It seems there are as many “self-help” sales books in the world as there are salespeople. And for good reason: sales is equal parts art and science — plus human psychology, basic math, a whole lot of trial and error, and (like it or not) a little bit of luck.
So, yeah: there’s a lot to say about sales.
A good sales management book, on the other hand, can be a little harder to find. That’s because the best ones aren’t about helping you achieve sales success. Instead, they’re about helping you achieve sales success through other people. In other words: less focus on developing your own sales skills, and more focus on learning how to develop those skills in other people — and ultimately, how to effectively lead a team.
Of course, that’s easier said than done. According to our recent survey, 98 percent of sales managers were at one time front-line sellers. But only 35 percent said they got adequate management training.
A book isn’t a substitute for true, continuous learning and development, but it’s a solid complement. So without further ado: here’s a list of the 7 best sales management books for people who want to be the most effective sales managers, coaches and all-around leaders they can be.
The 7 Best Sales Management Books in 2020
1. Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ
By Daniel Goleman
We know, we know — Emotional Intelligence isn’t actually about sales management. But hear us out: sales management is all about emotional intelligence.
At the end of the day, you’re a person managing other people. You don’t need a Ph.D. in psychology, but understanding basic human behaviors and what’s behind them can go a long way in being an effective and respected leader.
Goleman’s book shows how people who possess traits like self-awareness and empathy can achieve surprising success, whether they have a high or modest IQ. What’s more: these traits can be strengthened, which can have a positive impact on everything from work to family to our physical health.
2. Cracking the Sales Management Code
By Jason Jordan
It’s so obvious that we almost didn’t include it — but we felt we’d be lying by omission if this wasn’t on the list.
Jordan’s book is just as relevant today as it was when it was first published almost 10 years ago. At its core, Cracking the Sales Management Code is all about helping sales leaders learn to gain control over the performance of their sales force.
Our favorite feature of this book is that it’s not a bunch of theory or philosophy. The best practices, processes, frameworks and tools that you’ll find here are all highly actionable, with the ultimate goal of helping you understand exactly how to identify and measure the activities and metrics that generate revenue.
3. First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently
This book is one giant study of what makes a manager great — and what makes a great manager different from all the rest.
The title is catchy, but it’s also true — according to the results from Gallup’s study across managers in all kinds of positions, industries and company sizes. Bottom line: great managers don’t buy into “conventional wisdom” when it comes to managing people. In fact, a lot of them do the opposite of what conventional wisdom dictates.
This book isn’t just a massive report; findings are unpacked and broken down, so that managers walk away with lessons that they can apply to their own unique circumstances.
By Daniel H. Pink
You’ll find Daniel Pink’s book To Sell is Human on many of the top sales books lists. It’s definitely a worthwhile read — but when it comes to the best sales management books, we highly recommend Drive.
How to keep reps motivated and engaged is one of the eternal questions for sales managers. There isn’t one right answer: it comes down to — once again — understanding how the human mind works.
Drive pushes back on the commonly held belief that financial incentives are the best way to motivate people. Instead, Pink draws on years of scientific research to show that there are three key elements of motivation: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. He then shares techniques for applying these elements in a management setting.
5. The Sales Acceleration Formula
By Mark Roberge
There may be no such thing as a silver bullet in sales, but according to Roberge, a formula does exist.
The Sales Acceleration Formula provides valuable guidance and insight around growing pipeline and revenue, quickly and predictably. But unlike many other sales management books, Roberge focuses on a key piece of the puzzle: building your team.
Roberge believes success starts with hiring the right people — and then training them, holding them accountable, and providing them with the leads and technology they need to close quality deals, fast.
He argues that this isn’t about guesswork or luck: it’s about having a metric-driven process in place. The Sales Acceleration Formula thoroughly outlines an action plan so that sales managers can plug this formula into their own sales orgs.
6. Sales Management. Simplified.
By Mark Weinberg
Mark Weinberg is a leading sales management consultant. Based on his many years on the job, he tells some hard truths in Sales Management. Simplified.
Bottom line: when sales orgs are struggling with performance issues, it’s often a problem with how the team is being led, not with the reps themselves. (Harsh, but true.)
Weinberg digs into the common but costly mistakes even the most well-intentioned or seasoned managers make. This is a sales management book in the truest sense: it’s all about developing sales leadership skills, building a healthy, productive culture, and giving your reps exactly what they need to perform at their highest potential.
7. The Accidental Sales Manager
By Chris Lytle
Is your day filled with putting out fires? That’s not unusual for sales managers — but it’s exhausting.
In his book, Lytle recognizes that sales managers get sucked back into their previous roles as all-star sellers through no fault of their own: they were never adequately trained as sales managers.
Lytle shows managers how to develop key sales leadership skills and pays particular attention to making those all-too-frequent sales meetings as productive, effective and efficient as possible.