In years gone by most companies would provide their sales organizations with an on-going training program. It would run the full gambit from full-blown multi day training sessions on the latest sales process and methodologies du Jour to basic sales techniques to product and pricing strategies.
On rare occasions there might be a special training session utilizing one of the many available sales gurus covering prospecting skills, objection handling, closing skills, etc.
But in recent years, with the economic downturn, cost cutting measures, and massive reductions in force (lay offs), sales training has become a rarity; even considered by some organizations as a luxury.
Problem is, the sales game has changed dramatically over the last couple of years, and what used to work two or three years ago, may not be relevant in today’s selling environment.
To be relevant in sales today, it is incumbent upon the individual sales professional to self educate. In other words, you need to invest in yourself.
So what are you doing to invest in you? It’s time to take your education to a new level. You, as I like to say, need to some continuous innovation and continuous improvement?
Here are (5) five things you can start doing to investing in yourself:
1) Read constantly
Remember the expression, “The more you read, the more you know, the more you know the further you go”. Invest the time to read as much as you can. There is so much valuable information available today. Read sales books (e-books or traditional), sales blogs, white papers, and case studies. I make it a point to read at least two hours a day. Is it all at once? No. I read when I can wherever I am. Read something first thing in the morning or over lunch. Instead of wasting time watch TV at night, pick up a book. If you read just one hour a day you can read approximately 50 books a year. That’s powerful!
2) Jump on a webinar
Yes a webinar. This is an easy way to pick up some invaluable knowledge. It doesn’t take much to find a good webinar these days. There are all types covering a variety of topics. Most are an hour in length and are held at a variety of different times. Being in the Mountain Time Zone, I’m fortunate that many are held during the lunch hour. Grab a sandwich, invest in you, and learn something new.
3) Get on the Social Media Bandwagon
If you aren’t using social media today you are missing a major opportunity. I have learned so much via the various social media platforms over the last year and a half. I have also, met some awesome individuals, from all over the world, that have taught me so much. If I can adapt to the new reality of selling, so can you. It’s true; an old dog can learn new tricks. Great sales skills + Social media = Social Business.
4) Network, network, network
Reach out and talk to as many people as you can. Network with co-workers, your customers, old acquaintances, friends and even your neighbors. If you’re in sales, you are accustomed to meeting and talking to new people. You never know who you might meet or talk with. The old saying “it’s not what you know, but who you know” is a fact!
5) Be a Mentor or Coach
Being a mentor or helping to coach a new sales person is one of the most rewarding things you can do as a sales professional. Not only can you help a fellow sales pro, you just might learn something along the way. There are many different ways that people learn but there is a school of thought that says: learn it, do it, teach it. For me, this method has always worked well.
With the changing dynamics of the buyer/seller relationship, the reduced amount of sales training, and with the claims of a dramatically drop in the need for direct sales professional; it is incumbent on you to make yourself relevant. Take the steps necessary to arm yourself for success. Take the responsibility for your own training program. Remember the saying “If its meant to be, its up to me”!