So you are about to embark on sales training? Congratulations! You and/or your company have made a decision to invest in your personal and professional success. You are committing valuable time and energy to the notion that skills training is worthwhile and that there are specific selling skills that make the difference between just getting and having breakout results.
Regardless of what program you ultimately decide to pursue, you have made a wise decision. An investment in oneself always has the potential to provide dramatic returns. And as always the amount of impact one experiences, and kind of personal ROI one sees is largely the result of how one approaches it.
So how do you get ready? How do you prepare in a way that allows you to get the most out of the training investment you are considering?
What follows are five simple ideas that will make the biggest difference in the impact you personally experience as a result of going through a sales training program.
#1 – Define a Clear Vision
It all starts with expectations, or maybe just hopes. Either way, take some time to really think about the goals you have and your specific vision for what will improve as a result of the training. It sounds a bit trite, but having a clear vision for where you want to go is the first step in any journey. Heading west out of Los Angeles will not get you to New York. You’ll just get wet instead.
Really take some time to get clear on your goals. Goals propel you forward after all. They transform mountains into molehills and help you break larger aspirations into achievable stepping stones. So get really clear about the selling experiences you would like to change. What needs to go differently in the future? How do you see yourself succeeding? What outcomes can you picture?
And write them down! Actively imagine what results you believe are achievable as a result of fully engaging in the learning you’re investing in. Goals hold us accountable, and writing them down, they become more real. There is a natural hierarchy of commitment that goes like this: thought, speech, writing, action. Writing down your goal is one step removed from the actions that will be what really makes the difference in your results. You may not know yet what new selling behaviors you will learn, but knowing your goals is a critical way of deepening your personal commitment, and preparing you for the learning moment.
#2 – Seek Personal Relevance
As you go through any learning program it’s important to seek personal relevance. Does it resonate? Does it make sense? Does it fit into your own value system? If something is academic only, and not connected to your own personal story, it can be easy to respect but it’s downright impossible to internalize it. Give yourself permission to question what you are hearing and internalize only the things that resonate and make sense to YOU.
A case in point. From the world of academia comes a study that showed that highlighting sections in books or papers is one of the least effective learning strategies there is, and may even be detrimental to retention. The researchers found that highlighting can actually get in the way of deep learning because it draws attention to individual facts and seems to actually hamper the process of making connections and drawing inferences.
Making personal connections and drawing inferences is essential to acquiring new skills. Don’t be afraid to question what you are learning, internally or even with your trainer. Fit it into your own story, and even your own experiences as a buyer. It will help drive deeper meaning and more lasting retention.
#3 – Be Accountable for Change
It was Einstein who said that doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result was the definition of insanity. If you are committed to different results you must also be committed to different actions. Holding oneself accountable is never easy, but it the essential difference in making lasting change.
As you learn new mindsets and skills, it’s important to take some time and make a deep personal commitment to the changes that resonate most and have the potential to deliver new and accelerated results. Make a short list of these so you can come back later and match a specific commitment to each one of them. Your commitment could be “the next time I encounter this, I am going to strive to (fill in the blank with a new selling behavior)”. Or it could be “I am going to think of ways to proactively add new value to (a specific number) prospects every week”.
Then track your personal commitments and hold yourself accountable, even if it’s a card you keep in your wallet or purse, or in a spreadsheet or app. It’s the little things that make the difference and the most successful people usually give the little things their biggest commitments.
#4 – Commit to Practice
Training is only a beginning. New skills are never fully engrained without practice. And like the pros, know that the best time to practice is BEFORE game day. That’s the only way to beat the competition. In fact, did you know that professional athletes practice 2.5 hours, on average, for every 1 hour of game time? Pros know the value of practice. (If you’d like to learn more about this little tidbit, simply reply or drop me a short email and I’ll send you the raw data behind the professional practice regimes.)
Find a mentor or “partner in crime” to practice specific selling scenarios you want to improve. And practice A LOT! Rinse and Repeat! Role playing always feels awkward, but always makes you more prepared for the moment when it comes. Failing is how we learn, after all, and it’s better to fail at home than in front of your most important prospect. If you want to see what you’re going to look like when you fail in your practice sessions, watch this video:
#5 Embrace Discomfort
Here’s one of my favorite exercises to demonstrate what stretching yourself to learn new skills feels like. Follow along, it only takes 30 seconds and I promise it’ll be fun. You might even get some funny looks if you’re around other people.
- Cross your arms.
- One of your arms is above the other, which one is it?
- Now cross your arms again, but this time reverse the position of your arms so that the one that WAS on top the first time is now on the BOTTOM.
Feels weird doesn’t it! Everyone has a natural FEELING way of crossing their arms. Some have their right arm above and some have their left arm above. And trying the other way feels really unnatural and difficult to do the first time you try.
The same is true for your existing mindsets and stock selling behaviors. They feel right. But, and it’s a big but, they may not be serving you or your buyers. As you go through training and practice, you WILL feel uncomfortable and the new skills you acquire will feel unnatural. That’s normal, so just be prepared and go with it. What feels uncomfortable and unnatural at first, begins to feel more and more normal as you practice and personalize it to your own style.
Good luck with your training and with hitting all of your sales and revenue goals for 2018!