40 Sales and Marketing Books to Transform Your Thinking (part 2)

2019-07-30 8:07

by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes | LinkedIn

As I said in part 1…Anybody who knows me, I’m an avid reader, if there is a sales and marketing book out there then I have probably had it.  (I am also an avid reader about start-ups and start-up culture, but that’s another list for another day).  Approaching Christmas last year I spotted a list and I’m always up for books I might have missed, now was I disappointed.  It was a “mates list” the cold calling gurus had got together to create a list of all their mates books.  There was even books on how to write cold calling scripts.  It’s nearly the second decade of the 21st century and people are still trying to sell books written in the 1980s!  These people should be ashamed of themselves, they are holding back salespeople and companies.

I started reading marketing books in my twenties, when I realised I know nothing about Marketing and as I needed to do all my own lead generation and prospecting, I needed to find out about it, and quick.  I’ve kept my frequency of reading up, with a short break of a few years where I read novels.

This is a list of books that I have read, yes some of these people are friends.  But I write honest reviews, maybe they are no longer friends.  If there is an “interest” to declare, like the publisher sent me the book, I declare it.  I’m not trying to be boastful, I’m just being honest.  If there is an interest to declare, I will declare it!

At the end of this article, I describe the two books I’ve written, while this is blatant self promotion, I am telling you this ahead of those reviews and this is content marketing after all.  Maybe I’m just too honest, but I think being honest with my readers, will self select.  Those that like honesty will come back, those that don’t will go and read something else.  I hope this works for you!

Does Black and Decker sell drills or holes? – If you are in marketing this is really worth a read. Jillian is a Dr (in fact the first PhD in Social Media). She discusses through a case study, how brands are getting it wrong on the web with their web site design. She does this with a mix of behaviour science and looking at data on social media. Social Media listening it’s called nowadays. Using a simple but effective mattress case study, she focuses on what brands are doing wrong (so you don’t have to) and a methodology for you to get things right. While she is a “PhD” and that may sound boring, she writes in a very easy to understand, chatty style. When you buy a mattress does the customer buy “technicalities” of the mattress or a good night’s sleep? Read the book and find out. 

Before you read this review, you need to be aware that I am mentioned in the acknowledgements of this book and share the same publisher as Heidi. If you feel that makes me biased, then please stop reading now. — Heidi’s book focuses on two things:- 1. What is Marketing strategy? And why that is different from marketing tactics, goals and objectives. Heidi mentions, as I’m sure we all have, marketing plans which are based on last years events / tactics. With no clear vision or bigger picture with no input to marketing today. 2. Heidi also understand that the world of marketing has changed with the internet and social media. Heidi builds a great case for social, that if you are not already embracing social media she uses her own experience and journey as the case study. This isn’t a book on marketing tactics, if you are a CMO or are writing a marketing strategy, then this is worth a read.

Purchased Doyle’s book straight out of the blocks when it came out. When people write books about digital transformation, they tend to go one of two ways. 1. Use every piece of jargon there is, internet of things, big data, artificial intelligence etc etc and you are left in a whirl and it feels like you need an IT department of thousands to start this sort of thing. OR 2. The book immediately gets into the weeds and tells you which products you should implement. Doyle’s book does neither, in fact in many cases it asks questions. That is, the questions you need to be asking your company or team as to which why is your digital transformation line of travel. After all, if you are a small business or large business I doubt there is a digital transformation “cookie cutter”. If there is a one size digital transformation, it won’t fit any company. Doyle backs this up with a load of free resources on his website. So if you are looking for a “practical guide” to digital transformation, this could be it. 

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook is Gary Vaynerchuck’s ghostwritten book (by Stephanie Land) from 2013. 5 Years on the book is pretty current, as sales and marketing teams still don’t seem to understand the way things work now in the Internet age. As buyers we don’t have to ring you up and get a brochure in the post three days later. We can now go on-line and research your company and it’s products, we can select or deselect your company without you knowing.


(Just be aware that I’ve written the foreword to the book). Jo and Ailsa contacted me with a draft copy of the book and asked me to write the foreword. The book is an excellent starter for the small medium enterprise (SME) to get into Social Media, or the SME that has dabbled in social media but want to do better. Jo and Ailsa write in a chatty style, that is in my view an easy to read, rather than a textbook. It’s written as a workbook that you can work through, put on the self and then want to get back off the shelf and refer to it. That said, social media is “hard work” or different from maybe the way you are working right now. Worth a read and I’m not just saying that as I wrote the forward. 

When I was pitching for my book to publishers in the summer of 2015 I was told “we are not interested if it’s yet another book on personal branding”. Lucky for me, my book wasn’t. When I heard that Mark Schaefer had written a book on personal branding I thought of this and thought oh dear. I took Mark’s book on holiday with me and opened it, the same you would open a revision book. You know you have to do it, but try to think of ways to avoid it. Now there are two types of book on personal branding, a why. This tells you you need one and but does not tell you how. And a book that tells you why, then dives into the technology of social networks and shows you how to set one up technically. Mark’s book is a revelation and is completely different. You have to remember that Mark is a “thinker”, he strips away everything and through very simple steps, does what he is good at. Gets you thinking. Yes there is a why, but he drops in case studies and there is no, how to set yourself up on LinkedIn. If you want a personal brand, want to start a new career, board in your role and what something else. Find some time and work your way through this. It will probably change your life, and I mean that for the better. 

This is a book about sales written by a top salesperson. No gimmicks or methodologies it provides a working framework for selling based on Lee’s experience selling at a high level in a B2B environment. The story is autobiographical and Lee takes you through the ups and downs from starting as a cold caller to selling multi-million deals across large complex accounts. He shares with you his failures, so you don’t make the same mistakes. 

 Also talks you through some of his successes, where we through going that extra mile, making that extra contact, talking to that extra person he was able to out sell others. Like most salespeople, I’m sure that Lee is a total control freak and he talks in the book about how other people have tried to live off him and his success. While I’m sure he is a nightmare to manage, we all have to live with that nightmare, support it and give it space, because he will deliver the lions share of the team’s number. Worth the read to hear his journey, you will also recognise many of the things he talks about. You will also learn something about the complex world of large scale B2B selling. 

With so many articles swirling around that we are either about to be taken over by robots or we shouldn’t need to worry, Life 3.0 is a book for anybody interested on Artificial Intelligence (AI) or the development of AI in the future. For me, who would have classed myself as “beginner”, I certainly found it educational. It’s certainly allowed me to look at some of those articles out there and approach them from an informed position. Let’s also not forget that Max is a MIT Professor, so things can get a little deep, but stick with it, you will come out the other side, knowing a lot about the different types of AI and you should have an opinion about which way AI will go. And maybe you will feel empowered to do something about it.

Not quite what you would call a Management Book, but I was recommended it by my co-founder, Adam Gray. Arnold’s life has been extraordinary from Austria, to Film Star to Governor of California. But there are two things that Arnold has, drive and the fact he is continuously setting goals for himself. Not just writing them down, but visualising himself in that role or that position. You have to admire him for those two qualities. If you are starting a business, thinking about starting a business or just want to progress your career and want something different from “In Search of Excellence” then maybe start here.

It’s about prospecting as it says on the cover. Jeb takes you through the process of why prospect, to the different reasons why there needs to be a prospecting culture within a company and why as a salesperson you need to prospect. If you are new to sales or just want to update yourself on prospecting then go for it. Of course there isn’t anything earth shattering new in here, we have been prospecting for years, but hey if prospecting 101 is what you want. It’s a good start. 


If you think about an Olympic polevaulter, you couldn’t just turn up and pole vault. We all can guess there is probably a large amount of preparation required even before the athlete turns up at the event. Here we have a sales book is isn’t just “another” book about process, but focuses on the close. Of course, nobody turns up and closes a deal there is preparation required. James takes you through the steps, what you need to do during a sale to prepare and then how you can use different techniques to get agreement. What is also nice is that James peppers the book with examples from his extensive sales career. If you need to tighten your closing skills, and who doesn’t, this is worth a read. 

While there are plenty of “Time Management” books written in the past, this is written for the modern age. We’ve all done it, been in the middle of writing an important proposal and we get distracted by Facebook, LinkedIn etc. Jill was that very person and she offers a process (and some tools) to get that time we lose during the day and therefore make more sales. 



Cian sent me a copy of his book as part of my #TimTalks series on YouTube. Cian set up a company to get “win loss” analysis from B2B companies. Using what he learnt from this, he has constructed a book that offers to educate today’s seller on how to interact with the modern buyer. The book provides a great story narrative, case study interviews as well as suggestions for further reading. Well worth a read.


Graham writes in an easy to read style. The book is well research and backup by both industry research and case studies. The reader is taken through a journey, the history of selling, why sales has and will continue to evolve and then in the third section Graham explains how you can make a change to meet the needs of the modern buyer. For me this third section gave me a step by step process of what I need to do to sell in the modern world. From my social media profile to the way I present myself to the modern buyer. If you are in sales and see a change is needed then this is worth a read.

Mark, is “old school” and I don’t mean that in a negative way in fact I know he would be flattered to be called that. To be successful in sales requires hard work, leads and deals don’t just arrive, they have to be found and fought for. Mark makes the argument that the salesperson to be continually prospecting and this book “updates” that process in the modern world. Something that seems to have been forgotten with all this “martech”. Mark also makes the case that a prospecting culture is critical in a “top performing” company. Certainly sharpens the prospecting “axe”. 

I’ve read a number of books on Account Based Marketing (ABM) and this for me is the best. Other books seemed to be more focused on product (how ABM works with Salesforce). This gets to grips with the concepts, the “why” as well as the “how”. Bev and Dave also provide case studies, so you have a good balance between theory and practice. I’ll be honest this isn’t a romcom and probably not beach reading but I felt I knew what ABM was and how to implement an ABM program after reading this. I need to declare an interest that I got this book as we share publishers, just so you know, I’m not just saying this is a good book on ABM as we share publishers, it really is. 

In the book “D Fish” as he likes to be called, talks about his sales journey and how he came to realise that with the introduction of the internet, the world has changed. And very much so, the way people buy has changed. Sales people now need their “black book” online and can connect and build relationships with buyers. None of us like to be sold to, in fact all of us want to be in control of what we purchase, which is why D Fish introduces the term “Sales Sherpa”, the days of “hard sell” have gone, it’s time to help, guide and empower, buyers to buy.

It may seem a little boring to suggest business books to read while you are on vacation. These have all been chosen to be as dynamic as a Stephen King, to leave you on the edge of your seat like a good crime novel.  In all cases when I read them, I couldn’t put them down.

 Maybe it will even help take your mind of work, but also make sure you return refreshed and ready to face new challenges.  My view is that “every day is a school day” we are on a continual journey of learning. 

The Challenger Sale

In their book “The Challenger Sale” Matthew and Brent layout the best vision of a sales methodology that exists in the offline world.

It dovetails nicely with the notion that the buyer has changed in the connected economy and we now need to teach rather than tell.

The Challenger Customer

The follow up to the challenger sale, used research to look at the new customer and the different types of changemakers, what to look how for and how changemakers can help you sell as they can block your deal.

Adamson and Dixon call the term that Matt and i use in our book, changemakers “mobilisers”, great way to set the scene if not providing a “how to”.

Mike’s book is a must read if you are in Sales Management. The book is a full on ride, Mike expels the myths and provides a set methodology to make you more effective and impactful. Get off those conference calls and support the field selling.



If like me you didn’t grow up in the connected society, nobody at school teaches you about personal branding and why that is so important.

 Jim has a “take no prisoners” writing style that makes you want to take action.  He takes you through 21st thinking to work in sales.


Matt (my co-author) and I were sitting in a coffee shop in London when the idea came to us to write a book on Social Selling.

We decided that the narrative on social selling hadn’t moved on for some two years. Everything that was being written, was about some bright new shiny tool, as in how to use a piece of functionality in LinkedIn, blab etc, or was about personal branding. In fact during the end of 2015 apart from one or two, many people had moved on from Social Selling and had gone back to writing about traditional sales subjects like how to close a deal, should we be cold calling, etc. 

When Matt and I met, we wanted to drive the debate on Social Selling forward.  BUT … in meetings with Sales Leaders we heard the same thing  “Social Selling is all very well, but where are my leads?”

Pretty much from the “get go” we decided this was not to be a book on personal branding but a book on how salespeople can use social to generate leads, progress pipeline and close deals.  It was to be a #nofluff zone.

We also felt that social selling had come to mean “Demand Generation” in many people’s heads. Marketers were claiming they owned Social Selling and it was all about lead generation.  When we pitched the idea to our publisher, Kogan page, they did some market research and said, “we are interested but we don’t want another book on personal branding and social selling for demand generation”.   For Matt and I this was a moment of clarity.

So what is the book “Social Selling” about?

Social selling is a practical guide on how salespeople and marketers in both B2B and B2C companies (big and small) can generate leads, support sales pursuits and close deals all using Social.

Selling has changed, but there again it hasn’t. Social selling is not about using social to sell, it is about changing our behaviour to understand and work with the technology savvy buyer.

During the writing process we talked about book titles such as “Hacking the Buyer Process”, “Social Selling 2.0” and “Digital Selling” but settled on Social Selling as we wanted to keep the narrative simple. Why?

For many people Social Selling means a change in what they are working and change can be difficult. The book therefore is a practical guide, the first half theory and the second half practice.

It’s written for salespeople and marketers; leaders as well as those in the field. My suggestion to those sales leaders is that you might want to buy a copy for your team. Salespeople and Marketers you might want to buy a copy for your leaders.

And finally. Don’t forget that your competition are reading this book and may have already started implemented it’s content to take you out of business.  Social has grown up and is a competitive weapon to use against your competitors.

When Matt and I wrote our first book “Social Selling Techniques to Influence Buyers and Changemakers” available on Amazon here our objectives were three fold.

  1. We didn’t think that anybody was driving the social selling debate. There are “Social Selling Gurus” that even today, are saying the same things they said 3 or 4 years ago. Things have moved on.
  2. People writing about sales seem to write about the same old, same old. Do we really need yet another book on handling objections or how to cold call. Where are the new ideas? As an associate who works for me) says “Same Bus, Different Number”.
  3. And thirdly, there are too many “why” books and not enough “how”. We’ve all been there, we read a book and it tells you to do something, how amazing the writer’s journey is, but they never, actually tell you how to do it. You get to the end of the book and you scream “I get why I should do this, but just tell me how”. It makes you wonder if the person actually knows themselves. “Social Selling” is written as a how. Just ask people like Jan Barbosa and Jo Saunders.

Digressing slightly, Matt and I used to brainstorm each of the chapters of “Social Selling“. The first chapter, when we got together, I told him a story about a meeting I had been in that morning where the sales leader said to me “this social selling is all very well, but where are my fu!@£ng leads!”. That became the mantra for the book, it’s designed for salespeople to help them with social selling, it’s not my journey, it actually tells you HOW to social sell!

When it came to “Smarketing: How to Achieve Competitive Advantage through Blended Sales and Marketing” available on Amazon here.

The 3 principles above remain. It’s about driving forward the debate, and it’s a practical guide so you can transform your organisation to a Smarketing business.

So what is Smarketing? It’s the merger of sales and marketing as a result of the transformation that’s going on within the world due to digital and the internet.

It’s actually a future state operating model. Which is a grand term for saying that we give you the blueprint on the future organisation you need for sales and marketing. It’s not why you need to do it, it’s how. Practical steps.

There is no book like this in the world and it will enable you to increase your incremental revenue and gain competitive advantage. If you want a book that looks to the past and clings onto the old methods that don’t work, in some sort of blended way, this book isn’t for you. This book is about the future, how you will drive you business for the next 5 to 10 years, how you will increase your revenues and take market share from the competition.

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Organically grow the holistic world view of disruptive innovation via empowerment.
OUR LOCATIONSWhere to find us
GET IN TOUCHAvantage Social links
Taking seamless key performance indicators offline to maximise the long tail.

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