5 (Non-Sales) Books That Will Make You a Better Saleswoman

 

I believe there’s a direct correlation between how much you read and the amount in your bank account. For years, experts have been profiling high achievers who attribute their success to the books they read — most successful people I know credit reading, in some capacity, as a factor in their success. Ask Oprah, Bill Gates, and Elon Musk and they will tell you that they make reading a priority.

As a woman in sales, you have a plethora of books to choose from that will help you increase your sales acumen. Whether it’s The Psychology of Selling by Brian Tracy (the first sales book I ever read) or Race to Amazing by Krista S. Moore (currently on my nightstand), I hope you have your favorites and that you’re reading at least an hour per day (I’ll discuss why in another post.)

While reading sales books is crucial to our success, there are non-sales books that are equally as important to your sales success. These five are my top picks for developing the soft skills and habits that every woman in sales needs to reach the Top 1%.

1. Work Smarter, Not Harder - HBR Guide to Being More Productive

If you’re like most women in sales, your to-do list is never-ending and as long as your arm. Whether you’re trying to meet deadlines, influence prospects, take care of your current customers, or juggle multiple priorities at home trying to fit everything in without going crazy is a job in itself.

Fortunately, HBR’s Guide to Being More Productive is jam-packed with useful and time-tested tips to help busy working professionals manage their time around their priorities and get more done. I read this gem last year and after taking the first quiz to identify my productivity style (Arranger) saved myself nearly two hours per day by taking their suggestion and using a dictation tool.

2. Remember Your Greatness - You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero

I once had a boyfriend who used to tell me, “Don’t kick your own ass.” The truth is that there are plenty of people to do it for you. Sales is the only profession I know of where we get rejected 9 out of 10 times and return the next day to do it all over again. Facing constant rejection can take its toll. Thank goodness for You Are a Badass.

Told with delightfully funny stories, A-HA moments, and sprinkled with swear words, this book is precisely what you need to remind you of your greatness. Heck, even the chapter titles are hilarious ("Your Brain is Your Bitch," "Fear is for Suckers" and "My Subconscious Made Me Do It.”). I promise that listening to the audio version on your way to an appointment will give you the confidence of Superwoman without having to stand in a restroom stall with your hands on your hips for two minutes.

3. Say the Right Thing, the Right Way - Pitch Perfect by Bill McGowan and Alisa Bowman

Imagine you’re preparing for the most significant presentation of your career. You have studied the prospect, their competition, your competition, and even conducted a mini-SWOT analysis. You’re wearing a new suit, new shoes, your favorite shade of lipstick, and you look like you just walked out of a Rodeo Drive salon. You’re ready.

But wait, all of that work and preparation means nothing if you don’t know how to present. Saying the right thing the right way can make the difference between leaving with a signed agreement or just leaving. It's essential to be pitch perfect - to get the right message across to the right person at the right time. In Pitch Perfect, Bill McGowan shows you how to craft the right message and deliver it using the correct language - both verbal and nonverbal, before you miss out on a big opportunity.

4. Build Relationships and Stress Less - A Combined Edition of How to Win Friends & Influence People and How to Stop Worrying & Start Living by Dale Carnegie

One of the best-selling books of all time that needs to be in every saleswoman’s library, Dale Carnegie's classic How to Win Friends and Influence People, is the golden guide to building robust, mutually-beneficial relationships. I first read this book when Girl Scout Cookies were $2 per box and continue to do so even now. It is hands-down the best book ever written on how to be influential and thriving at work, home, and in your community.

I don’t know of a saleswoman who doesn’t feel anxiety from time to time. I remember all too well the sleepless nights and increased tension that came with the fourth quarter push. There were times when I worried incessantly about making my numbers. To this day, I have to catch the worry when it starts to creep in until I remind myself that worrying only serves to robs us of our joy and keeps us from enjoying a full, active, and happy life! How to Stop Worrying and Start Living deals with the emotions and ideas that affect us all. It gives practical ideas and actionable steps that you implement immediately to counteract the worry that threatens to shake us.

5. Position Yourself for Leadership - How Women Rise by Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith

Fact: Women in sales have innate strengths and face unique challenges in their roles.

Fact: Women in sales face specific and different roadblocks from men as they advance in the workplace.

In fact, the very habits that catapulted you early in your career might be hurting you as you attempt to climb the corporate ladder. How Women Rise identifies the 12 practices that hold women back as they seek to advance, showing them why what worked for them in the past might be sabotaging their future success.

By no means is this an exhaustive list. There are plenty of books that I could add, and I may even write a follow-up post. I’d like to hear from you. Which non-sales books have you read that had a profound impact on your life? Tell me in the comments below.