Michael Maximoff
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We’ve all come across articles like “Top 10 Books To Help You Dominate Sales”, “Best Sales Books”, and “Books That Any Sales Pro Should Read”. It happens all the time. It’s one of the most popular search inquiries as well. People look for the latest sales books written by sales professionals, surround themselves with business literature, build their business by the book, and end up wasting their time.

It’s a bold assumption to make, of course. The Sales Development literature market has lots of books written by brilliant sales managers and sales executives, so to say that their insights aren’t useful is to disrespect their experience and knowledge. 

Nevertheless, there is a huge difference between making use of other people’s experiences and following a set of tips. And in this article, we’re going to explore it. 

What can go wrong with sales books and why? 

A lot of beginning business owners make the same mistake. And yes, that includes us. 

We read the latest works by outstanding professionals, implement the techniques they suggest, and wait for the magic to happen. But instead, we see the following: 

  1. Epic results never come. We receive approximately the same ROI and our KPIs don’t show any significant changes.
  2. The changes negatively affect our sales results, adding more stress to our workload and impacting our overall workflow.

The final part is the same for both scenarios. We lose a lot of time and money on techniques and mind trick games that don’t work out for us in the end. 

Why does it happen?

  • We look up to authority too much. All enthusiastic business owners who follow authority figures in their vertical, want to reach top performance fast. They seek the wisdom of industry leaders and buy book after book, hoping to get a clear view of their business potential or to turn the tables on their KPIs.
  • We expect to be guided. Sales book authors don’t write tutorials on organizing your business or sales. They don’t give out orders or instructions. Most of the books on sales detail the author’s experience in their respective fields and outline particular cases the authors had to work with. While these cases may resemble the challenges you have encountered, they still differ from your experiences. They can’t really be applied to your business model without adjustments or corrections.
  • We don’t know that knowledge expires. Sometimes people view the lessons they’ve learned at some point in their lives as dogmas that can’t be changed, can’t be updated, and can’t be challenged. This is why they read a book on sales written five years ago, try to adopt the tips from it into their practice, and end up wondering what went wrong. There is a reason why Philip Kotler is surprised when readers ask him to autograph books he wrote ten years ago. Each year brings new discoveries and insights, new experiences, and new game-changers. You can imagine how much the concept of sales and marketing can change in 5-to-10 years. Looking at things from that perspective, a book on sales written several years ago can be viewed as an interesting read, but not a set of guidelines.

Does it mean that you shouldn’t top sales books at all?

Of course not. Why neglect the knowledge offered to you by people who have been in the industry for a while and are willing to share their insights with you? The key to using the best sales books to the fullest is to remember several important things. 

Nobody can teach you how to do your job

If you look back on your experience as a business owner, can you tell me that you learned how to do your job like you learned Physics or Math?

Probably not. People become business owners in a lot of different ways. The Belkins’ core team consists of experts who used to work for other companies until they decided to become representatives of their own agency. It all started with the realization that our accumulated experience has reached the point where it can be applied in different directions and used to explore new terrains. 

To illustrate our point further, let’s take a look at our school education. 

Which subjects do we remember the most? The ones where we only had to take notes? Or the ones that we were able to apply in our everyday lives? In 85% of cases, it’s the latter. 

It happens because the process of learning is about two things: theory and practice. The theory introduces us to the concept that we need to learn, while the practice shows how the concept functions in our reality and how it affects our life. Practice allows us to personally experience the processes and algorithms related to the concept. It also teaches us to solve problems and come up with solutions that we base on our personal observations and insight. 

This is why we can read an entire book on Math or Physics, but if that material doesn’t come with a set of tasks for us to solve on our own, it won’t do us any good. Only practice helps us make use of the learned material and ensures we can apply it when solving problems, approaching tasks, and dealing with challenges. 

B2B is not a monolith 

Unlike sciences, B2B and sales development are multi-layered directions and their nuances change depending on the industry. They consist of several components: 

  • Process management
  • Campaign organization
  • Team management
  • Product promotion

Whenever do you think you need some top sales books to read, ask yourself, “What part of sales do I want to learn more about? Maybe b2b outside sales? Can that Top Sales Books list help me with that?”. 

Before you choose your reading materials, you should take a look at your skills and knowledge. Outline your strongest and weakest points. What do you want to improve? What parts of sales development are more challenging for you? 

Final takeaway

To sum up, sales book can bring you a lot of useful information. However, they don’t exactly teach you the art of killer sales or magically fix your current challenges. Don’t view the latest sales books as a panacea for your sales. Approach them like you would approach a study book. It was written by a smart and experienced person and it has valuable key points to expand your understanding of sales and business. But it’s up to you to see how you can apply this knowledge to your workflow and if you can do that. 

You should also pick your literature wisely. 

  • If you want to improve your performance with top sales books, don’t limit yourself mainstream books that are not even related to your vertical. You should also look for the books written by the people who are relevant to your industry and even to your region. This is where you can find the freshest and the most valuable materials for your sales development.
  • If you’re looking for good reads, look at people in your network. What kind of books do they share on LinkedIn? Do they mention any particular authors? Do they share any reviews? The recs from your fellow professionals are more valuable than mainstream sales book lists because you know the materials in question can actually address the pain points of your industry.
  • If you want to be sure that your sales insights are always sharp, avoid monotony and be active. Mix books with content produced for events and trade shows. Hearing new insights from speakers, seeing their infographics, and their presentations will add a much-needed variety to your knowledge base. The secret to developing your understanding of sales is to be able to consume information from all available sources — and to have someone to discuss it with.

We hope you liked that article! Do you agree with this take on sales literature? Or do you have something else to add? We’re always ready to start a discussion! 

Michael Maximoff

Co-founder and Managing Partner at Belkins
Mike has more than 10 years of experience in the digital marketing and technology sector selling to SMB internationally. Michael leads Belkins' sales force and is responsible for biz development and new partnerships.