Career Development 26 Comments

Best Sales Books: 25 Elite Picks to Step Up Your Sales Game {2017 Update}

Ralph Barsi

July 17th, 2017

best sales books

Editors Note: These 25 Best Sales Books are not endorsed or sponsored in any way – we really just love this selection!

Student: I know what I like.

Master: You like what you know.

Before you barrel through the following list of books, take a deep breath.

Most of us will scroll right to the list, hastily scanning the titles with an “Oh, I know that one…that one, too…hmm, never heard of it…that one’s good.”

Check it out though – before you get too skeptical, we’ve got it covered. Our list of best sales books doesn’t just target one niche, so be prepared for a diverse set of top picks on how to build a sales process, sales strategy, sales management, sales acceleration, leadership, inspiration and more!

Slow Your Roll

We’re all used to tweets and texts, and flying through content. Books, however, require focus and attention. So peruse this list and consider how each book might improve your approach to problems, or work, or people. Think about buying each book.

Become a Student of the Game

If you truly want to be a better leader, better salesperson, better speaker, better writer, or just a better person, you need to study the craft. And if you look hard, you’ll find there’s already a book with the instructions.

Make the Best Use of Your Limited Time

It’s not like you need the home study, the leather chair, or the warm reading lamp over your shoulder for “reading time.”

Best Sales Books Turns Readers Into Leaders

Studies continue to find that most CEO’s read 4-5 books a month, and earn 350% more income than the average American. So, don’t take this list with a grain of salt. Get under the hood and explore all these books have to offer.

Work on yourself harder than you work on your job: If you stay ready, you won’t need to get ready. You stay ready by reading.

best sales books | sales hacker

This complete list of 25 best sales books are listed in no particular order, and I’m not encouraged or paid to recommend them. They also don’t represent ALL the ones I’d suggest. It’s all out there, though, part of a slew of great lists that will recommend excellent titles for you. Remember, what you seek is seeking you.

best sales books of all time

#1 Thinkertoys

Michael Michalko

best sales books thinkertoys

Find two solutions to every problem you encounter. It’ll get you thinking and acting like a leader. And you’ll be surprised how often you can resolve issues on your own.

This book is filled with creative thinking exercises, called thinkertoys, that help evoke answers already within you. Each chapter is prefaced with a deep quote from strategist and philosopher, Sun Tzu. Even if you choose not to read the exercises, you’ll have a book of killer Sun Tzu quotes.

Buy Thinkertoys here:

#2 The 10X Rule

Grant Cardone

best sales books 10x Rule

How much money did you make in the last 24 hours? If you want a better-than-average anything in life, then you need to think and act better-than-average. Stop telling yourself why you can’t achieve greatness and limiting your beliefs.

Your thoughts and actions need to increase 10X to get to the next levels. Business leader, Grant Cardone, walks you through how to “10X your life,” and provides exercises for you at the end of each chapter.

Buy The 10X Rule here:

#3 Wooden on Leadership

John Wooden

best sales books Wooden On Leadership

If every player on the team plays to the best of their ability, the team won’t need to look at the scoreboard or talk about winning.

The late UCLA Basketball Coach, John Wooden, inspired his team to win 10 NCAA national titles in a 12-year span. Coach Wooden’s legacy was built on his Pyramid of Success, which he explains in great detail. Speaking of detail, Coach Wooden once said, “It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”

Buy Wooden On Leadership here:

#4 How to Win Friends and Influence People

Dale Carnegie

best sales books how To Win Friends & Influence People

If everyone practiced the lessons in this book, the world would be a better place. Dale Carnegie wrote it in 1936, and it remains applicable to today’s world.

“Become genuinely interested in other people,” “Begin in a friendly way,” and “Praise every improvement” are just a few of Carnegie’s teachings. If you change, everything will change for you. Reading this book is your first step.

Buy How to Win Friends and Influence People here:

#5 The Sales Acceleration Formula

Mark Roberge

best sales books Sales Acceleration Formula

Sales leader Mark Roberge reveals the framework and formula behind HubSpot’s incredible scaling efforts. These very practices propelled HubSpot into the public market’s open arms.

Like famous equations that changed the world, this formula teaches you how the power of inbound lead generation, marketing and sales data, pipeline and activity metrics, and sales technology can change your business for the better.

Buy The Sales Acceleration Formula here:

#6 The Little Red Book of Selling

Jeffrey Gitomer

best sales books Little Red Book of Selling

It doesn’t matter what Gitomer book you read, you’ll learn better ways to sell. This one happens to be the one I’ve referred to the most. Jeffrey’s style of writing, his tone, and his tips can’t be ignored – value oozes from them.

Similar to Jill Konrath (see #10), I’ve subscribed to Jeffrey Gitomer’s free eNewsletter, Sales Caffeine, for YEARS (about ten now). It still shows up in my inbox every Tuesday morning. This particular book is the largest-selling sales book of all time, worldwide.

It’s a classic that remains relevant over time. This is an absolute must read for all salespeople at any experience level.

Buy Little Red Book of Selling here:

#7 Predictable Revenue

Aaron Ross, Marylou Tyler

best sales books Preditable Revenue

Known by many as “the bible” of SaaS sales development, this book provides a bevy of proven ideas for managing the top of the funnel. Aaron unveils proven best practices created and used by

It’s a guide that remains relevant, by many standards, and is a must-read for anyone in demand generation and sales development.

Buy Predictable Revenue here:

Bonus: Hacking Sales – The Playbook for Building a High Velocity Sales Machine

Max Altschuler

best sales books hacking sales playbook building high velocity sales machine

Because it’s our blog, and Max wrote this in 6 days from Bali, you know we had to add this to the list! In Hacking Sales, you’ll learn how to build a fully streamlined sales engine using new technology built for salespeople along with innovative new techniques. Max showcases over 150 tools throughout the book, enabling you to build the ultimate sales stack to support a fully efficient sales machine.

Buy The Playbook for Building a High Velocity Sales Machine here:

#8 Think and Grow Rich

Napoleon Hill

best sales books Think & Grow Rich

Wouldn’t you agree you will acquire knowledge by reading all the books on this list (or even half of them)? All that knowledge won’t be worth jack – nor will it attract the income you’re likely after – without practical PLANS OF ACTION.

This book was published in a year after Dale Carnegie’s (see #4) – like, um, EIGHTY years ago. Apply what you learn from it, right here and now, in our world of SaaS, social media, texts, tweets, and eMedia, and elevate yourself, your company, your product, your brand, and your customers to unthinkable heights.

Buy Think and Grow Rich here:

#9 Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook

Gary Vaynerchuk

best sales books Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook

Though it might be the same story, you’ll need to tell it differently to a group of executives vs. a group of your friends. The term means to give, give, give, and then ask.

“Gary Vee” explains, in great detail, how to do this online, and includes methods for telling your story on every major social media platform. If you’re looking to build your brand, then you’ll want to know how to “speak the language” of each channel, and each audience.

Buy Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook here:

#10 Agile Selling

Jill Konrath

best sales books Agile Selling

I have followed Jill Konrath since 2007, when I subscribed to her “Selling to Big Companies” blog. To this day, she sheds value on the sales industry like a bright, warm sunshine.

Buyers and sellers are on their own journeys – each resembling their unique roller coaster ride. Jill shares techniques and tactics to help salespeople adapt to these changes and arrive at the desired outcome. Everything she writes here is reinforced in her blog, eBooks and kits, and videos.

Buy Agile Selling here:

Bonus: The Sales Enablement Playbook

Cory Bray & Hilmon Sorey

sales enablement playbook

In The Sales Enablement Playbook, sales veterans Cory Bray and Hilmon Sorey provide insights into creating a culture of sales enablement throughout your organization. This book provides a series of stand-alone chapters with frameworks and tactics that you can immediately implement, regardless of company size or industry. Whether you are a sales executive, sales practitioner, or a non-sales executive looking for ways to impact growth, The Sales Enablement Playbook will help you identify your role in a thriving enablement ecosystem

Get The Sales Enablement Playbook here:

#11 The Ultimate Sales Machine

Chet Holmes

best sales books Ultimate Sales Machine

I’ve read this book a good 20 times, and have referred to it throughout my sales leadership career. It offers a 12-part program only used by high-caliber sales organizations, and requires “pig-headed discipline and determination” to work.

Chet Holmes left us with a recipe for success that is unparalleled. This book explicitly spells it out, and many of its lessons are reinforced today by Chet Holmes International.

Buy The Ultimate Sales Machine here:

#12 The New Solution Selling

Keith M. Eades

best sales books New Solution Selling

To know where you’re going means you need to know where you came from. This is the update to Mike Bosworth’s early 90’s classic, Solution Selling.

Applying a sales methodology to your selling gives you a tried and true advantage, and enables you to plan your work and work your plan. Among the popular methodologies, this happens to be a favorite. It uses the formula PPVVC=S (Pain x Power x Vision x Value x Control = Sale) to help salespeople accurately gauge the probability of closing a deal.

Other legendary methodologies include:

Buy The New Solution Selling here:

#13 The First 90 Days

Michael Watkins

best sales books first 90 days

This book is a road-map for leaders starting in a new organization. Time is critical in the first 90 days, and the faster you can reach “the breakeven point,” where you become a contributor of value vs. a consumer of value, the better.

Watkins provides real-world scenarios, several potential approaches, and different types of dialogue, to help you anticipate and prepare for any situation in your new environment.

Buy The First 90 Days here:

#14 Difficult Conversations

Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton

best sales books Difficult Conversations

It’s inevitable. You’re going to have difficult conversations – with senior leaders, with sales reps, with prospects and customers. Of course, most of us want to prevent these talks, or avoid them altogether.

When you’re focused, however, on productive problem solving instead of emotion or “winning” the argument, you’re able to calmly arrive with your “opponent” at a path forward. This book lays out the best, most professional, tactful, and respectful ways to handle difficult conversations.

Buy Difficult Conversations here:

Bonus: The No 1. Best Seller

Lee Bartlett

lee bartlett no 1 best seller

What does it take to be a top salesperson?

Many books claim to have the answer, but few demonstrate, by example, exactly how it is achieved. The No.1 Best Seller is a masterclass in professional selling, as seen through the eyes of a top salesman. With a career spent selling financial technology to the C-Suite and Investment Banking community, Lee Bartlett shares the mindset and methodology that has allowed him to consistently outperform his competitors to win the largest mandates in his industry.

Buy: The No.1 Best Seller

#15 Smart Calling

Art Sobczak

best sales books smart calling

Many argue that “cold calling” is dead, and in many ways it is. “Calling,” however, is alive and well, and salespeople NEED to know how to conduct a great phone call.

Sales trainer and coach, Art Sobczak, shares “dumb mistakes” most salespeople say in the first 10 seconds of their calls; and offers new, better approaches to ensure you engage people on the phone vs. spilling info about you, your company, and your product all over them.

Buy Smart Calling here:

#16 Money – Master the Game

Tony Robbins

best sales books Money Master The Game

Assuming you’re going to crush it in your sales career, you’ll make a lot of money. You better learn how to manage it or it will disappear. It was once said, “If you took all the money in the world, divided it up equally among everybody, it would soon all be back in the same pockets.”

Tony Robbins spells out 7 simple steps to financial freedom, and interviews the world’s money masters, so you can model their success for yourself.

Buy Money – Master the Game here:

#17 The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Stephen Covey

best sales books 7 habits of highly effective people

I attended a leadership conference in the early 2000’s, and Dr. Covey was the keynote speaker. He had us stand up, cover eyes, and point to where we thought was north. He then asked everyone to keep pointing while they uncovered their eyes. Everyone was pointing in a different direction.

In order to influence an organization of any size to head in the same direction, everyone must develop fundamental habits – like seeking first to understand before you’re understood. This book is a masterpiece in how to become highly effective in everything you do.

Buy The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People here:

#18 Jack: Straight from the Gut

Jack Welch, John A. Byrne

best sales books straight from gut jack welch

Jack Welch is a master at business leadership. By driving culture before anything else, he shaped GE to become the “most valuable company in the world.”

This book illustrates Jack’s career path, his candid view on what matters most to businesses, his succession plan for up-and-coming executives (including personal, handwritten letters to his leaders), and the deep dives he encourages us to take when working on our business.

Buy Jack: Straight from the Gut here:

#19 The Psychology of Selling

Brian Tracy

best sales books psychology of selling

“Get serious about your career; decide today to be a big success in everything you do.” This quote from Brian Tracy is the first of my five philosophies, and a staple of my daily work.

Here, Brian walks through strategies and methods for moving deals through the pipeline and adding more “Closed Won” deals to the board. It is a classic book you’ll reference throughout your career.

Buy The Psychology of Selling here:

#20 Overcoming The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Patrick Lencioni

best sales books five dysfunctions team patrick lencioni

If you’re part of a struggling company or team, it’s likely because one or more of these dysfunctions is at play: absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, or inattention to results.

This is one of TEN powerhouse business and sales books from Pat Lencioni. He continues to share his gift with the world, working with his team at The Table Group, to lift businesses to the highest levels.

Buy Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team here:

#21 Zig Ziglar’s Secrets of Closing the Sale

Zig Ziglar

best sales books zig ziglar secrets closing sale

The man. Zig Ziglar is a sales legend, and his lessons continue to resonate today. I never took the opportunity to see him live, but still listen to and watch his teachings.

In this book, Zig underscores the fact that “we’re all in sales.” He breaks down the very questions, attitude, and steps required to influence a “Yes!” from people.

Buy Zig Ziglar’s Secrets of Closing the Sale here:

#22 21.5 Unbreakable Laws of Selling

Jeffrey Gitomer

best sales books 21.5 Unbreakable Laws of Selling

It doesn’t matter what Gitomer book you read, you’ll learn better ways to sell. This one happens to be the one I’ve referred to the most. Jeffrey’s style of writing, his tone, and his tips can’t be ignored – value oozes from them.

Similar to Jill Konrath (see #10), I’ve subscribed to Jeffrey Gitomer’s free eNewsletter, Sales Caffeine, for YEARS (about ten now). It still shows up in my inbox every Tuesday morning.

There are are laws for every discipline (physics, civil, criminal, mathematical, economic). If particular conditions are present, the laws will always occur, plain and simple. This book deeply explains the essential laws of our craft – selling.

Buy 21.5 Unbreakable Laws of Selling here:

#23 Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done

Ram Charan, Larry Bossidy

best sales books execution discipline getting things done

The title mentions “the discipline of getting things done.” That alone should inspire you to read this book. Ram Charan is a business legend, and has advised the greatest CEO’s of all time, while Larry Bossidy has led at incredibly successful companies like Honeywell and GE.

Execution is a discipline that must be a core component of organizations, but should also be at your core. What people say they’ll do and what they actually do are often two different things. Just get ‘er done!

Buy Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done here:

The End Of The Bookshelf

They’re not all here. WAY more books are out there, containing ALL the answers you need to succeed. Schedule time to crack them open, and become the awesome salesperson you are.

These books, without question, will bolster your self-improvement, develop your leadership presence, guide you towards building effective teams, offer you different ways of solving problems, and show you how to do your job better. If you think a great one is missing from this list, please leave a comment with the title and author. Otherwise, prepare to rise up.

About the author

Ralph Barsi

Ralph Barsi leads the Senior Director, Global Demand Center at ServiceNow. He was named one the most influential inside sales professionals in the industry two years in a row. Ralph is also a frequent contributor to Sales Hacker, as a writer, speaker, and instructor to salespeople of all levels.

  • Sean Sheppard

    Great list! I would add SPIN Selling and the Go-Giver to make it an even 25 🙂

    • Ralph Barsi

      Excellent recommendations, Sean. I mentioned SPIN Selling under #12, but it’s certainly worthy of it’s own spot. And Go-Giver’s another classic (Burg, Mann)!

      • 100% agree with you, Sean! SPIN Selling is a definite must read.

  • Great list Ralph! Thanks! Happy to see Ultimate Sales Machine on there 😉

    • Ralph Barsi

      Thanks, Amanda!

  • Arseny Kardash

    Got to save this whole list to my amazon wishilist. I’d definitely add “Start with No” and “Pitch anything” to the list

    • Ralph Barsi

      Excellent suggestions, Arseny. Thank you!

    • Pitch Anything is great!

  • Richard Li

    So glad to see “The Sales Acceleration Formula” on the list. It’s the book that both convinced and excited me about starting a sales career. Also, I’ve never seen a sales book coming from an engineering perspective before. Mark lays out a repeatable and scaleable process that makes sense and is easy to understand.

    • Ralph Barsi

      It’s a great one, isn’t it, Richard?

  • Great list Ralph. Good to see a mix of classics and recent books on the list. I’ve got plenty to add, but this is your list, not mine.

    • Ralph Barsi

      Thank you, Brandon! By all means, tell us what you’d include.

  • Anastasia Harold

    The Challenger Sale, anyone? 😀

    • Ralph Barsi

      Love it, Anastasia! I mentioned The Challenger Sale under #12, though it could stand on it’s own, no question.

  • Phill Keene

    Ralph, I really like introducing the book Why You, Why Now by Simon Sinek. It’s a great way to get a young or even a veteran sales professional to think about using value, and speak with passion about the mission your solution/company is looking to solve and stay out of the weeds of feature selling.

    • Ralph Barsi

      Awesome suggestion, Phil! Thanks!

  • One of the most detailed list ever. Gold mine!

  • Mike Weinberg

    Great list. Love these books. Have read many of them and reviewed & promoted Jill’s Agile Selling, Art’s Smart Calling (which I regularly buy for clients), and Mark’s Sales Acceleration Formula. I think there might be one book missing from this list. It’s written by a guy whose name is very similar to mine. New Sales. Simplified. spent a year as the top-rated book in its Amazon category. Need new business? It’s worth checking out.

    • Ralph Barsi

      Thank you for sharing, Mike!

  • Ralph, thank you for putting together this comprehensive list. Full agreement excepting #21. I did get to see Zig live early in my career and he was an amazing man. Unfortunately much of his advice flat doesn’t work. Closing isn’t about asking clever questions. It’s about uncovering genuine problems that you and your company can fix.

    • Ralph Barsi

      Thanks, Sales Talent, Inc. Zig is a sales legend. His lessons (including those on closing) have influenced generations of salespeople. I’m sorry his advice hasn’t helped everyone.

      • My issue with Zig is his advancement and glorification of the idea of “closing”. This emphasis unfortunately has created a rather poor overall view of sales professionals with the general population.

  • Ray Carroll

    Ralph, I get this question all the time…As a an AE, what books can I read to hone my craft?. This list is a great starting point. Just sent it out to my teams. Thanks for sharing.

  • Evan Fortier

    Great collection Ralph! #6 & #10 are my favourites. Though, many books were out of my reach which I have found here, excited to explore them. I have found another good list of book for salespeople here:

  • Cody Duke

    I love Gary Vaynerchuk. I haven’t read any Zig Ziglar, but I guess I should because his quotes are everywhere. Thanks for the list! My favorite book on execution is the Effective Executive. It;s an oldie but a goodie. You may enjoy a recent list of my favorite sales books as well as other sales resources:

    Let me know what you think!

  • Laura Mc Hugh

    Great list Ralph! I recently compiled a similar list based on the most recommended sales reads on Quora & Reddit (books needed at least 2 mentions to be included). SPIN Selling came out on top as the most recommended read! Following that, Dale Carnegies’ How to Win Friends and Influence people and third was Challenger Sale. The entire list totals 47 books… the ultimate sales library!Our full methodology, book list and infographic is here:

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