You know something? From my experience in business, I’ve learnt one thing…

If you can’t sell, you will fail.

It doesn’t matter how great your product is – because even the best products need salesmanship. Great products sell themselves is a myth. Great products appear to sell themselves, the truth is – grand master salesmen make it appear that the products are selling themselves – they’re called grand masters for a reason (hint: because you don’t even know they are selling you on it). And because people didn’t feel like they were being sold – they came up with the idea that great products sell themselves…

Great sales people, that’s all there is to say…

So if you want to become a successful entrepreneur, you gotta read the books in this list and you gotta read them…like…NOW!

1. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

Mindset is critical before you start. If you want to be rich, you need to think and act rich. Napoleon Hill studies hundreds or rich men to find out the common secrets rich people possess that the common folk don’t.

2. Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy

One of the masters of Advertising… David Oglivy. Built one of the biggest advertising agencies and shares basic selling principles in this book.

3. My life in Advertising by Claude Hopkins

Claude Hopkins is the inventor of coupon sampling and test marketing. He changed the advertising industry when advertisers used to focus on how creative their advertisement was, Claude focused on the advertisements that had the highest return. This book shows his life in advertising (as you can tell from the title) a long with selling lessons on the way.

4. Start by Jon Acuff

Fears and worries are available in every single one of us entrepreneurs. We need someone to help us change that fear into awesomeness… that’s what this book does.

5. Zero to One by Peter Thiel

A rare and unique book written by a billionaire. In fact it’s the only book written by a billionaire in this list. Peter Thiel, co founder of PayPal (yeah Elon Musk’s old friend) shares some interesting facts about entrepreneurship like no other entrepreneur has ever written – or at least I haven’t seen. Maybe the stuff he presents is more visible to those who live in Silicon Valley, but whether you live there or not you can now learn it from someone that’s already there.

6. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

A must read for today’s innovative entrepreneurs. In fact if you don’t read this book, you don’t know anything about entrepreneurship. Your product launch won’t succeed without this.

7. Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

Robert compares both a poor and rich dad. You’ll be able to see what makes such a difference in people’s life…perhaps something you’ve been curious to know the answer to.

8. The 100 Dollar Start Up by Chris Guillebeau

Already an expert? Worked for someone before? You have a skill that you can offer as a service. This book shows you how to launch a quick business at a really low cost and start earning 6+ figures. It also features people like Brian Clark, founder of Copyblogger.

9. The Four Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss

There’s plenty of work to do, but not enough time to do it all. Besides, who wants to live their life just working non-stop? Tim Ferriss shows you how to outsource and eliminate unproductive jobs AND earn more at the same time.

10. The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen

This goes to the tech entrepreneurs out there, from the innovation master Clayton Christensen. This book has been cited by Steve Jobs a long with the rest of the entrepreneurial community. It gives you rules for taking control of innovation.

11. Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins

In the past, advertising was just a random guess. It was all about creativity. Results were not measured. Everything was just chaotic and return on investments were poor. Until Claude Hopkins came and turned it into a science. He tested thousands of ads and analyzed each one. He knew what worked and what didn’t. So if you want consistent results, you need to know why and what works. Even Gary Halbert, one of the top copywriters went through this book over 25 times!

12. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

Effective people get results. The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is the type of work they do. These 7 habits are what make all the difference.

13. The Startup Owner’s Manual by Steve Blank

This is a guide by Stanford professor Steve Blank. The steps in this book are taught at over 100 universities including Stanford. As entrepreneurs we’ve always wanted someone to show us the way…this is it….your guide to building a startup from scratch.

14. Rework by David Heinemeier and Jason Fried

Rework is all about unconventional ways. It shows you how to succeed faster by being the opposite. A must read for those who hate the old traditional way of doing things.

15. Launch! by Scott Duffy

The difference between a successful idea and an unsuccessful idea is how it launches to market. Therefore knowing how to take your idea to market strategically is the most important step to success. It’s just like racing a car, if you fail at starting the car you get nowhere in the end and if you start late, you lose the race. This book shows you how to go from idea to market in 90 days.

16. The E Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber

You know how there’s a lot of reasons why some businesses don’t work and all the myths that surround business? Well…this book clears that up for you and walks you through the life of a business. You’ll be sure you’re building a healthy business – it’s sort of like learning from other people’s mistakes.

17. No BS Price Strategy by Dan S. Kennedy

Pricing isn’t as straight forward as it seems to be. Prices are what determine how much cash you can make and grow your business. If you price too low, you’ll suffer a slow painful growth or even a business “death.” On the other hand if you price too high then you’ll put the customers expectations so high when they see such a price tag…

So study this part well regardless of how easy it may look.

18. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

If you can influence people, you can sell to them easier. It’s the difference between an influencer and a follower. Imagine people following you because YOU influence them. Just by learning what’s taught in this book, you will become more influential in your field.

19. Getting to Yes: Negotiating an agreement without giving in by Roger Fisher and William L. Ury.

Whether your customers can negotiate the price for your products or not, you will have to negotiate with your suppliers and employees at some stage.

In fact, negotiation isn’t just important in selling, but also helps in getting people to agree with you. Imagine always hearing a yes?

20. Spin – Selling by Neil Rackham

Selling a low value product isn’t the same as selling a high value product – it’s been tested and studied by Rackham. More than 35,000 sales calls done by 10,000 people over 12 years and the results presented in this book. But it doesn’t end there…leading companies of today use these strategies to earn top dollar.

21. Little Red Book of Selling: 12.5 Principles of Sales Greatness by Jeffrey Gitomer

I left this for last not because it’s the worst, but because it’s an ultimate classic. It’s a short and simple book with a few principles that will help you close sales today and in the future. Jeffrey also explains the why behind it all, so you’ll get to know why you’re doing something rather than blindly following tips someone told you about.

So there it is. 21 books to stack in your personal library if you want to be a one of those successful entrepreneurs who can sell their ideas, products and services.

Featured photo credit: book sale loot/ Ginny via flickr.com

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