A professional sports team spends the majority of their time practicing, honing both their individual skills and their ability to play well as a team. They spend very little time actually playing.
A great musical act or theater production looks effortless only because you didn’t see the countless hours that went into practice and rehearsal. They rehearse for far more hours than they perform.
The military spends far more time training than they ever do running military operations; the stakes are too high to do anything less. They train even during engagements.
In sales, we spend almost all of our time performing and very, very little time practicing, rehearsing, and training. We don’t have the time or resources to practice as much as we would wish. Instead, we have to ensure that our performances also accomplish the learning that comes from practice.
Here’s how to turn every performance into practice so you can hone and improve your skills from sales interaction to sales interaction.
Review Your Own Game Films
Every football play is designed to achieve a certain outcome. A football team also gets to practice running the plays until they master them (even then they don’t always work during a contest). They also get watch the game film to understand the mistakes they made and how they might improve.
Sales interactions also have predetermined outcomes. If you know the intended outcome, you can very easily determine whether or not it was achieved. But we don’t have game films that we can review to see our mistakes.
Your Notes Are Your Game Film: Take thorough and meticulous notes during sales calls. You don’t need to divert your attention or disengage from a conversation to take good notes. Make sure you write down the most important statements, questions, and observations that you make during the sales call. Your notes are your game films.
Fill in the Gaps: When you leave the sales call, take time to review your notes and to jot down a summary of what was said, what was asked, and recreate the conversation as best as you can. If you do this while it is fresh in your mind, you will have much easier time recreating the experience in a way that provides a learning opportunity. Fill in the gaps when you get in your car or when you return to your office.
Tell the Story: If you can share the sales call with your sales manager or another salesperson, telling the story from your notes and your memory can help bring it to life and help you remember the conversation. Telling the story is great way to relive the sales interaction, especially all of the critical facts and details.
Analyze the sales call. Take the time to analyze the sales call. What was your intended outcome? Did you achieve that outcome? What worked? What didn’t work? What mistakes did you make? What did you forget to do that you really wish you had done? If you could do the sales call over again, what would you change? What did you do that you would do again?
Apply the learning to future calls. One of the reasons that practice is so powerful is that it provides experience that can be utilized in the future. You may not be able to practice like a professional sports team or a musical act, but you can absolutely observe the lessons you have learned during a performance and learn from them. What did you learn from this interaction that will help you perform better in future sales interactions? What new plays do you need to run? What plays do you need abandon?
Make every performance a chance to practice and to learn with an eye towards improving. You may not be able to train every day, but you can make every interaction an opportunity to improve.
How much time do you spend training, practicing, and rehearsing?
What do you do to regularly improve your performance?
Do you always take advantage of the learning opportunities that you can gain from your day-to-day sales efforts?
How much have you improved over the last 6 months? The last 12 months? Is this visible in your sales results?
How can you derive lessons from every sales interaction?