Convincing Managers to Buy Books


Some of my suggestions for people in my classes are simply to buy some good books for some specific information. When I suggest this, I sometimes hear “my manager won’t let me buy books.” As a bibliophile, I can’t understand that :-). Even though I do accept that not everyone is like me, you can convince most managers to buy books.

First, realize that you’re selling the idea of buying books to your manager. If you haven’t taken a selling class or read a sales book, do that first on your own time. I took a Miller-Heiman class a long time ago that talks about different kinds of buyers (economic, coach, technical, user buyers) and ways to work with each of them. For this blog entry, let’s assume your manager has the money to buy the book (is the economic buyer) and can make the final decision.

Next, discover any objections your manager has. “Oh, is there a problem with this book?” If the manager has no problems, you can go on to articulating value. If your manager doesn’t believe in books in general, overcome the objection by showing there is more than just the book: “Oh, the author also writes articles and a blog. Here are some I found useful. And, so-and-so sent email to the author and received a response that helped him figure out his problem.”

Here are common objections to book buying and ways to overcome them:

  1. “The book costs too much.” Your manager is talking about value here for the price. You can counter this by saying one of these things:
    • “Well, $30 is worth about half an hour of my time. I’m sure I can recover half an hour by reading this book and applying what it says.”
    • “What wouldn’t be too much? Maybe I can find an alternative book that would cost less.” If you’re considering a $100 book, this is certainly an option.
    • “Hmm, let me explain the value of the book to me.” Explain it. “Do you still think it’s too pricey?”
  2. “You’ll take time away from working to read the book.” You can counter this by saying, “First, I’ll read it on my time. Once I’ve read the whole thing, I’ll bring it into work where I can apply it.”
  3. “Everyone will want books.” Counter with, “Well, if our budget is tight for books, we could make a library. Then whenever someone buys a book, they can read it and put it in the library when they’re done, so others can read it.” Or, “Make book budgets part of our next raises, so you can have the discussion with each person separately.”

Whatever you do, make sure you have a win-win situation with your manager at the end of the discussion. You’re offering to become more valuable and a better worker for the investment of one book. Make sure your manager sees that. Use your sales skills to help your manager understand the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me), and you’ll know how to overcome objections and convince your managers to buy books.

Some books aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. But some are invaluable. Determine which ones they are, and buy them.

One Reply to “Convincing Managers to Buy Books”

  1. Since some years ago I buy books related to work; they always have provided me new things that have reinforce my knowledge.
    In addition, to listen other oppinions appart the things you listen in your office everyday is some new fresh air that has helped me.

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