The top mistake people make when learning to sell

What to learn first when selling

Pay-off: avoid wasting hours trying to learn the wrong thing
Investment: 4 mins

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The shortcut to results

The shortcut to improving your performance in just about anything is knowing the single ‘right thing’ that you, personally, should learn next. This is the one skill, item of knowledge, or behaviour that would make most impact on what you’re trying to do. (Or the very next ‘building block’ that would form the next skill, knowledge, or behavioural area). And then learning that efficiently so that you accelerate towards the pay-off.

The problem is, when learning to sell, in my experience most people pick the wrong thing, and exhaust themselves trying to learn that.

[If you want to identify the ‘one thing’ that your unique sales team should learn next to maximise impact on your sales results, check out my free downloadable article here: “The One Sales Thing”.]

Two perspectives

This is why a combination of strategic self-directed learning and having a specialist ‘spotter’ or coach [learn more about effective sales coaching here] who can see your costly blind-spots, is a great combination to accelerate your growth. In this article, I’m your spotter.

Working together like this, you get to combine your insights and make smarter learning choices. This can save hours, weeks, even months of effort. But you must be prepared to purposefully walk your chosen path towards improvement. Which could mean pushing back on the pressure put upon you to learn things in the same one-size-fits-all linear approach as everyone else. (By that, it could be as simple as refusing to read a sales book in the order the author wrote it, and instead read it in the order that solves your most pressing problems first!)

Most courses (digital or face to face) typically tend to have you learning something in the order of A-B-C-D. When, in fact, based on your experience, unique challenges, goals, and preferences for acquiring new skills, you might succeed faster by learning C-D-B-A.

In fact, what I’m about to share with you is a common mistake people make when learning to sell where they try to learn A-B when they should be learning B-A.


What those learning to sell think they need to learn

For years, whenever I’ve started working with people looking to improve how they sell, I’ve always made a point of asking them what they think they should learn to make the biggest impact on their results.

And 9 times out of 10, they say the same thing:

“How to close! How to convert! How to win the deal!”

Of course they do. It’s understandable why most people jump straight to that requirement; they’re busy and under pressure to get results. They’ve got numbers to hit and show to their boss. They don’t want to spend time learning to sell, they just want to jump to the bit that apparently matters!

But…that’s  like the racing driver just wanting to know how to cross the finish line first. Or the footballer in training who says, “tell you what – let’s cut the crap – just tell us how to get the ball in the back of the net more times than our opponent? Hmm?”

What those learning to sell actually need to learn

You’re ahead of me now. The ‘close’ in all three of these challenges depends fully on what happens before the ‘close’. (See the excellent book ‘Pre-Suasion’ by Robert Cialdini if you want to learn more on this).

You need to create order (and increasing value) out of the natural chaos that occurs between you and the buyer. And you need to do this better than is done with their alternative options (one of which is the status quo). Then you’ll set yourself up for an ‘easy’ close!

You need to create trust, fit and value. Because a square peg closes well into a square hole. But to skip the co-operation, qualification, and determination of fit and value and jump straight to whacking the square peg into a round hole is going to be tricky.

So, there it is.

If you feel yourself having the urge to learn how to close, here’s your signpost; learn how to sell.

Don’t focus on finishing the race. Focus on learning how to start it right, (hence the pic I chose for this post) and learn and practice getting each step of the race right. Do that well, and your customers will start ‘closing’ deals for you.

And here’s the best news: It’s all learnable. If you’re willing. And it’s highly rewarding in all areas of your life, because these are lifeskills as much as business and career skills.

They’re skills that help lead others towards making valuable decisions. And how handy would you be to have around if your colleagues and customers saw that ability in you?

Would you like my help?

If you want help to learn how to sell effectively, whether you’re a sales person who wants to improve or someone starting out in a sales related role, you can check out many of the programmes I offer here. They’re all designed to help you maximise value to both you and your buyer, and sell in a comfortable, ethical way.

And if you think your employer should be providing you with such support, you can contact me here and I can get in touch with them.

3 Useful Resources I Created for Sales Team Leaders

Your Sales Reach: What further impact could your sales team make on your bottom line?
10 Conversations to have before buying sales training: I advise any buyer of sales training to hold these 10 conversations with their leadership colleagues before proceeding. It’ll save a lot of tears (and money) later.
The One Sales Thing: Find the one thing to focus on to make maximum impact on your sales performance.


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