40 Sales and Marketing Books to Transform Your Thinking

2019-07-29 8:07

by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes | LinkedIn

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!

Too often Business Books can be regimented or produced to a “cookie cutter” formula. Larry Levine, In “Selling From The Heart” has written from the heart, stacked with experience and case study and stories from his 27 year successful sales career. This is a great book for any salesperson to learn from his experience to take with you into the field.



If you are looking for a marketing methodology where you can implement it and start cranking the handle, this isn’t it. Seth provides a long list of thoughts about Marketing in the modern world. “Obviously” he has to cater for B2C and B2B as well as all of the variants in between. He does focus in on the death of interruption marketing and how companies now need to build relationships and have conversations with clients. He also takes into account the new world order of the internet, mobile and social, where buyers are empowered to make their own purchase decisions by the content you shared on the internet. Or, of course, not finding your content so you not being shortlisted. That’s the choice he points out today, be insightful, or funny or educational or be ignored.

Every now and again you come across a book that is not just interesting, informative, insightful or educational, and not just changes the way you think, but changes the way you see the world. Mindset takes you through a journey of the differences between a “growth mindset” and “fixed mindset” what that means and how you can make a difference. 

 Or try and make a difference. In your work life, your personal life, how you deal with colleagues, your friends, family and your children. This book is not a “tickbox” or a “top ten things you need to do” and the reason for this, is that the change has to come from within you. This book purley is a catalyst to empower you to make that change. I’ve purchased a copy for all my friends for Christmas. 

Mike writes an interesting book, which is all about how to use stories in sales. Now I, as well as you, have probably used stories so what’s there to learn here? Well Mike explains how different stories can be used throughout the selling / buying cycle and how to use them programmatically. His view, and I agree that if you invest in this, you will increase your win rate. The book explains (with case studies) the structure of stories, in other words what makes a great story and how as a business you should have a story library that all sales, marketing in fact all people can use as part of their sales campaigns. Well worth a read. 

When it comes to a person’s second book I’m always interested which way will somebody go? Will they take a “bucket to the well” from where they got their first book and do a first book part 2? As many people pressurised me to do and something Keenan could have done. No, he has decided to come up with his own sales methodology. Now sales methodologies have been around for years, looking at Google there are at least 10 in circulation today. So why did Keenan go down a path already well trodden with the danger he will create, yet another “me to” process

In “Gap Selling” Keenan brings the sales methodology up to the modern day, using modern tool and techniques. Putting it another way, it’s a 21st century methodology and not a 20th century methodology. The book is fast paced and if you follow any of his videos or blogs on social media, it’s written in his “take no prisoners” approach. 

It’s a modern day approach, for a modern day buyer.

One world of warning, if you are a lazy salesperson, this book isn’t for you. Keenan is proud of us sales people and he expects us to perform at the highest levels of professionalism, in the office, in front of customers and how we forecast. If you are a Sales Manager buy this book for your team, if you are a sales executive, buy the book for yourself!

Once in a while you come across a sales book that is actually a breakthrough. So many of them are the same old, same old. If you are in Sales, you ask questions right? Your ability to ask good questions will have a direct relationship to how many deals you win and how successful you are. This book provides a programmatic approach to question asking. If you have been on any sales training you will have been told to ask open questions, such as why, what, where, how etc. To be honest, that’s all a bit old school. This book takes you through how to ask data, issue, solution, consequence, outcome, value, example and rationale questions. This book should be read by all salespeople or all sales managers should buy this book for their sales people.

Malcolm’s book explains how you can make quick decisions. And, in fact too much information means you can make the wrong decision. This is backed up by case study and his various insights.




Melonie has written a great guide for those that want to use LinkedIn for Social Selling. Some people seem to think that social selling is writing content and sitting back and hoping. While it isn’t that and Melonie proves that by proving her own prospecting method “The Link Method”. This allows you to be visible (and nurture) buyers so you can use social selling pro-actively. “Obviously” LinkedIN does not = Social Selling, in fact LinkedIn is only 30% of your social graph so you will have to master other social networks, but as a starter for Linkedin this is a good place to start. BTW There is also a quote from me (I didn’t know until I read the book) but not until the end of the book.

Too often as sales people we can get fixated in grinding out quarter after quarter without looking up. Add to that, the world has changed. Nobody gets up in the morning and says “I would love to talk to a salesperson today”. That is where we need to stop working like “type” and actually start leading. Buyers today bring their B2C experience with them to the B2B world, we can get information on our product and services at our fingertips. We can decide to ignore you OR we can see you as the solution to my problem and contact you asking for help. In other words, Inbound. Being a leader is one of the legs that you will need if you want that inbound holy grail. Certainly worth a read. 

It makes total sense to me. We all want to be treated the best, in fact we would want our mothers to be treated even better than that. So why when there is any element of customer experience / customer service do we not offer that service the way we would offer that service to our moms? For example, you buy a laptop with an extended warranty and the laptop packs up 3 days after the warranty runs out. Most companies would say, hard luck. But if it was your mother you would give here some days grace. This is the message behind Jeanne’s book, which she backs up with case study, after case study. If you are in the customer service / customer experience business today, the book offers us all a wake-up call to realise that revenue and the pursuit of profit, may hamper us in the long term. Are we proud of our service or proud of our profit? There is also a hashtag #Makemumproud Please be aware that Jeanne sent me a copy of this book for free, that said, the review are my own words and views.

An Antidote To Modern Living – The best book I’ve read so far this year! If we put some of the pirate psychopaths to one side, the pirates had a code which in the in the 17th century would have have been revolutionary in it’s day, it is certainly even in the 21st Century, which other organisation has a policy that:-

  • Supports same sex marriage right down to rights on the death of a spouse?
  • The Captain (CEO) can only earn more than 6 times the lowest deck hand?
  • A diversity policy, after all, anybody can be a pirate?
  • A check and balance to decision making, while the Captain was the CEO the quartermaster had a same level of authority and could vote against the Captain?

Be more pirate offers an antidote to modern living, actively asking you to break the rules, but only if you make better ones to go in their place. If you want to live in a better world, then maybe you should be more pirate!

Father and son team, write an extremely well researched book where they try and look into the future. In doing this they explain how we got where we are today, the objections people have to change and why and then based on the patterns we see around us in Technology, Social Media, Artificial Intelligence etc. These are all disruptors to the current profession status quo. Now is the time to stop and think and appraise your current position or get left behind.


Scott decided to create a book for charity, where he has asked people he knows and people he admires to write 500 words on somebody that has inspired them. Who it was and what they did to pass on that inspiration. Hence the title “Standing O” as in standing ovation. Just be aware that I was asked to submit my 500 words and that appears on pages 80 – 82. Hence I might be deemed biased. 


If you know nothing about artificial intelligence and work in sales, this is a great “beginners” guide. It explains in detail the “why” artificial intelligence WILL become everyday (and already is) commonplace in sales. Victor uses Salesforce and IBM Watson as examples. While the book gives many examples, they are for me in the “legacy sales” category, for example, cold calling and cold email. I would have preferred modern day sales examples, for example use of social and how things will work in a post GDPR world. 

Certainly the most thought provoking book I’ve read in a long time, so much so I’ve written a blog about its conclusion and the impact on social media. More importantly how people are being manipulated on social media by people using the “techniques” outlined in this book.

The blog is here – In the blog I explain “thinking fast and slow” techniques and how it relates to you and me. I also provide a recent example of how people have been manipulated to share material to help people there didn’t support. Sounds strange, read the blog. 🙂

It’s not an easy book to read so not one for the beach, but push through, there is light at the end of the tunnel!

In this book “Obliquity” John Kay points out that actually objectives are a waste of time, what do I mean?

If we go back to 1940, Prime Minister Churchill stood up in the UK Parliament and said that the United Kingdom would be victorious. Which was a goal, but Churchill had no idea how he would reach that goal.

Think about it, the Nazis had pushed back the whole of the Europe onto the beaches of Dunkirk, the UK hadn’t prepared itself for war and especially a war over a highly efficient and overwhelming Nazi army. The US was neutral and in fact passed laws which meant they could not arm the UK. In fact the US lent the UK to buy airplanes and then wouldn’t ship them; just as France was overwhelmed by Panzer tanks. Back to Parliament and Churchill stood up and said we would be victorious. How? There are no objectives that you can set to achieve that goal. That’s where the world of obliquity kicks in.

Churchill didn’t know that two things would happen.

  1. The Nazis would invade the USSR, which would suck a massive amount of resources.
  2. The Japanese would bomb Pearl Harbour bringing the neutral USA into the war. 

This is obliquity! You simply cannot plan for everything in life and in fact planning can mean you have blinkers on and cannot see, what could actually be a better solution than whatever you could have planned for.

If you give presentations (we all do) you should read this book and “Lend me Your Ears” my Professor Max Atkinson. Weekend Language is especially good at getting people to simplify language as well as make sure we tell stories.

Two vital points in the modern world if we want people to listen to what we say and invite us back next year to speak, again, at a conference, sales kick off etc.

A bad presentation reflects bad on us and there are no excuses not to get it right, first time.

I’ve read a number of books on Digital Disruption and Digital Transformation and Tom’s is probably the best. Please note this is a “why” and not a “how” book.

Tom’s book takes us back to the beginning of the last industrial revolution in terms of the introduction of electricity and draws a parallel with the way digital is being / or isn’t being adopted. Certainly we can learn from the past to predict the future. How people want to digitise analogue things rather than develop from scratch. Also how many people struggle to understand or create a business case for change.

If you are in the business of digital and digital transformation, it’s worth a read.

Please be aware that Michelle asked me to review this book before publication and here is my review. Are you a CEO or Business Leader? We live in social times and it’s time to get Social. Michelle’s book takes you through why and how to get on and master social media. Providing both a strategy and a 90 day plan, it will certainly get you started on your social media journey. Your only risk, of course, is not being there.


This book was recommended to my partner while on a training course. It’s an easy read and takes you through 12 areas of your brain and you will come out the other end, better equipped to use your brain more effectively. In work, we could all do with an update on how to make ourselves a little better and use our brain power more efficiently and this book certainly goes some way to “upgrade” our thinking.



So, this is half of my list, not the “top half”…just half. The other half I will post tomorrow!

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