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Just been listening to Daniel Pink’s book Drive. Drive is about what motivates us. One of the key motivators Pink talks about is the pursuit of mastery. Of course that made me think about mastery in sales.
Pink describes research about how people view intelligence. The research found that people fall into two groups: one group thinks of intelligence as something that can be improved and developed much like a muscle. The other group thinks of intelligence as something you are born with. Something you have a fixed quota of. Something you cannot improve. Only something you can measure.
In my travels through the world of sales I’ve seen much the same divide in mindsets when it comes to sales skills. There are sales people and sales managers that believe sales skills can be improved and evolved then there are others that just want to find “naturally born sellers”. Their interest is not in developing their people’s sales skills but in measuring them. Their focus is in assessing the sales candidates they find and cherry-picking the rock stars.
In Drive, Pink makes the point that mastery is only attainable by those that believe that their skills can be improved, added to. Those that believe their skills are fixed, pre-ordained cannot obtain mastery as they do not believe improvement is possible. They believe they have what they have and that’s that. Pink says mastery is obtained through constant attempts to make small improvements. Through lots and lots (and lots) of repetition. Mastery is a ten-year journey at least. Anything less is not likely to lead to mastery.
But how many sales people and organizations believe in the development of sales skills this much? Do you try to improve your sales skills every day? Have you been trying for at least ten years? Does your sales manager coach you how to improve every month, every week, every day? Or do they just measure you? Do they just want to know what they’ve got? And if your score is too low get something (someone) else?
We’ve heard the sports stories of Michael Jordan making 500 free throws after practice or Tiger Woods or Vijay Singh hitting several hundred golf balls on the driving range. These are the examples of mastery we are familiar with but what about in the sales profession?
Do you make the extra calls last thing in the evening when everyone else has gone home? Do you try to improve your call/email scripts every day? Do search out new sales techniques from colleagues? Read sales books? Pay for sales training and sales training products out of your own pocket? Do you make the extra free throws after the work day is over? Hit the extra golf balls? Do your colleagues? Do your competitors?
So are you into mastery? What about your organization? What tips can you share for achieving mastery? What has worked for you? What can you tell others that are striving to master this profession of sales?