Rule #18 – Reading Makes Perfect

In Rule 13 one of the three components of PAR Time was to spend 15 minutes daily reading industry publications and/or inspirational material on sales and motivation. Indeed the cumulative impact of reading 15 minutes daily over the course of a career is profound.

I learned this lesson as a naïve young college student during my first time spent away from home on a summer job. As explained in Rule 16, I worked for The Southwestern Company of Nashville, Tennessee, as a student salesman. At the beginning of my first summer, after driving into Nashville for one week of sales training with thousands of other students, we were each given a box of materials. Apart from sales scripts and training materials, the box contained three books: ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People,’ by Dale Carnegie, ‘The Magic of Thinking Big,’ by Dr. David Swartz, and ‘The Greatest Salesman in the World,’ by Og Mandino. At that point in my life, I had only vaguely heard of Dale Carnegie and his book; the others were completely foreign to me.

We were instructed to spend 15 minutes each morning reading these books between the time we awoke and the time we knocked on the first door at 8 a.m. While my sales roommates thought this suggestion was silly, I wanted to follow the instructions of successful Southwestern managers so I could earn the average $2,500 summer commissions dangled in front of us for successful student salespeople.

I did read those three books that summer. I did earn $2,500, $6,500 and $10,000 in commissions over my three summers’ experience. Better yet, I developed the habit of reading good material to get my head and heart right. I’ve been reading these types of sales, business, motivation and inspirational books 15 minutes every morning since that first summer of 1976. My personal library has expanded greatly over the years. More importantly, my mind has expanded and grown strong and wise through the consistent feeding of good content that educates, stimulates, motivates, encourages and inspires. Indeed, the cumulative effect of consistently reading good material for the profession you have chosen, and your personal life, even only 15 minutes per day, is profound.

In no particular order, here is a list of some of my favorite sales/business books:

The Challenger Sale, Matt Dixon, Brent Adamson
Strategic Selling, Robert Miller and Stephen Heiman
The New Strategic Selling, Stephen Heiman and Donna Sanchez
SPIN Selling, Neil Rackham
Rethinking the Sales Force, Neil Rackham
Customer Centric Selling, Michael T. Bosworth and John R., Holland
Solution Selling, Michael T. Bosworth
The Secrets of Question Based Selling, Thomas A. Freese
Crossing the Chasm, Geoffrey A. Moore
Inside the Tornado, Geoffrey A. Moore
I.T. Sales Boot Camp, Brian Giese
The 10 Immutable Laws of Power Selling, James DeSena
Selling to VITO (the Very Important Top Officer), Anthony Parinello
How to Get Your Point Across in 30 Seconds or Less, Milo O. Frank
Selling the Way Your Customer Buys, M. Sadovsky and J. Caswell
Proactive Sales Management, William Miller
The Greatest Salesman in the World, Og Mandino
The Magic of Thinking Big, David J. Schwartz
First, Break All the Rules, Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman
Crucial Conversations, K. Patterson, J. Grenny, R. McMillan, A. Switzler
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni
Little Red Book of Selling, Jeffrey Gitomer
Presenting to Win (the Art of Telling Your Story), Jerry Weissman
Beyond Selling Value, Mark Shonka and Dan Kosch
Rain Making (Attracting New Clients), Ford Harding
Selling to Big Companies, Jill Konrath
Getting to Yes, Roger Fisher and William Ury
Sales Automation Done Right, Keith Thompson
Sales and Marketing the Six Sigma Way, Michael Webb

What’s on your reading list?