Business Books

Can we learn “sales” through books?

It depends on the type of books.


Business Books

Is it a book by “Prof. John Smith” (or any other scholar’s name) with 30 years experience in teaching business to undergraduates, or a book by Donald Trump, the successful American real estate tycoon or Steve Jobs the iconic marketing figure who transformed Apple into a technology giant or even Sun Tzu, the Chinese strategist and philosopher who wrote “The Art of War”, the important, ancient made contemporary, guide to business men all over the world nowadays?

Because, it does make a difference.

Is it "peanuts" to sell peanuts to any and everybody?

Is it “peanuts” to sell peanuts to any and everybody?

Now, no one should intend or even attempt the belittling of scholarly and academic work on the scientific aspect of sales (whether mathematics, psychology or other disciplines), since their contribution to the field are of invaluable importance.

Business from the outset and in the end is concerned with selling things, ideas, values or needs to others. And scholarly work has contributed great insights to the business field that couldn’t have been conjured with the simple practise of it, in the absence of the devoted intervention of observation, in-depth research, analysis and publication.

But in my personal experience, books of the likes of Steve Jobs and Donald Trump carry more applicable value to the sales discipline than “philosophical sales literature”, since the lessons they teach are derived from real business life experience with all their truisms & contradictions, success and failures, moralities & immoralities.

Innovative Business Doing

And by “applicable value to the sales discipline”, I am not necessarily referring to the blind copying of previous strategies that have proven profitable or successful or to the obedient fellowship of remarkable businessmen whose results spoke authoritatively for them.

Some of us may try to go about business, selling and entrepreneurship differently, trying to invent new idea’s or innovate old ones, for having critical thoughts about present-time business conduct. But, having any moral or practical objections to how business is conducted in our world can only thrive in a useful way, if preceded by applicable knowledge of (& awareness about) what has been done already or what is being done, in order to do it it differently, more responsibly, more humane or less selfish.

learning by practice

I can also speak of own experience and say that about 75% of my sales skills (that are still in continuous development) were gained through practise and training and not exactly from books!

And no, I wasn’t “born a salesman at all”. Actually I always was more of an academic person and a book worm, whose relationship with business and sales was only limited to the demands of my choice of education and my drive to pass exams. This was so, until I started practical selling of my language services and later those of others around the world through my language services agency, from 2008 up and until 2013.

It didn’t stop me from reading. On the contrary, it ignited an even greater thirst for knowledge in me, seeking it in a different way that is defined by my own demands and those of my company, customers and freelance co-workers. It gave me more freedom to interpret and apply theoretical knowledge with more real-life “wisdom”, sound scrutiny and due creativity.

Doing things was more crucial to my grasp of sales than “knowing how it is done” was.

work vs education

In college, we pay to get education. At work, we get paid to get educated. Do you agree?

Normally, I would spontaneously & passionately agree.

But if I’m to be more rational, we must give education more credit for providing us with the knowledge basis on which applicable creativity (as opposed to artistic creativity) can thrive more in our competitive and more advanced world.

We should also give “work experience” a proper and subjective definition, judging it by the actual useful experience gained (not only years) and benchmarking it against other restraints to creativity like “negative conformity” and “assembly-line corporate cultures” that are built around task- specialization and not around idea’s imagination.

Sir-Ken-Robinson-TED-Talk-Schools-Kill-Creativity


When I read your wonderful question, my thoughts went automatically to that great Matt Damon (Will) speech in the wonderful Oscar winning movie “Good Will Hunting“, being an MIT student and standing up to a “wanna-sound-smart” born-rich fellow student who wanted to degrade his less-gifted friend in a café, and teaching him a lesson about the truth about his high elitist education.

Will: See, the sad thing about a guy like you is, in 50 years you’re gonna start doin’ some thinkin’ on your own and you’re going to come up with the fact that there are two certainties in life: one, don’t do that, and two, you dropped 150 grand on a fuckin’ education you could have got for a dollar fifty in late charges at the public library!

Brilliant and disturbingly plausible, isn’t it?creativity1