In my sales career, I have read many of the “top” sales books out there. Most, in my opinion, start getting boring and repetitive once you hit like chapter 3. Don’t get me wrong, there are some good ones that have helped me improve or provided some tactics, but most have been lackluster at best. With no disrespect, I think this is because I feel a lot of sales skills are learned over a lifetime from real world engagement and partially just pure DNA. Plus, long books bore the hell out of me so that could be a reason too.
Well, that got me to thinking…if I could only give one book to someone starting out in sales, what would it be?
I was having a hard time deciding the best answer to this question. Do I go with something like “The Challenger Sale” or maybe more old school like “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” But, people transitioning into sales need a book that gets them motivated and ready for the ups and downs that sales presents every day. And, as so often times it happens, I came across that book in such an unexpected place. Like we do almost every night before bed, my son and I read a book. My son picked out a book from his (ridiculously) large stack beside his bed and handed it to me. I took a glance and quickly glazed over the title and it read “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” By Dr. Seuss.
Who has read this book? You may have read it when you were a kid (I may have) but didn’t realize its true existence until just a few short months ago. As I read over the words and curiously turned each page it became very clear that this book had to be written for sales.
If you wanted to read it, I am providing a link to a short youtube video of the book (I am a more visual person and personally the voice over by Jon Lithgow is solid) as well as a link to the text version. I’d certainly suggest to grab it from Amazon for your own collection.
Oh! The Places You’ll Go – Video Link
Oh! The Places You’ll Go – Text Version
I think this book does the trick for a few simple reasons:
1. It’s simple. It’s how Sales should be. Filled with stories and Human to Human conversations. Organizations continually over complicate the shit out of sales these days with their data and metrics and constant change if “something” isn’t working after like 5 minutes. Go look at the top performers in most organizations and you will find people cut from so many different cloths. It’s because the innate ability is in the DNA of that person and not some tactic in some sales book. It’s why there are only a small percentage of sales reps that are top performers. They hang their hat on human characteristics to forge them ahead and not on tactics like “make X calls a day and you’ll hit your numbers” or say “THIS” when someone objects to something, etc.
2. It’s direct and honest. You go through a lot of emotions while reading this book. You go through highs and lows, just like in sales. You also realize that a lot of the core skills you need to win at life help you win at sales; Persistence, Patience, Competitiveness, Empathy, and Going with your intuition. These, among some others, are what folks new to sales need to realize are the key to being a top performer. It’s like the old adage, “Fall down seven times and get up eight.” You just got to keep chopping through the forest and put in the hard work through the good and bad times.
3. It’s not about tactics, it’s about process. Top performing sales reps rely on processes day in and day out and then focus on using their instincts when working with different partners in different situations. There are no tactics that consistently win partnerships over a given time but understanding a process that works for you and sticking with it. Self-awareness can be a powerful thing both in understanding who you are and what makes you work to the best of your ability. One example in this book of the “waiting place” reminds me of those times when clients go dark for a while. Some folks push and become pests while others understand patience is key and that the relationship built will keep this potential client moving forward when the time is right. The reason this book is so relate-able is that it can be viewed from so many different perspectives and also allows you to read it at different points in your career and garner different meanings.
You may think I’m crazy saying that a children’s book is one of the best books to prescribe to a new sales rep and that’s fine as you are entitled to your opinion. However, if you’ve never read it or it’s been a long time then I encourage you to give it another shot. Who knows, you may just pick up something useful. What do you have to lose? At worst, if you do have kids, it should be something you read to them and explain the deeper meaning behind it.
Remember, sales is mostly about staying motivated and positive. We all know that. The motivation this book provides in its simple verbiage is all people new to sales really need to get going in the right direction. Then, like I said before, innate ability takes over. It’s sales, not rocket science. The minute we start to realize this, the minute we can get back to helping our clients succeed. That’s the ultimate goal, isn’t it?
Appreciate hearing any feedback. If this wasn’t on your list to give to a new sales rep, what is? What’s your favorite book to pass along?