Across from my desk sits a bookshelf. Well, to be honest it is only part of a book shelf as it is one of those filing cabinets with a hutch on top giving me 3 shelves to store some books. You see my wife did not let me try to squeeze an additional bookshelf into my office. She did, however, give me dominion over three shelves on her bookcase downstairs where I feverishly attempted to cram two decades worth of knowledge into.

I failed so miserably that I quite literally had enough books to fill up at least two more bookcases floor to ceiling. Those books I depressingly sold to a second hand store and whatever they did not purchase went right next door to goodwill.

None of this is the point mind you… the point as you may have grasped is that I am an avid reader.

Every year I set a goal to read 50 books. It is not a goal that I have ever had trouble hitting but the reason I never raised the goal is because… well… I also have to eat and sleep.

Sitting on my desk right now are four new books I purchased (without any bookshelf space to store them) which brings up the problem that I will have to eventually get rid of more books. But I will let future James worry about that.

And if you are listening and you are saying “wait, why don’t you just use a kindle or the audible app so you can finally declutter your space?!” to which I respond, YES I USE BOTH OF THOSE AS WELL.

I consume on average of a book and a half a week currently. Whether it is a tactile book I am holding, my iPad with the kindle app or my daily listening to audible where I have massed 10 badges already (audible users will know to what I am referencing).

I have books on economics, politics, marketing, business development, branding, design, photography, personal improvement, meditation, finances, presenting, copywriting, blogging, podcasting and of course I have books on selling.

It is not uncommon that I get asked for the top books I recommend on a given topic – but sales probably being the primary subject. So I look at my bookshelf and I see books from Ziglar, Blount, Godin, and Pink. I see MacLeod, Kawasaki, Gitomer and Gladwell. I see Maxwell, Miller, Covey   and Carnegie.

But the more I look at these rows and rows of books, the more I realized that I did not learn how to sell from a book.

Indulge me for a moment on an analogy that is also close to home.

Suppose you wanted to learn photography so you went out and purchased a handful of books on camera settings, composition, execution and even on lighting. This is something I did by the way. And imagine now that you invested the time to sit and read each of these books cover to cover. Also something I did, which you probably already assumed.

But when I held a camera for the first time, I was utterly and completely lost. And that is because learning the theory of how to do something does not translate to the practicality of actually doing the thing.

I learned photography by taking photos.

I learned blogging by writing a blog.

I learned podcasting by starting to record a podcast.

I learned marketing by putting products and services to market.

And I learned sales by talking to people and sharing solutions to problems.

Why, you ask, if the only want to learn something is not by researching but by doing, why would I invest so much time into reading and continuing my education?

Because although you can never learn the nuances of HOW TO SELL from a book – you sure as hell can learn HOW TO SELL BETTER.

Let’s take blogging for example. You can read a book that discusses why you want a WP blog over another CMS, the importance of a clean esthetic design, why headlines matter, what to do to understand RSS and ways to generate more traffic through SEO – none of it will mean anything until you start actually blogging.

With photography, I can personally teach you about ISO, shutter speed, aperture settings and even lighting ratios and composition. But until you pick up a camera and start making images – none of it will actually implant.

The IDEA of sales often sends people into a panic.

  • I don’t know how to sell
  • I’m not good at sales
  • I can’t sell

So we rush to speakers, to podcasts and to books hoping that within there will be some secret, some missing piece that will finally teach us how to sell.

NOTICE THE TITLE OF THIS ARTICLE… chances are you read it as Learn the Secret to Sales. But the title was very specifically written How to Learn the Secret to Sales!

The more you read and listen and taken in the more you realize the only way to learn out how to sell – is to start selling.

Now I can point you to 100 of more books that can teach how you to sell BETTER or MORE EFFECTIVELY or with GREATER CONVERSION – but the first steps in learning how to sell is to just start selling.

And it make it easier for you – to sell you only require two things

  1. You need to care about the prospect
  2. You ned to believe in the solution

When you do that and only that you distance yourself from that

  • Used car salesman
  • Telemarkter
  • Door to door salesperson
  • Spam e-mailer


  1. Care about
  2. Believe in

When you start to do that – you will learn how to sell.

James Patrick
Instagram @JPatrickPhoto