In my article “Considerations for Entrepreneurs when Hiring a Salesperson,” I wrote about the importance of self-motivation. In the last few weeks I have heard sales managers dismiss basic sales training in light of their sales staff having many years of experience. Obviously experience has much credit, but if you’re hiring primarily based on this I have three points of caution. Today’s article is about why experience does NOT equal competence!
Why Experience Does NOT Equal Competence #1. They spent years doing wrong or outdated practices
Having studied volumes of sales literature over the last decade, it is evident that sales best practices have drastically changed. For instance, “Always Be Closing” is one sales adage that has almost completely lost relevance. Needless to say, I have met some “experienced” salespeople who are still practicing outdated principles. It is paramount for salespeople to constantly update their knowledge both in their profession and industry.
Why Experience Does NOT Equal Competence #2. They spent years NOT improving
Self-improvement often has little benefit in the short-term, but exponential returns in the long-run. It is no wonder that very few people I meet actively invest in reading books and attending seminars. Instead, they insist on learning things the hard way. While lessons from mistakes are most memorable, I feel that learning from others’ blunders is far less costly!
When a person has years of experience, they may be tempted to foster a closed mindset. They dismiss the importance of reinforcing sales basics, leaning instead on their tenure. A cursory look at professional sports figures reveals that they are masters of fundamentals. Larry Bird, a famous NBA basketball player from the 90s, practiced 500 free throws daily. This and his other disciplines granted him legendary status in his era. In the same way, salespeople need to constantly practice and improve on proven sales fundamentals.
Why Experience Does NOT Equal Competence #3. Their years of experience saw little success
As a natural consequence of using ineffective sales methods and never actively improving, a salesperson with years of experience may have had years of mediocrity. In other words, they have mastered the art of not getting fired!
Experience is one of the greatest teachers, but it must be accompanied by the right attitudes and activities. We all can benefit from learning from the experts and constantly working on our fundamentals. The result will be years of monumental success!
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