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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Five Children's Books that will Help Improve Sales Performance

improving sales performanceIt's Pop Culture Week on The Center for Sales Strategy blog. This week, we are taking our sales strategy lessons from the pages of pop culture. Today, we're talking children's books...

Chances are good that a children’s book influenced your life in some way. Maybe it was simply a tool to teach you to read, but books also have the power to help children learn to take risks, acquire the skills to face difficult social situations and gain knowledge of unfamiliar people, places and cultures. As we grow up, children’s books can still be effective learning tools. Dr. Seuss’ Oh the Places You’ll Go is a popular high school and graduation gift due to its positive message. Below are five children’s books, none of which were written for use in the business world, yet each with a lesson that could help improve sales performance.

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown—Good Night Moon is a simple picture book with very few words. If you have kids, you’ve probably read it a thousand times and have it memorized. This “wind down and get ready for bed story” describes Bunny’s bed time routine. “Good night moon. Good night cow jumping over the moon. Good night light and the red balloon. Good night bears. Good night chairs…” This story is a reminder of the importance of routine. As a sales person, you are more productive when you have structure. What time do you get to work? When do you stop the office chit-chat and get down to business? What’s the best time for prospecting? Following up? Reaching out to new prospects? Top performers rely on rituals or habits to get things done.

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss—Sam-I-am attempts to convince the cat to try green eggs and ham. The cat puts up a big fuss with all his excuses, “I would not like them here or there. I would not like them anywhere. I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them, Sam-I-am.”  In the end, the cat says he will try green eggs and ham if Sam-I-am will leave him alone. Much to his surprise he likes it and thanks Sam-I-am for his persistence. This book should be a reminder to not fear new things, whether it’s using a sales coach, tackling a new business category, learning about digital… you are ahead of the game if you embrace challenge and change.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle—This beautifully-illustrated picture book starts with a little egg on a leaf. As the sun comes up, a tiny, and very hungry caterpillar pops out and begins to look for food. As we turn the pages, we are told that he ate an apple on Monday and was still hungry, two pears on Tuesday and was still hungry…. and on through the week, where he continues to eat and is still hungry. After all that eating, he turns into a very fat caterpillar. He builds a cocoon… and comes out a beautiful butterfly. This book reminds sales people of the power of persistence. Have a plan and take the necessary steps each day. With a structured and consistent plan of approach, beautiful things can happen.

Cowboy Camp by Tammi Sauer—Avery shows up to Cowboy Camp, but he doesn’t fit the part. His name is not tough enough, his belt buckle is too big, he doesn’t like grits and beans, he’s allergic to his horse. Everything about Avery is all wrong. Then one night, he is sitting at the campfire all alone, and Black Bart appears from the shadows, determined to put a stop to Cowboy Camp. Quick-thinking Avery tells him it is Space Camp, and when Black Bart runs him through all the tests a “real cowboy” would pass, Avery fails. Black Bart leaves the scene convinced he stumbled upon Space Camp… and Avery is a hero among the campers for outsmarting Black Bart. The message for sales people and sales managers is that, while there are certain talents all sales people must possess for success, we are all different. Use your strengths, and work around your weaknesses.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl—Even if you’ve never read the book, you probably grew up with the movies. A very poor boy, Charlie Bucket, discovers the golden ticket and wins a trip to tour Willie Wonka’s chocolate factory, along with four other kids and their chaperones. As they tour the factory, each child does something consistent with his or her character flaw, something that winds up breaking one of the rules Mr. Wonka laid out at the beginning of the tour. As a result, Charlie is the last child left on the tour and wins the lifetime supply of chocolate. When Charlie tells Mr. Wonka that he too broke the rules, Wonka is thrilled. Because Charlie had the integrity to admit the mistake, he wins the real (and previously unrevealed) prize, the chocolate factory. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory reminds us that, no matter your situation in life, your character is important. Be a person of integrity, and when you mess up, admit it.

What other books could be applied to the business world? Let me know what's on your list!

Kim Peek is the Blog Boss at The Center for Sales Strategy.

To see all the posts from Pop Culture Week, click here:

Five songs for sales people and how they relate to sales performance

Five athletes who remind us of the value of coaching sales people

Five celebrities who exemplify professional branding

Five movies that teach us about talent development

Topics: Sales