Not to name drop but I have some extremely smart friends and colleagues that have written and are writing amazing sales books.
I’ve reviewed a lot of them here on The Pipeline blog and usually bring a few with me when I go to train a sales team. Many of my clients are devout readers and consume dozens of books a year in pursuit of self-improvement.
I have to say though, I see fewer salespeople reading books and investing in themselves than I do business owners. This is MY generalization from MY own experience. I know there are many fantastic sales practitioners that would counter that observation.
However, this has got me thinking about WHY I see fewer sellers on the learning path. I don’t have that answer for you, but I have my suspicions (I’ll save those opinions for a later post). From my position as a coach and trainer, sales success is commensurate with not just the effort put into selling but the effort made to be BETTER at selling – to seek continuous improvement:
- Sales rock stars are those that dedicate themselves to out learning and out practicing their competitors.
- Super successful sellers are those whose goal isn’t to SELL more or to hit their quota – it’s to best their previous results.
- Top performers look for opportunities to improve and get consistent feedback that drives their behavior.
It’s striving for constant self-improvement that achieves scalable results for top salespeople. Here’s what I’ve noticed about their attitude and actions that YOU can borrow from –
Acknowledge you have opportunities to improve.
Sometimes, when I give a small – starter amount – of constructive feedback, I’m met right away with defensive excuses. “Well, normally, I don’t do it this way – being observed just threw me off my game.” Right. Ok. Me sitting here has thrown your sales chi off balance. I get that but I’m here to tell you, that’s usually NOT the issue.
When approached with feedback, are you defensive? Do you throw up excuses for your performance?
It’s difficult to accept coaching, training or even feedback if we can’t let our guard down and acknowledge that we all, yes, ALL have opportunities to improve.
If you can’t accept this first step, training and coaching is then like trying to feed a toddler strained peas – they clamp their mouth shut and wiggle and squirm and shake their heads. There’s no way those peas . . . or ideas – are getting in.
Be open to trying something a different way.
Ah, but if you CAN acknowledge there are places for you to grow, then, the next step is to be open to trying something a different way.
I get a lot of calls to talk to businesses about their sales practices and I ask what they’ve tried previously to solve the problem, I get a mixed response: 80% try to fix a problem by throwing tools, software, or resources at it and 20% try training or coaching. When I ask why those solutions didn’t work, I kid you not, the answer is usually, “We didn’t implement and or execute the new WIDGET/IDEA/PROGRAM. “
Huh. So, you went back or continued to do things the same way you always have?
And you are currently enjoying those same results you’ve always gotten?
I think I see the problem.
Being open to trying something a different way takes a lot of courage. Faith. Trust. And a willingness to fail and feel uncomfortable.
THIS IS WHY SO MANY COMPANIES WASTE MONEY ON TRAINING AND COACHING AND RESOURCES!
The unwillingness to feel discomfort has us all bamboozled into thinking something new won’t work.
Figure out how to get out of your comfort zone – REGULARLY – and you will find yourself trying new things and moving out of past habits and into new possibilities.
Practice, practice, practice.
What does practice do for us? It brings us closer to mastery. It creates muscle memory, reflexive responses, and the agility to pivot when faced with obstacles. One of my favorite coach things to bring up during practice for my rec league volleyball players is, “When we make a mistake during practice, we can try again. Do over. Continue until we get it right. When we make a mistake during the game, we’re handing over points to the other team.“
New skills take practice. Practice builds habits. Habits make winners! Winners become Champions!
Ok, that’s a bit of a Pep Rally tangent.
The power of practice, role play, skills drills – is that what we prepare for and practice is reflected in our performance in the game.
If you don’t practice – how will you perform when it really matters?
It’s not too terribly complicated to become a superstar or top performer.
Dedicate your time and attention to the right place.
Dedicate yourself, not to the outcomes, but to continuously improve your skills.
Be accountable to the PLAN, not the results.
Work your plan and the results will follow.
Until next time, stop hoping, start SELLING!
Terrific post, Shawn. First, we have to be vulnerable, coachable, and willing to try something new to get something different/better.
Thank you, Shelley! You literally wrote the book on that transformational process! -sks