Today I spoke with Alex Warr at Relevance, Inc. Alex is just beginning to build a plan to improve his personal sales skills and abilities. He has taken the initiative to lead his company’s sales efforts himself, and he took the initiative to start looking for ways to improve his abilities on his own.

I love this story.

More still, I love the language that Alex used when talking about improving himself. He said that he “needs to level up.” Leveling up is gamer-talk. It’s the language that young people who play video games use to talk about what they do, and it has crept into their vernacular.

I love this choice of words, and I love the metaphor. Improvement really is leveling up, just like a video game. How do you level up?

Complete a Difficult Objective

To level up in a video game you have to take on and achieve a difficult objective. Normally, the task is a little beyond your ability. Most of the time, you have to fail a few times to even figure out what you are really supposed to do.

But completing the objectives increases your abilities, and it makes it easier for you to complete those same level objectives again later. It’s no fun to play the same level over and over again because it doesn’t stretch your new abilities; it’s too easy. So instead, you take on new difficult tasks.

This is a perfect analogy for selling. You get it wrong. You learn. You complete the difficult objectives and use what you learn to take on an even greater challenge.

Complete All the Tasks

On your way to completing your objective, you have to complete all the little tasks that lead up to that objective. You can’t skip ahead. You have to complete the little challenge in front of you in order to advance to the bigger challenge.

It’s a lot like sales. First you have to complete the task of opening the relationship and scheduling an appointment with your dream client, and then you have to complete all the cascading tasks that follow on your way from target to close.

Follow the Map

Many of the most popular video games have a map. They have a path that you need to follow in order to make it from your starting point to the completion of your objective. Once you know the map, you know where all of the hidden dangers lie, and as you learn the map you can easily navigate it without making the same mistake over and over again.

We call this a sales process. Like a video game, there is a lot of room for creativity. You have try things to see what is most effective, especially when the game we call sales can throw a lot of random challenges your way. But mostly, you know where you are. You know what works best most of the time. And you know what dangers to avoid.

Collaborating With Other Players

I told my 13-year old son I was writing this post, and I mentioned that you a team of players for most video games now. He corrected me. Said he, “You need the right team of players.”

His point? There are some people that are incredibly more effective at helping you to play the game at a better level. They study. They play hard. They’re passionate. These are the people you want on your team. You don’t want the dabblers.

No one in sales succeeds on their own. If they deliver for their clients, they do so with the help of a bunch of passionate, engaged, subject-matter experts who all know their part and that play it well. You need to be a master of building the right team to serving your clients, and then you need to lead and manage that team—just like sales.

Have a Plan

Another contribution from my gamer here: He suggested that complete all of the tasks that lead to completing your objective that you need to have a plan. He said it’s important not to just run in to any challenge and wing it.

He offered as evidence, this: Leroy Jenkins.

Many of the tasks in video games (and sales) require that you have a plan. You need to know what you need to accomplish, when it needs to be accomplished, and how it is best accomplished. Team members need to know their roles, and they need to what their individual objectives are when it comes to slaying dragons.

You need a well thought strategy that enables you to succeed in overcoming difficult and challenging obstacles.

Collect the Rewards

Completing the challenges leads to rewards. You are rewarded with better skills. You are awarded with experience points. You are rewarded with treasure. And in many games, you are now given the signs of being successful; you get accouterments that serve as your bragging rights.

Need I say anything about the analogous rewards and the bragging rights? Bonuses? Spiffs? Commissions? How about the greatest of all bragging rights: your client list?

What are you doing to level up?


How do you level up?

What level are you now and what level do you need to achieve?

Sales 2011
Post by Anthony Iannarino on November 10, 2011
Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an author of four books on the modern sales approach, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. Anthony posts here daily.
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