best sales books

13 Best Sales Books for SaaS Businesses

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To stay at the top of your game in a fast-moving industry like SaaS, it’s essential to keep learning. Fortunately, we’re living in the information age and it’s easy to get a top-class education on an infinite number of subjects, including SaaS sales. The problem isn’t availability though—it’s knowing the best place to look. 

We’ve already talked about some of our favorite blogs for improving your cold sales, but sometimes you’ll want to go more in-depth. When you want to understand a subject in detail, it’s tough to beat a good book. The good news is many of the best books are available for free! 

Some of the most successful SaaS companies are sharing their best practices, new ideas, and latest trends. Rather than being written purely to generate website traffic or capture email addresses, the top SaaS companies are putting out truly valuable free content that would be worth paying for. Then, if you feel like you need something even more in-depth, you can learn expert strategies with a paid SaaS sales book.

Here are 13 of the best sales books for SaaS businesses you should add to your bookshelf.

SaaS Sales For Startup Founders – How to sell SaaS products when you’re not a sales pro

SaaS Sales For Startup Founders

What they say

“There’s a lot of competition in the SaaS market today. And it’s increasingly more difficult to attract new customers—startups release cheap versions of SaaS products every day. This is where my latest book, SaaS Sales for Startup Founders, comes in. One thing I’m really good at is helping people get paying customers for their startups. Even if you’re not a “salesy” person.”

Contents

160 pages covering:

  • SaaS sales basics 
  • Self-service vs. sales-supported SaaS 
  • Hiring and paying SaaS sales reps
  • Finding the right B2B SaaS customers
  • Selling like a SaaS sales pro
  • Optimizing demos and trials
  • Increasing customer lifetime value
  • Losing (or firing) B2B customers the right way

Why you should read it

I’m a big fan of Steli Efti (spoiler alert: this won’t be the first time his name appears in this list). He does a great job of over-delivering on his content without over-complicating it, and this is one of those free books that would definitely be worth paying your hard-earned money for.

I found this book especially useful for people with no sales background, as it talks you through the steps of validating your idea, your sales approach (here’s a hint: don’t be a wolf, but don’t be a lamb either), and concrete advice on when you need to start hiring salespeople for your SaaS—from just you to a team of 25+ reps.

Once you’re happy with the basics, Steli talks you through how to level up your sales game to the pro level, and how to start selling to enterprise companies and even governments. Throughout the book, you’ll find examples and templates for emails and calls. Seriously, there’s so much gold here, it should be required reading for every SaaS founder.

From 0 to 1,000 Customers & Beyond

From 0 to 1,000 Customers & Beyond

What they say

“This book, written by Hiten Shah and Steli Efti, is a step-by-step customer acquisition guide that will teach you to grow your B2B startup from 0 to 1,000+ customers by discussing:

  • When to wing it and when to start building processes
  • What roles to hire for at which point & which metrics to monitor
  • Finding the right customer acquisition channels for the current stage of your business
    and much more!”

Contents

21 pages (average reading time 28 minutes) covering:

  • Milestone 1: The first 10 customers
  • Milestone 2: Growing from 10 to 100 customers
  • Milestone 3: From 100 to 1,000 customers
  • Milestone 4: From 1k to 10k customers

Why you should read it

As promised, here’s another entry from the excellent Steli Efti. However, this time he’s joined by the superb Hiten Shah. This is the shortest book on the list, but what it lacks in length it makes up for in sheer value. Plus, for those of you who prefer to listen to rather than reading your content, an audiobook version has also been released, updated and with added commentary.

The book is divided into 4 milestones, with the exact steps you need to take to reach each milestone. Wherever you are in your SaaS journey, this is a great way to find out what you need to do next in order to grow. My favorite piece of advice was for new entrepreneurs (who routinely undercharge) on the easiest way to come up with your starting price. 

The 2020 Startup Sales Playbook

The 2020 Startup Sales Playbook

What they say

“This is the playbook you need to build and scale a winning sales team and process. Learn the best tips and tactics around:

  • Identifying your perfect sales model
  • Prospecting new leads like a pro
  • Forecasting revenue & growth
  • Perfecting cold outreach
  • Using video throughout the cycle
  • And so much more…

Now is your time. Download the playbook and start supercharging your growth

If you’re a founder or business owner who’s currently doing sales yourself—this book is for you. If you’re part of a sales team that has less than ten reps—this book is for you. If you’re looking to find the right person to make sales work for your company—this book is for you. If you don’t have an established sales process, and you need to acquire customers and generate revenue soon—this book is for you.”

Contents

115 pages and 17 chapters including:

  • Identifying your perfect customer
  • Outbound prospecting
  • Cold emailing
  • Cold calling
  • Handling objections
  • Getting referrals

Why you should read it

This playbook has input from the pros at Close, PandaDoc, Vidyard, Predictable Revenue, and LeadFuze. While the previous books focused on one or two key areas, this playbook for 2020 covers a whole range of different topics. With 17 chapters, you’ll gain a high-level overview of everything you might want to know about sales.

While some of the chapters inevitably cover the same ground as other books on the list, this is a fantastic way to get a taste of the topic in double-quick time, all from the experts who do this for a living. It includes up-to-date advice on using videos in your emails, following up with prospects, and plenty more.

The Sales Handbook by Intercom

The Sales Handbook by Intercom

What they say

“There’s one problem every company will inevitably confront: how do I grow my revenue faster? In this book, the best in the business offer a roadmap of industry-tested advice and frameworks for getting to breakout growth and beyond.

You’ll learn:

  • Why you need to build and scale your sales team with intention.
  • How to craft a sales strategy – and the crucial inputs for long-term success.
  • Industry-tested sales techniques for turning new leads into new business.
  • How to grow your revenue faster by acquiring and converting leads in real-time.”

Contents

89 pages covering:

  • Developing a Sales strategy
  • Growing your sales team
  • Modern sales techniques
  • Realtime sales

Why you should read it

Made up of podcast excerpts, internal interviews, and samples from other sales leaders, this book feels like a collection of top-quality essays on sales. Each page is packed with practical advice from recognized experts, with over 30 sales leaders involved.

Where this book really stands out is its focus on modern sales; I was particularly impressed with the section on real time sales, and how the changes in technology have meant changes to the sales process. The sections on personalization at scale and use of automation gives us a glimpse of the future of sales, something that many people struggle with (and that drives our whole business at Reply). Apart from that, my favorite piece was ‘There are no closing techniques,’ an excellent read on why closing, the part of the sales cycle dreaded by many, isn’t actually an issue when doing sales properly.

Intercom on Sales

Intercom on Sales

What they say

 

From actionable advice on managing a world class sales team to a new framework for selling in real time, they provide an inside look at what it actually takes to scale a billion dollar business. It’s jam-packed with the kind of practical wisdom that can only be learned on the front lines – the kind I like to read and I hope you will, too.

Contents

142 pages covering:

  • People
  • Foundation
  • Methodology
  • Techniques
  • Collaboration
  • Growth

Why you should read it

In contrast to the previous entry, where Intercom collated and shared the lessons and opinions of many different experts, this book is an in-depth look at how Intercom themselves do sales. The book feels like a manual that anyone with the right mindset could use to kickstart their own world-class sales team. Each section is broken into individual lessons, with takeaways at the end to make sure you get the key points.

I was especially impressed with the cheat sheets throughout the book, giving you an easy way to do key tasks, from assessing potential sales hires to building your first chatbot. If you’re looking to build your own billion dollars business, why not learn from a team that’s actually done it?

Enabling Top Performing Sales Teams

Enabling Top Performing Sales Teams

What they say

“How the fastest growing organisations onboard, train & develop their sales teams. This book provides a modern playbook for solving the most critical sales problems with learning initiatives.”

Contents

8 chapters available online (or delivered weekly via email) covering:

  • Building a Sales Enablement Team
  • Building the Sales Training Feedback Loop
  • Sales Training Iteration
  • Collaborative Learning in Sales
  • Sourcing Sales Training Feedback
  • Learning in the Flow of Work
  • Sales Skills Exercises
  • Sales Career Development

Why you should read it

Here we have another collection of thoughts and lessons, delivered courtesy of sales leaders from some of the hottest SaaS companies out there such as Gong.io, Salesloft, and Clearbit. Each chapter is handled by just one author, meaning you get just one opinion, but they’re able to really dive deep into the subject.

For example, Michelle Kanan’s chapter on building a Sales Enablement team covers absolutely everything you need to know to get started, from the best definition I’ve read yet (“It’s the work sales managers do when they’re really good at their jobs and they really care”) to making those all-important hiring decisions.

The rest of the book is equally informative and useful, drawing on the experts’ experience with clear examples to follow. I particularly enjoyed Stan Massueras’s chapter on Sales Career Development and how they use the Japanese concept ikigai at Intercom to help keep their team motivated and progressing. A thoroughly enjoyable and actionable read!

Data-Driven Sales

Data-Driven Sales

What they say

“Data-Driven Sales brings together experts from high-growth SaaS companies, and shows exactly how they have used data to transform their companies. Written by 10 guest authors and covering topics like pricing, automating outbound, sales forecasting, hiring, and much more.”

Contents

124 pages covering:

  • The Key to SaaS Pricing
  • Inbound Lead Qualification
  • Outbound Sales Fundamentals
  • Automated Outbound Sales
  • Sales Forecasting
  • Finding Sales Triggers
  • Sales Compensation
  • Sales Operations
  • Sales Coaching
  • Sales Hiring

Why you should read it

Every chapter shows exactly how a company overcame their challenges and tactical ways you can do the same. Most sales advice in SaaS is generic. This isn’t.

n this book from Clearbit, the focus is on data throughout. Each chapter is written by a different expert, and it’s genuinely fascinating to read concrete examples of how they’ve implemented data-driven solutions to some of the biggest sales problems. While many people will say that data is important, this book answers why it’s so important and gives clear examples of how data has made a difference for these companies. 

For example, the chapter on Sales Compensation shows how Hubspot was able to use data to reveal a surprising cause of churn, then how they reduced it by 70%. I found the chapter on Sales Hiring particularly fascinating, as Mark Roberge goes into detail about, not just what criteria are important in a sales hire, but also how to accurately assess those criteria to make better decisions. 

For a book that’s all about data, it was surprisingly easy to read and you can start implementing the ideas immediately. 

The Sales Development Playbook

The Sales Development Playbook

What they say

“This book encapsulates author Trish Bertuzzi’s three decades of practical, hands-on experience. It presents six elements for building new pipelines and accelerating revenue growth with inside sales… As Ken Krogue (President of InsideSales.com) writes in the foreword, “This is the playbook for how to succeed today. After reading this book, I know it will help you succeed, help your company grow, and change our industry.””

Contents

264 pages covering:

  • Strategy 
  • Specialization
  • Recruiting
  • Retention
  • Execution 
  • Leadership

Why you should read it

Reviews on The Sales Development Playbook

Hello, what’s this? A book you have to pay actual money for? Why on earth would you pay for a book when there’s so much good free content out there? Well, take a look at the reviews: when was the last time you saw a book with that many 5 star reviews? 

The praise is well-deserved. This book is filled with insights you can immediately put into action.

Drawing on her 30+ years of experience, Trish has filled the book with strategies, stories, examples, and tools for sales development. My favorite part is how she helps readers find the right model for their business. For example, should your SDRs be aiming to set introductory meetings or generating qualified opportunities? Rather than trying to convince you that one’s better than the other, Trish helps you understand where each model works best so you can decide for yourself. If you want to get a headstart on sales development, do yourself a favor and invest the few dollars needed to get this book. 

Predictable RevenueWhat they say

“Discover the sales specialization system and outbound sales process that, in just a few years, helped add $100 million in recurring revenue to Salesforce.com, almost doubling their enterprise growth…with zero cold calls. This is NOT just another book about how to cold call or close deals. This is an entirely new kind of sales system for CEOs, entrepreneurs and sales VPs to help you build a sales machine.”

Contents

208 pages and 11 chapters covering:

  • Cold Calling 2.0
  • Prospecting best practices
  • Sales best practices
  • Lead generation and “seeds, nets and spears”
  • Seven fatal mistakes CEOs and Sales VPs make
  • Sales machine fundamentals
  • Cultivating your talent
  • Leadership and management
  • Next steps and resources

Why you should read it

Nine years after its release, it might not be accurate to describe Predictable Revenue as a ‘new kind of sales system.’ Even so, “The Sales Bible of Silicon Valley” is still a useful resource for anyone interested in building or improving their SaaS sales process. In fact, many of today’s successful SaaS businesses owe a lot to this book. 

While some of the tips that were new and innovative back in 2011 are now common practice (surely we’ve all seen/sent emails asking for the name of whoever is responsible for a specific department), there’s a reason why they’ve become the standard in SaaS sales.  They are still effective and, more importantly, are built on unchanging principles.

If you’ve somehow not read this yet, you can always pick up the summary but, in all honesty, it’s worth the few dollars to buy the full book. If nothing else, you’ll get an understanding and appreciation for the methods behind many of today’s SaaS companies.

 B2B Outbound Sales Ebook

B2B Outbound Sales Ebook

What they say

“Learn how to overcome the biggest challenges facing B2B sales teams today, ensure you’re leveraging opportunities, and learn from best practices from industry leaders. We’ve taken all of our podcasts from 2018 and put them into a handy 6 part eBook. Learn how to overcome the biggest challenges facing B2B sales teams today, ensure you’re leveraging opportunities, and learn from best practices from industry leaders.”

Contents

Six standalone ebooks, ranging from 30 to 51 pages, covering:

  • Part 1: Cold Email/ Cold Call
  • Part 2: Hiring & Training
  • Part 3: Sales Enablement
  • Part 4: Sales Process
  • Part 5: Account-Based/ Persona-Based
  • Part 6: Sales Operations

Why you should read it

If you’re still hungry for more, the team behind Predictable Revenue has collated the best interviews from their podcast in 2018. As a result, many of the chapters feel like interviews, with experts directly answering the questions we all have. For example, Max Altucher shares how understanding buyer psychology can help your sales, while Derek Grant shares the ins and outs of SalesLoft’s account-based playbook. If you like the podcast format but wish you could have the highlights in written form, you’ll love this collection.

 

The SaaS Sales Method

What they say

“In this first book of the Sales Blueprints series, Jacco Van Der Kooij and Fernando Pizarro break down the science of sales into its basic elements. Unlike any book before it, The SaaS Sales Method exposes the math the underpins each stage in revenue production, from marketing, to sales, to customer success, and infers how revenue leaders should structure their processes, organizations, and training in each.​​​​​​​”

Contents

135 pages and seven chapters covering:

  • Science over superstars
  • Changes in B2B sales
  • The SaaS sales method
  • The science
  • Moments that matter
  • Blueprints
  • How to keep going

Why you should read it

The SaaS Sales Method is currently the most expensive option on our list at $25, but it’s also highly recommended. It stands out from many other books in the area by focusing on the gritty details and science behind the sales, rather than relying solely on an assortment of feel-good stories and recycled advice.  

Particularly useful for those who are new to SaaS sales, this book provides a solid foundation in how SaaS has required changes to the sales process. It then goes on to explain which moments matter the most to your customers and how you can build your process around those moments. 

The SaaS Sales Method is book one in a series of six, with later books covering the core functions (such as SDRs, AEs, and Customer Success), but if you only read this book you’ll still have a great overview of the SaaS sales process. 

Influence

What they say

“In this highly acclaimed New York Times bestseller, Dr. Robert B. Cialdini—the seminal expert in the field of influence and persuasion—explains the psychology of why people say yes and how to apply these principles ethically in business and everyday situations.”

Contents

334 pages and seven chapters covering:

  • Weapons of influence
  • Reciprocation
  • Commitment and consistency
  • Social proof
  • Liking
  • Authority
  • Scarcity

Why you should read it

How can a book that was originally published in 1984 (yes, this is book has been around longer than me) possibly be relevant to SaaS sales? Despite predating SaaS by more than a decade, Cialdini’s book is an essential read. 

The book covers the six pillars of influence, and they are just as effective today as they were 30+ years ago. It’s an easy-to-read book, full of fascinating insights into the psychology of decision-making as well as plenty of examples. Learning the principles is a real eye-opener; you’ll start to see them everywhere, even in SaaS, from customer testimonials to authority-building content.

The one downside is that the book is arguably longer than it has to be, and the key principles could be covered on a single page. However, the cited studies and explanations add a great deal of value. For example, it’s one thing to know about the principle of reciprocity but, when you see how it was used to increase restaurant tips by 23%, it takes on new meaning. I also found the additional information helped me think about new and different ways the same principles could be ethically applied to SaaS. 

Take a look at the Cialdini’s video summary, then pick up the book if you want more examples.

Product-Led Growth

What they say

“In Product-Led Growth, I show you how you can cut your acquisition costs and scale further than you ever thought possible…by making your product the tool that helps you acquire, convert, and retain customers. Product-Led Growth also comes packed with “do this, not that” real-life examples from the industry’s biggest brands—as well as a collection of high-converting email scripts you can customize and send out immediately to turn more users into customers.”

Contents

278 pages and 16 chapters covering:

  • Design your strategy
  • Build your foundation
  • Ignite your growth engine

Why you should read it

For a different perspective, Product-Led Growth focuses on how SaaS companies can use their product as their main method of acquiring (and retaining customers). Rather than following the traditional sales cycle where you work your way through the funnel, the idea behind Product-Led Growth is that you start with the product, letting the customer experience it and all the associated benefits, before they upgrade to a paid plan. 

While this might sound like sales teams are no longer necessary, that’s not the case. Instead, their job now centers on developing ways for the product to qualify prospects and create lasting value. 

The book walks you through how to increase your freemium/trial conversions, whether you have VC funding or you’re a bootstrapped company. With no fluff and plenty of actionable advice, Product-Led Growth will lead you to think differently about SaaS sales.

Conclusion

There really is no excuse; no matter what aspect of your sales you’d like to improve, the experts are sharing their insights, in great detail, and usually for free. Sure, there’s a lot of content out there; we’ve covered just a small selection of the available books (we could have written a whole post just about Drift’s library of over 20 free ebooks), so we know it can be overwhelming. However, by focusing on the industry thought-leaders and seeing what they share, you can consume high-quality content and follow in their footsteps. 

I hope you enjoyed our roundup! If you’re looking for more ways to improve your sales process, Reply can help you personalize your inbound and outbound sales campaigns at scale. Try it out for free with a 14-day trial

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