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Sales Consulting Resources

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Whilst I have never attended formal sales training, I have had the benefit of learning through my clients of a number of different resources that I have found very useful in the sales process, both personally and for clients.  The following books are recommended as "starters" for anyone in selling - and the reality is, as Daniel Pink articulates in "To Sell is Human" below, we are all in Selling - ourselves as much as anything else.  This particularly applies in "selling" consulting services where it is as much about good questioning, listening, influencing and providing a tailored solution.

The books are somewhat all interlinked in that they each rely on human interaction and interpersonal skills.  These skills are particularly important in the sale of Professional Services - which are based as much on relationships and trust as on technical competence.

In addition, I recommend the downloading and reading of the article at the foot of this page on Higher Levels of Sales Performance using the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument - a Whole  Brain Approach to Selling - and this is an instrument which I can administer, debrief and coach upon.

 
 
How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age - Dale Carnegie Training (2011)

An update on the timeless classic written by Dale Carnegie in 1936 and tailored to the demands of the digital age, where the same principles (albeit without the somewhat sexist tones of the 1930s) apply.  Interpersonal skills are still one of the most highly sought after competencies, whether as a graduate or as a leader, and I use this book often - personally, with clients and in conference presentations. This book was also considered one of the 4 Giants of Sales books.
 
 
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change - Stephen Covey (1989 and 2013)

Originally written in 1989 and updated in 2013 after the sudden and accidental passing of author Steven Covey.  The principles of personal effectiveness that he has enunciated are also timeless (e.g. be Proactive, Think Win-Win, Seek First to Understand then be Understood) are extremely useful for life as well as work.  Covey also subsequently wrote another book "The Eighth Habit" which is about Trust.   The relevance to a sales process should be obvious!
 
 Influence - The Psychology of Persuasion - Robert Ciarldini (2009)

Originally written in 1984 and updated a number of times with the last edition in 2009.  Very powerful principles that are not only useful in direct sales but also in life, networking and ongoing career success.  Principles such as reciprocation, commitment and consistency, social proof, liking, authority and scarcity are covered in detail with numerous examples and case studies as to how these may be used.
 
 
Spin Selling - Neil Rackham (1988)

This was the first real sales book I read and whilst the title may be offputting, it actually is a very well researched and validated approach to the sales process, notwithstanding it was published in 1988.  

Understanding the 4 stages of a sales process (Preliminaries and Rapport, Investigating, Demonstrating Capability and Obtaining Commitment) and the SPIN process of Investigating (the types of questions to ask - Situation, Problem, Implications, Need-Payoff) is a very good foundation for selling anything - goods, services or yourself.  This is particularly important when selling professional services where often consultants don't ask enough questions!
 
 
The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation - Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson (2012)

A more recent book that also is based on significant research as to the most successful sales professionals.  5 types of salespeople are described - Hard Worker, Relationship Builder, Lone Wolf, Problem Solver and Challenger with the Challenger being shown to be the most successful, provided this person or team has based their sales process on a more consultative, insights driven approach.  

What this style of selling does require is a well informed sales person - someone who understands the current and future trends and issues from a business, political, economic, socio-cultural, technological, environmnetal and legal  perspective - and how it applies to the client/customer in the relationship. [The use of Mindtools PEST analysis may be useful here.] 
 
 
To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth about Persuading, Convincing and Influencing Others - Daniel Pink (2012)

Daniel Pink states that we are all in sales now - even those in non sales roles.  He argues that at least 40% of our time is spent persuading, convincing or influencing others to do something we want.  He also introduces the concept that it is not Extroverts or Introverts who are the best sales people - but Ambiverts - people who have a combination of extraversion and introversion.  From a business perspective, this means that everyone is in sales - the receptionist, the service department, the accounts payable department, the human resources department - and of course the sales department.  
 
 
How to Persuade & Influence People - Philip Hesketh (2010)

Philip Hesketh was introduced to me as one of the resource speakers for The Executive Connection (TEC) and he rated very highly with my group of SME CEOs when he presented to them in February 2015.  His book is based on his over 30 years in the advertising and professional speaking industries and is a combination of Dale Carnegie principles above and more specific sales and persuasion techniques.  The techniques contained herein on the one hand a very basic common sense people skills yet on the other hand a more structured, sophisticated approach to sales - in whatever guise that may be, even if money is not changing hands.