Pick It, Practice It, Master It and Repeat

I’ve been very active in combat sports in one form or another for almost 30 years, specifically Wrestling, Judo/Jiu-Jitsu and Kick Boxing. Like sales all these sports require learned and continuous practice of a myriad of specific skills. When I was younger I wanted to learn it all and quickly. I would watch video after video go to seminar after seminar and see myself with the same mediocre results over and over again. I would take a lot of different skills and try to squeeze it all in a 2 hour practice and nothing would stick. When it came to competition everything went out the window because I was trying to focus on too much at once and I did not give myself any opportunity to really master any one skill.

My wrestling coach in High School pulled me aside one day in the middle of practice and asked me a question that has stuck with me my entire life. “Leigh!! Who do you want to be?” He said “A jack of all trades and master of none or do you want to master a few trades and jack’em all, your choice!” He finished as he walked away to tend to my other team mates. It took a while for that one question to really sink in. When I was a teenager my wrestling hero was a 6 time world champion and Olympic gold medalist by the name of John Smith. He had a single leg take down that was so solid the opposition would watch videos over and over again to look for weaknesses but very rarely could come up with a strategy to stop it. It was a single leg take down, the one you learn your first day the most basic of all the wrestling skills, he mastered it to a gold medal.

What does this have to do with sales and moving the business? Plenty, companies spend so much time and money to provide their field people with different selling skills and products that can be applied in the field. They spend millions of dollars filling our heads with corny acronyms and a multitude of selling strategies to get those products to market. Are they making the same mistakes or are you? Are you trying to be a jack of all trades and getting lost in the transaction only to lose the sale for lack of focus or too much focus on too many things? The three “It” strategy is just some silly easy to remember way to develop skills that today has accumulated into a very successful career for me personally. It helped me and I hope it can help you, so here we go.

1: Pick It:  Hopefully you have a product line and selling strategy that you believe in and are willing to commit to it because if you don’t this will not work. Remember, whatever you decide to focus on, you own it. You need to commit to yourself that you will not only pick it but stick with it because you will make a lot of mistakes along the way. Giving up and setting it to the side and never picking it up again will be easy especially if it takes longer than most to master it. No matter what, stay committed!

2: Practice It:  Reach out to your peers, role play. If you have been doing this for a while you probably have a good idea of the kind of objections you will face. If not ask your most experienced peers to give you a lot of push back in the role play. Write those objections down and think to yourself as to how you will answer to them while building value and providing a meaningful need for your product. Remember, it’s about sticking to your strategy until you get it right. It will feel awkward not to change course in the conversation, fight that urge, if need be start over again.

4: Master It:  Winston Churchill once said that “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”  When adding a new skill don’t expect every attempt you make to be perfect because it never is.  It’s never “All or nothing” you have nothing to lose and everything to gain when you succeed. The end result here is to hard-wire a new behavior, you must push yourself and make it part of your routine, keep moving forward no matter how many times it flops. Keep tabs on your mistakes, take the time to evaluate them and continue to fine tune your approach.  You will master it.

5: Repeat:  The more you do it the easier it becomes and then it becomes part of you. Never let it go, once you are comfortable move on to the next one. Eventually you’ll have a tool box of some iron clad skills to make you a success in the field.

Happy Selling!