Sales Essentials Blog

How to keep your sales wheels turning

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Maintaining momentum in a sales career requires a proactive, disciplined approach. There are many things to consider and put together to achieve an effective selling week and sales year. The onus is on us, the salesperson, to make the most of what we have.

Enlightened, highly effective salespeople recognise that they need to invest in themselves, invest in their own learning and continuous development, make the most of what they have and create opportunities whatever their resources. A five year longitudinal study[1] of more than 1,000 B2B salespeople, from 40 industries looked at what separates top performing salespeople from average ones and revealed, amongst other things, that these top  performers took a proactive approach to their ongoing development; they took responsibility for their part in helping their company and customers be successful; and they continuously looked at ways they could attain mastery in their sales careers – despite management and resources, and always without prompting.

So what can we learn from these top sales performers? What do we have to do now to keep our sales wheels turning? How do we create our own perpetual learning environment (PLE) to help us be successful?

  1. Adopt a learning mindset

The first thing is that you need to be open to learning. Not only formal classroom training, but the top sales performers from the study also engage in self-appraisal and continuous learning.

They:

  • Ask for feedback on their performance and the degree to which they met clients’ expectations,
  • Collaborate with colleagues and do not allow competitiveness to get in the way,
  • Recognise and act on the need for continuous learning and development,
  • Evaluate their performance and competencies and initiate development activities without prompting.
  1. Collaborate with others to get the job done

Selling is often portrayed as a solitary role – salespeople out on the road running their own territories, the lone wolf, and so on. Top sales performers are not the lone wolf type, they know the importance and power of collaboration both within their own organisation and out with their clients and networks.

  1. Develop a Mastery Mindset

Top sales performers see their relationship with their organisation as a partnership – one where they work together in concert to make the most of the opportunities available to them. Developing effective sales capabilities is more than a one or two day training event on sales theory and skills. Top performing salespeople take a holistic approach to sales development by integrating both formal and informal elements into their daily practices. The most effective way to learn and develop a skill, behaviour or mindset is to apply it and practice it on the job and in real life situations. Paying conscious attention to the core elements of your sales role you will begin to internalise, own and apply what you learn. In that way what you learn becomes habit and part of your way of being.

  1. Create your own Perpetual Learning Environment

There is a lot to think about to keep the sales wheels turning. That is why top sales performers create a schedule which incorporates a range of activities to keep them on track to the rhythm of their continuous development.

To create your own perpetual learning environment it is most useful to map out how you are going to be continuously learning, what to reflect upon, which insights will keep you fresh and on your toes.

Create a schedule that includes weekly, monthly and quarterly activities

Underlying principles of a Perpetual Learning Environment (PLE):

The core idea of perpetual learning is that learning becomes part of your daily routines. Thus ‘routine’ is not a state where you are driven by what you know and are skilled to do without much reflection or effort. Routine in a Perpetual Learning Environment is engaging yourself, your brain, in learning on a daily basis. If after a long working day you can’t answer the question “what have I learned today?” then learning is not yet part of your routine. To get to this state you have to make yourself aware – continuously – of what is happening with you, around you, and reflect upon it – if only for a few minutes – to see if there is anything, even the smallest thing, that you would want to do differently the next time. It is the acknowledgment that in an ever changing environment learning never ends. It is key to keep our sales wheels turning.

Author: Sue Barrett, www.salesessentials.com 

[1] Research by Rosen Rosenbaum. Business Horizons, Jan 2001/Feb 2001, Vol 44, Issue 1. Seven Emerging Sales Competencies Rosenbaum, B. Industrial Psychologist

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