I saw a post on LinkedIn last week. The writer of the post suggested that one cannot learn to sell by reading books. This statement is true, but not in the way the poor writer suggests. His suggestion is that there is no reason to read books to improve your performance, and that suggestion is not only incorrect, it is as stupid as it is dangerous.
I can’t imagine missing Neil Rackham’s SPIN Selling. That book provided me with the awareness that selling was, in part, about the exploration of the implications people and companies face when they don’t change. We talk a lot about “insights,” and there are plenty of books about that idea now, but Rackham was way out ahead here. Had I not read that book, I would have also missed the idea of an “advance,” a commitment that moves an opportunity forward without being the final ask. (This is idea was the spark for my second book, based on my experience using Rackham’s idea. You are free to insert your own quote about standing on the shoulders of giants here, should you decide it necessary).
More still, had I not read SPIN, I would not have bought Major Account Sales Strategy, still my all-time favorite sales book. These two books helped me personally generate hundreds of millions of dollars in sales. In total, I might have paid $50 for both books.
Thankfully, as a young person, I believed there were people who knew a lot more than me, and whose knowledge I could steal for myself simply by reading a book. I believed I could accelerate my acquisition of a certain outcome by reading and applying what I read.
What if I would have missed Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People? I would not have realized as early as I did that who you are matters more than what you do. I would have also missed all the books he wrote after that one, all of which changed by life and my results, Like First Things First.
If it were not for books, I would have never found Howard Bloom, and I would have never read The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Exploration of the Forces of History. Had I not read that book, I would believe that the word “meme” means funny ideas shared on the Internet and not the larger idea of how ideas infect our minds and how they spread.
I would not have become interested in evolutionary psychology were it not for Howard’s book. Were that not true, I would not have walked the shelves of Barnes & Noble and would have missed The Moral Animal: Why We Are the Way We Are:
The New Science of Evolutionary Psychologyby Robert Wright. I would have missed a book that increased my understanding of the deep structural psychology we humans share.
Had I not trudged through The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, despite it being difficult, I would never have picked up Taleb’s Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder, one of the books that gave me a much clearer set of life and business strategies.
Ken Wilber’s A Theory of Everything: An Integral Vision for Business, Politics, Science and Spirituality, I would never have picked up Sex, Ecology, and Spirituality—along with the rest of his 40+ books. Having read these books, the lenses I look through are so much clearer. I only wish I’d read them sooner.
The list of books that have helped me produce better results in business and in life would take dozens of newsletters. Any suggestion that you should not read books should be rejected with extreme prejudice, and you should think carefully about taking any advice from people who believe there is nothing to learn from others if it has been published as a book. There is no reason to remain ignorant when help gaining knowledge and understanding is available to you for a song.
What is on your book stack?
Comment to send me your thoughts, ideas, and stories. Hit forward to send this newsletter to someone you know who could benefit from reading a book! Ask them to join us here each Sunday by signing up at www.thesalesblog.com/newsletter.
Do good work this week, and I’ll see you back here next Sunday!