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Top Sales Trainer Asks: Do You Have The Courage To Sell Poorly?


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I was talking to a young musician today who was commenting on a symphony performance that he’ll be part of, on Saturday.

He discouraged me from attending because he and his colleagues have only had four practices, far fewer than they’re used to having.

His conductor, whom I’ve met on many occasions, is a fine person, incredibly dedicated to cultivating the talents of young musicians, and often, she plays along with them.

Imagine how surprised I was when this teen remarked : “I’m surprised she has the courage to play so poorly!”

That line stopped me in my tracks.

“The courage to play poorly” is nothing less than an astonishing phrase. First, it does take courage to play poorly, to go out on stage with insufficient rehearsals, and to be willing to make and accept mistakes, in ourselves and in others.

And second, I asked myself, how many of us are holding back from doing certain things, especially in selling, because we’re afraid to do poorly?

For example, there are lots of salespeople who rather endure route canals than to sit down and prospect by phone. Although some of their problem is technical, they may not know the best techniques, much of it comes from the fact that they don’t have the courage to do poorly.

One of my best trainees was a marketing manager with Xerox, who was happy as can be showing his colleagues, in sales, that my cold calling techniques worked.

Without any fanfare, he got through presentation after presentation, getting by screeners and voice mail, and he set a lot of solid appointments with senior executives.

For years I wondered what he had that so many others are missing, and this young musician put his finger on it: The manager had the COURAGE to do poorly.

And with that, he relaxed, and performed brilliantly.

There’s a powerful lesson in that; don’t you agree?

Dr. Gary S. Goodman is the best-selling author of 12 books, over 600 articles, and the creator of numerous audio and video training programs, including “The Law of Large Numbers: How To Make Success Inevitable,” published by Nightingale-Conant-a favorite among salespeople and entrepreneurs. For information about booking Gary to speak at your next sales, customer service or business meeting, conference or convention, please address your inquiry to: gary@customersatisfaction.com.

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  • Posted On January 7, 2007
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