Selling 101: The Top Guides You May Have Missed | Selling SEO

Selling 101: The Basics

Although the Selling SEO series will be focusing specifically on the techniques to sell SEO to new and existing clients, we would also like to include a primer on some of the resources available which can help you to develop your overall sales technique.  After all, success in running a SEO business is not just about being able to do good SEO, it’s also about selling the results you can bring.

We’ve sifted through the materials out there and come up with a list of excellent reading on the different aspects of basic sales.

One note – We are definitely geeks here at SpyFu, however, we tend to frown on the various sales guides that tell enchanting tales of advice discovered on ancient scrolls, or sales secrets obtained by roughing up genies, or the ones that say that just thinking about sales really hard will make them happen.  While these types of sales books tend to be easy reads, they also tend to give you overly simple “rules”, without much substance.

Instead, we focused on bringing you a base of quality materials that are not too simple nor too complex – guides that have substance, but that many people may have missed.

Here is a list of sales resources for you to explore while developing your own custom sales techniques. Also , feel free to leave some comments down below: 

  •    If there are other readings or subjects that we’ve missed, and you’d like us to research
  •    We’ve missed resources that you would recommend to other SEO professionals
  •    If you’ve particularly liked any of the resources listed here


Sales Skills :

Cold Calling – Cold Calling Techniques (That Really Work), Stephan Schiffman

I’m including this as a separate entry from direct sales, because I know that it holds a special kind of dread for many entrepreneurs and salespeople.  This is a simple book that outlines some basic techniques for handling cold calls, allowing you to handle them more confidently and with more value to yourself and the potential client.  Take the Cold Out of Cold Calling by Sam Richter is excellent follow-up reading on the subject, with applied techniques for researching potential clients.

Direct Sales – How to Master the Art of Selling, Tom Hopkins

A dinosaur of a book with a little modern content sprinkled in.  This book is one of the major guides to sales, from prospecting to close, and many of the systems discussed have become subjects of their own books by other authors.  (I try to post direct links to authors’ sites when they have them. However, I’m posting an Amazon link here, as Tom’s site is annoying as hell)

Inside Sales – Sales Topics, InsideSpin

A great guide overall (please read the whole article).  The section on inside sales especially shines.  It focuses on the often overlooked mistake of not applying metrics to sales projects and how to deal with territory conflicts you may have with various types of people.

Large Account Selling – Selling to Big Companies, Jill Konrath

The definitive guide to getting your foot in the door of large companies and finding your way to the decision makers.  A lot of good general sales information, too.  SPIN Selling by Neal Rackham is another good resource based on internal research conducted over thousands of sales calls, and it also contains its own sales system.

Managing a Territory – Managing Your Sales Territory and Planning Your Activities, Alan Rigg

It’s useful at times to focus geographically.  Sometimes it can simply be the fact that you’re able to make face-to-face contact with a contact, or maybe you aim to be an expert in your location.  Many people also miss the opportunity of being a big fish in a small pond if they spend time in a second home.  A basic article on thinking geographically in terms of sales and leads.

Niche Marketing – How and Why to Develop a Niche, Marla Tabaka

A brief article on the merits of creating a business niche, and a few questions to help you determine if you should focus your sales efforts.  If you are interested in a more in-depth look at the market factors which drive niche marketing, check out The Long Tail by Chris Anderson of Wired magazine.

Sales Philosophies :

The Art of Closing – Zig Ziglar’s Secrets of Closing the Sale, Zig Ziglar

One of the most comprehensive guides to closing ever written.  Heck, Ziglar is one of the first major meta-salesmen, where he sold his process of selling.  A great book.

Dealing with Competition – Swim with the Sharks (Without Being Eaten Alive), Harvey Mackay, William Morrow and Co.

Slightly dated now, but the bits that seem familiar will actually clue you in on how well this book looked into the future.  A basic primer which encompasses the role and required skills of a salesman, a negotiator, and a brief section on sales management.

Just ‘Cause – How To Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie

If you haven’t read this ancient book, you need to.  Period.

Lead Generation – Book Yourself Solid: The Fastest, Easiest, and Most Reliable System for Getting More Clients Than You Can Handle Even if You Hate Marketing and Selling, Michael Port

A very solid and dense book about prospecting and long-term networking.  This book focuses on the importance of establishing a reputation, and then effective ways to utilize that reputation to generate leads.

Networking – Endless Referrals: Network Your Everyday Contacts Into Sales, New & Updated Edition, Bob Burg

One of the necessary parts of sales, Bob Burg outlines techniques to make your networking more effective and efficient.  Focuses on establishing rapport with strangers quickly, and presenting oneself as a “giver” and not a “taker”.

Persuasion – Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini

A personal favorite.  Not focused on sales per se, but an interesting look at the factors that make people say “Yes.”  It is almost Psych 101/102 as viewed through the lens of an expert negotiator.  Filled with real-world examples of classic psychology experiments.   Covert Persuasion: Psychological Tactics and Tricks to Win the Game by Kevin Hogan & James Speakman is another good book on this subject.

Sales Cycle Management – The New Strategic Selling: The Unique Sales System Proven Successful by the World’s Best Companies, Stephen E. Heiman, Tad Tuleja, Robert B. Miller, J. W. Marriott

Focuses on the mechanics of sales cycles, and how to monitor them to make sure that your proposals are followed up on.  Strong emphasis on corporate politics and dealing with gatekeepers.  More useful for those who deal with larger clients.  SNAP Selling: Speed Up Sales and Win More Business with Today’s Frazzled Customers by previously mentioned author Jill Konrath is also a great resource with its own system.

Sales Fundamentals – How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling, Frank Bettger

Consider this book to be the father of How to Master the Art of Selling by Tom Hopkins.  Dale Carnegie pushed Frank Bettger to write this book after the two spent a night lighting cigars with $100 bills.  It’s half universal sales techniques and half about keeping yourself motivated as a salesman.

Seller as Problem Solver – Solution Selling: Creating Buyers in Difficult Selling Markets, Michael Bosworth

A system which breaks down direct selling into 10 types of buyer positions, and offers strategies to overcome various stages of buyer indecision.



We’d love to hear your take on these.  Share some of your favorite sales guides or subjects that we missed.  And let us know in the comments, what’s been your favorite resource?