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Doing things “by the book” isn’t a tenable strategy in today’s business world. Such a rigid mindset is doomed to fail in a fluid, complex, and ever-changing digital marketplace.

But that doesn’t mean sales managers should avoid turning to great books for sage wisdom and guidance. Fortifying your expertise through absorption and distilling of information from brilliant minds will help you become a more well-rounded leader.

With World Book Day upon us on April 23rd, this felt like the perfect time to highlight indispensable reads for sales managers.

Sales Management Books for the Modern Leader

Each of these texts offers a unique view of sales management and getting the most out of your sales team. Reading them will help you get in tune with your reps so that you can maximize your team’s productivity.

Cracking the Sales Management Code: The Secrets to Measuring and Managing Sales Performance, by Jason Jordan and Michelle Vazzana

What’s It About?

Drawing from their depth of experience in the field, Jordan and Vazzana created a practical guide to overcoming sales management hurdles. In his foreword for the book, Neil Rackham suggests that the three fundamental components of selling success have changed in the digital age — from Selection, Strategy, Skill to Management, Metrics, Methodology. Cracking the Sales Management Code focuses on the latter three extensively.

Why Should I Read It?

It’s a great resource for sales managers of all stripes, with plenty of pointers that ring as true today as when they were published in 2012 — especially the nuanced takes on reporting and metrics.

The Accidental Sales Manager: How to Take Control and Lead Your Sales Team to Record Profits, by Chris Lytle

What’s It About?

“You outsold your colleagues and put your company ahead of the competition, so you’ve just been rewarded with a big promotion to sales manager. Congratulations! Now for the rub: You’ve gone from being an expert salesperson to an incompetent manager—and on top of that, you may be stuck doing your old sales job while you transition to your role as sales manager.” With this, Lytle sets up The Accidental Sales Manager. As that passage suggests, this book is more of an introductory overview for those who are new to a management role, guiding you through a foreign landscape with step-by-step instructions and techniques for avoiding the “sales management trap.”

Why Should I Read It?

It’s a fun, light read for newly appointed sales managers, and includes plenty of useful insights for those who’ve held the position for a while. Lytle interviewed a number of active sales managers for the book, and shares their lessons so you don’t have to learn them the hard way.

Growth Juice: How to Grow Your Sales, by John A. Weber

What’s It About?

If you’re looking for a quick and easy read, this might move to the top of your list. Filled with cartoons and concisely stated points, Growth Juice is not so much about the principles of sales management as it is about the tenets of business development. The charming presentation makes Weber’s concepts digestible and relatable for the reader. He examines key modern selling mainstays like highlighting value props, thoughtfully segmenting markets, and identifying competitive advantages.

Why Should I Read It?

Sales management isn’t just about running a team and overseeing reps; it’s also about contributing to a big-picture business growth strategy. This book will help grow your understanding of the latter, although there’s plenty of information on monitoring and maximizing selling efforts from your team. Weber also dives deep on social media integration as a vital solution selling initiative. Drink up!

Sales Management. Simplified.: The Straight Truth About Getting Exceptional Results from Your Sales Team, by Mike Weinberg

What’s It About?

“As Goes the Leader, So Goes the Organization.” The title of this book’s first chapter lays out the stakes, and Weinberg follows up with a bevy of recommendations for boosting the performance of your team. In blunt and straightforward fashion, he walks us through the essentials of goal-setting, prioritization, handling underperformers, coaching, and more.

Why Should I Read It?

Weinberg, who also authored the classic New Sales. Simplified., knows his stuff and does a great job of delivering actionable information in a candid and entertaining way. No matter your experience level, this is a must-read.

Emotional Intelligence 2.0, by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves

What’s It About?

Intelligence quotient (IQ) refers to our ability to learn, and it generally remains static after age 15. But emotional intelligence (EQ) is flexible, and can be continually developed with the right knowledge and tools. Bradberry and Greaves outline the core skills contributing to a high EQ — self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management — and offer tips for sharpening each one.

Why Should I Read It?

Emotional intelligence is arguably the most crucial, and overlooked, element of being an effective manager of people. Genuine empathy and awareness are traits that separate great leaders from good ones. Emotional Intelligence 2.0 is chock full of advice for improving your adeptness in these areas. “At last a book that gives how to’s rather than just what to’s,” said Joseph Grenny in endorsing the work.

Sales Manager Survival Guide: Lessons From Sales' Front Lines, by David Brock

What’s It About?

Brock is a seasoned sales expert and executive who pulls from a wealth of experience in the trenches to lay out a roadmap for succeeding from your first day as a sales manager. He tackles such important topics as transitioning from peer to superior, finding time to coach salespeople, closing performance gaps, executing productive reviews, interviewing, hiring, onboarding, and more.

Why Should I Read It?

It’s one of the most comprehensive sales management handbooks out there from a guy who really knows his stuff. Brock navigates you through some of the most challenging and pervasive pitfalls inherent to the job, backing it all with data and real-life examples.

Coaching Salespeople Into Champions: A Tactical Playbook for Managers and Executives, by Keith Rosen

What’s It About?

There’s a difference between training and coaching. Rosen’s goal is to turn the reader into a master coach with an in-depth exploration of what it takes to develop salespeople and get the most out of your team. Within this book, you’ll find six universal principles of masterful coaching, six fatal coaching mistakes, seven types of sales managers, and much more.

Why Should I Read It?

The No. 1 way for a sales manager to demonstrate clear value is by improving the performance of her team. Coaching Salespeople into Champions explains how you can get the most out of your conversations with reps, build deeper trust, and nip emerging issues in the bud. Within the book’s pages you will find plenty of tactical tools, including templates and scripts.

Principles: Life and Work, by Ray Dalio

What’s It About?

Released last year, this book is already a big hit and New York Times bestseller. A legendary businessman, Dalio reflects on the story of his investment firm Bridgewater Associates, which he started all the way back in 1975, and the many lessons he has learned along his professional journey. The Chicago Tribune calls it “part memoir, part strategic plan,” and adds that this highly detailed game plan has something for just about everyone.

Why Should I Read It?

Dalio has a lot of unique and compelling viewpoints that are very applicable in the current business environment. “Principles,” as he describes them in his book, “are fundamental truths that serve as the foundations for behavior that gets you what you want in life.” At the core of Dalio’s system of beliefs are two cornerstones: radical truth and radical transparency. Both are desirable qualities at a time were trust and sincerity are in short supply.

How Will You Manage?

Every sales manager has a distinct style and infuses their own personal instincts and intuition. That is as it should be. But the books listed above can help solidify your managerial skill set and fill in your proficiency gaps.

Whether you’re new to sales management or you’ve been doing it for years, it never hurts to brush up with these timeless compendiums from folks who’ve helped pave the way.


Originally published at LinkedIn Sales Solutions, reposted here with permission from our 2017 & 2018 Sponsor, LinkedIn.

Steve Kearns. (2018). 8 Books Every Sales Manager Should Read.Available: https://business.linkedin.com/sales-solutions/blog/sales-leaders/2018/04/8-sales-management-books-you-should-read. Last accessed 24/04/2018.