Monday, November 2, 2009

Facts and Fallacies About Selling: Fallacy #6: How salespeople learn

Fallacy #6: Salespeople can learn to effectively sell by reading books, watching videos, on-line learning, listening to experts, or simply emulating high-producers.

Many of us grew up with comparisons to a perfect model. An accusatory “Why can’t you be more like (your sister, brother etc.) ” still rings in our ears. Trying to live up to a perfect model is an impossible dream. The implication is that there is a “right” way to sell. Searching for this elusive “right” way undermines an individual’s capacity to think for themselves. There is no “one size fits all recipe for success.”

Rookie salespeople and "wanna-be" athletes spend thousands of dollars on videos hoping professionalism will somehow rub off on them. They rarely watch the whole program. If you doubt this, visit a used book store or yard sale and notice how many self-help books, videos and CD’s are in pristine condition. Incidentally, individuals who actually put these tools to work would not let their dog-eared books or worn out videos out of their personal library.

Only by thinking through their own selling issues and applying sound principles do salespeople (and athletes) dramatically improve their performance. This process requires high-level teaching and coaching skills – a rarity in today’s quick-fix, "personal coaching" environment.

Few salespeople put into action what they see, read, or hear. Each salesperson is an individual and, as such, cannot hit aggressive targets by simply aping top producers. At best, they gain a few “tips” to incorporate into their current (ineffective) approaches. Lectures and videos about how selling “should be” are visually impressive, but are ineffective in creating blockbuster sales increases.

Short-term, "motivational" seminars have their place; but the danger is a person who actually believes these sessions have a long-term, competency improvement effect. Habits are formed one way and one way only - repetition. Repeatedly selling ineffectively simply entrenches ineffective selling habits. Watching the pros is helpful, but at some point, salespeople need to learn their craft by actually applying what they've learned. 

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