A few years ago I was deeply moved as I attended the commencement exercises at the University of Utah.  

I was there to honor my daughter-in-law who received her Masters’ Degree in Social Work.  It was a touching moment as the President of the University acknowledged the extreme effort and sacrifice made by both the graduates and their families.  He expressed his belief that the world will be a far better place for the contributions made by these exemplary young men and women.  The President of the University was clear in his brief comments that the great hope for this generation and the world lies in the education of its inhabitants.

The advancement of science, humanities, medicine, law, engineering, business, and all other educational disciplines does not happen without learning.  Knowledge applied correctly is the root element of advancements in civilization.  Knowledge correctly applied, combined with experience, is the foundation for all success.  As I pondered the magnitude of more than seven thousand new college graduates seeking to add their strength to our economic society, I felt confident and saw a glimmer of hope for our future.  

There was one glaring omission, in my mind, as I witnessed the pomp and ceremony of this commencement celebration.  With all the honors and degrees conferred on the graduates, no one received a degree in sales.  Not one graduating student was recognized for his or her educational achievements in the discipline of selling.  Recognizing the bright hope for our future lies in education, what does the lack of trained salespeople mean for the commerce of this nation?  Just because sales degrees are not offered at a college or university level does not mean an education in selling is any less important than any other field of study.  It just means sales education and training will need to be acquired through other venues.  The fact that a sales education is not found on the college campus makes it even more critical to find education in other venues.

In the United States, sales training is a seven billion dollar a year industry.  There are unlimited seminars, tapes, CD’s, DVD’s, and books available to anyone looking for knowledge.  Most of the material contains some value and any person willing to read and listen will certainly come away with additional knowledge.  Remember, knowledge is not the complete answer, it is knowledge applied correctly.  The way we learn and the way we achieve is accomplished through a process referred to as “spaced repetition”.  Spaced repetition is comprised of learning and doing consistently over a period time.  Spaced repetition is improved dramatically when combined with a mentor or coach who will fine tune your performance and hold you accountable.  Most of the training available in the world of selling does not involve spaced repetition, coaching or accountability.

Here are five ideas that will help you achieve your quest for an education in the field of sales.  It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.

  1. Commit yourself to learning in the same degree you would if you were going to college.  Read, study, attend class, question your instructor, practice in the laboratory, grade your performance and understanding, spend the time necessary to perfect your skills.

  2. Find yourself a coach, someone who will teach you the practical application of those things you have learned through reading the best books and listening to the best knowledge.  Remember, knowledge applied correctly, combined with experience is the foundation for all success.

  3. Find someone who will hold you accountable not only for knowledge but for your daily application of the things you have learned.  You need to be critiqued and graded for your performance in order to know where you stand.  Once you know where you stand, you can strive to improve.

  4. Be consistent.  Create a habit of consistent performance and daily activity.  Form the habit of doing daily, those activities necessary for sales success.  There is no shortcut for experience.

  5. Never quit learning and correctly applying those things you have learned.  Discover new applications for the core principles of salesmanship you have mastered.  Your expertise will be built one sale at a time.  Let each selling experience build knowledge.

Success in all fields of endeavor is built firmly on knowledge, application, and experience.  Don’t short change your current situation or rob yourself of future achievements.  Educate yourself in the field of sales.  You won’t find it in the curriculum of most colleges and universities; nevertheless, an education in selling can be achieved.  When you have achieved that education, your world and that of your employer, as the President of the University expressed, will be a far better place.