The 20 Best Sales Books Elon Musk Is Probably Reading

Elon Musk sales book recommendation

“How do I start?”

It’s the question we often ask ourselves before we embark on a new venture.

The quintessential salesman is no different.

We all need to start somewhere and somehow.

When in need of guidance, we often rely on books to show us the way. But picking up the right guide can be tough. How do you know which one has the answers you’re looking for?

Searching Amazon for ‘sales’ will get you something north of 9 million book titles.

We don’t want you to waste your time.

We contacted Elon Musk, the man who learnt how to build rockets from reading books, and asked him which books he thinks are best to learn the ropes of the sales trade.

Unfortunately, Elon didn’t get back to us.

We think he’s a bit busy being a rockstar CEO of a few multi-billion dollar companies.

That’s okay.

Instead, we had an Amazon drone fly into his library to take a look at his bookshelf and hand-picked the 20 best ones.

Without further ado: here’s the hit list of how-tos for salesmen, from sales prospecting, coping with rejection and leadership tips to honing the right attitude.


1. The Ultimate Sales Machine — Chet Holmes

the ultimate sales machine

What’s this about?

Holmes, in his book for management, marketing, and sales, offers proven strategies on how to tune up and soup up virtually every aspect of your business by spending just an hour per week on each impact area you want to improve.

He debunks the classic blunder of impulsive salesmen jumping on new trends, and instead suggests focusing on a selective twelve specific critical areas of improvement as a guiding principle.

Who’s this for?

Sales managers and salesmen alike who want to be successful — basically, everyone with an inclination to sales.

Why should you read it?

It’s been dubbed the compact package of the most potent life changing principles that is fun and easy to read — I’m sold, too.

What do people say?

“Re-read this book every 30 days for a year, maybe two years, and if you are not at the top of the game then it is time to find a new game.”

— Dustan Woodhouse, via Good Reads


2. SPIN Selling — Neil Rackham

What’s this about?

This ground-breaking resource authored by Rackham is the first book to specifically examine selling high-value product and services.

SPIN Selling details the revolutionary SPIN (Situation, Problem, Implication, Need-payoff) strategy that will enable readers to dramatically increase their sales volume from major accounts just by following its simple, practical, and easy-to-apply techniques.

Who’s this for?

SPIN Selling is essential reading for anyone involved in selling or managing a sales force.

Why should you read it?

Packed with real-world examples, illuminating graphics, and informative case studies — and backed by hard research data — SPIN Selling is the key to understanding and producing record-breaking high-end sales performance. Won’t be taking any chances and miss this one if I were you.

What do people say?

“SPIN Selling is, like other successful thing in life, counter-intuitive. Takes you through a journey from what is evident, and wrong, to what lies beneath the surface, and is right. Written in a clear, straightforward style, keeps your attention throughout the journey to become the successful seller you are willing to be.”

— Rafael Funes, via Amazon Reviews


3. Secrets of Closing the Sale — Zig Ziglar

What’s this about?

Ziglar’s book will let you in on the winning techniques for getting positive responses and closing deals.

Full of entertaining stories and real-life illustrations, Ziglar’s strategies and guidelines will show you how to be proficient in the art of effective persuasion.

Who’s this for?

Whether presenting a product or principle, service or idea, we all engage in sales. This book is for the quintessential salesman — let Ziglar light your path to successful sales closing.

Why should you read it?

Ziglar’s principles of success are easy to understand and apply. And they have a far-reaching impact. His proven methods will lead you to face your prospects with enthusiasm and confidence.

What do people say?

“I dove into as many of Ziglar’s tapes and books as I could to develop my abilities. Within a few years, I was breaking every sales record imaginable.”

— Linda Burzynski, Computer Moms International


4. How to Win Friends and Influence People — Dale Carnegie

how to win friends and influence people

What’s this about?

For more than sixty years, the rock-solid, time-tested advice in this book by Dale Carnegie has hoisted thousands of now famous people up the ladder of success.

Learn the twelve ways to win people to your way of thinking, the nine ways to change people without arousing resentment, the six ways to make people like you, and the three fundamental techniques in handling people in Carnegie’s famed sales manual.

Who’s this for?

This is THE self-help book for learning to relate to people — that means it’s written for anyone and everyone, basically. For the people person and the non-people person, this book will build the foundation for your interpersonal skills.

Why should you read it?

Because “no book matters more than this one”. An out-and-out classic because Carnegie teaches timeless truths in timeless ways. Salesman or not, you’re bound to be enlightened by Carnegie’s teachings.

What do people say?

“Should have read it sooner.”

— Timbo, via Amazon Reviews


5. The Greatest Salesman in the World — Og Mandino

What’s this about?

Mandino’s book is, in essence, a guide to a philosophy of salesmanship and success through the chronicle of Hafid, a poor camel boy who ultimately achieves a life of abundance.

The book’s main draw is the secrets embedded in the ancient scrolls, which will have you everlasting lessons on salesmanship. If Mandino’s suggested reading structure is followed, it would take about 10 months to complete the book for the optimal reading experience.

Who’s this for?

The aspiring salesman.

Why should you read it?

It’s been dubbed the compact package of the most potent life changing principles that is fun and easy to read — and I’m sold, too.

What do people say?

“I read this book 25 years ago on a business trip to Chicago. Not beverage service, turbulence, nor a thunderstorm could get me to look up from it. I think I read it in a day. The flight attendant asked about it at the end of the flight. “That must be one very good book,” she said. It is.”

— Anonymous, via Amazon Reviews


6. Little Red Book of Selling — Jeffrey Gitomer

little red book of selling

What’s this about?

If salespeople are worried about how to sell, Gitomer believes they are missing out on the more important aspect of sales: why people buy. This, he says, is “all that matters”.

Little Red Book of Selling is a playful book that aims to demystify buying principles for salespeople.

Short, sweet, and to the point, it’s packed with answers that people are searching for in order to help them make sales for the moment, and the rest of their lives.

Who’s this for?

Highly recommended for an individual or team in the sales profession.

Why should you read it?

Salespeople hate to read, and that is why Little Red Book of Selling is appealing and accessible, packed with amusing cartoons, pull quotes and takeaway sound bites. It addresses sales with a lively combination of humour and professionalism to help salespeople get their feet in many more doors.

What do people say?

“This isn’t just a red book; it’s a Red Bull of high-energy sales tips & counsel.”

— David Dorsey, The Wall Street Journal


7. Selling to Big Companies — Jill Konrath

selling to big companies

What’s this about?

Get your foot in the door of big companies with Konrath’s sure-fire strategies to cracking into big accounts, shrinking your sales cycle, and closing more business.

Stop making endless cold calls or waiting for the phone to ring. It’s high time you start positioning yourself as an invaluable resource, rather than a relentless product pusher. Selling to Big Companies will teach you how to target accounts where you have the highest likelihood of success.

Who’s this for?

Best for senior sales executives, and consultants who work in pre-sales.

Why should you read it?

Selling to Big Companies offers a practical step-by-step guide with examples based on hard experience, perceptiveness and persistence — a real-life guide to the real life.

What do people say?

“This is some of the best advice I have heard.”

— Jack Covert, 800-CEO-READ


8. Solution Selling — Michael T. Bosworth

solution selling

What’s this about?

Bosworth’s book reveals a process to take the guesswork out of difficult-to-sell, intangible products and services.

It enables sellers to make the way they sell as big an advantage as their product or service.

Who’s this for?

Salespeople and sales managers alike. Solution Selling is a sales strategy specific handbook that cuts to the chase in showing you how to be familiar with your consumer market.

Why should you read it?

Understand buyer psychology with Bosworth’s bible. It brings to the table a revolutionary step-by-step system that ensures a higher rate of success for salespeople and a higher probability that the buyers’ expectations will be met.

What do people say?

“Loved this book so much I built this sales methodology into our organization and require it to be read by all new sales hires.”

— Robert, via Good Reads


9. The New Strategic Selling — Robert B. Miller & Stephen E. Heiman

the new strategic selling

What’s this about?

Rejecting manipulative tactics and emphasizing process, Heiman and Miller propelled the idea of selling as a joint venture and introduced one of the decade’s most influential concepts, the Win-Win.

Their book presents the assets and mechanisms of a unique sales system that has been proven successful by even America’s best companies.

Who’s this for?

This book offers valuable advice to business development executives in particular.

Why should you read it?

If you are a sales professional interested in revving things up and taking your sales team up a notch, Strategic Selling is your go-to programme. It offers detailed step-by-step instructions for account management, opportunity assessment, and trust building.

What do people say?

“This book changed my life 30 years ago. I have gifted it dozens of times, because it’s process is simple, timeless and repeatable for all people in sales of any age, at any time. Organize, downsize and thrive.”

— Robin Olin, via Amazon Reviews


10. How to Say It — Geoffrey James

how to say it

What’s this about?

Selling to other businesses is hardly the same as selling to consumers. And that is why an entirely different skill set is required of business-to-business sales reps.

Learn to sell business to businesses like a seasoned pro. James’ book will let you in on the top tips for accelerating your sales cycle and building sales partnerships.

Who’s this for?

How to Say It caters exclusively to business-to-business sales professionals. Its short chapters provide tips and strategies tailored especially for the unique business-to-business selling process.

Why should you read it?

James purges the mystery of the sales process with a crystal clear message of understanding with practical material that can be applied in all areas of business. The book offers honest, valuable advice apt for all levels of sales prospecting.

What do people say?

“Salespeople learn differently from the rest of us. They don’t want fluff, B.S., or yet another book that describes what worked for some author when they sold fax machines to Woolworth’s. What salespeople do want is straight talk about the tools, the strategies, and the tactics that will help them do one, and only one, very important thing: win business.

Here’s the good news: Geoffrey James, the best writer in the B2B sales, has gathered compelling, relevant, and thoroughly field-tested content from the experts in fifteen critical B2B selling areas and served them up for you in a powerful, organized, and deliciously consumable way. If you’re in sales or sales management you’re going to LOVE this book.”

— Dave Stein, Beyond the Sales Process, via Amazon Reviews


11. Never Be Closing — Tim Hurson & Tim Dunne

never be closing

What’s this about?

Selling better isn’t just a one-time thing; it’s a way to become a more valuable long-term partner. In their book, Hurson & Dunne present 12 explicit techniques that would mutually benefit both the seller and the client.

Never Be Closing teaches salespeople how to improve their strategy and sell anything to anyone using a simple, repeatable framework and a problem-solving approach that is more beneficial for both the seller and the client.

Who’s this for?

Although this book’s practical content is catered for salespeople — sales managers, leaders, coaches — it really is about the way we could strengthen any relationship in trying to convince someone else of something.

Why should you read it?

The book features some groundbreaking tactical tools that could be added to one’s stable of never-failing coaching approaches or sales strategy. It provides iluminating insight and practical methods to communicate one’s point of view in a wide variety of situations that involve negotiating or persuasion. The ideas in this book can be implemented immediately with immediate results.

What do people say?

“If you’re serious about being successful, it’s a must read.”

— Jill Konrath, Agile Selling and SNAP Selling


12. The Challenger Sale — Matthew Dixon & Brent Adamson

the challenger sale

What’s this about?

The Challenger Sale argues that classic relationship-building has become a losing approach, especially when it comes to selling complex, large-scale business-to-business solutions.

Dixon’s study found that only one type of sales rep — the Challenger — delivers consistently high performance. Rather than acquiescing to the customer’s every whim and fancy, Challengers are assertive, pushing back when necessary, taking control of the sale.

He adds that the qualities that make Challengers unique are replicable and teachable to the average sales rep. Once you understand how to identify the Challengers in your organization, their approach can be modelled and embedded throughout your sales force.

Who’s this for?

The Challenger Sale is strongly recommended for sales executives, managers, and most of all, to professionals.

Why should you read it?

The book comes highly touted and has generated new insights based on extensive research by the Sales Executive Council into the attributes of successful sales professionals, which are central to the book. All information delivered by The Challenger Sale have been well-informed.

What do people say?

“This is a must-read book for every sales professional. The authors’ groundbreak­ing research explains how the rules for selling have changed — and what to do about it. If you don’t want to be left behind, don’t miss this innovative book that provides the new formula for selling success.”

Ken Revenaugh, vice president, sales operations, Oakwood Temporary Housing


13. The Magic of Thinking Big — David J. Schwartz

the magic of thinking big

What’s this about?

In his book, Schwartz presents a judiciously designed game plan for getting the most out of your job, your marriage, your family life, and your community.

The Magic of Thinking Big proves that you don’t need to have innate talent or immense intellect to attain great success and satisfaction. What you need to do however is to learn and understand the habit of thinking and behaving in ways that will get you there.

Who’s this for?

The Magic of Thinking Big is the self-help book for anyone with the intent of nurturing the right attitude and approach to live. That basically means everyone, because… who doesn’t?

Why should you read it?

Think success, don’t think failure: the mantra of belief in oneself is the core premise of this book. Brimming with indispensable notions and vital secrets, Schwartz’s rock-solid philosophy compels you to think beyond the mundane status quo and strive for excellence. To quote Schwartz, “Think Big and you’ll live big. You’ll live big in happiness.”

What do people say?

“This book changed the way I look at the world, and will remain a powerful reminder of the great things that can be accomplished with the right attitude.”

David Rosage, via Good Reads


14. To Sell is Human — Daniel H. Pink

to sell is human

What’s this about?

Pink draws on a rich trove of social science for his counterintuitive insights in To Sell is Human. He reveals the new ABCs of moving others and shows how giving people an “off-ramp” for their actions can matter more than actually changing their minds.

Along the way, he unveils the six successors to the elevator pitch, the five frames that make your message persuasive, the three rules for understanding another’s perspective, and more.

Who’s this for?

Everyone — a worthy read for an improvement in your everyday interactions.

Why should you read it?

The fact is — if you haven’t already derived from the earlier parts of this post — that everyone is in sales in some way. We’re all trying to move others to listen to us, buy from us, or do things for us. Pink’s research and writing style make this an incredibly informative guide to life around this practical necessity.

What do people say?

“Dan Pink is an alembic. A what? An alembic. Think mad scientist (or maybe alchemist). An alembic is that funky looking glass thingie, round on the bottom, crooked neck, sitting over a flame with liquid happily bubbling away. The liquid is vaporized, travels through the neck into a curlicue glass dealybob and comes out the other end condensed and distilled. That’s what Dan does; takes in a ton of information from our ever-changing world, percolates it, condenses and distills it, then jots down the results in a fun, easy-to-read, easy-to-understand style.”

— C.A. Hurst, via Good Reads


15. Pitch Anything — Oren Klaff

pitch anything

What’s this about?

“Better method, more money… Much better method, much more money.” One truly great pitch can improve your career, make you a lot of money, and even change your life.

Drawing on the latest research in the field of neuroeconomics, Klaff, in his book, explains how the brain makes decisions and responds to pitches while sharing the illuminating chronicles of his method in action.

Who’s this for?

Pitching is essential to leadership in all aspects of life. Pitch Anything is a must-have for novices and professionals seeking to improve their pitching method.

Why should you read it?

The exclusive “STRONG” framework and strategies outlined in Pitch Anything can be applied immediately to engage and persuade your audience. And soon after, you’ll find yourself having more funding and support than you ever thought possible.

What do people say?

“What do supermodels and venture capitalists have in common? They hear hundreds of pitches a year. Pitch Anything makes sure you get the nod (or wink) you deserve.”

— Ralph Cram, Investor, via Amazon Reviews


16. Predictable Revenue — Aaron Ross & Marylou Tyler

predictable revenue

What’s this about?

Discover the outbound sales process that, in just a few years, helped add $100 million in recurring revenue to Salesforce.com, almost doubling their enterprise growth and… wait for it… with zero cold calls.

Ross reveals particular info on the Seven Fatal Sales Mistakes that CEOs and Sales VPs make, and on developing self-managing sales teams that will turn your regular employees into mini-CEOs, ramping up the efficacy of your sales force.

Who’s this for?

Predictable Revenue is the sales bible for CEOs, sales VPs, and entrepreneurs for building an efficient sales machine.

Why should you read it?

Ross’s methods promise to exacerbate your sales process by producing a profitable and scalable new stream of predictable revenue. Best part: many had a blast while doing it!

What do people say?

“I have read Predictable Revenue and it’s Entrepreneurial Crack!”

— Damien Stevens, CEO, Servosity


17. How to Master the Art of Selling — Tom Hopkins

how to master the art of selling

What’s this about?

In his million-copy seller, Hopkins will show you how his great selling techniques can be yours.

Succeed in the profession of selling by learning how to sell to the most important people you know. Learn referral and non-referral prospecting, effective phone techniques, how to finesse the first meeting, and how to handle objections, amongst other techniques.

Who’s this for?

How to Master the Art of Selling is great for you if you work a sales job and want to increase your sales.

Why should you read it?

The book details broader challenges around sales and offers first-rate suggestions, memory items, and phrases, and examples of how to use them. Hopkin’s techniques are practical and applicable to anyone in sales.

What do people say?

“What Hopkins sets out to do is motive… He succeeds… One of the most useful books on selling.”

―Small Business News


18. Sell or Be Sold — Grant Cardone

sell or be soldWhat’s this about?

In Cardone’s classic philosophy, everything in life can and should be treated as a sale. Knowing the principles of selling is a prerequisite for success of any kind.

From this book you will learn how to fill your pipeline with new business, handle rejection, turn around negative situations, excel even amidst economic downturn, shorten sales cycles, and above all, guarantee yourself greatness.

Who’s this for?

It’s a book not just for salespeople, but for anyone — parents, teachers, managers, coaches, etc. — who needs to influence and motivate the behaviour of others. So pick up Cardone’s book and be the change of today.

Why should you read it?

You are either selling your beliefs and convictions (whether they are ideas, products or services of any kind), or you are sold with the same. Sell or Be Sold will change the way you perceive the sale — and life at large — as you will be able to sell other people for what you want in life, rather than taking what others sell to you in life.

What do people say?

“Grant often calls his reader “Dog,” as in: “Listen up, Dog, this is seriously good stuff.” And it is. If you’re in sales (and, to be honest, who isn’t in sales, given that all of life, at the very least, involves selling your viewpoint to others) — if you’re in sales, listen up ’cause Grant’s got something important to say.”

— Matt Evans, via Goodreads


19. The Psychology of Selling — Brian Tracy

the psychology of selling

What’s this about?

Tracy is bent on doubling or tripling your sales in his guidebook of ideas, methods, strategies, and techniques.

These methods can be immediately applied in any market — yes, really — to generate sales faster and easier than ever before. It’s a time-honoured promise of prosperity that Tracy delivers time and again.

Who’s this for?

Novices, journeymen and seasoned, top-performing salespeople.

Why should you read it?

It serves as an instructional blueprint — or as a road map — to establish, build, grow and maintain a successful sales career. It is a practical, easy to read return to the fundamentals of professional salesmanship guide articulated in a progressive step-by-step process that will teach you how to grow from “good” to “great” in the highly competitive business of sales.

What do people say?

“Just when you thought he couldn’t get better, he does. Brian Tracy’s words simply cannot be missed, no matter who you are or what you do.”

— Vaishali, via Goodreads


20. The Best Damn Sales Book Ever — Warren Greshes

the best damn sales book

What’s this about?

Greshes sheds light on the only one simple truth: motivated, positive, goal-oriented people sell the most.

Learn to project a friendly, positive attitude with Greshes’ The Best Damn Sales Book Ever. This book packs all that motivational guru gold and the additional punch of how-tos for goal setting and action plan designing that will help you focus your efforts on anchoring yourself on a successful track.

Who’s this for?

Learn to motivate yourself to action with this book that’s meant for any and every aspiring successful salesperson.

Why should you read it?

The Best Damn Sales Book Ever is a one-of-a-kind guide to honing the primal impetus — your attitude — for what it truly takes to achieve and maintain real sales success.

It doesn’t cover the important hard stuff, a.k.a. the art of prospecting, closing, gathering referrals, or presentation for one simple reason: they’re practically useless without the right attitude and motivation.

What do people say?

“Best Damn Book.”

— Anonymous, via Amazon Reviews

Here’s to becoming a true sales ninja. Enjoy the read!

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