Back to Basics: Why Every Producer Needs Practice

In sales, competence and confidence go hand in hand.

If you’re really good at what you do, you’re bound to feel more confident. So simply put, if you constantly practice your sales skills, you’re going to be more competent—and develop a killer sales attitude in the process.

Unfortunately, there are two times when a salesperson stops practicing the basics in sales: when things are going poorly and when things are going well.

When the going gets tough and a salesperson feels like quitting, chances are they have stopped practicing the basics in sales—they’ve taken some shortcuts that are hurting them.

On the other hand, a salesperson might reach a new high in their career—and ends up doing the same stupid thing. This salesperson thinks they’re so good they can stop practicing sales basics. When they hit bottom, they get a negative attitude and wonder what happened.

Complacency will get you nowhere—and that’s especially true in sales. Consider professional basketball player Bob Petit: Even though he became one of the highest-scoring players in the sport, it wasn’t that way in the beginning.

As a freshman in high school, Petit was weak, frail and uncoordinated. All he really had going was the determination to practice until he became a quality athlete. Petit began with a wire coat hanger that he bent into the shape of a basketball hoop. Hour after hour, day after day, he threw tennis balls through his makeshift basket until his father eventually got him a real basketball and hoop.

Petit threw baskets after school every day, stopping only to eat dinner. It wasn’t too long before he became the star of his church team, then his high school team, then his college team and finally a professional team.

It’s the same for you and me. Shortcuts don’t exist on the road to sales success. We all have to practice first—and then keep on practicing. It’s no wonder that the most talented sports figures, singers, dancers, movie stars, speakers and salespeople have coaches to refine their craft.

What are you doing on a regular basis to keep practicing and refining your sales skills? If the answer is “not much,” don’t expect much in the way of results.

Alan Zimmerman speaks to organizations that want to transform the people side of their business, focusing on communication, motivation, leadership and teamwork. He is the author of “The Payoff Principle: Discover the 3 Secrets for Getting What You Want out of Life and Work.”

Hang In There

It’s natural to feel disappointed and discouraged when things aren’t going well. But in sales, lose your positive attitude and lose everything—including the chance to turn things around.

Be wary of putting too much stock in your feelings. While emotions are a useful piece of data in any decision you make, they should not have the final say in doing what you know you should be doing. Your feelings deserve a voice, but not a veto. —A.Z.