Your learning/self-improvement process is probably obsolete

By November 25, 2009Uncategorized

by Todd Youngblood

I don’t know enough.  (Notice the first sentence is the same as last month???)  The pace of change in the world of sales, sales management and consulting is such that my traditional process for learning simply can’t keep up.  I know you’re in the same boat.  Guess what?  We can help each other.

Anyone who has been successful in the sales game is a good student.  To solve our customers’ problems, we need to know – therefore we first need to learn – more than they do about not only the problems, but also the solutions.  But my goodness… new ideas, technologies and applications are flooding into our world faster than ever.  Something’s gotta’ give.  We need to change the way we learn.I hate to use the old three-legged stool analogy yet again, but if fits anywhere, if it fits with regard to constantly and rapidly increasing our personal knowledge and understanding.  A little research reveals that virtually all of us use a two legged approach to learning.  We first absorb information from web pages, books, blogs, podcasts, other people, etc., then roll that information around in our brains, combine it with what’s already there then move to the second leg, apply.  Next we observe what happens, absorb yet more information from the results produced and continue on with the two-step learning process.

Not good enough!

One of Albert Einstein’s pithier comments was, “You don’t really understand something until you can explain it to your grandmother.”  Think about that and recognize that you are not very good at teaching many of the things you are quite good at doing.  Why is that?

Quite simply, it’s because you don’t really understand.  Now – think about things that you can not only do well, but can also teach well.  Again, understanding is the difference maker.  So how can we deepen our understanding?

The answer is contribute.  There is absolutely no better way to learn something than to be put in the position of needing to teach it to someone else.  There is absolutely no better way to teach something than to first put it down in writing.  If you don’t believe me, call grandma right now and teach her how to articulate the value proposition you used for your last really big sale.

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After apologizing to grandma for confusing the daylights out of her, take the time to write down the customer’s “before” and “after” situations and why and by how much “after” is better.  Write out that winning value proposition.  Write-down specifically how it highlights the key improvements made to the customer situation.  Keep it all to 150 or so words.  Revise and rewrite it at least two or three times.

Assuming your grandma is still speaking to you, try teaching her again how to articulate your value proposition.  Pretty amazing difference, huh?

Don’t have time to expend that much effort?  Well, of course you don’t.  Not for everything…  But what about those dozen or so things that are fundamentally critical to your success?  To state the obvious, you simply cannot afford to not deeply and thoroughly understand those things.  For them, absorb/apply only doesn’t cut it.  So do it!  Contribute/Absorb/Apply!

Better yet, after you write it – publish it and invite others to comment on it.  You can publish it easily at the unique website of the Sales Knowledge Xchange.  (Think of it as the Wikipedia for sales and sales management.)

It’s a brave new world out there, folks.  To continue our personal success, each of us needs to adopt this 21st-century model for learning.

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