9 Best Sales Books You Must Read in 2021

In the age of short-form content like Facebook posts and 240 character tweets, reading books is becoming an increasingly redundant habit. Everyone still swears by it though, claiming to read frequently. But more often than not, it’s just a pile of books that remain untouched. The Japanese call it Tsundoku—acquiring books repeatedly but letting them pile up at home without reading any. Most of us are guilty as charged, I know I definitely am.

Best sales books

Then you stumble upon some books that are not only worth reading but also worth imbibing as life lessons. These books are the ones on my list of best sales books that you should pick up. These books aren’t best sellers because of their brand value but because of the lessons they offer. They are first-hand narrations of experiences the authors have had.

Why should you read these books? Each of the books listed here talks about how the author experienced failure or committed to an experiment, and what results they arrived at. By reading them, you will gain insight into common mistakes that you can avoid, and also implement the best practices that work for you.

1. SPIN Selling – Neil Rackham

spin selling best sales books

Published way back in 1988, this book has stood the test of time. The methodology presented in this book is commonly used by sales teams. The SPIN way of selling is all about asking the right question at the right time. The author Neil, studied 35,000 sales leads in 20+ countries to understand the behavior of buyers and sellers. The results showed that the success of the sales cycle depended heavily on the questions that the salesperson asked the prospect. As a salesperson, you need to ask a mix of Situation questions, Problem questions, Implication questions, and questions that can answer the Need-Payoff. You have to be able to recognize the problem and center the discussion around how the solution can be delivered.

Read the book summary here.

Other titles: Major Account Sales Strategy

2. The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results – Gary W. Keller and Jay Papasan

the one thing best sales books

This book poses a simple question, that works on various levels—“What is the one thing you need to do, that will make everything else easier or unnecessary?” This question can help you plan your daily activities or plan your future goals. Answering this question honestly will help you realize where you are, and where you need to go from there. The book also explains how you can focus on the ONE thing, and avoid diverting from it. It introduces the Pareto Principle to drive home the point that all the tasks on your to-do list are not equally important. The book reinforces the idea that multitasking is not the way to go.

Other titles: SHIFT: How Top Real Estate Agents Tackle Tough Times

3. Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It – Christopher Voss and Tahl Raz

never split the difference negotiating as if your life depended on it best sales books

The book opens on a chilling note, “We’ve got your son. Give us a million dollars, or he dies.” The author, Christopher Voss negotiates his way through the hypothetical situation in a calm manner, getting the negotiators to agree to his terms. This is the readers first look into how simple methods can change a conversation. Chris is a former lead international negotiator for the FBI. He has navigated through negotiations with terrorists and robbers, in life or death situations with higher stakes than the average sales deal. In this book, he shares nine principles that can help dictate negotiation in any scenario. When buying a car or asking for a raise, Chris believes that everybody negotiates on a daily basis, and can benefit from these tips.

Read the book summary here.

4. Customer Centric Selling – John R. Holland

customer centric selling best sales books

Customer-centric selling believes in value-based selling as opposed to feature-based. Gone are the times of flashy presentations and monotonous feature demos. Buyers don’t want to be sold to anymore but prefer genuine conversations and discussions instead. Rather than listing out features, understand the customer’s pain point, and explain how it can be solved by using your product. This book describes the right way to approach customer-centric selling, in seven crisp and precise ways.

5. The Sales Acceleration Formula: Using Data, Technology, and Inbound Selling to Go from $0 to $100 Million – Mark Roberge

the sales acceleration formula best sales books

We’ve heard the saying “sales is an art.” But this book dispels that idea with hard proof. Mark talks about how he aced his mission of “scalable, predictable revenue growth”, with his formulas for success. He takes us through his journey of how he grew a three-member team into a $100 million company, in 7 years. He lists the formulas that he created and implemented at HubSpot—Sales Hiring Formula, Sales Training Formula, Sales Management Formula, and Demand Generation Formula. He concludes by explaining how experimentation in technology is growing in importance. The formula for sales does exist, and that is what helped HubSpot with their initial growth.

Watch the Sales Acceleration Formula webinar with Mark Roberge here.

6. The Lost Art of Closing: Winning the Ten Commitments That Drive Sales – Anthony Iannarino

lost art of closing best sales books

For a salesperson, closing is the most important, but also the most unpredictable step. You never know what may go wrong. While the end goal is always to close the deal, that may not always be the result. In this book, Anthony explains how closing isn’t part of just the final step. He introduces a checklist that needs to be addressed thoroughly before the closure stage, and how it can help nurture the prospect towards closure. This book is recommended if you want to hone your closing skills.

Watch the Lost Art of Closing webinar with Anthony Iannarino here.

Other titles: Eat their lunch

7. Lost and Founder: A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World – Rand Fishkin

lost and founder best sales books

A personal memoir, this book is a brutally honest look into the ups and downs of being a startup founder. It sheds light on the unspoken side of being an entrepreneur, which isn’t always the usual success story of a college dropout with a multi-billion dollar idea. Rand talks of his success, failures and the tough decisions he had to make while growing Moz over the years. He expresses great regret over not taking up the acquisition offer in the earlier stages, and how it has changed the course set for Moz. This book is a must-read for its transparency and honesty.

Watch the A Field Guide to the Startup World Webinar with Rand Fishkin here.

Other titles: Inbound Marketing and SEO: Insights from the Moz Blog 

8. To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others – Daniel Pink

to sell is human best sales books

This book believes that everyone is a salesperson and that we’ve all sold something at some point in our lives. A startup in its early stages cannot afford to have a dedicated salesperson, which is why pretty much everyone on the team ends up selling. Thanks to the advent of the internet, the way we sell has changed. Back in the day, salespeople got away with fancy promises because the buyer was not well-informed. Now, buyers meet with a salesperson only with the intention of closing the deal. That’s why it is imperative that salespeople know how to listen well, rather than talk more. The book redefines the ABC of selling, to Attunement, Buoyancy, and Clarity.

Other titles: When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing

9. The Sales Development Playbook: Build Repeatable Pipeline and Accelerate Growth with Inside Sales – Trish Bertuzzi

the sales development playbook best sales books

A clear favorite for sales managers, this book is an easy-to-read guide with clear instructions on how to set up and manage sales development in a company. It presents the elements that need to be considered when managing a sales development team; covering elements like strategy, specialization, recruiting, retention, execution, and leadership. Trish adds original insights to the issues she presents, and helps you understand how to approach them. The book gives a clear definition of why a company needs a sales development team, and how they can boost their sales with one in place.

Watch The Only Sustainable Advantage in Selling with Trish Bertuzzi here.

We hope to hear your thoughts on our list, and we’d love to know your recommendations as well! Drop us a note in the comments below!

Cover illustration by Anandh Ravichandran