Why continuous learning is important in B2B sales and how to do it on road?
Though you could be an expert or have a Ph.D. in a certain field the possibility that you don't know something about your subject matter is actually quite high. The biggest difference between an extremely successful career and an ordinary one is the ability to learn continuously and keep improving on a regular basis. Apart from being successful or not, staying relevant would increase the chances for your career to survive in an ever-changing business world.
B2B Sales is a learnable skill that is congruent with the effort that you put in. Below is a chart depicting the learning curve when we are introduced to a new subject matter. We usually learn to a point at which where we are comfortable in accomplishing a given task. However, over a period of time the learning stops and the progress flattens.
This is exactly when the trouble starts and complacency begins to set in!
We stop putting in the extra effort to learn new things once we hit a plateau.
Source: Working Equestrian
If this pattern continues over a period of time, there would be only one result; being replaced by something better. The same theory applies in sales, especially in B2B sales. Through recent advances in technology and interactions via social media, B2B sales is evolving at a rapid pace.
B2B Salespeople need to constantly learn to compete because the value and stakes of each opportunity to be a sale is really high., Staying relevant to the current trends in their specific industry is immensely important to a successful B2B person/transaction. When a customer gets a vibe that the salesperson doesn’t know about new advances in the industry, they are not going to take this salesperson seriously. One of the key strategies for a B2B salesperson to grasp is, selling to different generations of customers. The selling methods differ from generation to generation and individual to individual. Unless the salesperson puts serious effort into learning these new. relevant topics, he or she is going to get out competed.
The interesting fact is that most salespeople are aware of this. Nonetheless, surprisingly very few salespeople put in the effort to learn anything new on a regular basis.
It’s no one’s responsibility but our own to improve ourselves.
It’s very easy to start learning something new, but it’s hard to keep doing it on a regular basis when you cannot see an immediate benefit from your efforts. One way to work around this problem is setting small goals. Small goals must be time bound, fit to your schedule and can obtain measurable results. Worrying about immediate results is only going to discourage you from forming learning habits. It’s all about the small efforts that you put in on a regular basis. These short term goals will show impactful results over a period of time.
This is how real progress looks like. The plateaus and small dips in the chart should not be confused with a lack of progress, it is only small setbacks on an incline to mastery.
Now the key question: How can a traveling salesperson do this when they are traveling all the time?
The answer is time optimization. Time should be optimized only for the important tasks. Tools like the FreJun app can help you manage small tasks such as giving you a heads up about your upcoming meetings, to freeing up time so that you can focus on more important tasks on your list. There are numerous podcasts and audiobooks that we can subscribe and listen to when we are traveling on the road or in the air (I will be discussing various sales learning resources in detail in the next blog).
Another great way to learn is to meet industry experts or to attend meet-up sessions in different cities. These conferences would give you a unique opportunity to broaden your network and to understand the local culture. Adapting and learning about different ways of life plays such an important role in successful international selling.
Employers should also encourage their salespeople to learn without expecting an immediate benefit in return. Investing in their own salesforce would help in the long run by preparing them for the ever-changing business landscapes.This would also save money for the company in general as the most successful salespeople can be retained, instead of continuously searching and training new hires.
Sales, like any other field, needs continuous learning of new skills and a constant individual update about the Industry. It’s very similar to playing a sport. Professional athletes are always looking for new ways to improve their skills to reach new objectives. Otherwise, if they are always complacent with how they play, they cannot improve, and they could be cut from the team, or replaced with new players. A similar thing could happen to a salesperson if there is no continuous learning.