The inbound methodology is founded on earning trust, attracting prospects through content, and delivering a positive experience that delights customers on an ongoing basis.
Sales plays a big part in every stage of the inbound methodology, which has recently undergone big changes that make the role of sales clearer than ever before.
HubSpot replaced the funnel with a new framework that is changing the way organizations need to think about building an inbound approach. Meet the flywheel:
As you can see, to fully adopt inbound, you need all teams — service, marketing, and sales — to work together and deliver an excellent experience at every customer touchpoint.
How does this impact sales?
Successful inbound sales professionals put customer needs above everything else. They're empathetic to their prospects and customers, they listen, and they build positive rapport.
And they know how to generate leads and fuel sales by using tried and true sales tactics, which come from both worlds of inbound and outbound. This is why being a lifelong learner is so important in sales — you need to keep up with the new best practices while brushing up on the old school tactics proven by the experts.
Reading is essential to becoming the best salesperson you can be.
The 11 Books Every B2B Salesperson Must Read
B2B sales consists of several aspects. From prospecting and relationship building to lead generation and sales management, there is plenty of information to learn.
Here are the top 11 books I recommend for any modern salesperson:
1. Inbound Selling
Author: Brian Signorelli
Amazon: $21.51 for hardcover
If you're looking for a comprehensive overview of the basic principles of inbound sales, you need Brian Signorelli's book. This is a must read for the modern sales professional.
With the majority of buying decisions being made without the help of a sales rep, it's time for you to adapt. And this book walks you through how to do that.
He covers all the bases, including:
- Why inbound sales is critical today.
- How to find and connect with potential buyers in a digital world.
- How to learn your buyers' goals, advise them, and negotiate and close deals.
- Tips on sales leadership and transforming your team into an inbound sales culture.
If you cannot define your team’s or company’s sense of purpose as a leader, you should work on it. Defining, sharing, and reinforcing that vision on a regular basis will constantly remind your team that the work they're doing matters.
- Brian Signorelli, 10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Becoming a Sales Manager
2. The Sales Acceleration Formula
Author: Mark Roberge
Amazon: $17.88 for hardcover
Many top executives can agree that scaling their organization's sales is arguably the biggest challenge they face because there has never really been a finite formula for it.
However, in Mark Roberge’s book, The Sales Acceleration Formula, he explains a formula he has developed for scalable and predictable sales. He includes an intricate and easily digestible process for building, growing, and enhancing your sales team while leveraging technology to benefit both your customers and sales team.
The sales compensation plan is Batman, the sales contest is Robin.
- Mark Roberge, The Sales Acceleration Formula
3. The Sales Development Playbook
Author: Trish Bertuzzi
Amazon: $12.52 for paperback
This Sales Development Playbook offers a fresh and detailed perspective on sales development. It covers six elements that can help you build a new pipeline and fuel revenue growth through sales.
Those elements include:
- Strategy - Align your sales model to your market and the buyer's journey.
- Specialization - Bring together prospect segmentation and specialized roles.
- Recruiting - Build a hiring process that is efficient and effective in developing your team.
- Retention - Don't overlook the importance of engaging and inspiring your team members.
- Execution - Use tactics to hone in on buyer-centric messaging, effective outreach, and proper onboarding.
- Leadership - Establish yourself as a top notch leader and focus on what matters most to the success of your team.
The various aspects of sales development detailed in this book can help business leaders prepare sales for particular stages in the buyer’s journey, prospect segmentation, and setting quota-based goals.
Plenty of companies have suffered with acknowledged pain for years. Their biggest issue is fear that the cure will hurt worse than the illness. You need to dig for the implications of not acting. An organization that isn’t in motion is much harder to move than one that has already realized the consequences of inaction.
- Trish Bertuzzi, The Sales Development Playbook
4. Fanatical Prospecting
Author: Jeb Blount
Amazon: $18.36 for hardcover
The power of prospecting is often overlooked or neglected, and this is a significant reason why sales teams underperform.
Jeb Blount emphasizes the importance of prospecting to organizational growth. He fills the pages of his book, Fanatical Prospecting, with an assortment of strategies, techniques, and tools you can use to attain high-quality leads and sales conversions.
There is no easy button in sales. Prospecting is hard, emotionally draining work, and it is the price you have to pay to earn a high income.
- Jeb Blount, Fanatical Prospecting
5. New Sales Simplified
Author: Mike Weinberg
Amazon: $14.21 for paperback
As the title of this book implies, Mike Weinberg has made making lead generation and sales simple. Throughout this book, he offers sales professionals and executives proven formulas for bringing in new business.
He focuses on creating quality prospect lists, using social media for business, implementing various business development strategies, and much more.
We can always scale our way back down the ladder, but it’s very dangerous going over the head of people who believe they had the right and authority to tell us no.
- Mike Weinberg, New Sales Simplified
6. Predictable Revenue
Authors: Aaron Ross & MaryLou Tyler
Amazon: $12.89 for paperback
Aaron Ross and MaryLou Tyler offer alternative methods of selling without having to go through the dying cold calling process.
These authors explore and outline new methods of generating high-quality leads and creating predictable revenue streams. They also shed a positive light on sales team management and outbound sales.
Customers don't care at all whether you close the deal or not. They care about improving their business. It’s easy to forget this in the heat of a sales cycle.
- Aaron Ross, Predictable Revenue
7. Gap Selling
Author: Jim Keenan
Release Date: Late 2018
As the founder of A Sales Guy, a sales consulting firm, Keenan knows what it takes to drive real sales results in today's digital world. His first book, Not Taught, explores what you and your team need for finding success.
His recent session at Inbound 2018 made a huge impact on the audience, where he discussed problem-centric selling. He explained how first you need to help prospects acknowledge they have a problem so you can then deliver value.
This is where gap selling comes in. The gap between their current state and future state is where value lives. In their current state, customers know they have a problem, they understand the impact, the root cause, and the emotions they experience.
You're selling the outcome — the future state. And this is what his new book, Gap Selling, explores. Releasing in late 2018, the book will dive deep into his selling methodology, which puts the buyer front and center and is focused on showing them where their future state can be.
Now that we understand that it's about them and their problem, at the root of every single sale you ever make is change.
- Jim Keenan, Inbound 2018
8. Sales Management Simplified
Author: Mike Weinberg
Amazon: $20.95 for hardcover
Too many sales managers are unknowingly hurting the performance of their team, and thanks to another Weinberg classic, you don't have to hold your team back anymore.
This book is a breath of fresh air because it addresses the why of failing sales organizations, and Weinberg doesn't sugar coat it.
The first part breaks down each "blunt truth" you need to hear, and the second part follows up with actionable solutions and frameworks you can implement immediately.
You want the truth? Whether you’re the senior executive or the sales manager or play both roles, hear me clearly as if I was shouting this while turning red with veins bulging from my neck: When you’re blasted with over 200 emails per day; trapped in meetings that keep you from your primary job ... you are not leading anyone anywhere. Furthermore, you have exactly the sales culture you deserve—the one you’ve created, whether by design or neglect.”
- Mike Weinberg, Sales Management. Simplified.
9. The New Rules of Sales and Service
Author: David Meerman Scott
Amazon: $14.95 for paperback
Change can be tough to manage, but you can't afford to fall behind when it comes to sales. Your company's growth depends on how well you adjust to the new digital world, and David Meerman Scott is one of the best voices to help you lead this change.
This book delivers everything you need to know. He addresses important topics, like how old tactics don't fit the new sales landscape, the role inbound techniques (like buyer personas and content marketing) play a role in your sales cycle, how to improve social selling, and much more.
Break down the walls between sales and marketing, and your business will improve. We are no longer in a world where marketing passes the baton to sales and sales leaders are seen as the primary measurement of marketing’s success.
- David Meerman Scott, The New Rules of Sales and Service
10. Agile Selling
Author: Jill Konrath
Amazon: $13.09 for paperback
As the book title implies, the most successful people in sales are those who adopt an agile mindset. This is a must in a world where new technologies, new products, and new competitors are popping up every day.
And Jill Konrath nails it with this book. She dives into agile selling, which is your ability to learn new information and use this new knowledge for maximum effect. She also delivers plenty of actionable strategies you and your team can implement immediately.
Konrath's previous book Snap Selling is also a must read because it introduces four simple SNAP rules to live by: Simplify for your customers. Prove yourself to be invaluable. Align yourself with your customers' needs. Stick to priorities to keep momentum.
Every top seller is an agile learner who knows what it takes to dive into a new situation and figure it out quickly.
- Jill Konrath, Agile Selling
11. How to Win Friends and Influence People
Author: Dale Carnegie
Amazon: $9.60 for paperback
While it's not focused strictly on sales, Dale Carnegie's classic book is a must read for all salespeople.
It covers how to handle people, how to make them like you, how to convince others to understand your way of thinking, and how to become a leader and change others.
The reason it's one of the best selling books of all time is because it speaks to everyone, no matter where they are professionally or personally.
The skills you can learn from this will stick with you throughout your entire career. In terms of sales, you can improve how to actively listen to others, build positive relationships, and develop leadership capabilities.
Every successful person loves the game. The chance to prove his worth, to excel, to win.
- Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People
These books are helpful resources for CEOs, sales teams, and marketing professionals alike. They can empower you to improve lead generation, drive sales, become an excellent leader, and scale your teams and business efficiently.
The first step to finding success in today's sales landscape is picking up one of these books.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in July 2016. It was updated in September 2018 for accuracy and comprehensiveness.