The JF Guest Author Spot
Musically, I live in the distant past. If an archeologist found my iPod they'd be sure I died sometime in the early to mid 70's. My taste in music hasn't evolved past The Beatles, the Stones, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Who, ZZ Top, and Jethro Tull. I take great pride in being one of the few who can actually understand lyrics when sung by Bob Dylan.
But living in Texas, I have been exposed all my life to Country music and especially to one of the most mysterious, unexplainable religious experiences of the Country and Western crowd-the line dance. The line dance is supposed to be a highly choreographed, disciplined, synchronized dance where each move is replicated in perfect harmony be each dancer. When performed well, the line dance is like seeing one person in multiple forms (I told you it was a religious experience) stretched out in several lines moving effortlessly to music.
That, of course, is what is supposed to happen. It seldom does.
The failure of the line dance to live up to its promise starts at the very beginning-at the moment of conception of the line dancer so to speak. Watching line dancing being taught is the perfect analogy to sales being taught as the exact same process happens in both cases.
Many Country and Western bars have nights when an instructor tries valiantly to teach newbies how to line dance. The process-and the outcome-are always the same. The instructor lines the soon to be dancers up in nice neat lines and walks them through the steps of the dance to be learned. The instructor goes slowly waiting for each student to follow along at their own pace.
After a couple of 'dry' runs through the steps without music, the instructor moves the class along, adding music and stepping up the moves into real time. That is where the whole process breaks down.
Each group always has a couple of good dancers who catch on quickly and within a walk-through or two have the dance down pat. Most are struggling to catch on, to make sense of and master the moves. The instructor will go through the dance several times, each time leading the group, showing them by example exactly how do the dance.
But what are most of the students doing during these practice runs? Are they paying careful attention to the instructor and mimicking the correct moves? Not at all. Most are watching the feet of the student next to them, trying to mimic their moves, not the instructors. Not surprisingly, most are not learning the dance but are rather learning-and perfecting-the mistakes the person next to them are committing.
Usually at this point the instructor moves into personal coaching mode, taking one then another of the students and working with each individually to help them unlearn the wrong steps they've copied from their neighbor and replace them with the correct steps. Eventually the instructor manages to get most of the students to perform a somewhat reasonable semblance of the dance, although there are always a few who insist on having their own unique religious experience to the music.
The exact process is played out daily in thousands upon thousands of sales offices. Sales team members are given instruction in various aspects of selling with an instructor who is not only willing and able to demonstrate the correct steps, but who tries in the short time they have to work with individuals to help them master the moves. Yet the majority of salespeople instead of paying attention to the instructor are watching the feet of their neighbor, learning and mastering the mistakes they make.
Most of those who learn the line dance eventually-after a good deal of practice in the real world of the dance floor-gain a basic competence in the dance they learned. Strangely the same thing doesn't happen with salespeople. Unlike the dancers who are constantly surrounded by other dancers who have developed some competence in the dance, many salespeople are left with either only themselves to self-teach the correct moves or are surrounded by others who are struggling to correct the wrong moves they've learned.
Selling is a far more difficult skill to learn than a line dance, yet companies are content to have their training department, management team, or an outside trainer float in, present a strategy or two, maybe have time to spend a few minutes working with individual salespeople, and then they're gone, leaving the team members to figure out on their own what moves they mis-learned and how to correct them.
Rather than teaching their salespeople a new line dance, companies should be investing their time and their money in helping their sales team members perfect the dances they've mis-learned through concentrated coaching. If left to learn from one another, they'll learn and perfect the wrong moves-guaranteed.
Paul McCord is the president of McCord and Associates, a Houston, Texas based international sales training, coaching, and consulting company. He is the author of the Amazon and Barnes and Noble best-selling book on referral generation, Creating a Million Dollar a Year Sales Income: Sales Success through Client Referrals (John Wiley and Sons, 2008), and SuperStar Selling: 12 Keys to Becoming a Sales SuperStar www.powerreferralselling.com
Today's News: Over at Salesopedia, Clayton Shold is in conversation with Vince Poscente - just click on the banner below to listen in.
And here are a couple of really good blog posts you will enjoy: From Kevin Eikenberry "Are You A Positician?" and "Social Media: lipstick on a pig or a total makeover?" from Greg Verdino
You'll no doubt be delighted to hear that from September, I will be providing you with the JF Review, every Wednesday, where I will begin reviewing the mountain of books I currently have stacked up in my study, craving my attention - and still they keep coming!
Tomorrow: I will share with you an horrific story of negligence and incompetence, experienced by an ex-student of mine recently - think back to your first day in a new job.
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