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I remember how my old man “taught” me to swim. He launched me into the deep end of the swimming pool. I think I was four years old. I replaced the water I was taking in through my mouth and nose with tears as I struggled to tread water. By the time I paddled over to the side, I was over the shock. And I was over my fear of the water. I still couldn’t swim, but I was in the water tooling around.

You don’t learn to swim by reading books about swimming. You learn to swim by getting in the water, struggling against yourself, and struggling against the water. Swimming is completely unnatural. Until you learn to swim.

You can’t learn to ride a bicycle by reading a How To book on cycling. You have to throw your leg over the bicycle and start riding. You have to struggle against yourself, against gravity, and find your balance. You fall over and skin your hands and knees from time to time. Then your up on the bike, and in my case, free at last.

Experience is a great, if sometimes brutal, teacher.

Experience is a Great (and Brutal) Teacher

Think about experience as a teacher. Would you allow a heart surgeon to perform your heart surgery having read all of the books but never having opened a chest?

You don’t learn to sell by reading a book. You learn to sell by trying to win clients, struggling against yourself, and bumping up against the challenges that brings. You learn to sell by studying your wins, and by taking lessons from your losses.

You learn from your experiences. You can’t learn to sell by reading books.

Books are Great (and Forgiving) Teachers

You can’t learn to sell by reading books. You can only learn to sell a lot better by reading books.

Reading exposes you to the ideas and principles to go along with your experience. Reading provides you with a greater understanding of why what’s working for you works, and it helps you understand why what’s not working isn’t.

When you combine reading with your experience, you are able to uncover ideas, to connect them to your experience, and to make distinctions. You get new ideas to incorporate into your sales game. And, you can learn from other people’s mistakes, saving you from having to learn by repeating what someone else has already learned for you.

You learn to sell through experience. You learn to sell better by combining your experience with reading and studying.


How did you learn to sell?

What were the toughest lessons experience doled out?

What have you learned from experience that isn’t found in any book?

What have you learned by reading after you had some experience?

Sales 2013
Post by Anthony Iannarino on January 14, 2013

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino

Anthony Iannarino is an American writer. He has published daily at thesalesblog.com for more than 14 years, amassing over 5,300 articles and making this platform a destination for salespeople and sales leaders. Anthony is also the author of four best-selling books documenting modern sales methodologies and a fifth book for sales leaders seeking revenue growth. His latest book for an even wider audience is titled, The Negativity Fast: Proven Techniques to Increase Positivity, Reduce Fear, and Boost Success.

Anthony speaks to sales organizations worldwide, delivering cutting-edge sales strategies and tactics that work in this ever-evolving B2B landscape. He also provides workshops and seminars. You can reach Anthony at thesalesblog.com or email Beth@b2bsalescoach.com.

Connect with Anthony on LinkedIn, X or Youtube. You can email Anthony at iannarino@gmail.com

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