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Old Dogs Can Learn New Tricks! (Are The Pups’ Learning As Well?)

by David Brock on October 3rd, 2012

Continually learning and improving our skills is critical, regardless of how “seasoned” we may be.  It’s been a real joy through my career to have the opportunity to learn from my experiences, and more importantly from that of others.  In virtually every engagement, we are privileged to learn from some of the smartest people in business, sales, and marketing–our clients.

One of the reasons I am so active in social media (beyond the ego gratification of folks like you reading my ramblings), is that I’ve met so many great people and been able to learn from them.

Today, I had one of those experiences.  I was chatting with my friend, Bob Terson.  We were sharing experiences about selling and learning from the communities we participate in.  Bob made a confession, “Dave, in my career, I’ve never been really aware of ‘pipeline’ or long cycle, complex sales.  The world I’ve lived in is very short cycles, most of the time one call closes.”  He went on to say that he had been learning a lot about the complex sale.

I shared that my experience had been exactly the opposite, my career has always been in very long sales complex sales cycles.  I couldn’t imagine a one call close except purely by accident or luck or both.

We went on to talk about the differences–Bob sharing his experiences in short cycle/one call closes and how critical it is to be prepared and know your stuff.  One comment struck me–“If you don’t know the value you create before the call, you’ve lost, you have no business making the call!”  Bob went on to talk a little about it.  While the principles we both thought about in creating values in the call were the same, the intensity in the way he expressed how it needed to be executed was really different.  It’s easy to understand–in a one call close you have to create enough compelling value in 30-60 minutes to get the order!  I started reflecting, what if we started applying not just the principles, but the same level of focus and intensity in long cycle complex sales?  How much could we improve our impact, reduce our sales cycle, improve our win rates?

Our conversation went on, apparently I said a few things that were “new insights” for Bob in applying to short cycle selling.  He had some “a-ha’s” as well.

Sales professionals need to make a habit of learning from each other–not just within our own industries, but across B2B and B2C, across different industries, across transactional and complex sales processes.  Best practices in one area can be great new innovative ideas for us in other areas.  In my short conversation with Bob, this Old Dog (me) learned a few things—I have to tweak  them a little, but they gave me new insight to my effectiveness.

Contrary to what some would say, there is no “right approach to selling.”  There are too many variants–B2B, B2B2C, B2C, transactional, complex, consultative, solutions, and on and on for a “one right answer.”

The underlying principles are similar–creating compelling value to a customer in need resulting in them buying from you.  But there are all sorts of ways to achieve that goal.  Broadening your perspectives, adding more to our tool kits, taking something from one sector and tweaking it so it works for you  is all part of continuous learning and improvement.  Don’t limit yourself to your peers or people in your industry, talk to people in really different businesses, who sell differently.  You can always learn something from everyone you talk to.

Postscript:  Part of the reason Bob Terson and I were speaking was about his new book Selling Fearlessly.  It’s about what he’s learned in a life of one call closes.  It’s on my list to read and review–can’t wait to get to it and learn even more.

Book CoverFor a free peek at Sales Manager Survival Guide, click the picture or link.  You’ll get the Table of Contents, Foreword, and 2 free Chapters.  Free Sample

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