Hi everyone,

I'm hoping to pick your collective brains about sales books that may be of use in a particular situation.

One of my colleagues is struggling with getting one of her directs to carry out her sales activities without constant prompting and monitoring. The person in question is relatively inexperienced (2 years in sales, but in a very structured, predictable environment) and has joined our company about 6 months ago. Here, the sales process is quite different, the product is an intangible (advertising space) and everything must be tailored for each client. The whole process goes through media buyers, and a lot of follow-up and attention is needed to get them to present our somewhat unconventional opportunities to their customers. Now that she has had time to learn the company, and understand our sales process, the direct is still reluctant to act without being specifically instructed what to do and when, which is both inefficient and ineffective.

Part of it may be my colleague's fault, so I pointed her to the feedback model, delegation, coaching and one on one casts of Manager Tools, she is spending more time on helping her direct hone her skills, and is even considering further training for her staff, but we are also wondering if in addition there is some powerful or inspiring sales book that would help the direct move to the next level, and broaden her understanding of sales and the sales process.

I'd be most grateful for your recommendations.



fchalif's picture
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I had asked Mark for input on Sales and Persuasion books at the Newark Conference. Mark sent me the following email:
"I can recommend some sales and persuasion books. And, if you want to give me more details about the particular situation, I’ll try to address it precisely.

Spin Selling – John Rackham
Winning Em Over – Jay Conger
Communicating at Work – Allesandra
Dealing with People You Can’t Stand – Brinkman
The Sales Bible - Gitomer

All good, all different."[/color]

I have read Conger and Brinkman, both are good. I have yet to get around to the other ones.
Hope it helps.

corinag's picture

Thank you. They sound good, I may just sneak a peak myself ;-)

HMac's picture

corinag -

Although those books are good, I doubt they'll help.

I faced this a lot as a sales manager.

This is likely not a failure of [i]knowledge[/i], but a failure to [u][i]take action.[/i][/u]

So - more knowledge ain't gonna help.

Your are on the RIGHT TRACK by pointing your colleague to feedback and coaching. Sharpen up feedback and coaching around the behaviors observed. And hold the individual responsible for the necessary behaviors for succeeding.

I love reading sales books, and I encourage others to do so. But if it's a [i]behavioral [/i]issue, a book seldom helps.


AManagerTool's picture

[quote]Dealing with People You Can’t Stand – Brinkman

I love the title of that book.

stephenbooth_uk's picture

[quote="AManagerTool"][quote]Dealing with People You Can’t Stand – Brinkman

I love the title of that book.[/quote]

I recently picked up one called "Is Your Boss Mad: The Definitive Guide to Coping with a Mad Boss: The Definitive Guide to Coping with Your Boss" on the strength of liking the title. I haven't had a chance to reads it yet (I'm currently reading "Insights for the journey" by John Lucht) but have skimmed the intro and the blurb. From what I've read it seems to be about why your boss may appear insane, how to find out what's actually happening 'under the hood' and how to support your boss for your mutual benefit. It also says it covers how to deal professionally with bullying bosses. I'm looking forward to reading it.


HMac's picture

Stephen - love the title, love the concept.

Once you get to reading it, I'll be especially interested how much you detect any suggestions that the answer is to, essentially, [i]"manage your boss."[/i] Which we all know doesn't work. :wink:

I so often use M-T as a way to review [i]what I think I already know[/i], and to adjust as appropriate. But it's also really interesting to get the chance to do the opposite: to review [i]new [/i]information and hold it up against what I've already learned through Manager-Tools.


corinag's picture


Thank you for your insight.

My impression is also that it is a behavior problem, rather than a skill one, as you also suggest.

Still, I am hoping to find some way to help them both, as their work and mine is extremely interconnected, and since this direct is a bright girl, and her attitude is ok, I am hoping that some reading (which her boss encourages her to do) will open her eyes in some ways to what she is doing wrong and why.

But perhaps I am just projecting my own reaction to books (which, if good, always inspire me) on this particular situation.

HMac's picture

My pleasure.

I just fear that reading something about selling could turn out to be a distraction from the REAL problem [i](I've been there - on both sides of it).[/i]

Just one further note of caution - you note about the employee that "her attitude is ok". That's beside the point, because this isn't about attitude, it's about taking action, or the failure to take action.

A lot of sales books suggest that "if you fix your attitude, then you can fix your behaviors. And that will lead to results."

My experience (and Manager Tools :lol: ) tells me it's the other way around: first you ACT, and that will influence your attitude. You can't "attitude your way to acting" - you "act your way to attitude."

I admit this might sound counterintuitive, and there are a LOT of books out there that focus on fixing your attitude. In my experience, they just don't work.

It just keeps coming back to Nike's great slogan: [b][i]Just Do It[/i].[/b]


corinag's picture

Point taken, Hugh.

I'm guessing that having heard the attitude spiel so often, we may be "brainwashed" into thinking a good attitude is a cure-all, and although MT is focusing on actions, some of this "early conditioning" seeps through.

In the situation described, I'm most;y guilty of imprecision What I essentially meant is that this person is not negative, arrogant, or narrow-minded, but seems genuinely willing to learn and do more. There's just something blocking her.

I was in a somewhat similar situation in my first management job. Fortunately for me, my inability to act without prompting / approval did not affect the core of my job (the strategic and technical priorities) which I felt confident enough to initiate, perform, or adjust, but it did affect an equally important area: my interaction with my directs.

At that time, there were 4 things that helped me overcome that:

- "The Boundaryless Organisation" - This was recommended by my boss, the Executive Director, as a way to see how he imagined the organization, and what he was working towards creating.

- "The Mentoring Manager" - a book which I now think would meet with disapproval from Mike and Mark because of its view of mentoring, but which taught me that a crucial task of managers is to develop people, and some ways in which to do that.

- This admonition from my boss "You can't consider yourself successful if you don't help your staff succeed, both in their current jobs and long term".

- Patience and practice.

(If only I had Manager Tools back then :-)


fchalif's picture
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Kudos to Hugh for recommending [b]Action[/b].
It is always the way to go.
Another concept of importance is that it is a long road and that patience is critical. Focus on a lot of small wins, repeat what worked and adjust on what did not work so well.
I have re-read your original post and it sounds like you are doing that.
The MT list ( is excellent and each book that I have read on that list provides much more than a few tidbits. The best one is the The Effective Executive. It will apply here relative to time management. Its up to your DR to engage her team member though effective feedback to adjust their behaviour.
I have read Winning Em Over – Jay Conger and Dealing with People You Can’t Stand – Brinkman and have found them to be in keeping with the MT approach of doing.
They both provide examples and tools to support the doing part of management.
My query with Mark at the Newark conference stemmed from comments that Mark made several times regarding getting through to people when providing feedback and coaching. It was from an influence and persuasion perspective, and the doing around that. Maybe your DR needs a little help communicating to her DR relative to deadlines, independence, etc.Maybe one of these books will give your team some insights.

[b][u][color=darkblue]The Trinity[/color][/u][/b]
I have found through listening to the podcasts, attending the conference and reading the forums, that the baseline suggested by MT of One on Ones-Feedback-Coaching always keeps me on track, especially when I take good notes and follow up. I have found that when I follow the Trinity and that I observe my team doing the same, that we work much better as a whole.

Good luck and keep us posted.

JorrianGelink's picture

Finding the Right Action and Consistency.

A huge downfall for sales people is they do the same thing over and over again expecting a different result, which is what your colleague's direct may be doing.

She has taken what she use to do from the company that she was in, and is applying the same sales technique and is not understanding why it is not working, but continues to do it anyway because it "use" to work.

Books will help her by expanding her knowledge with different techniques and approaches, and once she finds a few that work fantastic, let her know to keep it consistent and don't let go of that gas pedal!