The are the four books that I’ve found most accurately reflect the reality of sales teams today. Each offers concrete advice that could be applied to any team to help make improvements.
Sales Acceleration Formula
Read it now. You should be doing everything in this book. Roberge breaks down Hubspot’s sales success into for major categories:
- Lead Gen
He spells out simple step-by-step processes that could be applied to any type of business in order to create consistent results. The thing that sets Sales Acceleration apart from the rest is the quality of the writing and the structure. Mark is efficient in his communication, and can convey complex topics quickly. Its a quick read, and he touches on literally EVERY aspect of sales in enough detail to get you operational.
If I only had time to read one, this would be it. The other books below are really deep-dives on the topics that get a strong introduction in this book.
Mark’s book (Sales Acceleration formula) makes the case in his book for focusing on creating a systematic hiring process right from the beginning. I’d second that idea (see this BTSM post), and to get another detailed perspective on how you could be doing a better job hiring, I’d read Who: The A Method for Hiring by Geoff Smart and Randy Street.
In it’s simpleist form, WHO makes the case for you to create a hiring process and scorecard (or profile) for any role that you’re seeking to fill. They focus on building a scorecard for the role, using that scorecard to assess the candidate throughout the hiring process, and for evaluating performace once they’ve been hired.
Geoff really does a good job of explaining the true pain point, voodoo hiring. This resonated with me because over the years I’ve learned that everyone needs to learn a process in order to get good at interviewing. Most companies simply assume that their employees will know how to interview, and how to look for specific hiring traits.
Stop voodo hiring and read this book now!
This is the industry standard when it comes to lead gen. After reading The Sales Acceleration Formula’s section on Lead Gen, I’d then use Predictable Revenue to do a deep dive on the topic.
Aaron makes the case that you will not be able to drive consistent results without having a mastery of how to consistently create new leads for your sales team. His solution is an SDR team to bridge the gap between sales and marketing, but he also spells out the importance of defining process for anything to be scalable. Its the precursor to Marks’ way of thinking in the Sales Acceleration Formula, but spends more time on the lead gen piece of the puzzle.
One of the sections that hit home the most for me was the idea of an Ideal Client Profile (ICP). In Chapter 3, as part of Cold calling 2.0, Aaron states the importance of figuring out who to call first:
“This is where most companies fall short from the start, by targeting the wrong prospects, at the wrong levels, going after too many kinds of companies, or not speaking in‘their language’.”
Ross, Aaron; Marylou Tyler (2011-07-26). Predictable Revenue: Turn Your Business Into A Sales Machine With The $100 Million Best Practices Of Salesforce.com (p. 44). PebbleStorm Press. Kindle Edition.
It’s step one of his cold calling process, read the book to find out the rest. A must-read before building an SDR team.
Accidental Sales Manager
If you come into contact wth sales people in your job, this book will help you better understand them as individual contributors and as new managers.
Chris Lytle write’s from the perspective of a sales person that go promoted into being a sales manager, and refreshingly points out of all the painful lessons he learned. Though the book isn’t structured in the most accessible way, its worth getting all the way through it because its filled with pure gold, some of these tips took me years to learn on my own!
The first game changer for me is Chris’s concept of the sales management trap. Like quicksand, management really bogs new managers down with fire fighting. They get stuck always chasing remedial Level 1 tasks like administrative work, policy disputes, and closing business. This prevents them from ever getting to high level tasks like coaching and in depth analysis of pipeline conversion.
The second game changer for me is the vivid detail with which Chris explains the learning process for sales people. Ultimately, learning is a process that requires commitment and discipline, its not a single moment in time. He points out that all sales orgs struggle with this problem, but there are no silver bullets, and begs teams to do things correctly from the start.
Last, he points out that sales managers are in the belief business. Sales floors are breeding grounds for myths, urban legends, and folk lore. Facts are not king, and to understand how to change a sales org you have to take time to understand the pre-existing belief systems, on matter how ridiculous they may be.
Managing a sales team can be an extremely stressful proposition because they seem to operate on their own rules. Read this book to de-mystifiy the world of sales and sales management.
Cracking the Sales Management Code
I saved one of the best for last, its the single most undervalued book on this list
Jason Jordan and Michelle Vizzana looked out how sales teams had typically been managed, and realized that with the newfound ability of CRM, management is being changed by our access to numbers. He lays out a set of operating instructions for a sales force, that are a must read for any Director / VP. His framework is based off of hundreds of interview through the XXXX group, through which he identified and classified 306 different metrics that sales teams seemed to be tracking. He then breaks these metrics down into 3 simple groups, Business Results (outcomes), Sales Objectives, and Sales Activities.
His break through is in asking a simple question; which of these metrics can be managed? What he found out was that its only 17% of the metrics on this list, but companies where spending far more time looking at numbers that couldn’t be managed. What good is trying to tell your manage numbers that can’t be moved (the other 80% of numbers that companies track)?
Greater visibility into these numbers, provides just that, great visibility, not greater control over those numbers. In his words:
“we cannot directly manage our children’s grades in school. As much as we would like to instruct that B on the report card to become an A, the B is not listening. What we can manage, though, is the amount of time that our children spend studying”
Or another great real world analogy:
“Another example would be our physical weight. As wonderful as it would be to step onto the scale and watch that number decrease with eas as we stand there and command, “lower, lower, lower,” in reality, that is a metric we cannot directly manage. We can hoever control how many calories we eat and how frequently we exercise…”
Simply demanding a number to go up, seldom yields results, read this book to understand how to build the levers you’re going to need to pull in your business to drive lasting results.