In light of all that is happening today, I am writing a series of blogs on MINDSETS. As sales professionals we recognize the impact of Mindsets when we plan our days, when we consult with customers, and when we provide value. In sales, mindsets are essential, as they signify how top professionals THINK – how they approach their work with customers…. how they “see” things. It is the inner game that is so critical to the impact and results we generate.
This series highlights short messages on the mindsets our research has uncovered are essential in sales. And today's focus is having a LEARNING mindset!
Learning - The act, process, or experience of gaining knowledge or skill.
One of the mindsets that clearly separate top producers is the “Learning” mindset. While everyone in sales accepts the importance of learning, top producers take it to a superior level. They have an uncompromising thirst to learn. They display an unbridled curiosity around everything that impacts the world of the customer and how their products and services help the customer achieve their objectives.
Top producers are inquisitive. They help their customers “discover” what can be. They are application specialists. They develop superior knowledge of their product so as to be seen as an expert. They seek ideas in unconventional places. They are avid readers of trends that are occurring in their industry and how those trends impact their customers’ businesses. They are persistent in tapping the genius and perspective of others, as those views provide them with insights that help identify new possibilities or the nuggets that can find and solve problems.
Mark Carmichael, a senior sales executive, affirms that “Learning is also about teaching. One of our top producers is fascinating to watch. She is creative in everything she does to help customers learn. She creates videos using the capability of her phone to demonstrate how something is done. This allowed her to teach and make a difference with the customer. In essence, one of the greatest benefits of teaching is seeing someone grow before your very eyes.”
If you want to advance your curiosity, become a devoted student of questioning and listening. One performer developed an extensive, industry-specific database of questions. For every business issue her company’s products solved, she prepared 5-7 thought-provoking questions to get the dialog started. These questions challenged the customer to think, and to consider things they had not thought of before.
And yet, many people learn best doing thing experientially and with others. They are not lone wolves. They realize they need help, that they cannot do it alone in today’s world. They are willing to call the experts directly. They seek coaches in areas they seek to master.
Finally, top salespeople practice repeatedly. Top salespeople recognize that to be really good they need to practice, but many just don’t do it other than “as it happens.” Just as all of us have observed superior athletes at the top of their game, we often forget the thousands of hours they continue to invest in improving their game.
In his book Drive – The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, author Daniel Pink highlights research by Anders Ericsson who coined the term “deliberate practice – a lifelong period of effort to improve performance in a specific domain.” He goes on to say “deliberate practice isn’t running a few miles each day. It’s much more purposeful, focused, and yes, painful.”
Harvey Mackay gives this advice to sales professionals “You are in school all your life. Sales superstars inhale everything they can to improve. Develop a thirst for self-improvement.”
So…, do you and your team have a learning mindset? Are you most alive when you learn? Are you making learning an everyday habit? Are you a “teacher” with your customers? Are you becoming a thought-leader? If you want to be a top producer, or develop a top producing sales team, cultivate a habit of curiosity every day. Practice relentlessly. The payoff will be significant.