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Experience Versus Learning

Experience versus Learning

In this week of exam results and futures being decided on whether high enough grades are reached, it’s worth having a look at how experience shapes what we know.  The saying: ‘If only I knew then, what I know now’ describes our future self looking back and wishing our experience could be retro added to protect us from the mistakes we’ve made.

Learning will teach us what to do, but we can only get experience from actually doing it. So, which is more important? It’s impossible to say because there are too many additional factors that come into play to influence the different outcomes.

In most businesses, experience is highly valued because with experience comes confidence.  Sales people are in a unique position because there is no specific ‘learning’ path to become a top salesperson, no exams to take, no quick starter course to catapult you into the top job. Experience then becomes the key to success but, and it’s a big but, experience can be limited to a specific sphere and not transferable.  The way to achieve consistent results in any sales environment is to make sure your sales people are selling the way you want them to.  They’re not all going to be the same type, they might be confident and experienced with a great track record (perhaps why you hired them), or they might be straight from school with zero experience and first job anxiety. Whether you have a mixed bunch or all similar in experience or lack of, how do you get your sales team all selling the way you want them to?   Simple. You tell them. You train them. You measure their results and you reward them for doing things the way you want.  The better your induction and onboarding, the better they’ll be set up for success.  Regular training will teach them new skills if they’re new to the workforce, or act as a refresher to get rid of any bad habits, if they’re experienced staff.

A good sales process, which matches experience with proper learning, is the key to ensuring all your team achieve their potential and in doing so, maximise your company’s success.  If you think your team is selling ok, and you don’t want to upset your top performers who are doing well enough to cover the shortfall from your less experienced people, take a good hard look and consider these possibilities:

  • There’s a sudden disruptor in your market
  • One or more of your top performers leave to join your competitor
  • You lose a couple of long term customers

One or more of these might happen at some point and they are all outside your control.  Introducing a sustainable sales system with regular training, performance management to develop your staff and reward and recognition for the behaviour you want to see, will ensure you can capitalise on potential opportunities.

Muhammad Ali said: “I hated every minute of training, but I said: ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion’.”

While gaining their experience in the field, give your sales people regular great training and you might just build yourself a team of champions!


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