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The 7 Must-Read Books for Product-Led Sellers

August 31, 2022
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Doron Greenspan
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This is a guest post by Doron Greenspan, Director of Platform Go-to-Market at MongoDB.

Nobody gets into sales because it's easy.

You have a million things on your to-do list, and you gave up on "inbox zero" years ago. Now, with the B2B SaaS world's newfound obsession with "product-led growth," you may even start to wonder how your role might start to change.

It’s easy to lose motivation and even question your career decisions from time to time. In moments of uncertainty, I find it helpful to look to the leaders we admire. Their perspectives from their multi-decade careers zoom us out of the quarterly grind and might just remind us why we got into this field in the first place.

However, there’s no shortage of mediocre reps-turned-consultants who want to tell you all about how they cracked the code and made a fortune. So, if you need some inspiration from the greats or are looking to get back to the fundamentals, I've got you covered.

Here are my picks for the best books for SaaS sellers and sales leaders.

1. “The Qualified Sales Leader: Proven Lessons from a Five Time CRO” by John McMahon


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‎“The Qualified Sales Leader” offers simple but powerful sales leadership tips from the perspective of a five-time CRO. In this book, you’ll find practical solutions to common real-life issues in enterprise SaaS sales and ways to align sales teams and maximize their performance.

McMahon pairs vivid anecdotes with actionable recommendations and stats. For example, he explains how 62% of sales reps fail not because of specific behavior, but because they receive the wrong accounts. Through his experiences leading teams for the past 30+ years, this book covers a lot of ground: from the importance of motivating sales teams, why sales forecasts tend to be inaccurate, to why reps feel out of control during the sales process.

Buy on Amazon | Find locally

2. “Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It” by Chris Voss


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‎“Never Split the Difference” is a field guide for winning any type of negotiation—from closing your next big deal to getting your next promotion.

While not about sales specifically, "Never Split the Difference" touches on that hard-to-define part of the job that keeps us energized.

Author Chris Voss, a former lead international hostage negotiator for the FBI, reveals the key skills that helped him successfully navigate very challenging interactions. In this book, you’ll learn nine principles for becoming more persuasive and winning negotiations.

For example, Voss explains how “no” should be the start of any pitch or negotiation because it gives people confidence and makes them feel like they are in control of the situation.

Some additional tips include negotiating through emotion rather than reason, listening intensely to demonstrate empathy and understanding what the other side is experiencing, and showing you understand what your counterpart is telling you by thoroughly summarizing what they’ve said.

Voss also leads a Masterclass on the same topic.

Buy on Amazon | Find locally | Get the audiobook

3. “Start with No: The Negotiating Tools That the Pros Don’t Want You to Know” by Jim Camp

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‎“Start with No” reinforces what Chris Voss says: that the best negotiators aren’t interested in getting people to say “yes.” In this book, author Jim Camp offers his system for decision-based negotiation that explains how to control your emotions and focus on the core elements that you can control and use to win negotiations.

For example, Camp says you should never rush to close a deal. Instead, let the other side feel secure about their decisions. Further, Camp asserts that the best negotiators are never needy. Rather, they look for neediness in the other party and take advantage of it.

Buy on Amazon | Find locally | Get the audiobook

4. “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” by Robert Cialdini

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‎“Influence” is a must-read if you want to go beyond a surface-level understanding of customers and get to the root of why people say “yes” and what pushes them to take action. Cialdini — an expert in influence and persuasion — provides a scientific explanation as to what causes people to change their behavior.

This book offers six principles of influence. For example, one is reciprocation, which says that people generally feel the need to return favors that you offer them. So, if you want someone to agree to a deal, you may want to consider doing something to help them first.

Other principles include commitment and consistency, social proof, liking, authority, and scarcity. By understanding and applying these principles, you can predict behavior and get people to take the action you want them to.

Buy on Amazon | Find locally | Get the audiobook

5. “Blueprints for a SaaS Sales Organization” by Jacco van der Kooij & Fernando Pizarro  

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‎"Blueprints for a SaaS Sales Organization" is one of several playbooks by the team at Winning by Design, a B2B SaaS consultancy whose methods have been applied at hundreds of successful companies.

While the other books in the list mix personal stories dotted with widely-applicable bits of wisdom, "Blueprints" reads like a textbook for effective selling in B2B. While worth reading cover to cover, you'll almost certainly find yourself returning to particular sections as you encounter different scenarios in the field.

Buy on Amazon

6. “The Neuroscience of Selling: Proven Sales Secrets to Win Over the Buyer’s Heart and Mind” by John Asher

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‎“The Neuroscience of Selling” is another book for the aspiring amateur psychologist. This book discusses concepts like increasing "likeability," how to have more engaging (and profitable) conversations, and generally win more customers.

Pick up Asher's book to improve your active listening skills and get new ways to think about building relationships with buyers.

Buy on Amazon | Find locally | Get the audiobook

7. “The Psychology of Selling: Increase Your Sales Faster and Easier Than You Ever Thought” by Brian Tracy

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‎If you can get past the cheesy cover, “The Psychology of Selling” makes the case that it’s more important to understand the psychology of selling than it is to understand the techniques of selling. Topics include overcoming the fear of rejection, improving your confidence, and staying in control of your emotions.

Tracy outlines seven key areas of selling:

  • Prospecting
  • Building rapport
  • Identifying needs
  • Presenting
  • Answering objections
  • Closing the sale
  • Getting resales and referrals

Ideally, improving each of these areas can lead to a significant increase in income.

Buy on Amazon | Get the audiobook

Balance the fundamentals with the cutting edge

Hopefully, one of these recommendations piqued your interest. Whether you're looking to learn from the personal experiences of sales legends like John McMahon, pick up a new tactic, or get a deeper understanding of how the brain works, there are always opportunities to step back and rediscover your passion for selling.

Ready to spend more time selling and less time combing through dashboards? Join the Pace beta today.

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