must Know About Selling by Mark Sellers

Are your salespeople missing too many forecasts? Do many deals end up in ‘no sale’ to anyone? Are your salespeople chasing bad deals? It’s time to rethink your sales funnel. In fact, it may be time to replace your sales funnel with the far more productive “buy-cycle funnel.”
In his groundbreaking new book “The Funnel Principle,” international author and sales consultant Mark Sellers shares proven concepts such as:
  • How to start selling the way customers want to buy and stop selling the way you’ve always done it
  • How to start measuring your sales progress based on your buyer’s commitments, instead of measuring your progress based on your sales activities
  • How to dramatically improve your sales forecasting accuracy
  • How to deploy an 8-step Funnel Management Process designed to optimize your sales process and help your salespeople reach and exceed their sales goals
What do I think? I read the book, I have seen Mark Sellers in action and I spoke with the sales leaders of the companies he’s worked with and I believe that his message has a positive, transformative effect on sales organizations worldwide.

The downside: It is hard to change established belief systems. We all grew up thinking that the best way to sell was to follow a process prescribed by the sales manager. Mark teaches us that the best way to sell is to use the buyer’s commitment as your guide.

Meet the author: I have had the privilege of working with Mark Sellers on a three-part video series. In this four-minute video Mark explains why the traditional sales funnel is outdated.

3.     The Optimal Salesperson by Dan Caramanico and Marie Maguire

This is a great new book for both salespeople and sales managers. What’s great is that the expert authors will help you pinpoint your weaknesses and build up your strengths.
Here are some of the tested techniques salespeople will learn from this book:
  • How to develop a mindset that will make you a better closer
  • How to replace cold calls with personal introductions
  • How to create the skill set and attitude you need to sell to the C-level buyer
  • How to turbo-charge your motivation to win

Here is what CEO’s and Sales Managers will get from this book:
  • What your sales team needs to get your company to the next level
  • How to identify, recruit and hire superstar salespeople
  • How to create the most effective and productive sales process
  • How to diagnose the obstacles to your sales team’s success

What do I think? The authors are experienced professionals. They’ve helped many sales organizations with hiring and developing sales superstars. They have a proven track record. The book is rich in content and immediately useful.

The downside: Reading this book may lead you to the realization that what ails your sales organization is not the lack of talent and motivation of your salespeople, but the lack of quality in your hiring process.

More about the authors: Check their website www.caramanico.com

4.     The Market has Changed, Have You? By Paul D’Souza

When I first met Paul two years ago, I found his ideas crystallizing, his personal power mesmerizing and his commitment to help people awe inspiring. Paul asked, “How fast can you change?" When I asked “why” he explained, “speed is our friend, and delay is the enemy.” In his new book, Paul has skillfully woven the powers of philosophy, human psychology and professional selling around the spindle of change.
What managers often overlook is the fact that all business progress demands that we change how we think, how we approach customers, how we sell and how we define and create customer value. Paul, who has the mental flexibility of an acrobat explained that when it comes to buying the latest and greatest technology, we act like children. We are always eager to explore the latest and greatest. Without hesitation we discard obsolete products and celebrate another leap forward. The point is that we all love to buy external change, but we all resist internal change. We all know that many people resist rapid change to the extent that they become unproductive, unhappy and often unemployed. Paul reminds us that we are all in the driver’s seat, we can make a conscious decision to allow ourselves to win through change. The sole purpose of Paul’s book is to learn how to drive change; to be the master, not the slave of change. When we empower ourselves to change, we’ll liberate ourselves from the ever-present threat of obsolescence.

What do I think? Paul is an enlightening teacher, a personal guru with a highly intuitive mind. The book accurately reflects how he thinks. His thinking style isn’t vertical or horizontal; it’s diagonal, contrarian, yet highly practical.

The downside: This book is a waste of time for the few people who are incapable of looking within. It’s a rich goldmine for people who want to change and deploy their true potential.

More about the author: Check his website www.pauldsouza.com

5.     ProActive Sales Management: How to Lead, Motivate, and Stay Ahead of the Game by Skip Miller

This book has been an AMACOM runaway bestseller for the past three years. Since the second edition hit the market a few months ago, it has attracted more critical acclaim. Skip Miller has been a strategic sales advisor and trainer to the world’s most successful companies like Virgin Atlantic, HP, Bristol Myers, IDC and Oracle, and many more. In his book, Skip explains that few sales managers are highly effective. Why? Because they tend to fall back on the skills that made them great at sales…instead of adopting the new skills that will make them great managers.
Here are just a few of the golden nuggets you will find in this invaluable book:
  • How to create a successful sales culture
  • How to manage time and people to optimize results
  • How to find, recruit and develop a successful sales team
  • How to master the art of coaching, counseling and taking corrective action
  • How to reduce reporting to ten minutes per week
  • How to create a successful compensation plan
  • How to integrate technology to enhance your sales operation
What do I think? There are very few sales management books that can favorably compare to this bestselling book. It’s an accessible, practical and winning guide for new and advanced sales managers.

The downside: Many sales managers believe that they are ahead of the game and they will resist the lessons in this book. They feel that they are the sales locomotive that pulls the entire train. Unfortunately, these managers ignore the fact that there is a second engine at the back of the train, pushing hard. That second engine is a hot and eager market. When that second engine stops pushing, the sales manager will stall out.

More about the author: Check his website http://m3learning.com also check this brief video clip of Skip teaching salespeople

Stay tuned for Part II – five more books to win in 2010.

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Joseph Lira

Hi, thanksfor sharing your suggestions,
sometimes it is useful to have good sources to move forward in reading, The sales Funnel sounds very interesting, I will check it out, I will also tell my firends about your blog, your reviews are very good,
Good site!

Ryan McMichael

Gerhard - I love your selections here as I have read three out of the top five listed here. I am extremely passionate about Sales Coaching and you mention in your review that you regard Keith Rosen as one of your top three Sales Coaches. Who are your other two?

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