The best sales reps never stop learning and improving and growing. The best way to do that? Read! We’ve compiled lists of books for sales managers before, but sales reps have, to date, been ignored. No longer!

But it’s not just about finding books that focus on specific sales skills and strategies – there are plenty of great ones out there. No, the truly effective sales rep and young professional must be well-rounded and sophisticated in his or her thinking, and that requires opening up their minds (and voracious appetites for reading and learning) to other avenues. This means reading books on subjects – like history, current events, psychology, motivation, etc. – that might not have direct impacts on their sales improvements, but can embed powerful thinking that produces great long-term sales and career results.

1) Outliers: The Story of SuccessMalcolm Gladwell

Success breeds success, so sales reps and young professionals looking to become successful should find models of similar success to emulate. Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers presents this blueprint for success, unveiling hidden factors that people tend not to consider, yet that also produce great results. Gladwell has written lots of great books, but this is my personal favorite.

2) So Good they Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work you LoveCal Newport

One piece of advice young professionals always get is to do something they love, something they are passionately driven about. Cal Newport does not believe in that axiom. In fact, through his research, he found that people who are most satisfied with their jobs do what they are very good at, rather than something they are innately passionate about. Cal challenges young professionals to focus on their skills and talents, and to hone them to a point where they are so good they cannot be ignored.

3) Winning the Story Wars: Why Those who Tell (and Live) the Best Stories will Rule the Future– Jonah Sachs

The world we live in today is noisier than ever before, a challenge sales reps have to struggle with and fight through. The lines between sales and marketing are also increasingly blurring. To solve those two issues, Jonah Sachs argues that sales reps and young professionals have to become better storytellers, drawing his evidence from case studies rooted in mythology, evolutionary biology, psychology and advertising. Tell better stories to communicate more effectively with today’s listener and buyer.

4) The Innovator’s Dilemma: When new Technologies cause Great Firms to Fail – Clayton M. Christensen

Whether you’re working at an early-stage startup or an established Fortune 500 company, complacency is the enemy of success. On the flip side, those who are most successful are constantly tinkering and innovating, trying to stay ahead of trends and never saying the words, “But that’s how we’ve always done it!” Clayton Christensen offers his arguments by presenting both successes and failures from other companies.

5) The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why it Matters, and What you can do to Get More Out of ItKelly McGonigal

Discipline is one of the most important traits among successful sales reps, and discipline starts with having the willpower to power through even the most menial of tasks. Kelly McGonigal dives into reams of research – from psychology, economics, neuroscience and medicine – to unlock the secrets of how willpower works and what reps can do to get more of it.

6) The 20% Doctrine: How Tinkering, Goofing Off and Breaking the Rules at Work Drive Success in BusinessRyan Tate

Your managers might hate us for this suggestion…but if it’s good enough for Google, then it should be good enough for the rest of us, right? The title borrows from Google’s philosophy that workers should spend 20% of their time on projects they’re personally invested in. While that 20% figure might not be realistic for most companies, the point remains that innovation and personal passion can go a long way toward personal and company-wide success. Sales reps should always be experimenting, and this book is a good start to cultivate that mindset.

7) The Icarus Deception: How High will you Fly?Seth Godin

What a great title! The myth of Icarus is centered around a warning from his father not to use his new wings to fly too close to the sun, aka to play it safe. Seth Godin – who we’re big fans of – flips that thinking on its ear, warning that flying too low is even more dangerous than flying too high, because of the false deception of safety. Seth challenges readers to step outside their comfort zone and not to set personal limits and ceilings on their own abilities.

8) Influence: The Psychology of PersuasionRobert B Cialdini

Sales is no longer the brute-force numbers game it was decades ago. There is a more subtle art to it today, and a big part of that is persuasiveness and influence. Understanding why buyers buy can really take your selling game to the next level, getting more of your prospects to just say “Yes!”

9) Likeonomics: The Unexpected Truth Behind Earning Trust, Influencing Behavior and Inspiring Action– Rohit Bhargava

Along with influence, likability is also a critical trait for sales reps – buyers will be more comfortable buying from reps they like and develop a bond with, rather than from those who are just trying to sell them something. Rohit argues that likability isn’t just an innate ability, but a real skill that can be honed and improved.

10) The Commitment Engine: Making Work Worth It– John Jantsch

Nobody wants to be a clock-punching employee, just serving their 9-to-5 aimlessly and unenthusiastically. What’s the secret to making work worth it and being effortlessly passionate about it? John Jantsch, drawing on his research with companies like Threadless and Evernote, unlocks the secret to having more purpose-driven employees.

11) Screw it, Let’s do it: Lessons in Life– Richard Branson

Not many people in the history of the world have achieved as much as Richard Branson. Want to be inspired to do more in your own life? Read the stories of achievement and success throughout Richard’s life! His attitude, espoused in his title, is something more sales reps and young professionals could stand to benefit from. Sometimes, the best way to get something done is to simply say, “Screw it, let’s do it!”
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