The (Updated) Presales Reading List

Jacob Cullum

The presales landscape is constantly changing. Make sure you’re keeping your skills sharp by adding to your list of tools and furthering your education. To keep your abilities fresh, we’ve compiled 8 books you can use to hone your presales skills. 

This builds on the list we made for 2022. In case you missed it, you can find the books on last year’s presales reading list here.  

Doing Discovery: The Single Most Important Element of Software Sales and Buyer Enablement Processes by Peter Cohan

Research shows that presales pros rate discovery as the most effective activity they can focus on to boost results. Peter Cohan of Great Demo! relates how he asked the head of sales at a client org what percentage of their sales team does a good job at discovery vs what percentage think they’re good at discovery. The answer: only 20% were actually doing effective discovery while the other 80% thought they were but were falling short of the mark. This book covers the Seven Levels of Successful Discovery and how mastering these levels can help your teams reach their sales objectives and enable buyers more easily.

The JOLT Effect: How High Performers Overcome Customer Indecision by Matthew Dixon and Ted McKenna

The worst response from a customer isn’t “No,” it’s “Maybe.” Sales experts Matthew Dixon and Ted McKenna have seen this countless times and know that traditional methods for dealing with customer indecision are ineffective. The Jolt Effect takes a data driven look at why so many deals end in no decision and offers a new approach for tackling customer uncertainty head on. We’ll give you a sneak peak: it’s not the potential for success customers are preoccupied with, instead they’re held back by fear of failing. 

A Mind for Sales: Daily Habits and Practical Strategies for Sales Success by Mark Hunter

Sales is often a thankless job. If you find yourself becoming discouraged by rejection or customers failing to call you back, you may need help restoring a positive attitude. Mark Hunter, sales expert and author, shares lessons he’s learned during his career to establish the habits and mindset you need to be successful.

You Can’t Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike at a Seminar, 2nd Edition: Sandler Training’s 7-Step System for Successful Selling by David Sandler and David Mattson

This is an updated edition of the original that centered around the advice, “People make buying decisions emotionally and justify them logically.” David Sandler takes a second look at the tactics that work from the first edition while Davis Mattson, CEO of Sandler’s Training,  provides additional insights for when to deviate from traditional sales methods. Don’t miss out on this mix of old and new techniques to establish a best in class sales team.

When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel H. Pink

Timing is everything and nowhere is that more true than in sales. But do you know how to determine the proper timing for engaging with your customers? Daniel H. Pink, whose books have made multiple best sellers lists, uncovered hidden day-to-day patterns you can harness to build the ideal schedule. Backed by research in psychology, biology, and economics, Pink describes how to use these elements together for optimal performance. Don’t make decisions on guesswork. Find out the scientific secrets of perfect timing.

Deal Crash: The ‘Growth Mindset’ Sales Strategy For Transforming Your Win Rate by Daryn Mason

Are you having trouble figuring out why some of your deals fail? Daryn Mason uses the same technique employed by air accident investigators to evaluate crash sites to become a Deal Crash Investigator. He’s helped many sales organizations identify and fix the issues causing their deals to crash and burn. Break away from the traditional presales mindset and use Daryn’s growth mindset to avoid destructive deal malfunctions.

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It by Chris Voss and Tahl Raz

Sometimes, negotiating a deal feels like a fight for survival. For sales, this isn’t actually the case, but you can learn from someone who has negotiated when lives depended on it. Chris Voss, a former FBI Hostage Negotiator, showcases how he negotiates when the stakes are highest, when people’s lives hang in the balance. He covers the nine key principles Voss and his colleagues used to succeed when it mattered most. 

Demo Guru: the Credible Voice of the Technical Sale: A Guide to Master the Sales Engineering Profession to Perfection by Alessio Lolli

More and more sales and presales activities have become a gauntlet of using different technologies in an effort to engage with audiences the same way we did when things were in person. Finding a way to bring back the human element to demos can seem an intractable challenge. Alessio Lolli wrote this guide for anyone looking to become a Demo Guru. Packed full of tools, tips, case studies, and true stories, this book has essential insight to aid you in becoming a master sales engineer.