Have you ever heard Venus Williams or Tom Brady or Derek Jeter complain about practicing? For top performers, a commitment to practice is a given.
So when asked to train or practice, why do so many salespeople respond with something like: “We don’t need to practice, we are experienced.” And, why do so many of their managers shrug their shoulders and move on? I call this the Myth of Sales Experience.
Why is this so common? (Please share any ideas in the comments.)
Here is what I have seen and heard over the years:
👉 They think of training as remediation
👉 They think they are too busy working deals to train or practice
👉 They have experienced training that was not good or not really a good use of their time
👉 They think they have already mastered their product pitch and buyer objection handling, so have nothing else to learn
But here is the hard truth — relying on individual experience in sales leads to mediocre results at best.
Simply put: Buyers want to be known individually, and we all have to speak to many, many different buyers. Most sales teams have 6 to 8 different buyer personas in several different market segments with a range of key business challenges or goals. That means sales teams need to be “situationally fluent” enough to version their sales conversation in dozens of ways.
Individual experience is going to consistently fall short. The only solution is to leverage the “power of the collective” to actively capture and share team-best practices for personalization to every buyer.
So, what to do?
✔️ Ask your sales team for an hour a week or 3% of their time for team-based practice.
✔️ This can be in small peer groups or as an entire sales team. In either case, the time should be spent “sharing stories from the field” and getting better at personalizing for every single type of buyer conversation.
✔️ Let them know that practice will make them a lot more effective in the time they spend working deals.
✔️ Let them know this is not remediation, but learning between professional peers to sharpen their craft.
✔️ Let them know that while you are impressed by their product knowledge, you will be a lot more impressed when you hear them speak individually to the goals, aspirations, and needs of a dozen different buyers.
Your team may be skeptical, but give team-based practice a try.
💡 If your experience is anything like mine, I think you will see a lot of light bulb moments as your “experienced” team members realize that there is a lot they can learn from their peers to personalize their own buyer conversations.