article | December 19, 2011
How to Build a Reading List for your Sales Force: A Sales Consultants Time Saving Process
There is only so much time one can allocate to studying sales effectiveness. Don’t waste these precious few hours reading something that cannot help you make the number. But, how can you tell what to read before reading it?
I read approximately 300 books per year on sales effectiveness. As a sales consultant, my clients pay me to stay on the bleeding edge of my field. I have read my fair share of dogs. Over the years, I have developed a system for deciding what to read and what not to read. It has saved me a bunch of time and I hope it does the same for you. It is too long to explain here. However, here are three key components for you to consider:
1 – The author(s) credentials must prove that he has led a sales force before. Unfortunately, many books are written by career sales consultants who have never had to make a number. These theory-only books leave the reader frustrated at the end due to lack of an implementation plan.
An example of a qualified author: Chet Holmes, author of The Ultimate Sales Machine. Chet led sales forces for companies owned by Charlie Munger, the legendary investment partner of Warren Buffett.
Time Saving Tip: If the author has a Ph.D, don’t read the book. He is likely to frustrate you with impractical sales advice.
2 – The author(s) must be in his prime. We are operating in an environment whereby the buying process has forever been altered due to the internet. Sales wisdom pre-internet just simply is not very useful anymore. Yet, many authors are brand names and have been living off their pre-internet success for many years. Their current work is the same as their previous work, plus a few buzzwords thrown in. This does not cut it. Theses gray hair authors have made incredible contributions to our field and we are forever in their debt. However, as they say in sports, “it is time to hang it up.”
An example of authors in their prime: Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, who wrote Inbound Markerting. These guys are the co-founders of Hubspot and are revolutionizing how sales forces generate leads.
Time Saving Tip: Go to LinkedIn and read the author’s profile. You will be able to tell who is, and who is not, in their prime. For example, are any of the author’s recommendations from active heads of sales, or, are they “former/retired” VP’s of Sales.
3 – The book must be under 150 pages. Some times when reading a book I want to yell “get to the point”! If the book cannot be read inside of a 2 hour flight, don’t bother. It is likely filled with a bunch of meaningless filler blah blah blah.
Here I can use myself as an example. I have written 2 books and manage The Sales Force Effectiveness Blog for Sales Benchmark Index. My first book, Making the Number, is 288 pages. It was the worst performing (measured in sales) of the two. My second book, Topgrading for Sales, is 128 pages and sold like hot cakes. My blog, The Sales Force Effectiveness Blog, posts a one page article per day, and is read by 42,000 sales leaders (and growing) each month. It is the best performing of the bunch. What did this tell me? Sales leaders want the answer, the how to meat, fast. So many books take 250 pages to make a point that could be made in 100 pages.
Time Saving Tip: The Amazon.com page will have a section titled “Product Details” and will list the number of pages in the book.
If reading is not how you prefer to learn, you might enjoy our Sales Consulting Firm‘s webinar series. Each month a sales consultant from our firm presents a best practice taken from one of our clients. You can sign up for the next one here:
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