When was the last time you read a book on sales? Or participated in a webinar? Or went to a sales conference? How do you continue to learn and grow as a sales person or sales manager? As I see it, there are two types of people in the world, and I have been both at different times in my sales career. There is the sales person/manager who continues to learn and work at their profession. And then there are those who do nothing.
I have been there – one of the “do nothing” types. I was in a sales role, got promoted, and got promoted again. Each time, I did a bit of learning, but only what my company asked me to do. I did not seek out new knowledge on my own to be the best I could be. I begrudgingly took the classes my company offered and tried to implement one or two new things into my repertoire.
Once, I was even provided training as a “High Potential” manager but looked at it as a nuisance instead of as a gift. I thought, “Ugh, I can’t believe I have to learn new stuff and take time out of my busy day to check off the box!” How stupid was I?
I was also the one with only 80 LinkedIn connections. My thinking was that I didn’t need any more LinkedIn connections since I had hundreds of connections at my company and with my customers. I did little to no social selling, read just a book or two on sales, and went to the required sales training of the day.
As I moved up in my career and began leading teams of talented sales professionals and sales managers, I realized I had to learn and grow in order to up my game. So, I took the first step and looked for training and reinforcement that would help my sales teams do better qualification, talk to the C-suite, etc. My goal was to get better at my craft and pass it on to my sales teams to do the same.
However, many of them looked at what I was doing as a nuisance as well. It took them off the road, into a classroom, and away from customers and prospects – and they didn’t like it. But I continued to get smarter and realized that the reinforcement side was the key to everyone’s success. So I worked with my sales managers to provide more coaching of current and new best practices to up everyone’s game.
The good news was, my team grasped the newer concepts over time as their deal sizes got larger and their selling time got shorter. Then, something interesting happened. Many of them became believers and started reading more books on sales, going to webinars, etc. on their own and sharing what worked and didn’t work. Progress!
Now, as a consultant and coach, I think back to the days when I was in the corporate world and looked at learning as necessary but not altogether going to help me. I mean, I knew (and know) how to sell. And, now I have thousands of connections on LinkedIn and am a big believer in networking and continuing to learn and grow my sales skills. And I’ve become a bit of a “social” animal.
So, why the evolution from not working at all on my craft, to doing the complete opposite? Many reasons. The best sales people are always learning. We need to keep investing in ourselves. I still think back to when I did not understand how important it was to learn and grow and get better at sales. We should all look at ourselves in the mirror and ask: Why would you not want to work at being the best in sales or sales management? I mean, shouldn’t we all work to get better for ourselves and, equally important, for our customers?