“Everyone has an opinion, and….”
Have you heard this expression? My sense of common decency won’t let me complete it here.
“Everyone is on social media….”
This just seems true – but if you put the two together…
I’ve seen it more times than I can count, but it still surprises me how passionately some people rail against sales books, sales trainers, sales trainings, sales consultants and the like – effectively, people who generate and share content on places like LinkedIn and for a living with book readers, clients and interested people on social media.
Maybe you think that I’m being overly sensitive. I do generate and sell a lot of that content myself – but I think there is actually a problem here, and if you are trying to learn to sell better, these adamant naysayers can distract you from a way of thinking about this content, and a way of using it that can be extremely productive and helpful for you.
The idea is about having mental models.
I hate to have you click away from my article in the middle, but the article linked below talks about the value of using mental models to enhance our way of seeing things from new perspectives and improving our ability to think well. Give it a read and come back. If you want to learn how to best use content to help you learn, it’s an important article to read to help you get better at that:
WARNING – the first bit is somewhat math intensive, please push past that to the section called “What is a Mental Model” to get to the part most relevant to this article.
Are you back? Great. So here’s the point:
What the people I described at the beginning of my article complain about, for example – are things like the tired old overused stories some sales content generators use over and over again, like the idea that “customers don’t buy drill bits because they want drill bits, the buy drill bits because they need to make some holes”
Valuable idea? Absolutely.
Worthless? That depends on what you do with it and how you think about it.
So even if you know the drill bit story, you might hear it explained or read about it in a slightly new way that opens up a new line of thinking for you.
But what are you going to do with this new line of thinking?
THE DANGER OF NOT HAVING A MENTAL MODEL
When I was new in sales, I went to seminars and read books hoping to walk away with an entirely new system for selling – like, throw out everything I know and start fresh with everything from the course or book.
What I quickly realized what that most of the time, a lot of the material in the course or the book would not be directly useful for me, but if there were just a few or even one idea I could take into my work to improve it, then it was worthwhile.
What got me to that realization, was developing a high-level model of how I did my work.
Without it, I had nothing to cling to; I was like a free-floating entity adrift on the high seas.
But as soon as I had a high-level model, a framework for how to find prospects, how to initiate a conversation and how to progress through that conversation to a close – everything changed.
Now, instead of throwing out my entire selling system for something that felt like it might work better, I had a skeleton to flesh out. I could swap out pieces and ideas, try things in this part or that part – but the overall framework or model held it all together, and gave me some consistency to help me experiment, learn, improve and grow – within a system.
So instead of going from one system to another, it became about having a high-level system, and incrementally improving over time.
And – to tie this to the title of this article – the proper use of sales content in all forms became testing it against the system – the model, and making a conscious decision based on experimentation about what really works – for me – and what doesn’t.
What will really make me better, versus what sounds good?
What will make me grow, versus what makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong, or at least less well than I could?
USING MODELS TO IMPROVE – STEP-BY-STEP OVER TIME
Once we have established a core model for doing something, we can most effectively improve over time when we try new things and add them into a disciplined set of activities, a working model that is executed with consistently in the short term but is flexible over time. Reading, trying new things, talking with people, observing our own results and getting feedback from peers, coaches and managers will allow us to grow.
Those who criticize books and sales trainers for not having some new idea may be right sometimes, but they may also be missing the point. Those who remain open to new ways of thinking that are frequently spawned by new ideas – or old ideas heard in a new way because we are different now than the person we were when we first heard the idea, can also be useful if we are open to letting it be.
At the end of the day, those who want to grow and improve need to take responsibility for their own growth, and if books help – great. If something else helps, try it.
To those that dismiss the things that work for other people, maybe your time would be better spent finding what works for you.
In my own work, I use my homegrown seven-step sales process as a starting point for exploring these questions and establishing this core model.
Those who dismiss the concept of sales process miss the point. It is the framework.
How solid is yours and what are you using it for?