I’ve been running training sessions recently and have come to realize that too many of us wait for our companies to invest in training instead of taking the initiative to invest in ourselves. What makes it worse is that most of us have been through enough bad company-funded training that we walk into the next one expecting it to be awful. We don’t leave ourselves open to the possibility of getting something out of it. Putting those two together: we rarely invest in ourselves and we loathe the training our companies select on our behalf. That’s not a good combination when it comes to getting better at what we do.
Many of us blame the fact that we have too much going on to spend time reading a book or going to a class. We say that time management is our biggest challenge. But if you listen to all the reasons why we say time management is a challenge, I guarantee most of them will sound like excuses.
Time management is nothing more than focus and prioritization. Since many of us are not strong in these areas we get stuck in this rut of “doing” all day long. We rarely take a step back and think about whether what we are doing is actually helping us improve or move forward. If hitting your quota on a monthly basis is the only way you judge whether or not you’re getting better, than congratulations, you’ll be an OK Sales Rep for the rest of your life.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not interested in a career as just an OK Sales Rep. If you don’t want to be the best, if you don’t want to be great then get out of sales and find a new career. You have to push yourself every day to get better in sales and you can’t wait for someone else — or for your company — to do it for you.
Here are 11 small things that you can do to help you improve and fit your own personal development into your schedule:
- Set SMART goals every day. Write them down and hold yourself accountable.
- Subscribe to an audiobook service and listen to books on business and sales on your way to work instead of talk radio or music. You can also download a ton of business/sales podcasts and books from iTunes and put them on your iPod for when you’re traveling. Check out my Make It Happen podcast if you’re interested. Many libraries even offer eBooks for free.
- Have an open mind when walking into a company-funded sales training and set a goal of learning one new thing that will help you improve.
- Identify something you want to improve about yourself or a specific challenge you are facing, like a common objection or dealing with gatekeepers. Develop an approach to it. Try it throughout the day and track (+/-) to see how effective the approach was at the end of the day.
- Once a week grab some of your colleagues for lunch and pick a topic or challenge related to sales that you can brainstorm about instead of talking about the game last night.
- Go down the hall and ask your CFO (or any other executive) out to lunch or to coffee and ask him or her about their priorities and how best to sell to them so you can learn how to speak the language of an executive.
- Take your receptionist out to lunch and ask him or her the best way to approach and get through gatekeepers.
- Use Feedly to sign up for updates from blogs and other services that will keep you current on topics related to your territory, vertical, or industry.
- Attend webinars during non-selling hours. Lunch is ideal. Often there is a replay which you can watch
- Go to a business social networking event and practice your pitch to see how people react.
- Practice sales everywhere you go, even in your personal life.
Make It Happen!
P.P.S Here is a link to my interview with Ryan Leavitt, CEO of LearnCore.