When I began my career in selling, I made a personal commitment I would learn as much as possible relating to the skills, principles and techniques of my trade.
I believed knowledge applied would give me the edge I needed to be the very best in my profession. I must admit however, that there were times when my pride restricted my ability to learn. I remember one day, very early in my career, not accepting the advice and council of a wise mentor. Disregarding his wisdom and experience, I took a position with a customer that ended up costing the company fifty thousand dollars. There is a huge difference between pride and confidence and my prideful decision to disregard wise counsel that cost my employer twice my annual salary.
Knowledge replaces fear, and pure knowledge conquers pride. Knowledge applied properly to the activities of selling will earn not only the sale, but also the respect of the customer. There is a trait of human nature that draws us to the fountain of knowledge. People who have knowledge act as a magnet to those around them, similar to a light that attracts a moth. Salespeople everywhere would be well advised to gain more knowledge of the principles and skills of salesmanship. Make a personal commitment to learn a new principle or skill each day and then reinforce that learning through application. Knowledge in the absence of application is nothing more than a selfish indulgence.
The great teacher Socrates, while trying to demonstrate the internal desire necessary for learning, took one of his students and held his head under the water in a nearby fountain. The student fought and struggled with all his might to get a breath of air and still, Socrates held his head under the water. When the student surely felt he would die, Socrates pulled him from the water as he gasped for a breath of air. Socrates then said to the young man, and all the other astonished students sitting near the edge of the water, “When your desire to learn is as great as your desire for a breath of air, then you’ll be ready to learn.”
As a salesperson, your income will be in direct proportion to your desire to learn. Learning opportunities surround you daily. You live and work in the laboratory of sales. Not only are there virtually unlimited learning opportunities found in your daily sales activities, but there is also an endless supply of books, articles, audio, video and formal training programs. Sales training is a seven billion dollar per year industry, and for good reason. The return on training investment is huge. Contrary to some uneducated opinions, sales training is not an expense against earnings, rather, it is an investment that just keeps increasing bottom line profits. Businesses and salespeople cannot afford not to invest in learning. For those looking to start new learning now, here are two principle-based books I would consider required learning for every salesperson. The first book is How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie and the second book is How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling, written by Frank Bettger. I personally reread both of these books at least once each year.