5 Books Sales Ops Leaders Should Be Reading While Sheltering in Place

April 30, 2020

Let’s be honest, being stuck indoors at length has not been an easy transition for most of us. 

However, one silver lining of this time is that many may have more time now to pick up those books that have been on the “Must Read” list for a while, or at least creating that “Must Read” list for polishing up professional skills.

For many, it’s hard to remember the last time they picked up a book, which is crazy because I think most of those same people would also say just how good it is to be engrossed in valuable content. Not to mention the sense of accomplishment felt when finished, and everything actually learned from the actual reading in between.

So, while you don’t have to go as far as purchasing a physical copy of any of these suggested titles to experience the same benefits, I’d suggest it. The goal is to simply change your pace, do something different; try to stop staring at a screen all day and let your mind be stimulated in new and inspiring ways. 

And in doing so, you might just pick up on a nugget or two from those who have the knowledge, and who believe in that knowledge enough to share their expertise with you and the masses. In fact, here are five recommendations from leaders in the sales performance and sales operations industry.

Best Sales Ops and Leadership Books to Read While Stuck Indoors

  1. Compensating the Sales Force by David Cichelli, recommended by Anthony Hutchins, CEO of OpenSymmetry

    Compensating the sales force… Many can probably claim to have “written the book” on that, right? But as Cichelli expertly explains, sure, we all know compensation is a primary motivator, but it’s not nearly enough for comp to just be floated out on its own without strategic alignment. 

    Quota setting, account assignment, sales crediting, and more—this book, according to reviews, “Offers the right balance between design concepts, practical examples.”

    “This book is a comprehensive guide to the fundamentals of sales compensation theory – a must read for any sales operations professionals.” - Anthony Hutchins, OpenSymmetry
  2. Quotas!: Design Thinking to Solve Your Biggest Sales Challenge by Mark Donnolo, recommended by Kevin Gray, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Varicent

    Sales is “simple” in terms of rolling out the core concepts—quota, territories, and compensation tell someone how much they need to sell, where they’re selling, and how much they’ll get paid. Easy enough. But therein lies the problem - a quota is more than a number, and unfortunately, nobody can tell you what a number should be, especially through a book. 

    It’s for this reason that Donnolo uses his pages not “wrestling over a number,” but driving points home with experiential examples and engaging stories from his 25+ years as a leading sales effectiveness consultant.

    “I like this book because it applies ‘Design Thinking’ to solve sales challenges such as setting better sales quotas. It is a much different approach than what I’ve seen otherwise, and is certainly better than ‘gut instinct’ to setting quotas.” - Kevin Gray, Varicent

    And for more from the same author, check out What Your CEO Needs to Know about Sales Compensation, another excellent resource by Mark Donnolo where he connects the corner office to the front line from years of firsthand knowledge. 
  3. Game the Plan by Christopher Cabrera, CEO and Founder, Xactly, recommended by Erik Charles, Vice President of Xactly

    “Every Sales Rep’s Dream, Every CFO’s Nightmare”- this tagline is quite the statement, and right on target for a book that promotes the idea that incentive comp plans be created with the idea that those on the receiving end will immediately try and game them for maximum payouts. 

    And while such a subtitle might hint at sales and finance being at odds, the book actually lays the groundwork for how the two teams can work towards a common goal—to build profitable incentive strategies. 

    “The right incentives are powerful motivators, but it’s a challenge to look at your incentives at every angle as you consider the people in the organization. This book is a powerful but fun read that should be on every sales comp professional’s list.” - Erik Charles, Xactly
  4. The Challenger Sale by Brent Adamson and Matthew Dixon, recommended by Donya Rose, Sales Compensation Design Consultant at The Cygnal Group 

    Which sales rep are you? While each of the five types of sales reps can deliver average sales performance, it’s the Challenger who consistently delivers high performance. Why? How? Time to start reading!

    “It is in itself a challenge to our ideas of simply being responsive to customer requests vs. bringing fresh ideas, real business value, and a broader perspective.” - Donya Rose, The Cygnal Group
  5. Hit Refresh by Satya Nadella, recommended by Dan Corazzi, Senior Vice President & GM, Customer Experience at SAP North America

    At the end of the day, we are all humans. Obvious yes, but also easily forgotten. And at the core of each of us is the soul, and the ability to experience the feeling of others...

    “He focuses on building the right culture; I am big on that with CX… He puts empathy at the center of everything he pursues—from product launches, to the new markets they enter, to the employees, and partners they work with.” - Dan Corazzi, SAP

What other pages deserve turning?

Do you have any must-read recommendations? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below, and happy reading!

If you and your organization are facing challenges with sales compensation during this shelter-in-place period, please join us for our first wave of round tables: Managing Your SPM Solution During the COVID-19 Pandemic, launching the first week of May.



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