I’ve never thought of myself as a sales person. With this in mind, I’ve always sought out books that support how I prefer to communicate. This includes starting conversations, provoking new thoughts, building trust and rapport and creating good arguments for action.
And if the timing is right for a mutually beneficial relationship to be had that leads to something being bought and sold, then all good.
These are my book recommendations. They would suit you if you work in a design business and your role involves building relationships but you cringe at the word “sales”.
1. To Sell is Human: Daniel Pink
This book does what its title suggests, namely to humanise sales and demystify it. It is useful in that it will take the fear and loathing of the process away and replace it with some sound principles and action to move you forward without feeling your toes curling.
2. Start with Why: Simon Sinek
A classic that explores how most companies start from the wrong end of their proposition – namely what they do and then explain how they do it, without really getting to why.
Useful if you are looking for a different approach to presenting your purpose as a way to sell your work.
3. Selling with Integrity: Sharon Drew Morgen
There is no sale without a buyer. This belief is one of those at the centre of this excellent book. It also the principle that before a buyer has all of their resources organised, and recognises that they need to bring in a new solution and get comfortable with how they will do that, your sales message is simply not useful or required.
Your role at that stage becomes how you can be useful to your prospective client in helping them organise their thoughts and work out how they would decide to bring in something new.
A useful approach for anyone looking to develop business conversations rather than simply responding to tenders.
4. Influence: Robert Cialdini
A bestseller over and over this book is worth a read for the six principles of influence that Cialdini advocates, many of which apply to the social media tools available to build relationships today.
5. Show and Tell: Dan Roam
A great read for what to do when you have to present, based around three simple principles: Tell the truth. Tell it with a story. Tell the story with pictures.
The author boils presentations down into four storylines: the Report, the Explanation, the Pitch and the Drama, and then explains each.
6. Divorce Busting: Michelle Wiener-Davis
Tell your other half if you order this on Amazon to avoid any misunderstandings! This is a great book on how to save relationships that are teetering on the edge of divorce.
The author argues that divorce is a last resort and describes how, by using some powerful techniques derived from solution-orientated therapeutic circles, couples can circumvent the need to split and get their relationships back on track.
It contains much that can be transferred over to a business context.
7. Time to Think Listening: Nancy Kline
The ultimate book on listening. This will blow your mind and prove that the quality of your listening can improve the quality of the thinking of the person you are listening to.
Buy this book. It will make you re-evaluate the way you listen in ways that will benefit you, your relationships and every aspect of your life.
8. Persuading Aristotle: Peter Thompson
A good text to dip into when building a presentation. Peter Thompson looks at the structure of presentations and also offers a useful and very accessible guide to the different personality types you may encounter and how to appeal to them in their own language.
• Why creative directors could be the studio’s best salesperson
John Scarrott is membership director of the Design Business Association. For more information on DBA membership go to www.dba.org.uk/membership. Follow John on Twitter: @DBAScarrott.