Benjamin Franklin once said, "Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other."

In other words, you can rely solely on first-hand experiences to gain sales knowledge -- but it might be painful.

Check out our key takeaways from the best sales books of all time

To dramatically cut down on your learning curve, pick up some sales books. A read penned by a selling expert will offer you all the benefits of personal experience without negatively affecting your quota or efficacy.

Picking a book can be tough, as there are thousands to choose from. Enter: This reading list.

We've curated the top-ranked books from Amazon's sales best-sellers. Whether you want to ask better questions, prospect more effectively, lead your sales team, or become an all-around better salesperson, there's a pick here for you.

1. "Inbound Selling: How to Change the Way You Sell to Match How People Buy"

Author: Brian Signorelli

Inbound marketing has changed the way companies interact with customers. In this day and age, the buyer is more empowered and doesn't need to rely on a sales rep to learn more about a company's offerings. In fact, more than 60% of purchasing decisions are made without a sales rep. With that being said, how can sales professionals transform the way they think about their strategies? In this book, you'll learn more about inbound sales, including a step-by-step approach for inbound sales professionals and what it means to lead a team of inbound sellers.

Review excerpt: "This is a must-read for anyone in sales or interested in sales! It's an easy and fun read, while most importantly providing new tools and actionable next steps to add into any sales approach. I highly recommend this to anyone working in or adjacent to sales that wants a fresh perspective and guidance on selling the Inbound way!"

2. "The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation"

Authors: Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson

According to a study of thousands of sales reps across multiple industries and geographies, the most successful put their energy toward delivering valuable insights -- not becoming their prospect's friend. Join the ranks of the top performers with Adamson and Dixon's signature Teach, Tailor, and Take Control methodology.

Review excerpt: "This is an excellent book, with provocative insights and useful information for salespeople looking for ways to break out of the pack."

3. "The Challenger Customer: Selling to the Hidden Influencer Who Can Multiply Your Results"

Authors: Brent Adamson, Matthew Dixon, Pat Spenner, and Nick Toman

CEB's latest research reveals even Challenger salespeople struggle to close without the help of a very specific type of customer stakeholder: The Mobilizer. In this book, you'll learn how to identify Mobilizers, engage them, and work with them to get deals over the finish line.

Review excerpt: "What a great follow-up to the Challenger Sale. (It) provided me with additional insight on how to approach selling to a group of stakeholders. It has real data, real studies and real tactical strategies. If you're in the B2B space, this book is a must!"

4. "New Sales. Simplified.: The Essential Handbook for Prospecting and New Business Development"

Author: Mike Weinberg

Looking for a one-stop guide to bringing on new business? Look no further. In this book, Weinberg lays out a proven formula for finding prospects, developing the relationship, and reaching a mutually beneficial agreement.

Review excerpt: "I loved the stories, the irreverent tone, and the honesty of this book. But what I appreciated most was that it delivered on its title -- this book really does simplify what you have to do successfully acquire new customers."

5. "The Psychology of Selling: Increase Your Sales Faster and Easier Than You Ever Thought Possible"

Author: Brian Tracy

Learn how to harness psychological principles in the sales process while simultaneously getting a dose of personal motivation.

Review excerpt: "‘The Psychology of Selling' is a superb, practical, easy-to-read return to the fundamentals of professional salesmanship for novices, journeymen, and seasoned, top-performing salespeople. More than common sense placed into form, it serves as an instructional blueprint -- or as a road map -- to establish, build, grow, and maintain a successful sales career."

6. "The Science of Selling: Proven Strategies to Make Your Pitch, Influence Decisions, and Close the Deal"

Author: David Hoffeld

Hoffeld's advice is based on the latest research in behavioral economics, social psychology, and neuroscience. You'll learn a science-based approach to asking questions, securing incremental commitments, resolving objections, reducing your competition's influence, and more.

Review excerpt: "‘The Science of Selling' is the ultimate collection of evidence-based practices for sales ever collected in one volume. Until now, most of the studies in ‘The Science of Selling' have been scattered and tucked away in academic journals, (making them) virtually inaccessible to sales leaders. Most readers will find the material new, and I expect, quite surprising."

7. "The Sales Acceleration Formula: Using Data, Technology, and Inbound Selling to go from $0 to $100 Million"

Author: Mark Roberge

Sales leaders aiming to scale their sales team and build a multi-million dollar business should definitely pick up this book, written by former HubSpot CRO Mark Roberge.

Review excerpt: "Every company -- regardless of its business and sales strategy -- will absolutely benefit from reading this book. The stories (Roberge) tells, the way his selling initiatives fit together, the combination of selling and technology he describes … even the use cases he lists make the approach he describes applicable to any sales organization -- however well-entrenched."

8. "Influence: Science and Practice"

Author: Robert B. Cialdini

Cialdini reveals the six psychological principles that cause people to comply. Once you've incorporated these powerful concepts into your messaging, leading your prospects to say "yes" will be less challenging.

Review excerpt: "Whether you are on the selling or buying end of any transaction, knowing what Mr Cialdini discovered through years of research and testing will be to your financial advantage. (But) 'Influence' is not just about money. It is a guide to getting what you want or need in a fair and ethical manner."

9. "To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others"

Author: Daniel H. Pink

If you're currently working in sales, you're probably well-aware the old playbook doesn't work. Pink offers fresh yet practical insights into modern selling, including how to move others, make your message clearer and more persuasive, and gain referrals.

Review excerpt: "No, this is not 'another' book about selling. I've read a lot of them, written a few of them, and I can tell you: This book stands alone in a special category."

10. "Secrets of Closing the Sale"

Author: Zig Ziglar

This book includes more than 100 different ways to close depending on the situation and 700 thought-provoking questions to use with prospects. You'll also find suggestions from a hundred of America's most successful salespeople.

Review excerpt: "Ziglar teaches you, from the beginning, that there's no room for success in a salesman's career if he's taking the fast route, making the quick sale, and then locking the door behind him."

11. "The Only Sales Guide You'll Ever Need"

Author: Anthony Iannarino

Iannarino shares his biggest lessons from 25 years of selling, including how to increase your self-discipline, get over your fear of the competition, be more resourceful, discover the buyer's true needs, and more.

Review excerpt: "Anthony Iannarino is my new sales guru. His book shows you exactly how to understand your offer and relate to your customer."

12. "The New Strategic Selling: The Unique Sales System Proven Successful by the World's Best Companies"

Authors: Robert B. Miller, Stephen E. Heiman, and Tad Tuleja

Every salesperson will benefit from learning how to reach "win-win" agreements, prevent sabotage by internal blockers, identify the four types of decision-makers, engage senior executives, and more.

Review excerpt: "This book, in my opinion, found a perfect balance between theoretical framework and hands-on, immediately applicable knowledge."

13. "Cracking the Sales Management Code: The Secrets to Measuring and Managing Sales Performance"

Authors: Jason Jordan and Michelle Vazzana

Jordan dives into the critical activities and metrics sales managers and executives should implement and track to lead their teams to success.

Review excerpt: "I liked the focus on real-world quantitative management via metrics (and) would recommend this book to any sales manager who wants to achieve and measure results."

14. "Words That Sell: More than 6000 Entries to Help You Promote Your Products, Services, and Ideas"

Author: Richard Bayan

Keep this informative manual at your desk so you can quickly find the perfect terms and phrases to grab your prospect's attention, create desire for your product, and ultimately, win their business.

Review excerpt: "This is a very simple, but HIGHLY useful book!! This book is filled with descriptive words of products & services that will assist you in selling. But more than that, this book is a huge time-saver!! I sell antiques on eBay, and having proven-to-sell words to describe products is wonderful!"

15. "Book Yourself Solid: The Fastest, Easiest, and Most Reliable System for Getting More Clients Than You Can Handle Even if You Hate Marketing and Selling"

Author: Michael Port

Port's book covers a range of strategies for earning more business, from building a powerful social media presence to developing a personal brand to perfecting your pricing strategy.

Review excerpt: "An excellent and enjoyable read. Michael Port lays out a fresh and honest approach to marketing yourself and your business. 'Be true to yourself' and the people you serve. This takes the pressure off of trying to contrive an image of someone (or something) that is really not you, and makes self-promotion almost natural!"

16. "7L: The Seven Levels of Communication: Go From Relationships to Referrals"

Author: Michael J. Maher

If you're not generating warm introductions to potential customers, you're losing out on a valuable source of business. Discover the concrete steps that will win you referrals. Although "7L" is geared toward real estate professionals, its takeaways are applicable to any sales role.

Review excerpt: "Michael provides an easy-to-follow step-by-step system to create long-lasting relationships with clients and vendors that will result in an endless supply of referrals. This book has completely changed how I do business … I went out and bought 30 [copies to give] to my associates."

17. "Fanatical Prospecting"

Author: Jeb Blount

Successful prospecting incorporates multiple touches across multiple channels. Pick up this book to learn how to text, email, call, and socially engage buyers.

Review excerpt: "Jeb teaches you how to prioritize your prospects and leverage social selling in your overall prospecting efforts. If you are thinking about a career in sales or you want to jump-start what you are doing in your present job, then this is the book for you."

18. "Predictably Irrational, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions"

Author: Dan Ariely

Have you ever been flummoxed by a prospect's irrational decision? Once you read this book, you'll have a new understanding for the assumptions and emotions behind the actions we take. Guiding buyers to the right choices will become far easier.

Review excerpt: "This is a fascinating look into how our brains process information. The author sets up experiments to test his hypotheses about how people respond to a variety of situations."

19. "Go-Giver, Expanded Edition: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea"

Authors: Bob Burg and John David Mann

This quick read reveals the importance of giving to business success. Not only will you walk away convinced that giving leads to receiving, you'll also know how to give to achieve your desired results.

Review excerpt: "Clear, entertaining, and immediately practical, this book has evolved my approach to business -- and life. When you go through your day focusing on how you can give and being open to receiving, you build stronger relationships and prosper on multiple levels."

20. "DISCOVER Questions Get You Connected"

Authors: Deb Calvert and Renee Calvert

Learn how to structure your calls, ask thoughtful, intelligent questions, and help prospects come to their own conclusions about your product's value.

Review excerpt: "'Discover Questions' was excellent -- giving experienced and novice salespeople guidance on how to ask questions, drive the sales conversation and show you care!"

21. "Little Red Book of Selling: 12.5 Principles of Sales Greatness"

Author: Jeffrey Gitomer

This book is short, sweet, and to the point. Readers will learn to focus on why people buy and why it matters to the sales process. With entertaining illustrations and soundbites in every chapter, this book is easy to return to for specific helpful tips when you need them most.

Review excerpt: "Excellent book that focuses on selling the right way. Highly recommend this for anyone who is involved in sales and wants to expand their techniques so they close more."

22. "Think and Grow Rich"

Author: Napoleon Hill

This book is beloved by many career salespeople. The result of nearly 20 years of research, Hill's book outlines 13 steps to success, including developing a definite purpose, building a positive mental attitude, and channeling the power of the subconscious mind.

Review excerpt: "This book is one that everyone must-read. From the very beginning, it began changing my mindset and how I view life. Some books are filled with information on how you should be thinking, but this one shows how to create lasting change."

23. "Spin Selling"

Author: Neil Rackham

"Spin Selling" shares the results of Rackham's 12-year, million-dollar research project examining effective sales performances. In his book, Rackham outlines his findings and shares the principles of SPIN (Situation, Problem, Implication, Need-payoff).

Review excerpt: "If you love sales, read this book and discover how to improve your technique. The research behind this book is exhaustive, and the technique is so organic you may discover you're already using it. In that case, you'll be able to improve your skills."

24. "How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling"

Author: Frank Bettger

This is the perfect book for anyone whose job it is to sell. Through personal experiences, Bettger tells his tale from a failed salesman to one of the highest-paid salesmen in America. He gives insights on the power of enthusiasm, conquering fear, the quickest way to win confidence, and the seven golden rules for closing a sale.

Review excerpt: "I have read this cover to cover, twice. It's not only for those in the sales industry, it's useful for everyone. I was reminded of the value of emotion, as well as the value of time - both mine and my clients. It was great to learn from both Frank Bettger's mistakes and successes, and I am grateful to have read this book."

25. "Emotional Intelligence for Sales Success: Connect with Customers and Get Results"

Author: Colleen Stanley

Sales conversations are innately emotional. Prospects might challenge you and you might get defensive or your fear of rejection could come into play. For a salesperson to overcome those emotional responses, they need to build their emotional intelligence. In this book, you'll learn how to become a better question asker and listener, how emotional intelligence can improve prospecting efforts, and how empathy can lead to more effective sales conversations and solutions.

Review excerpt: "Colleen Stanley's Emotional Intelligence for Sales Success is my go-to resource for sales conversations. I've always told people I hate selling, but I love building mutually beneficial relationships. That's the fundamental premise in this book: that sales is a relationship between two human beings. All of the same emotional intelligence rules that apply to friendships, dating, and other human relationships apply to the sales process."

26. "Agile Selling: Get Up to Speed Quickly in Today's Ever-Changing Sales World"

Author: Jill Konrath

As a salesperson, you need to learn a lot of new information and skills quickly. Especially if you're getting promoting, switching jobs, or there are updates to your company. In this book, you'll learn about agile selling, which Konrath describes as the ability to quickly learn new information and leverage it for maximum impact.

Review excerpt: "Having spent 34 years in sales and taken a LONG list of sales training courses and read many training editions you would think, ehhh, I don't need another training book to read. That would have been a serious mistake on my part. Jill Konrath has authored a fabulous strategic plan for any professional salesperson who treats his role as a lifelong learner and acknowledges the sales environment has truly changed in many ways."

27. "The Introvert's Edge: How the Quiet and Shy Can Outsell Anyone"

Authors: Matthew Owen Pollard and Derek Lewis

Just like any other skill, anyone can learn and master the art of sales. Even introverts. In this book, an introverted salesperson can learn how to use their own natural strengths to sell. For example, introverts will learn how to find natural confidence, prepare for any situation, sidestep objections, and ask for the sale without being pushy.

Review excerpt: "Being mostly an introvert, I have long felt that I had to learn to be someone else in order to succeed in business and especially anything to do with selling. Unbelievably refreshing to read approaches born from authentic experience. With the right tools and techniques, anything is possible! And if you're an introvert and you hope to make a living, this is an excellent book for you — it'll serve you well no matter what field you're in."

28. "DISCOVER Questions: Get You Connected"

Authors: Deb Calvert and Renee Calvert

One of the hardest parts of the discovery call is setting yourself and your company apart from other sales reps. In this book, you'll learn the right questions to ask, how to create value for your buyers, and differentiate yourself from the pack.

Review excerpt: "Written for sales professionals it takes little effort to apply this to anywhere you need to ask questions. For sales, it is exemplary, enough that this will become my 2016 Sales book of the year. The author makes a great case for asking the right question early enough so the seller can communicate value."

29. "Mindset: The New Psychology of Success"

Author: Carol S. Dweck

As a world-renowned psychologist, Carol Dweck has researched the power of mindset for decades. She reveals how mindset can dramatically impact and influence how we think about our talents and abilities. Although not directly about sales, this book will teach you how a growth mindset can help you succeed in the world of sales and beyond.

Review excerpt: "I recognized a lot of myself in this book (and not necessarily the good bits). I learned some reasons why I procrastinate for one thing. It is potentially a game changer for anybody willing to be honest about who they really are with a sincere desire to be better through application and hard work. The book is a call to action and change on a very fundamental level."

30. "More Sales, Less Time: Surprisingly Simple Strategies for Today's Crazy-Busy Sellers"

Author: Jill Konrath

Have you ever felt behind at work, but there just isn't enough time in the day to get everything done? If so, you're probably an overwhelmed salesperson. With quotas going up and faster turnarounds expected, it's not surprising. In this book, you'll learn how to reclaim your time by eliminating major time sucks, optimize your sales process to eliminate redundancies and wasted time, and stay at the top of your sales game.

Review excerpt: "Time has become a top 3 obstacle to success for sales professionals and anyone trying to grow their business results. This book helped me identify and accept that I am being held back because of my attitude and choices about my time. By the time I got to Chapter 31 titled "Unclog Your Pipeline" I had so many notes that I had to put the book down and go back to start from the beginning and highlight the areas that were giving me the clarity that I was so clearly lacking."

31. "Insight Selling: Surprising Research on What Sales Winners Do Differently"

Authors: Mike Schultz and John E. Doerr

In this book, authors Mike Schultz and John Doerr studied more than 700 business-to-business purchases to see what winners of major sales do differently than sellers who almost won but ultimately came in second place. The results were surprising. In this book, you'll learn how sales winners sell radically differently and see an outline for what you need to do to transform yourself and your team into insight sellers.

Review excerpt: "This book does a great job of establishing the benchmarks, based on their in-depth analysis and research that drive strong value selling. You can achieve greater success by aligning with customers at a whole new level. They guide you through a process that helps you understand how you can create insight across three dimensions or levels."

32. "Smart Calling: Eliminate the Fear, Failure, and Rejection from Cold Calling"

Author: Art Sobczak

Cold calling is probably one of the worst tasks of a salesperson. However, everyone has to do it. In this book, you'll learn proven techniques to master the art of the cold call and eliminate fear, failure, and rejection from cold calling.

Review excerpt: "I am certain this is the sales book I have read the most times by far. It has everything you need to really help you get better results in prospecting if you are willing to put in the effort."

Want more? Read A 5-Minute Summary Of "The Challenger Sale" Book Your Boss Told You To Read.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in November 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Originally published Dec 12, 2019 5:21:00 PM, updated December 12 2019


Best Sales and Business Books