3 Ways Generative AI Will Help Marketers Connect With Customers
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As sales fanatics, we often ask ourselves: What makes top sellers the best at what they do? To answer this, we approached six leading Salesblazers — CEOs, chief revenue officers (CROs), sellers, and coaches. We wanted to know what sales book made the lightbulb go off above their head, along with their favorite passages and the takeaways that changed how they sell.
The list below draws on a wide range of traditions: classic sales, Eastern mysticism, and even the ancient Toltecs of Mesoamerica. Some of these titles aren’t even sales books. But they do share something in common: a focus on the human relationship, the building block of sales. Let’s take a look.
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What it’s about: This book offers a code of conduct for living with integrity and compassion, using four principles, or agreements, from the century-old Toltec culture of Mexico. The four agreements are:
1. Be impeccable with your word.
2. Don’t take anything personally.
3. Don’t make assumptions.
4. Always do your best.
How it made Richardson a better seller: “The Toltecs didn’t sell enterprise software, but these principles help me every day,” she said. “I’m struck by how the four agreements seem purpose-built for the B2B seller. When I learned not to take anything personally, I suddenly felt like a switch flipped inside of me. It’s not about me. It’s about the prospect.”
Richardson recalls painful memories of losing deals when she let these agreements slide. “Not being impeccable with my word, like being late or not getting something done, is the easiest way to lose a client,” she said.
Her one piece of advice for sellers: “Your reputation isn’t about what you say. It’s how you show up. That’s what it means to always do your best.”
What it’s about: MEDDICC guides sellers through a series of checkpoints that are part of a successful enterprise sale, also known as a complex sale. The acronym stands for: metrics, economic decision maker, decision criteria, decision process, implicate the pain, champion, and competition.
How it made Thiele a better seller: Thiele thought he already understood all the elements of enterprise sales. Then he read this — one of his now-favorite sales books. “I realized that even with all my experience, I never truly understood the importance of a champion: someone with influence inside a prospect company who can advocate for the sale on your behalf when you’re not there. The champion guides you through the decision-making process, introduces you to key players, and alerts you if things go wrong.”
Thiele said he recently won a large deal because he worked with a champion, even though that contact didn’t have direct responsibility or sign-off for the purchase. “Before reading this book, I would have ignored him and probably lost the sale. It’s nice to know that even after 30 years of being a professional seller, this old dog can learn new tricks.”
What it’s about: This collection of lessons, curated by Wayne Dyer, helps the modern reader make peace with the natural world — beginning with their thoughts — using principles from the ancient Chinese religion of Taoism.
How it made Kapur a better seller: “This is not a sales book, but it’s my favorite sales book, because we have to get our thoughts right before we sell,” Kapur said. “If we’re doubting ourselves or struggling with negative thoughts, we’ll never create that deep, connected trust that’s behind every big sale.”
Kapur’s favorite passage is when Dyer calls on the reader to spend 15 minutes in silence every day. “Let go of your name, age, ethnicity, job title, and so on,” Dyer writes, “and just be in that space between.” Relish the quiet between moments of hustle.
In other words, go for a walk, rest your eyes in a cozy chair, or even practice a more formal meditation. Let go of tasks and worries, and co-exist with empty space. You might be surprised at what you find there.
“Taking a step away to rest is what saved me in November of last year,” Kapur said. “My pipeline dried up. Because of this book, I tried turning away from my work instead of forcing my way in. I meditated more than ever. In this relaxed state, a creative idea came to me for a new campaign. I ended up improving my conversion 40% that month.”
You heard it here first: Meditate; get paid. Okay, maybe it’s not that simple. But for Kapur, getting right on the inside helped him realize material goals.
What it’s about: This book by Executive Sales Coach Castleman is a guide to relationship selling, which rose as a key trend after the pandemic. It looks at the five core competencies behind the C.A.R.D.S. acronym: collaboration, analysis, relationships, development, and strategy.
How it made Tyler a better seller: Tyler, who switched to sales after two decades in public education, used this book to learn the fundamentals of selling. In his favorite passage, Castleman writes that “channeling your lived experience — the good, the bad, and the ugly — is key.”
Tyler nodded with his whole body when he read these words. He realized that his unconventional background was not a liability but an asset.
“This book changed how I speak to prospects,” he said. “Before, I would lead a classic sales conversation, beginning with the customer’s pain points and responding with how I could help. And I still do that, but now all that is secondary.”
What’s different? He now begins every sales call by sharing his story of being an educator and changing careers. Then he invites the prospect to share their story, too, creating a personal connection. Tyler builds the pitch from there.
What it’s about: This classic book, one of several sales books by star seller Ziglar, shares encouraging advice based on one principle: You can get everything you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want. (Note: Zig Ziglar has no relation to Zig the Zebra.)
How it made Earich a better seller: In Earich’s favorite passage, Ziglar writes that successful people are “ … good finders. They see the good in other people, and in every situation.” Earich followed this advice by making a decision to always focus on helping the person in front of him. “I’m not perfect at it but it’s a goal I keep coming back to, and when I do, the revenue always follows.”
Earich learned to lead with empathy, imagining himself in the other person’s shoes and trying to create a great experience with every interaction. He started applying this empathy-first approach about 10 years ago when he entered the world of partner sales, and his numbers have grown steadily ever since.
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What it’s about: This book tells “the untold story of how Salesforce.com went from idea to billion-dollar company.” Salesforce CEO Benioff writes about the early days of running the company from a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco, and shares his journey of taking cloud-based technology as far as it could go.
How it made Handler a better seller: “I’ve made a career out of helping customers get the most value out of their Salesforce implementations. So naturally, I had to check out the company’s origin story for myself,” she said.
Her aha! moment came when she read the following passage: “Think big (dollars and scope) when strategizing with your customers, and focus on their entire potential enterprise needs, not just the immediate opportunity in front of you. Get them excited and emotionally connected to the bigger vision.”
Using Benioff’s advice, Handler said that she closed deals she never would have proposed in the first place. Her advice to sellers is to think in years, not quarters, for landing those big deals. Think about long-term implications for the tech stack, growth plan, and risk. “People want to buy from a seller with staying power and a vision. Someone who will be there for the long haul.”
The wisdom shared in the books above is only the beginning. Ask sellers you find on your professional journey for their top sales books, and keep reading. When you’ve found your favorites — and chronicled your own aha! moments — share recommendations and win stories in our Salesblazer community.
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