June 6

Do You Have A Practice Averse Sales Culture?


Every day, we see people gathering in bars and restaurants to watch a sporting event, flocking to theaters to be mesmerized by actors and actresses or coming home from a business meeting, inspired by  hearing a powerful, motivational speaker.

What’s the common thread?

Each scenario features individuals and groups who believe in and have honed the art of practice. After all, nobody enjoys watching athletes stumble on the field, actors forget their lines, or speakers constantly refer to their notes rather than engaging the audience. Human beings admire those who practice and master their craft.

So, why do many sales professionals and managers shy away from role-playing and practice when it's evident that this is the key to excellence?

Here are three reasons I’ve observed while working with hundreds of sales organizations.

#1: Arrogance. Arrogance is behaving or acting like you know more than you do or more than other people. My opinion is that the sales profession can be an arrogant profession. We are the only profession that seems to think that we can become masterful without engaging in deliberate practice. Arrogant people lack humility. In the sales profession, this often results in a salesperson’s inability to admit that they aren’t as good as they need to be. As a result, they don’t practice or ask for help.  

Low humility combined with denial and low self-awareness leads to no practice and limited mastery.

Lack of practice and mastery also applies to the role of sales management. Arrogant sales managers don’t believe they need to practice training and coaching skills. After all, they were a top producer, they know how to sell. The problem is that exceptional selling skills do not naturally translate into a person’s ability to teach. As the late John Wooden said, “Do not mistake your expertise with your ability to teach.”

#2: Ignorance.  Avoidance of practice may not be arrogance. It could be ignorance. “You simply don’t know what you don’t know.”

When working with sales organizations, I emphasize that great sales and sales leadership is a combination of mastering the psychology of sales, the physiology of sales and consultative selling skills.

Let’s look closer at the physiology of sales. Many sales leaders and salespeople don’t realize that real change cannot happen until you change the structure of your brain. It’s called neuroplasticity. Just as muscles are strengthened through repetition, neural pathways in the brain are strengthened through consistent practice. For example, when you begin a weight lifting program, you have flabby muscles. However, with repetition, these flabby muscles are replaced with “fab” muscles, masterful muscles.

Instead of asking how long it will take to become masterful, ask yourself, how many reps will it take to achieve mastery?

#3: Lack of a strong WHY.  Does each person on your sales team know their WHY for working and achieving success? Do you know the WHY for each person on your sales team?

The reality is that if there isn’t a clear and passionate reason behind a person’s WHY, he or she will never do WHAT it takes to be successful. And in sales and sales management, the WHAT often means carving out time to practice, practice, practice.   

I’m living proof of this. When I entered this profession over 23 years ago, I knew my WHY. I was and still am passionate about teaching, speaking and helping people do better in their personal and professional lives.

Initially, I wasn’t masterful at selling these services.

I wasn’t masterful at teaching, coaching and speaking.

However, I was passionate. And as a result of that I was willing to do the WHAT.

  • I practiced a LOT.
  • I worked really hard.
  • I was humble enough to ask for coaching and advice.

As Simon Sinek emphasizes, the "WHY" is paramount in any endeavor or communication.

Do you have a practice sales culture or a practice-averse sales culture? Teach your sales team how to embrace the transformative power of practice in achieving sales excellence. Lose the arrogance, get smart and get clear on your WHY.

Good Selling!


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