Accelerated learning of sales capabilities

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Selling is hard.

But learning to sell – that’s even harder.

The reason selling is hard is the same reason that learning to sell is hard; square pegs don’t like being pushed into round holes.

Selling is easier and more enjoyable when fit is established. “Wow, you’ve got the piece of the puzzle we’ve been looking for!”

When that’s collaboratively established, deals are made, and magic happens.

Learning to sell is easier and more enjoyable when fit is established. “Wow, you’ve got the piece of the puzzle that I have been looking for!”

When that happens in a learning environment, behavioural change can begin to happen, and magic happens.

Accelerate sales learning

Sounds obvious, but one way to accelerate the learning of sales capabilities is to create a learning culture where your learners – your sales people in this context – are purposefully and actively looking for the piece of the puzzle they most need.

Most are not.

Most are just getting on with their job the way they’ve always done. Or they have ‘learned’ that learning and development is an isolated activity put on for them in the form of training sessions (or worse, it’s just not something that’s even talked about or done at all).

The no. 1 roadblock to improving sales performance

Learning to sell is hard because people don’t focus so much on the real problem – the effective learning of sales- and instead just focus on acquiring sales content, technique, tools and so on.

Would you hand someone a tightrope, demo some techniques to them, maybe give them a quick practice, then point to two high buildings and say ‘off you go Philippe Petit‘? Not if it’s someone you cared about anyway.

Of course, learning to sell is hard for two major reasons:

  1. Learners push back hard because these good, honest, high-potential people don’t want to think of themselves as dirty evil sales people. The psychological wall is up. Learning and earning are out before you even started.
  2. Even if they’ve bought in, behavioural change, becoming someone you are not (yet) requires some deliberate and repetitive lifting. Learning can only be done by us, not to us. And most people haven’t learned how to optimise their learning process to make it easier, more enjoyable, efficient and effective. And in many businesses, sales improvement conversations where the learner ‘drives’ don’t happen frequently enough.

Hmm, who’s up for finding time in their busy schedule to painfully learn how to become someone who’s evil and irritating? Hmm? Who’s up for it?

There’s got to be a better way. And there always is.

“There’s a way to do it better – find it!”
– Thomas Edison

The accelerated learning process

Just as there is a sales process that enables sellers to align with how people buy effectively, there’s an incremental learning process that enables learners to learn in the most effective way for them, and seeing results surprisingly fast.

I learned a version of it in my childhood when I discovered an ‘accelerated learning German’ course. It got me a grade ‘A’ in my GCSE exam in just 5 weeks of self-directed study, when previously it had taken me 2 years of conventional school german lessons (twice a week) to get a grade ‘D’ in a mock exam. In an emergency move of desperation my father bought me this ‘accelerated learning’ course, and after 5 weeks, I didn’t only get the grade ‘A’ but I walked into the exam knowing I was going to get an ‘A’. The course ensured that I knew I was strong.

Obviously, I was blown away and it was the start of an exciting journey for me. I learned all I could about ‘accelerated learning’ and set up a business in 2003 helping organisations apply some of these ideas.

That business evolved into what I do today, where I took these ideas, created plenty of my own, and applied them directly to the learning of sales skills, knowledge and behaviours.

And after cutting my teeth working with sales people (new starters through to highly experienced who needed to update their approaches) I chose to focus on serving technically minded people, sales engineers, non-sales people, and professional services (since I was an engineer by degree and understand such people and the challenges they face when making such a behavioural transition).

Ideas, short cuts, and accelerated tips to come…

So, my point here is that there is a more effective way to learn sales skills and a faster route to improving sales performance and results. And in my next few blog posts, I’ll begin sharing some specific ideas not just on ‘sales’ but on how to learn sales faster, more easily and enjoyably.

I would encourage sales directors, sales leaders and those in L&D to make sure they’re aware of what holds learners back before they waste any more money on conventional training programs.

But also these posts should be useful for any individual interested in improving one of the most important life skills, which is how to trade optimal value to other people, for desired rewards. And that’s not evil. It’s where magic happens.

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