Use this six-step process and learn how to sell more or get better at anything.
If you want to learn how to sell more or get better at anything, these five steps will hasten your progress.
- Set a measurable objective.
- Break up the thing you need to learn into manageable elements.
- Where appropriate, break up the elements into aspects of competence.
- Assess your strengths and weaknesses among the elements and aspects.
- Decide what to work on first.
- Schedule daily learning actions, even if it is only to review and revise your schedule.
First, you need to set a measurable objective.
Some years ago I moved to Devon and joined a new squash club. The standard was much higher than I had been used to and my ageing body didn't take the punishment so well so I switched to racketball.
Racketball is squash with a larger, bouncier ball. At first, I wasn't very good at racketball either.
Joining the ladder, a series of competitions where you play three or four matches every month, provided a measure of my progress and an easy way to set successive improvement objectives for moving up the ladder.
Next, it helps to break down the task to identify the elements needing improvement. This will vary depending on the thing that you want to improve.
For racketball, I'd include aerobic fitness, weight, reaction time, court awareness, ball striking skills, shot selection, strategy, and tactics.
For selling ability, I use the list presented in the diagram to separate Knowledge, methods, skills, habits, motivators, and qualities.
For how to sell, these elements benefit from further division into specific aspects.
This free sales assessment lists 30 aspects of sales competence and provides a way for anyone who wants to learn how to sell, a means of quantifying relative strengths and weaknesses:
In addition to playing racketball three or four times a week, I decided to invest in some coaching and began taking weekly sessions with the club coach. That was nearly five years ago.
Progress was slow. I played squash as a teenager and then came back to it at the age of 58. I have climbed to a middle racketball ladder position. Who says you can't teach an old dog, new tricks!
So if you want to learn how to sell, use the assessment to prioritise your learning objectives.
Then work on the highest priority element or aspect until you have met your learning objective for it.
Schedule a learning action, no matter how small, every day. And be sure to put it in your diary or work planner.
"A journey of 1000 miles begins beneath one's feet." Lao Tzu
Having delivered sales training and coaching for most of my career, I have some experience-based observations on the best way to learn how to sell or get better at anything.
The least effective intervention is the one-off or annual learning effort. I'm not saying that sales training once a year is worthless. It does produce a motivation boost and some participants do change a few things. Most often such events are not coordinated with individual development plans and so it is unsurprising that momentum fades quickly.
The most effective intervention is one that focuses people's attention on discovering ways to do what they do, better at least once a month and preferably more often.
If you really want to make rapid progress, schedule something small to do that will aid your progress, every day.
Managers can organise a regular learning focus for their teams. As a sales manager at SGi in the 1990s, each month I asked a different salesperson in my team to present for fifteen minutes at the monthly sales meeting. Each month I bought a new audio book on selling and asked that month's presenter to make it the subject of his or her presentation.
The exercise meant that everyone got some presentation skills practise. To deliver their presentation, they had to listen to the book and potentially learn from it. Others in the team would be inspired to borrow the programme and listen to it for themselves. It prompted everyone to consider how they might do what they were doing, better, every month.
Under the press of other priorities, it is hard for a sales manager to put this task at the top of the priority list despite it having an undeniable impact on sales results.
Instead, outsource the arrangement or have a professional sales trainer join your sales meeting for 30 minutes or an hour, every month.
Article by Clive Miller
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