This is my second annual list of recommended books for anyone on your list who either sells, influences others, or cares about getting better at what they do. I’ve limited the list to books I’ve read during 2012. If you want to see more, I still strongly recommend the books on my 2011 list.
For each book, click on the picture to link directly to Amazon for more information.
New Sales. Simplified. by Mike Weinberg is ideal if the person on your gift list is a “hunter” who has the difficult task of selling to new customers. It’s a thoughtful, clear and practical guide that strips out unnecessary complexity and makes the case that old-fashioned selling is still needed even in this age of social media.
Selling Fearlessly by Bob Terson is an excellent recommendation if you’re looking for a sales book for the person involved in one-call close sales. In over forty years of successful selling, Bob Terson has seen and done it all, and shares his wisdom and tips through engaging stories.
To Sell Is Human, by Dan Pink. If you’ve read Drive or A Whole New Mind, you know that Dan Pink is a wonderful writer, and his latest book tackles the science behind selling. He reminds us that even if you don’t sell for a living, about 40% of your time is spent influencing or persuading others, and brings fascinating insights and perspective to the craft. Although the book won’t be released until December 31, you can put an IOU in the stocking.
Presenting and speaking
Strategic Sales Presentations by Jack Malcolm would be on this list even if I hadn’t written it, because in my humble opinion it is one of the top books on sales presentations—all presentations, in fact—that has been written. Its special focus is on speaking the language of executive decision makers.
You Talkin’ to Me? Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama by Sam Leith. What possible use does the ancient art of rhetoric have in the twenty-first century? Rhetoric is rarely taught in colleges today, and the term is mostly used as a negative. Fortunately, there are still a few people such as Leith keeping the flame burning. His book makes Aristotle accessible and relevant as ever.
Practice Perfect by Doug Lemov, Erica Woolway and Katie Yezzi. If you want to master any skill, you have to put in the long hours. But practice doesn’t make perfect—it makes permanent. This means that you have to know how and what to practice, and this book has 42 rules for “getting better at getting better.”
So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport. For the high school or college student on your list who is trying to figure out their path in life, this book provides practical wisdom that contradicts the ubiquitous advice to “follow your passion”, which is one reason you have so many PhDs in medieval Latvian literature wiping tables in coffee shops.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain is a good gift for about one third of the people you know, who prefer listening to talking. The book shows how introverts can use the natural advantages they have to become more successful.
The Last Lion by William Manchester and Paul Reid. If you’re interested in leadership, speaking and fascinating characters, Winston Churchill would be at or near the top of any of these lists in the entire history of this planet. This book, which covers the war years and beyond, is the third and final volume of William Manchester’s masterful biography, finished ably by Paul Reid.