- The most important ‘winning sales behaviour’ to activate - 11 February 2022
- The question asked most often by sales people - 4 November 2021
- How to muscle in, and boot the competition out - 9 July 2020
Pay-off: The direct way to learning to improve how you sell
Investment: 5 minutes
Last week I mentioned I’d start sharing some posts that don’t just focus on ‘how to sell’ but on ‘how to learn how to sell’, or better still…
How to accelerate your learning to improve how you sell
My argument here is that those just learning ‘how to sell’ aren’t actually learning as much as they’d hope because they’re dropping important balls (and sales, ∗cough∗) left right and centre. They’re walking out of day-long training sessions or finishing a book on sales with just the one thing they can cling on to, which they feel good about for a while then drop a few weeks later because they never learned how to hang on to it.
Accelerating your learning of sales means minimising the gap between where your sales performance is at right now (and the results and headaches you’re getting), and where you need it to be to achieve your desired results, consistently.
The 100m learning sprint
We’re looking for the straight line between where you’re at and where you want to be. Something within fairly immediate reach.
The 100m sprint.
Rather than the long, costly, meandering learning approach that your competition are being pushed through right now.
So let’s start with perhaps the first and potentially biggest mistake many people make when setting out to learn not just sales, but just about anything. Then I’ll show you how to eliminate it. This could save you hours, days, even weeks of learning the wrong things in the wrong ways.
OK, here it is:
You’ve got to define, align and design your 100m learning sprint
Slow learners often spend their precious time, money and energy trying to learn what they’re given (via a course or book), rather than learning what they need to score their next goal.
Fast learners know that you’re rarely given the fast route. You have to take it. And if you want to improve how you sell, and directly improve your sales results fast, you’re going to have to ‘take it.’
Slow learners learn what’s on the course or in the book, step by step because a subject matter expert (someone who’s just head over heels in love with all their amazing content and ideas, but who isn’t YOU staring at YOUR next challenge) created it that way.
Slow learners spend their resources following and trusting the master. Instead of being the master of their own journey.
Here’s some examples you may identify with, and then we’ll turn this towards learning sales:
The 100m sprint to learning French
Slow learners think ‘I’m going to learn French’. Fast learners think ‘I’m going to learn how to get by on my skiing holiday in the Alps’. That’s their 100m sprint.
To learn French, the slow learner spends a lot of time following a methodical course covering grammar lessons, verb tables, and weeks of vocabulary they’ll never use, rather than focusing on their next important opportunity to perform and create a better quality of life in that moment and beyond.
That’s not the 100m sprint, that’s the cross country waddle. And it reminds me of my first ever school cross country run out in the snow when half the kids ended up crying (although, oddly, still whilst running – we were committed students).
Slow learners immerse themselves in just ‘head learning’ rather than ‘heart learning’ – they lose sight of WHY they’re doing it, learning just the deconstructed pieces of the puzzle, and often, halfway through their heart dries up.
They were in it for the art but all they got was the science.
The fast learner who wants to get by on their skiing holiday focuses not on grammar, vocab and building blocks, but on complete tangible relevant sentences. Something they can deliver, live and in person, for a result. No need to construct things out of bricks at this stage. They use what’s already built.
The fast learner identifies the exact phrases and questions they’re going to likely need. And they picture themselves in the moment, asking which way it is to the ski-lift, ordering a hot chocolate, or if they’re the anxious type shouting ‘help, I’ve broken my legs!’ They say the completed phrases out loud visualising their target scenario. Their heart remains in it, they can feel the immediate relevance, and they learn faster.
The 100m sprint to learning the guitar
Slow learners think, ‘I’m going to learn the guitar’. Fast learners think, ‘I’m going to learn to play my favourite song so I can enjoy it’.
The slow learner does what they’re told, tackling scales, reading music, learning about octaves and treble clefs. They plod along working on the science, not the art. Then they get to play twinkle twinkle little star because, the course says, it’s a great one to learn on. But their head struggles to retain the scales they learned, and their heart walked out hours ago. They’re convinced Jimi Hendrix didn’t do it this way.
The fast learner wants to learn the guitar because they love certain music and would love to be able to play one of their favourite songs. They simply find what chords form their song and in what order using Google, work out where to put their fingers on the strings for each of the 4 chords they need, then strum and gradually connect the dots until it begins to sound like an early version of what they’re going for.
All the way along they are getting closer towards their desired outcome, their heart is singing (even if their head can’t quite manage it) and they glance in the mirror and decide they’re a rock God. They’re not, but at least they’re learning faster.
The 100m sprint to improved sales
So, when learning sales, whether self-directing it by determining and finding what you need or whether learning via a course or book, do this first:
1) Get crystal clear on what ‘sale’ you next want to make. Make it one specific ‘sale’ (that’s defining and aligning your 100m sprint)
- is it a new client you want to work with, or expanding a current opportunity?
- is it just one specific conversation you want to nail?
- is it persuading your boss to promote you?
- is it convincing a family member to take a course of action they’re resisting?
- is it passing an interview for a new job?
- maybe it’s just convincing your kids to go to bed on time?
- or persuading your partner what to watch on Netflix tonight?
Everyone has a next ‘sale’. Everyone. Whether they realise it or not. And they’re either going to make the sale, or not.
Which will it be when it matters most for you?
Either you’re wearing the specs that will help you find a next ‘sale’ that matters to you, or you’re wearing the specs that prevent you seeing that you’re selling everyday. (If so, quick, put the other specs on – they help you see more clearly).
2) Write down what you can about this imminent sale, why you want to make it and why it will matter so much to you.
3) Schedule to think about this moment, visualise it, talk about it, chew it over at a certain time of day every day for the next week or so. Immerse yourself in it.
On your marks…
Once you’re done, you’re in the learning cockpit, and strapped in, and we’re in a position to talk about accelerating your learning to achieve this faster. You haven’t designed your 100m sprint there just yet, but you’re in a strong position to do so.
And wouldn’t it be great to have everyone in your organisation’s sales team (or those contributing to BD) in this position, ready to accelerate their sales improvement?
Finally, remember that once you’ve achieved your outcome, the skills and things that you learned along the way will amplify, accelerating any subsequent learning. You’ll be knocking down walls to make your second sale (or play your next song, or go on your next holiday to France…)
If you don’t do this for either yourself or your sales team if you lead one, but you’re still keen to learn to improve how you sell keep in mind that you’re not about to do the 100m sprint, you’re about to do the long meandering cross-country run. You know, the one where all the kids started crying?
Another accelerated learning sales tip next week…sign up if you don’t want to miss it (top or side of page).
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