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It isn’t difficult to acquire a strategic advantage in sales. Yet, most people refuse to take the single action that tens of thousands have used to succeed at greater levels than their peers and their competitors. Throughout history, the people you have heard of have one thing in common: They read.

When you don’t read you have a harder time selling. When you read books, newspapers, and magazines you can gain insights that you can use to create a sustainable strategic advantage. In a time of great uncertainty, your clients need you to be able to explain what is going on and how to address it. To do that, you need to connect what you read to the world around you. Perhaps you read history books to learn about trends and patterns, war books to understand strategy, science fiction books to think creatively about familiar problems, or novels to think more deeply about human emotions.

Reading is better than any other media out there—watching television, listening to the radio or a podcast, or watching YouTube. The reason is that audiovisual media is passive. Reading is active. You must focus on the words to understand what they mean. You are in a silent conversation with the author arguing their position and their take. When you read, your mind may challenge the author’s take, as it conflicts with what you believe.

What You Should Read

It almost doesn’t matter what you read because the activity helps you gain knowledge. For example, you can learn from a biography about someone who did the kind of work that made their story worth telling. My favorite biography is Patton: A Genius for War by Carlo D’Este. After reading it the first time, I read the two volumes of Patton’s diaries. Despite having dyslexia, Patton read and wrote consistently, including poems.

There is no shortage of books that provide an understanding of your world. The nonfiction section at any bookstore or library will have more than enough to interest you. Some of these books will help you understand something that is invisible to you, and almost everyone on planet Earth. I have recently recommended The End of the World Is Just the Beginning: Mapping the Collapse of Globalization by Peter Zeihan. It is a book that will not only help you understand what the future looks like over the next two decades, but it also is written in a way that makes it playful.

B2B Sales Is All Business

Sales leaders, sales managers, and salespeople rarely acknowledge that they are businesspeople. A lot of decision-makers complain that salespeople don’t understand their business and gripe about the sales experience. This happens because salespeople don’t create value in the sales conversation.

When we talk about creating value for your clients, that means teaching them what they need to know to improve their results. It is difficult to be a business advisor knowing nothing about business. As I write this article, next to me is a book titled Irresistible: The Seven Secrets of the World’s Most Enduring, Employee Focused Organizations by Josh Bersin. This matches well with Seth Godin’s Song of Significance.

The Major Strategy in Consultative Selling

The major strategy in consultative sales is information disparity, which means “I know something you don’t know.” This is the reason a decision-maker needs a consultative salesperson. Part of the ability comes from the salesperson’s experience, and part of it comes from their reading and your research. No one needs advice from someone who has nothing new to offer.

This is why you must do the damn reading. The variable to winning deals in B2B sales, especially enterprise-level deals, is the sales conversation. It isn’t enough today to talk about your company and your solution, both of which are fine. It is more important to have done the work to counsel your clients, and that means doing the reading so you can help your clients.

As you stack up books and take notes, you will acquire knowledge that may not seem helpful. This is not true. The things you read in one book connect to what you read in another book and to the wider world. Recognizing this creates an insight that is valuable to your prospective clients. This is impossible if you don’t read.

Making Time to Read

You need to make time to read. Many readers read for an hour before going to sleep. It is a better way to wind down than staring at a screen, which ruins your sleep. In an hour, you can probably get a through chapter or two. Some authors are cruel, writing long chapters. Others are compassionate, writing short chapters that you can finish before going to sleep, so you don’t need to worry about remembering where you left off.

Don’t worry about your reading speed. You read to learn and understand something well enough to act on it, especially when your role requires you to know things that other people don’t know. It will be rare that you don’t find something in a book that you can use.

Do the Damn Reading

Read books, including those about your profession. It’s best to read books that help you see and understand your world, regardless of their area of discipline. Your clients will thank you for sharing things they were unaware of. Had it not been for your reading, you wouldn’t have been able to advise them so well.

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Books 2023
Post by Anthony Iannarino on June 15, 2023

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino

Anthony Iannarino is an American writer. He has published daily at thesalesblog.com for more than 14 years, amassing over 5,300 articles and making this platform a destination for salespeople and sales leaders. Anthony is also the author of four best-selling books documenting modern sales methodologies and a fifth book for sales leaders seeking revenue growth. His latest book for an even wider audience is titled, The Negativity Fast: Proven Techniques to Increase Positivity, Reduce Fear, and Boost Success.

Anthony speaks to sales organizations worldwide, delivering cutting-edge sales strategies and tactics that work in this ever-evolving B2B landscape. He also provides workshops and seminars. You can reach Anthony at thesalesblog.com or email Beth@b2bsalescoach.com.

Connect with Anthony on LinkedIn, X or Youtube. You can email Anthony at iannarino@gmail.com

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