If you’re looking to deepen your understanding of how to build and leverage relationship capital either within an organization (with colleagues and stakeholders), or outside (with clients, customers, partners and suppliers) the books below make good reading.

SPIN Selling

First published in 1985. The first book to differentiate between simple sales and complex sales. Revolutionary in its time.
Research-based and practical, written by the grand-daddy of consultative selling: Dr Neil Rackham. Debunks long-standing myths around closing and handling objections. Puts forward a pragmatic, four-step questioning approach that improves sales success in complex B2B environments.
A good starting point for anyone wanting to understand the fundamentals of consultative selling. 

The Trusted Advisor

First published in 2002. The core of this book is the Trust Equation:

Trustworthiness = (credibility + reliability + intimacy) / (self-orientation)

Not the easiest book to read and aimed squarely at consultants and professional advisors, it provides lots of common-sense advice on how to build trusted relationships.

A good starting point for technical “experts” who need to sell but feel uncomfortable with the idea of selling.

Smarter Selling

First published in 2007. Co-authored by RelCap Academy CEO, David Lambert, the book sets out a methodology for building loyalty and sales success.

The book explores the mindset required to build loyalty and provides a rich set of tools to help readers build trusted partner relationships.

The tools provided include:

  • Self-assessments to better understand preferred behaviors and the impact of those behaviors on others; plus to assess the strength of current relationships

  • Frameworks for creating the right conversation environment, guiding the conversation flow, asking questions that uncover challenges and opportunities; recording key points discussed and positioning ideas and offerings

The Challenger Sale

First published in 2013. The Challenger Sale is the biggest selling sales book of recent years.
The message is clear from the research – business people want consultants and salespeople who challenge their ideas and put forward ways for them to make or save money. The book goes further to assert that one category of sellers that they describe as relationship sellers are much less effective.
While just being “nice” is not enough in today’s sales environments, it is hard to see customers and clients building trust with a consultant or salesperson who challenges (assertively, as the book advocates) in the absence of any relationship or trust.

A valuable book, in putting forward research to support the need for insights and challenging the status-quo, but it underestimates the importance of trust and does not provide the tools for generating the insights it says are critical to success.

Give and Take

First published in 2013. Another research-based book. We like research!
This book looks at three types of people: Givers, Takers and Matchers. It also explores the power of strong ties and weak ties, with surprising results. The intriguing finding of Wharton professor Adam Grant’s research is that givers are both the most and least successful in business!
The book then describes what makes for a successful Giver versus an unsuccessful giver. Takers and Matchers are also analyzed and explained.
An easy and inspiring read packed with examples. It does get repetitive though - you probably only need to read the first 100 pages to get the message.

To Sell is Human

First published in 2014. On the plus side, this book is entertaining as it quotes lots of different studies and draws analogies with what this means for how people sell.
On the minus side, there is not much that is new and some readers will find it long-winded. 


Published in 2020, during the pandemic, this free ebook explores the challenges facing buyers in the new world of work and shares multiple ways for consultants and salespeople to sell smarter in our digital world.
Packed with curated research, quotes from industry figures and practical approaches for guiding virtual sales conversations, InsightFox contains many useful insights and tools for anyone who sells virtually.