Sales is one of the few career fields where ‘fake it till you make it’ is an actual strategy.
Unfortunately, when that technique works it often breeds salespeople who assume they don’t have anything new to learn. Instead of encouraging salespeople to up-level their skills, success unfortunately confirms a false sense of confidence that damages relationships and limits a salesperson’s ability to adapt to a changing sales environment.
We brought that challenge to a sales leader who understands the power of the words, ‘I don’t know’, and who has leveraged humility to not only find success in sales but also in preparing the next generation of salespeople. Raleigh Wilkins, a former Marine and CEO of Sales Platoon, sat down with us to discuss how the best salespeople systemize their own humility and use it as a driving force in their own continuous improvement.
Because we’re trimming hope from our sales strategy, we’ll use the acronym TRIM to guide us through creating a system with a trigger, ensuring it’s repeatable, building in ways to improve it and of course, ensuring it’s measurable and getting us results.
T – Trigger: In order to begin to up-level your skillset in the area you most need it, Raleigh advises you pay attention to criticism. Whether it comes from a peer or a leader, don’t shy away from criticism. Instead, ask, “Tell me more?”
What you hear will be the seed of your improvement. You may not need to make a change if the criticism isn’t coming from someone you want to emulate, but Raleigh says we should be asking, “Will my sales career be better if I make a change in that area?”
R- Repeatable: To systemize a way to continuously improve, Raleigh says we need to prioritize our improvement based on the outcomes we want. Criticism is ever-present in a salesperson’s life, so instead of diving into the next piece of criticism we receive, we need to ensure we’re racking and stacking it against the areas we know we most need to improve in.
For instance, if you know that you’d like to get better at driving meetings with qualified decision makers, pay particular attention to criticism in that area. If you don’t have a problem meeting your activity goals each week, then it may not be especially useful to prioritize improvement in that area right now.
I – Improvable: To better prioritize the criticism you receive against a plan to improve, you have to pay attention to metrics. What do your numbers tell you is your biggest area for improvement? And once you learn something new to improve in one of your priority areas, are you implementing it? What results is that new method producing? Does it eliminate the criticism and get you the results you’re after?
Each of those areas is important to track to ensure we’re always learning something new and actually testing it in the field.
M – Measurable: While monitoring success is important, Raleigh says that we should also be measuring how effective we are at teaching that technique or strategy to other members of our team. By sharing what we learn that works, we’ll attract those who are also seeking criticism and willing to up-level.
Being willing to embrace humility will not only make you a better salesperson, but also a better team member – a combination that will ensure you stay surrounded by salespeople and prospects who you can serve.