Two Books Every Media Salesperson Should Read (Or Reread) in 2018

The Two Best Sales Books I Read Last Year

Sometimes  a good sales book can explain what you just went through.

A good sales book can explain your sales problems.

Photo by lunamarina


Last year, I was part of a group that met with a local bank.

The bank had three branches. We met with two people: the President of one of the branches, and his financial officer. They told us they were in charge of all the bank’s marketing, and we took them at their word.

We spent an hour learning about the bank’s history, challenges, and goals. The two guys we met with were candid about what they were hoping to accomplish; by the end of the meeting we had enough information to put together a pretty darn good plan.

A few days later we presented the plan to the President and the financial officer. They loved everything about it. The next step: they would present the plan at the next bank board meeting.

They were confident that they’d “get the deal done,” and we were confident in their ability to do that.

We were wrong. The plan was never implemented, because the board shot it down.

What did we miss? 

The answer to that question appears in Anthony Iannarino’s book, The Lost Art of Closing: Winning the Ten Commitments That Drive Sales — one of the two best sales books I read in 2017.


In our haste to make the sale, we missed the Commitment to Build Consensus. As Iannarino explains,

While you may have been taught that you need to find and work with “the authority,” likely someone with a C-level title, it’s now more likely that the power to decide has been distributed among multiple stakeholders, all of whom have a say in the change initiative. This means that you don’t need “the” decision maker. You need a consensus.”

This was the case with the bank. As it turned out, the leaders of the other two branches controlled the board, meaning they had a say in every advertising decision. Our plan met the needs of the people we’d met…but we hadn’t met the other branch leaders.

Because we hadn’t ever met them, our plan didn’t meet the needs of the others. They killed our idea in the board meeting.

According to Iannarino, closing a large, complex sale requires a total of seven separate commitments on the part of the client:

  • The Commitment for Time
  • The Commitment to Explore
  • The Commitment to Change
  • The Commitment to Collaborate
  • The Commitment to Build Consensus
  • The Commitment to Invest
  • The Commitment to Review
  • The Commitment to Resolve Concerns
  • The Commitment to Decide
  • The Commitment to Execute

Miss any one of the commitments, and your chance of making the sale drop significantly.

I read The Lost Art of Closing several months after the debacle with the bank. This paragraph explained our big mistake:

In human relationships, fast is slow and slow is fast. If you want to speed up the time it takes you to create an opportunity, win that opportunity, and deliver results to your client, slow down. Do what is necessary to get all the commitments you need leading up to the Commitment to Decide. If you want to slow down the entire sales process, just try skipping over some of the commitments you need, especially the Commitment to Build Consensus.”

The Lost Art of Closing changed the way I approach large sales, and is one of the Two Best Sales Books I Read in 2017.

The other one is The Perfect Close by James Muir.


The book’s title seems to promise a magic phrase that’ll get your prospects to sign every time. Instead, the book carefully lays out a process to effectively and respectfully keep a sale moving forward.

Muir starts by advising you to make sure you have the right mindset — to avoid showing up with “commission breath”. If your intent is in the right place, he then moves to a discussion on how to plan each interaction.

Muir advises writing down two objectives prior to each meeting:

  • A Sales Objective 
  • A Call Objective

The Perfect Close defines a Sales Objective as “the revenue (or outcome) you anticipate generating by closing this particular opportunity with this customer.”

The objective must relate to a specific product or service that you offer. It needs to be measurable, have a target date by which it will occur, and be realistic for the client to be able to do.

Muir defines the Call Objective as “an advance or commitment that is the desired outcome of this particular sales encounter with this particular person or group.”

In other words — what do you want the client to do as a result of this particular meeting?

Muir discusses the big difference between

  • A Close — this happens when the customer firmly commits to buy.
  • An Advance — “a significant action that requires energy by the client — either in the call or right after it — that moves the sale toward a decision.”
  • A Continuation — “a situation where the sale will continue yet no specific action has been agreed upon by the customer to move the sale forward.”

There’s a huge gap in value between an Advance and a Continuation, and Muir’s book does an excellent job of helping the reader see why this matters. The big distinction:

If the client is not taking an action, it is not an advance. If the action the client takes requires little or no energy, it is not an advance.”

If the client agrees to a follow-up meeting, double-checks with Accounting to determine the budget, and ensures that all decision-makers will show up, it’s an Advance. The client is moving toward a buying decision.

If the client just invites you to give him a call some time next week, it’s a Continuation. The client isn’t moving, and neither is the sale.

Too often we as salespeople accept a series of Continuations. We put out all the effort, the client is passive, and the sale stalls. The Perfect Close is particularly good with advice on how to make sure the sale truly advances.

In the book’s introduction, Muir invites the reader to skip to Chapter 12, where he reveals the two-question technique that forms the basis of the book.

I skipped to Chapter 12. The best advice I can give you is: don’t skip.

When I initially read Chapter 12 by itself, I was disappointed. When I arrived there again after reading the previous chapters, it had much more meaning and value.

The Perfect Close will give you excellent, thought-provoking and actionable advice on how you can keep your sales advancing toward the conclusion you want.

There are no new sales problems. Everything you encounter has been dealt with by someone before.

A good sales book can help you make sense of the things you see on the street. Start one today.

Question: What’s the best sales book you read last year? You can leave a comment by clicking here.


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