Try These Hard-Hitting Sales Training Books to Sharpen Performance

Rob Danna
Rob Danna

Sales training books

Aristotle, the Greek philosopher, had some pretty stunning ideas, and nearly all are relevant today.

“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation,” he said. “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”

That message—to persevere and turn habit into excellence—applies to athletes, artists or anyone who puts their work on the line every day. Including sales reps.

That makes sales training all the more important. Everyone needs a bump in inspiration, and everyone needs continual learning to improve. While your team might be disparate, sales leaders can get the most out of their people by turning ongoing training into a habit.

Try these books and magazines to motivate your sales reps, no matter who they are. 

Sales Training Books For the Non-Conformist Sales Rep

Every team has one. They’re the person who does things their own way—a little off the beaten path. And it works.

What makes them an individual also makes them an effective sales rep. So, for this non-conformist, offer these sales training books to help them make the most of their uniqueness:

Adam Grant book cover
Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant

“In Originals, Adam Grant addresses the challenge of improving the world from the perspective of becoming original: choosing to champion novel ideas and values that go against the grain, battle conformity, and buck outdated traditions. How can we originate new ideas, policies, and practices without risking it all?”

Switch book cover
Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath

“Why is it so hard to make lasting changes in our companies, in our communities, and in our own lives?

The primary obstacle is a conflict that’s built into our brains, say Chip and Dan Heath. Psychologists have discovered that our minds are ruled by two different systems—the rational mind and the emotional mind—that compete for control. The rational mind wants a great beach body; the emotional mind wants that Oreo cookie. The rational mind wants to change something at work; the emotional mind loves the comfort of the existing routine. This tension can doom a change effort—but if it is overcome, change can come quickly.”

Sales Training Books For the Introverted Sales Rep

They might turn down happy hour after work or turn in early instead of going out after that big out-of-town sales call. They’re just more comfortable by themselves—and that’s OK. The introverts on your team thrive on quiet, and it makes them better at what they do. Here’s a quick read for this member of your team:

To Sell is Human Book Cover
To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others by Daniel H. Pink

“To Sell Is Human offers a fresh look at the art and science of selling. As he did in Drive and A Whole New Mind, Daniel H. Pink draws on a rich trove of social science for his counterintuitive insights. He reveals the new ABCs of moving others (it's no longer "Always Be Closing"), explains why extraverts don't make the best sales people, and shows how giving people an "off-ramp" for their actions can matter more than actually changing their minds.”

Sales Training Books For the Scientist

You know the type: they overthink every little phone call or email, and craft presentations down to the utmost precision. They want to optimize every interaction to get closer to the sale. They’re a bit like a mad scientist, but with sales, people and their behavior. Check out these sales training books for the scientists on your team:

Nudge Book Cover
Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein

“Drawing on decades of research in the fields of behavioral science and economics, authors Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein offer a new perspective on preventing the countless mistakes we make—ill-advised personal investments, consumption of unhealthy foods, neglect of our natural resources—and show us how sensible “choice architecture” can successfully nudge people toward the best decisions.”

Predictably Irrational Book Cover
Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely

“When it comes to making decisions in our lives, we think we're making smart, rational choices. But are we?

In this New York Times bestseller, Dan Ariely refutes the common assumption that we behave in fundamentally rational ways. From drinking coffee to losing weight, from buying a car to choosing a romantic partner, we consistently overpay, underestimate and procrastinate. Yet these misguided behaviors are neither random nor senseless. They're systematic and predictable—making us predictably irrational.”

Sales Training Books For the Up-and-Coming Leader

They put in the extra hours, take less-than-appealing assignments and always know the right thing to say in a meeting. They might not be where they want to be right now, but they’re going places. Here are the sales books to give the up-and-coming leaders on your sales team:

Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek

“Our biology hasn’t changed in fifty thousand years, but our environment certainly has. Today’s workplaces tend to be full of cynicism, paranoia, and self-interest. But the best organizations foster trust and cooperation because their leaders build what Sinek calls a Circle of Safety that separates the security inside the team from the challenges outside.

The Circle of Safety leads to stable, adaptive, confident teams, where everyone feels they belong and all energies are devoted to facing the common enemy and seizing big opportunities. Leaders who are willing to eat last are rewarded with deeply loyal colleagues who will stop at nothing to advance their leader’s vision and their organization’s interests.”

It Begs the Question Book Cover
It Begs the Question by Chick Herbert and Mike McCoy

“It Begs the Question is about dramatically improving team and personal performance, exerting less effort than you're investing today, and ensuring the sustainability of the improvements you make. Utilize the power of questions to develop the critical thinking skills of your team so they are less dependent on you as the manager.”

Sales Training Books For the Methodical Sales Rep

They’re set in their ways—and those ways work well. They’ve always been high producers, and their slow, deliberate way of making sales can be seen as a little traditional, but it’s effective for them. Here are a couple reads for these members of your sales team:

Beyond Selling Book Cover
Beyond Selling Value: A Proven Process to Avoid the Vendor Trap by Mark Shonka and Dan Kosch

“In Beyond Selling Value, top sales consultants Mark Shonka and Dan Kosch share their proven process for becoming a critical partner in their customers' success. From targeting the most promising prospects, to bypassing the gatekeepers, to reaching the decision makers who are empowered to buy, and to closing the deal with a powerful presentation, the authors impart their battle-tested secrets to forging long-term business relationships.”

Harvard Business Review Book Cover
Harvard Business Review

“For over 80 years, Harvard Business Review magazine has been an indispensable and unrivaled source of ideas, insight, and inspiration for business leaders worldwide. Each issue contains breakthrough ideas on strategy, leadership, innovation and management. Become a more effective leader by subscribing to Harvard Business Review.”

The Best Way to Align and Motivate Your People

Books, magazines and other sales training resources are a great way to keep sales people engaged. But they only work so far—this kind of training and education is built on intrinsic motivation, which is only half of the one-two punch of motivation needed to align and engage your people.

With a strategic sales incentive solution, sales leaders can help their people grow their company’s profits, capture market share and conquer goals.

Rob Danna

Rob Danna

With a 25-year background in technology and sales management, Rob brings real-world performance improvement solutions to hundreds of large companies. As Vice President of Sales and Marketing at ITA Group, he prides himself by staying on the front lines of performance improvement technology and innovation.