How Learning to Drive Can Help You Achieve Sales Mastery

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jan 09, 2017 @ 06:01 AM

driving.jpg
Image Copyright 123RF Stock Photo

I was on the phone with a client who spent some time telling me about how he follows the sales process, prepares the questions he wants to ask, makes sure he remembers to thoroughly qualify, prepares and plans his presentations and considers all of the possible objections he may encounter along the way.

That's all well and good - but it's too complicated.  It's much more like driving a car.  Let me explain:

When you learned to drive a car, you had to think about safety, where your two hands were to be placed on the wheel, where your feet can find the accelerator and break pedals, when to use your directionals, how to use the rear and side mirrors, when to turn use your high beams, the rules of the road, and if it was standard transmission, how and when to shift and use the clutch.  And that was before you actually drove anywhere!

Of course today, you don't give any of that a thought.  You didn't forget it. You learned it, internalized it, embraced it, and finally mastered it.  Mastery is the art of not having to think about what you are doing.  Most drivers can listen to the radio, carry on a conversation and navigate to their destination without giving a single thought as to how to drive the car.  Selling is the same.

At some point, salespeople are presented with the company's sales process, its stages, and the milestones of each stage.  If they are receiving effective sales training, they will also be trained on the methodology or conversation required to seamlessly move from milestone to milestone, along with the strategies and tactics to ask questions, build a case and get people to buy from them.   It's the same as when you learned how to drive and first sat in the driver's seat of your parents' car.  You were required to take professional driving lessons, drove your parents around in between lessons, and eventually (most of you) mastered driving a car.  Some people taking driving a bit further and go on to become professional drivers, including the best on the planet - NASCAR drivers.

Salespeople must go through the same process, including the professional instruction, practice and desire to be the best on the planet.  Most salespeople skip the parts in between learning (initial training) and mastery (effective selling) - internalizing and embracing - the two things that must occur prior to mastery.  The only way to get from learning to mastery is to practice!  Role play!  For more on role playing, see this article.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales mastery, sales effectiveness

How Music Can Definitely Help You Sell More

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Mar 18, 2015 @ 06:03 AM

music-and-selling

Next week, I have a special treat for my readers.  I will post an article that features my least read articles of all time - sounds very exciting, doesn't it?  While I was looking for the least read articles, I consistently came across a whole bunch of my articles that were related to music.  I found enough to create another article series.  By the way, do you know about my article series?  If you scroll down the left-side panel of any article on my Blog, you'll come to a section where the heading is KURLAN ARTICLE SERIES.  You will find 21 series of articles and my personal favorite is the one where I Compare Salespeople to Children.  In the past 10 years, I have written 33 articles with a tie-in to kids and not surprisingly, they are almost always about my kid at various ages.  Anyway, I just realized that I already have a series on Music and Selling, but it's missing a few articles that should have been included there.  So check out that series, and then read these articles too:

When are Salespeople Too Old to Sell Effectively? 10 Conditions

Can the Beatles Help You Close Big Deals?

Mastering Sales and Sales Management

The Impact of Coaching Salespeople and Sales Managers

Top 7 Reasons Why Ineffective Salespeople Get By

Trigger Events - The Anatomy of Sales Wisdom

Professional Sales and the All-Star Jazz Performance

Music is all around us and you can't escape from it if you wanted to.  But there's a lot you can learn from music, and music can definitely help you sell!  Music can set the mood, get you pumped, calm your nerves, or provide a great example.  Lyrics can make great positioning statements, be used to tell a story, or be used on slides.  Rhythms can help with pace and set a mood.  Music can be used to introduce you, a subject, or a point.  You can use music in the background of a presentation.

Mostly, you can use music to help your audience relate to you.  Everyone loves music and if you use a bit more music and a lot less of you talking, you can't help but be more successful!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, Sales Coaching, sales mastery, closing big deals, sales wisdom, the truth about old salespeople

Professional Sales and the All-Star Jazz Performance

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Aug 16, 2010 @ 08:08 AM

jazzOne of the most amazing musical performances I ever witnessed took place about 9 years ago in New Orleans.  We had front row seats at a small venue that advertised an "all star jazz band".  The first musician to arrive was the guitarist, who sat polishing his axe (guitar).  Next, the drummer arrived and introduced himself to the guitarist.  Then the bass player arrived and introduced himself to the first two.  The next to arrive were the saxophonist and trumpeter.  They did as the others did, shaking hands and setting up. Someone mentioned to the guitarist that this was a jazz gig, not a rock gig, and he should get his other guitar out.  The guitarist nodded and took out the more appropriate equipment.  Finally, at one minute before 8 PM, the organist walked on stage, introduced himself to the other five musicians, mentioned that he was the musical director, handed out the arrangements, sat at the organ, and at 8 PM, yelled, "one, two, three, four" and the band began to play.  They had not only NEVER PLAYED together before, they didn't even KNOW each other!  Despite that, they were tight, in sync, confident, flexible and completely aware of the expectations, where they were in each tune, and what they had to do to make each song sound like they had rehearsed it together a dozen times.  It's their masterful ability to listen, observe and improvise within a defined structure.

If you want to know what professional salespeople should be able to do, it's exactly that! 

They should be able to walk into any meeting, at any time, at any stage of a sales process, and any stage of the buying process, having never met a participant, and within minutes, be in sync, confident, flexible and completely aware of the expectations, where they are in the sales process, and what they must do to move that sales process forward to a successful outcome.  It's their masterful ability to listen, observe, and ask unscripted (improvised) questions within a defined structure (sales process).

Professional Selling is just like being in the All-Star Jazz Ensemble.  It's being so good and so experienced, that one can perform perfectly, on demand, in any environment, despite tremendous pressure, regardless of product knowledge and expertise.

How many of your salespeople have this capability?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, Sales Coaching, listening and questioning, sales management function, sales mastery

6 Steps to Sales Mastery - How to Get Salespeople to Sell More

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Feb 04, 2010 @ 09:02 AM

Salespeople must evolve through six levels of development before they can consistently and successfully execute any process, concept, strategy or tactic they are trained and coached to perform. The six levels are:

  1. Listening
  2. Understanding
  3. Internalizing
  4. Embracing
  5. Attempting
  6. Mastering

If there are hiccups at any one of those levels, they may continue on to the next level, but with an improper balance. For example, if they weren't listening carefully, and didn't quite hear the entire message, they will inappropriately approach the next 5 levels.  If they listened but understood the message differently from the way it was intended, the next 4 levels will be wrong.  If they listened and understood, but selected a poor frame of reference for internalizing the message, they probably won't embrace it. 

Let's assume that they have properly advanced through the level of embracing. The key level of evolving takes place at the level of attempting. 

Some salespeople never evolve from level 4, embracing to level 5, attempting.  This is where underlying weaknesses have the most affect.  Those hidden, underlying weaknesses cause discomfort and hesitancy - preludes to lack of confidence - preventing them from taking what they believe to be a big risk.  Objective Management Group's work in this area, and the deep and wide sales force evaluations they conduct, help shine light on these hidden weaknesses. I have written a series of articles on the science, data and research behind this work.

Others make the attempt, but they are uncomfortable and do it poorly. and their undesirable result may cause them to give up right then and there.  Finally, after making several attempts, some fail to master the concepts and continue to practice them poorly without improvement.

Keep in mind that this process takes place for each and every concept, strategy, tactic and method that they learn.  Many clients ask why it takes so long - so many months - to train and develop salespeople.  The concepts can be taught in a day.  But the other 5 steps to evolving take months, especially getting them over the weaknesses that prevent them from attempting and executing.  There are two ways to convey these concepts and most companies, in a great hurry to fix things, choose the comfortable, rather than effective option!

  1. Feed them with a fire hose via a one or two day seminar and perhaps reinforce it quarterly, semi-annually or annually.
  2. Present the fire hose but don't spray it down their throats.  Spoon feed and reinforce daily through coaching, bi-weekly or monthly via follow up training, and don't ever stop. Hold them accountable for the six levels each and every day.

How many of your salespeople have evolved to mastery?

Why not more of them?  Whose fault is it?

(c) Copyright 2010 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Sales Force, sales management functions, sales mastery

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About Dave

Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years.  Dave's Blog earned a Bronze Medal in 2016 and this article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016. Read more about Dave.

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