Some people say that education is never wasted. I completely disagree. My feeling is that unapplied education may be the biggest waste of all.
David: Hi and welcome to the podcast today co-host Chris Templeton and I will be talking about education, specifically education designed to help businesses sell better and how that education is always wasted unless it’s being applied. Welcome Chris!
Chris: Hi David. This is a fascinating point and it’s interesting that you would take a well-known phrase like education has never wasted and completely turn it on its head. Are you just trying to be provocative?
David: No, not at all. I think the reason that I’m saying it is because I really believe it. Every time I heard that expression, even as a child, I always questioned it. I’m like, what do you mean education is never wasted? It seems to me that if you learn something that you never ever use, then that’s kind of a waste. I think it’s part of the reason why as a child there were some classes that I just couldn’t get into because I felt like I was never going to use this information. Now, I’m not suggesting that people use that as an excuse not to learn stuff. On the contrary, what I’m saying is that if you’re learning something, particularly something that’s designed to help you to sell better or improve your business or improve your life, then definitely learn it to the best of your ability, but make sure that you implement it as well.
Chris: It’s a great, great point. If we’re not applying it, there’s just not a whole lot of point in it is there?
David: None that I can see.
Chris: So rather than learning what to do, a lot of salespeople simply wing it. What’s the likelihood of that working? I mean, that will work won’t it?
David: Well it might, but it’s pretty much slim to none. Out of a hundred salespeople who wing it. There might be a small percentage who may do great with it. It’s entirely possible, but the people who actually are taught: what to do, how to do it, who to approach, how to approach them, what to say, how to say it – have a much better likelihood of success because they’re not trying to reinvent the wheel. And that’s where, particularly in a career like sales, if you don’t take the time to learn how to do it right, you’re going to spend many months or years figuring it out and essentially blowing it on high quality prospects. If you’re in front of a good quality prospect and you don’t know what to say and you’re just winging it and saying the wrong things, then you can spend a long time getting it wrong. Not selling a lot of stuff, giving your company a black eye and really not valuing the time of the person you’re interacting with.
Chris: Well, it’s interesting that you say that because almost the underlying assumption is that I’m a sales guy and I ought to be doing this on my own; and I’ll betcha you think that managers probably should be doing more to help their salespeople be better sales people?
David: Well, I think it’s certainly helpful if you are a sales manager and you have the salespeople under you, then yes, certainly helping the salespeople you have should be a critical and important part of your job. And a lot of sales managers are good at what they do and they really help their sales people to grow. There are some who sell as well and sometimes there’s a bit of a competition there and they always want to sort of show how they’re better than the people they work with. That sort of dynamic is rarely good in sales, but when you get a sales manager who really understands that his or her job is to help the people that they’re working with to become better at it and to establish rapport with more high quality prospects and to close those sales effectively. And when that person does everything they can to impart that knowledge on the salespeople, then everybody wins. The company wins, the sales manager wins because they look good to the boss, the sales person wins, and it’s just all around a far better approach.
Chris: So what is it that you’ve seen that’s made it clear for you that sales managers need to be doing more?
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David: Well, I do a lot of work in the print and promotional products industry. In fact, the topic of our next podcast is very closely related to this. We're going to be talking about recruiting new salespeople instead of training the ones you have. And that's something that I've seen a lot, particularly in the promotional products industry where a lot of the focus is on bringing in new salespeople as opposed to helping or training the ones that they have. And again, we're going to be talking about that next time so we don't want to get too deeply into it now, but it certainly serves as evidence that there are some companies whose focus is essentially wrong because they're not really out to help the people who are already with them, the ones who are currently generating 100% of their sales to date.
Chris: Right. I've had plenty of experience with sales and sales management and I just think that your bringing this to the front in terms of sales managers, there's so much more you can do to help your salespeople to be better. And there's ways to do it that they'll appreciate. And I think somehow that gets lost in the translation. And a lot of times what we end up with is salespeople that are trying to do it their way, winging it or they're trying to do it your way and don't feel comfortable. And there's someplace in between. And I think that's where the sales manager fills in when they're doing it. Right, wouldn't you say?
David: Yeah, that's a great point because when a sales manager tries to impose his or her views onto the sales person about this is how you have to do it. If there's not a comfort level for that salesperson saying those things or presenting it in that way, then the likelihood of them being successful with it is not good. So there's a huge difference between saying, okay, here's some of the points you need to cover. And here's word for word what I want you to say. Two completely different things.
Chris: Yeah, really important. Okay, so let's talk about the Four Step Success Cycle. What is it and how does it ensure that the education of a salesperson is received and not wasted?
David: The Four Step Success Cycle is really about how does a salesperson learn something and very often, if they are being trained – (in other words, if the business or if the salesperson is somehow managing to get some sort of training on how to do things better) a lot of times what happens is there'll be exposed to some sort of lesson, right? They'll read a book or they'll listen to audio or they'll watch a video or they'll listen to a podcast like this and they're being exposed to a message. And sometimes what happens is they listen to that message or they read that message and they say, oh, okay, I already knew that. Or yeah, that sounds good, but I don't know if that's for me. Right? So instead of considering how they can actually use and monetize that information, it sort of goes in one ear and out the other.
And if they've heard it before - and there's some people in sales who feel like if I've heard something before, then I don't need this. And the challenge I think is not to think in terms of, have I heard this before? It's "am I implementing this" and "am I implementing it as well as it can be implemented?" "Am I implementing it better than my competition?" Right? Those are the types of things that are going to be more helpful than simply saying, "oh yeah, I already know that." So the first step is to learn what you need to know. The second step after you learn what you need to know is to ask questions about anything you don't understand. So if you're learning something new, if it's from your sales manager, whatever, they explain something. If there are things you don't understand, be sure to ask the questions as soon as possible after you learn it so that you can feel comfortable enough with it that you can at least test it out. You can at least try it. You can start to implement it to try to get some results. So that would be the second thing. We learn what we need to know. We ask questions about anything we don't understand.
Then the third thing is that we implement the strategy as soon as possible. So you learn something, you ask the questions, and then you implement it as quickly as possible after that. Because, you're going to want to find the pitfalls. You're going to want to see what works about it and what doesn’t and what do I need to change or adapt to make it work better next time. And so that brings us to the fourth step, which is to review your results. So after you've implemented it, you want to review your results and say, how did that go? Was that a total disaster or was it really good? Or was it kind of okay? And then when you review your results, either with your sales manager or by yourself or with somebody that you trust, then you can do a post implementation diagnostic. It's a lot of big words in a row, but you can do a diagnostic afterwards to determine what went right, what went wrong, and what can I tweak or change around so that the next time I do this, it's likely to be more effective for me. So those are the four steps of the success cycle when it comes to actually being able to implement and have something be successful after you've learned it.
Chris: When I look at your Four Step Success Cycle, one of the things that really fascinates me is this idea of I've gone in and I've learned what the process is and now you're suggesting that they ask questions. I think it's really insightful that we're basically assuming that there's things that I need to delve into deeper to get this learning in place.
David: Yeah. And asking questions might be something as simple as just requesting clarification, hey, I'm not quite clear on this, or I'm not quite clear on that. So it doesn't mean that you have to get into depth and ask tons of questions, but if you're learning a new concept, if you're learning a new approach, then you pay attention and you say, okay, where are the potential pitfalls here and what are they? And if I can ask questions about those up front in advance of actually implementing it, then I'm going to feel a lot more comfortable and I'll be a lot more likely to do it.
Chris: And then I implement it as soon as possible and review the results, which I think is something that's very easy to forget to do.
David: Oh yeah, completely. I mean, so many overlook this and when it comes to even the type of training that we do in our Total Market Domination Course, one of the things that I noticed and one of the reasons I wanted to talk about it in this podcast is that the people who are most successful with it do exactly this. They learn what they need to know. They ask questions about anything they don't understand. They implement the strategy as quickly as possible because speed of implementation is just huge. If I learned something new today and I don't implement it for six months or eight months or ten months, then I don't get the benefit of that learning for all that time. It's a big waste. And then once that happens, then reviewing the results and saying, okay, hey listen, I did this, this didn't work at all. What happened? And then you can do that diagnostic afterwards and say, okay, well what did you say? What was the approach? What was the context? What was the response that you got? And very often you can troubleshoot and figure out what went wrong so you can tweak it and adapt it and adjust it for the next time.
Chris: You know, it really is a Success Cycle, isn't it? And then we go to the beginning, figure out if there's anything that we need to learn. The other thing that I think is really important in terms of implementation is understanding that practice really helps and having a realistic expectation about the first time you go out versus say the third or the fourth. Each time we're developing our own comfort level, aren't we?
David: Yeah. I don't know if you've ever done a magic trick. When I was a kid, I used to go into a magic shop around here and the magician would show you all these different tricks and you go, wow, that's amazing. And then you'd buy a trick. So you'd pay whatever it costs to buy the trick. And once you learned the secret of how it's done, you're kind of like, oh man, if I do this, people are going to see it. They're going to know it's a trick. This is going to look stupid. And you end up not doing it. You end up not doing the trick. And I think a lot of times in sales and in marketing, what people do is they say, I really need to learn this. I really need to learn this. And then they're taught something that could work extremely well, but then they're like, oh, I don't know if that's gonna work for me, I don't know if I should do this. I'm comfortable doing what I'm doing and they don't implement it. And so when you apply this process, learning it, asking the questions you need upfront, implementing the strategy as quickly as possible and then reviewing your results. What ends up happening is you're doing more and you're doing it more quickly so you're failing forward. As the saying goes, you're trying things, it works. It doesn't work. It doesn't matter because you know you're not just going to be doing this once. You're going to be doing this again and again and again, and when you do it correctly, each time you do it, it gets better and better and better.
Chris: So important to keep in mind. So important. Practice really does make perfect, doesn't it?
David: Perfect practice makes perfect, I believe was the quote.
Chris: Perfect practice. I believe that that's true.
David: I think that was Vince Lombardi who said that. He said it's not just practice that makes perfect because if you're practicing the wrong things, you can get very good at doing the wrong things. Perfect practice makes perfect is the idea that when you're practicing the right things very, very well, that's what makes things perfect.
Chris: Before we wrap up one more time, would you just go through the action steps of implementing the Four Step Success Cycle?
David: Sure. Every time you're learning something new, you think of it in terms of these four steps. If you're using an acronym, I guess it would be LAIR like this is my LAIR, this is where I go, this is my go-to place, the place I live. So the first thing you want to do is you want to Learn what you need to know. Second thing is you want to Ask questions about anything you don't understand. Third thing is you want to Implement this strategy as soon as possible and then the fourth thing is you want to Review your results. If and when you do that, you're going to be way ahead of the curve. You're going to be so far ahead of the people who say, Oh, I knew that, or I don't think that's going to work for me, or I'm not sure this that the other thing, just get it implemented, try it out. If it doesn't work, you can always toss it away, but if you never even try it, then your likelihood of success on it is absolutely zero.
The 4 Step Success Cycle
- Learn what you need to know.
- Ask questions about anything you don't understand.
- Implement the new strategy as soon as possible.
- Review your results.
Chris: Boy, such a concise way to look at what I'm learning and how to get it to really be something that's effective in my sales process. Okay, let's wrap up by talking about what's coming up in the next podcast, David.
David: All right. Now our next podcast, we'll be talking about recruiting new sales people instead of training the ones you have. You already know a bit how I feel about the topic, but we'll really get into it next time.
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