The first time I ever visited the SAGE offices was to return a book to my cousin who worked on the sales team at the time. I was enjoying my job selling technology staffing and really wasn’t looking to make a change. But once I met everyone and exchanged stories, I decided if they ever had an opening, I wanted to go for it.
I joined SAGE seven years ago and have found it to be the most rewarding experience of my career, but not without challenges. When I was promoted from team sales lead to the distributor sales manager, I had to quickly ramp up my managerial skills. Leading a team of 20 salespeople was no small responsibility. The difference maker in that transition period, besides my outstanding mentors, was what I had learned through some incredibly influential books.
Reading seems like a luxury when you have a packed schedule day after day, but it’s a worthy investment in your career. Here are four of my all-time favorite reads, perfect for salespeople in our industry!
The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything by Stephen M.R. Covey
The Speed of Trust can certainly relate to all aspects of life, but I feel it is particularly relevant to our industry. Stephen Covey illustrates how trust – and the speed at which it’s developed – is critical to everyone’s success. Relating it back to our industry, if a distributor can trust a supplier they have partnered with, the time savings can be huge.
If you can submit an order and trust that it will be handled correctly, there is no need to take the time to follow up and check in for a status update at every stage in the process. Our customers are just like us and they want to deal with people that do what they say they are going to do. Trust affects your bottom line, and this book has some great insights on how to establish trust with your customers, partners, employees, and beyond.
The Accidental Salesperson by Chris Lytle
The Accidental Salesperson was one of the first sales books I ever read. The author, like the title suggests, found himself in sales unexpectedly. His stories are not only entertaining but serve as a great road map to navigating your sales career.
What I liked the most about this book, is that it reinforced that I’m in control of my own destiny. With a career in sales, and with most things in life, you get out what you put in. And while it’s not your quintessential “how-to book,” it taught me to think critically about situations and develop my own calculated approach to sales and communicating with people.
Smart Calling by Art Sobczak
For a more detailed, how-to sales book, “Smart Calling” delivers. The author reveals the science behind getting your foot in the door and teaches you how to navigate prospecting and offer value to advance a customer relationship. Sobczak gives some great pointers on what to do and what not to do.
Cold calling doesn’t have to be a nerve-wracking, negative, fruitless part of your day. The tips and techniques in this book will give you a new outlook on prospecting and generating business.
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and Ben Holden-Crowther
Napoleon Hill published the original “Think and Grow Rich” back in 1937. His philosophy is as respected as ever, so it was revised for the 21st century and republished this year. It’s easily one of the most motivating books I’ve read and one that you’ll keep coming back to for inspiration. Hill lays out a formula for reaching your full potential, no matter what your profession is.
My grandfather owned his own business and was essentially a salesman. When he passed away my grandmother gave me a poem that he kept in his wallet for years. I loved the poem so I began carrying it in my wallet. In fact, I have it on the wall in my office right now. One day I was on a plane and was reading this book, and ran across the poem. This book obviously had the same impact on my grandfather. Business books that can transcend generational gaps don’t come along very often, and I don’t think there’s another book like it.
“The way of success is the way of continuous pursuit of knowledge.” – Napoleon Hill
Even if you don’t get around to all four of these books, spending a little time on one can help you gain perspective. Summer is coming up – take a break, kick back, and let us know what you’re reading!