By Dave Kahle
Over the decades that I’ve been involved in sales, I’ve worked with tens of thousands of sales people. Certain negative tendencies — mistakes that sales people make — keep surfacing. Here is number five of my top five. See to what degree you (or your sales force) may be guilty of them.
Mistake Number Five: No investment in themselves.
Here’s an amazing observation. No more than 5% of active, full time professional sales people ever invest in their own growth. That means that only one of 20 sales people have ever spent $20.00 of their own money on a book on sales, or subscribed to a sales magazine, taken a sales course, or attended a sales seminar of their own choosing and on their own nickel.
Don’t believe me? Take a poll. Ask your sales people or your colleagues how many of them have invested more than $20.00 in a book, magazine, CD, etc. in the last 12 months. Ask those who venture a positive answer to substantiate it by naming their investment. Don’t be surprised if the answers get vague. You’ll quickly find out how many sales people in your organization have invested in themselves.
Sales is the only profession I know of where the overwhelming majority of practitioners are content with their personal status quo.
Why is that? A number of reasons.
Some mistakenly think that their jobs are so unique that they cannot possibly learn anything from anyone else. This attitude dooms them to a lifetime of mediocrity.
Still others think they know it all. They have, therefore, no interest in taking time from some seemingly valuable thing they are doing to attend a seminar or read a book. They are destined to be obsolete in a world that is changing faster than at any time in the past.
Some don’t care. Their focus is hanging on to their jobs, not necessarily getting better at them.
But I think the major reason is that the overwhelming majority of sales people do not view themselves as professionals and, therefore, do not have professional expectations for themselves. They worked their way up from the customer service desk or they landed in sales by chance, and they view their work as a job to be done, not a profession within which to grow.
They are content to let their companies arrange for their training or development. And between you and me, they would prefer that their companies really didn’t do anything that would require them to actually change what they do.
Overcoming this tendency
Decide to fix it. It really is that simple. If you rarely, if ever, actually invest in your own growth, then decide to fix it. Decide to view your job as a profession, and decide to be a professional. That means that, of course, you‘ll invest in your own growth.
Once you make that decision, then it’s easy to come up with resources to do so. Decide to go to at least one seminar a year, and start watching your mail box for likely suspects. Decide to read a book once a month, and visit the library or your local book store regularly. Decide to expose yourself to new and good ideas, and regularly visit the websites and newsletters that support sales people.
Once you decide to do it, the doing is easy. It’s the decision that’s required.
These are the five most common negative tendencies that I see. It may be that you and your colleagues are immune to these dampers on success. Good for you. But if you are not immune, and if you spot some of your own tendencies in this list, then you are not reaching your potential for success. You have tremendous potential for success — for contentment, confidence and competence – that is being hindered by these negative behaviors. Rid yourself of these negative tendencies, and you’ll begin to reach your potential.