Improve sales performance by learning ‘the one thing’


Pay-off: Learn what to focus on doing, and what to focus on learning to improve your sales performance efficiently

Investment: 4 minutes

Strengths or weaknesses?

Which of these should you focus on in order to improve your sales performance most efficiently?

  1. your strengths
  2. your weaknesses

The easiest (laziest?) most common answer is, “focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses!”

Usually chanted by people pumping their fists in the air who haven’t quite thought it through properly.

Unfortunately, this half-baked idea was popularised years back by people quoting business coach Dan Sullivan when he apparently said:

“If you spend too much time working on your weaknesses, all you end up with is a lot of strong weaknesses!

It’s possible of course that this was pulled out of context so that impatient people could toss it around the internet as a clever sounding and thought provoking ‘soundbite’. It does, after all, appear to make sense.

But there’s a major weakness to the quote (which possibly could have been fixed if it was attended to, cough cough), which can let us all down and prevent us folk in sales from doing the right thing.

Do the right thing

And sales is all about doing the right thing.

It’s about taking charge.

And then doing the right thing, in the right way.

And this idea applies just as much to the learning of sales capabilities too. We must take charge of our learning. And then we must determine and do the right thing. We must know what to learn next that will make the most impact.

So here’s my advice to answer the original question on whether we should focus on strengths or weaknesses.

Use your strengths, lose your weaknesses

Repeat after me:
Use my strengths, lose my weaknesses.
Use my strengths, lose my weaknesses.

But don’t rush off and quote me, there’s some important points to understand first!

Sales strengths grow (if you use them)

Your strengths are strengths for a reason. They may come from natural talent or your DNA, and regardless, you would have developed and refined them over time. So long as you use them (preferably daily) then they’ll generally take care of themselves.

Extra practice and learning around them doesn’t hurt of course, but you might want to do this in your leisure time rather than eating in to your precious development time that matters.

We get better at what we enjoy and enjoy what we’re better at

Here’s an accelerated learning secret formula:

what we enjoy we get better at
what we get better at we tend to enjoy

So tap into this natural accelerated learning loop. Get a little bit better at something and you’ll enjoy it a bit more, and enter the loop.

I’ve seen this happen many times with ‘anti-sales’ people who discover a simple tweak that helps them sell just a bit more effectively, and they secretly start enjoying themselves. People begin to like it when they realise they can make it rain.

So, where your strengths overlap with what you enjoy and how your customer likes to buy (essentially what works for them), this is how you should be selling.




In other words, work with your relevant strengths Use them. Relevance is key.

AND here’s the caveat…

Sales weaknesses need learning attention

A chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link.

The weakest link in any system sets the overall strength and output of that system. So although your strengths may have you knocking walls down, what’s your weakest link that you have control over that’s preventing you from winning each and every deal with your eyes closed?

What’s your sales Achille’s heel that undermines, neutralises, or weakens the power of your strengths?

It’s that that’s costing you.

That’s what you must focus on learning (or learning to eliminate). I don’t care what others say about having ‘strong weaknesses’, that’s not useful, and this is sales, your career, revenue and business is on the line. So,’X’ marks the spot. You know what you must prioritise learning.

Your weakest link will remain weak unless you put purposeful attention to it. You’ll need to either make it irrelevant (by outsourcing it or getting support), mitigating the effect of it, or simply working hard to improve it.

The one thing

It’s this weakest link that matters most to you in your own unique workflow that I call ‘the one thing’.

And keep in mind that often your ‘one thing’ weakest link is actually a blindspot. So you’re going to need some honest, frank help from a good sales leader or sales coach to help you find it and remove it.

That’s what learning is all about.

So, to update my advice, work with your relevant strengths (every day) and work on your weakest link.

Or, as I said earlier, chant to yourself:
Use my strengths, lose my weaknesses
Use my strengths, lose my weaknesses

Here’s how you could tackle this methodically:

1.Determine how your customers prefer to buy considering every relevant touch point such as preferred channel (face to face, phone, email, social media, conferences/talks etc)

2.Determine your strengths and preferred approaches and channels to engage your customers

3.Every day maximise usage of these where they overlap in the diagram


4.For each part of your sales process, determine your ONE THING, your weakest link.
What’s the critical constraint?
What part of the conversation do you wobble and almost fall over on?
Talking money?
Thinking on your feet?
Reaching out cold?
Clicking with people (building rapport)?
Building your credibility naturally?
Just getting organised and getting started?

For each, LEARN and learn until you know how you’re going to either:

a) eliminate
b) mitigate
c) improve

…the weakness via your self-directed measurable learning plan.

And meanwhile, every day, keep using those strengths to the full…

Need help?

Got something specific to talk about with me? Get in touch. Want a huge pot of self-directed learning resources to help your team learn how to overcome these challenges fast? Want a phone coaching session, or a short highly targetted workshop for your team? Maybe you just want to say ‘hi’. If so I’m here.

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