How to Be An Effective Seller #5: Invest in Training and Education

Learn to work harder on yourself than on your job

Tony Robbins

All you have to do to earn more money in the same amount of time is to become more valuable

Jim Rohn

What separates amateurs from professionals, losers from winners, average from exceptional, is training.  And coaching. 

Consider the impact coach Bill Belichick has had on the New England Patriots. Before his arrival, no Super Bowl wins.  Since his arrival, six Super Bowl wins.   

As I transitioned from radio into TV advertising sales, I realized there was a great opportunity to make money ahead of me.

I was being paid 100% commission to sell a monopolistic product, and our clients spent an average of $50,000 per year – more than double what my average radio advertisers were spending. 

Before this my only training was from my newspaper advertising days.  Occasionally management would bring in consultants to go out on sales calls and teach us the basics of selling.    

Most of what I learned came from trial and error, and helpful mentors, and by emulating other successful salespeople.

But I knew this wasn’t enough, I knew that to separate myself from the pack and maximize my earnings I needed professional guidance.   

I decided to step up my selling game and invest in training with my own money. 

It’s different investing your own money in adult education, much different than paying for college or grad school.  There are no loans, it’s 100% cash, and it means you actually pay attention, attend class, study, and learn. 

There were two sales training programs I focused on – I’m sure there are others – but I would still recommend these two.

Dale Carnegie Training:  Foundational Sales Training

Dale Carnegie was a public speaker, lecturer and aspiring actor.  While broke and living in New York in the early 1900’s he began teaching public speaking to adults at the local YMCA.   

His courses became a hit across the country, and he went on to write several books.  Published in 1936, How to Win Friends and Influence People sold millions of copies and continues to sell today.  It was broken down into 4 parts:

  1. Fundamental Techniques in Handling People
  2. Six Ways to Make People Like You
  3. How to Win People to Your Way of Thinking
  4. Be a Leader – How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment

Dale Carnegie training is more entry level, more foundational.  In a nutshell, it’s a reminder you can catch more bees with honey than vinegar.

Warren Buffett famously credits his Dale Carnegie training with helping him overcome his fear of public speaking.

Everyone can benefit from going through their programs.  Crew Car Wash, an Indianapolis based car wash chain used to send all front-line employees through Dale Carnegie training.  I think it’s one of the main reasons for their success.

To this day, you encounter clerks who greet you with a smile, are dressed neatly, are unfailingly polite, consistent in their scripts, always asking for an up sell, and thanking you for your visit. 

Their car wash is impeccably clean – devoid of litter and oil spots – landscaped beautifully, and features stuffed animals dangling around to surprise and delight youngsters.

Dale Carnegie teaches the fundamentals of salesmanship.  They teach you how to present yourself and communicate in the business world, and this basic etiquette is as important to selling as blocking and tackling is to football. 

Sandler Sales Training:  Graduate Level Sales Training

Dale Carnegie taught me the fundamentals, but Sandler Sales Training was my graduate degree in sales.

The biggest distinction between Sandler training and, well, pretty much all other sales training is – they teach you to not act like every other salesperson. How do they do this? 

Sandler fosters your killer instinct.  Most salespeople want to be liked by their prospects.  Psychologically they’re more concerned about seeking approval than closing the sale.  And this is why they’ll give up on a sale rather than lean in and fight.  

They teach that prospects are not your friends.  Rather, prospects steal your time and information, and they lie, and they are constantly manipulating you.  And you should manipulate right back or you’ll never win.

Selling is one of the few professions where manipulation is expected from both the seller and the prospect. 

There are few professions where manipulation is considered an acceptable practice.  All sports for example, employ manipulation tactics to gain an edge on their opponents. 

In football they manipulate through deceptive play calling, strategy and signals.   Can you imagine a quarterback telling the other team what play he’s calling in a football game?  

Lawyers manipulate through rigorous cross examination, finding loopholes in the law, and by presenting your version of the story.  Do you really want your lawyer telling a jury your whole truth?

Chances are, most of the time when you buy something, you’ve been manipulated in some indirect way. 

When you buy groceries, you’re manipulated into believing the store you chose (and the products you purchased) may be cheaper, healthier or more delicious than at competing grocers.  They manipulate through store aesthetics, visual merchandising, advertisements, and by training their employees to up-sell. 

In a corporate setting manipulation is done through leverage – like a family relationship, or a referral, or some inside knowledge that gives you the upper hand.

This manipulation isn’t illegal, or unethical, it’s part of the game in the exchange of goods and services in our economy. 

David Sandler’s hallmark tactic is the up-front contract.  Before you spend time presenting any solutions, you come to a series of mutual agreements with prospects about the decision-making process.

How much pain does the prospect have?  And is she really motivated enough financially to solve that pain?  Are you even a good fit from a budget and solution standpoint?  And are you 100% clear on what the decision-making process looks like?   

No presentation is made until those issues are understood, so you can be assured a decision will be made, wasting much less time.  This leads to more no’s, but you end up finding more yes’s by quickly moving on from the unqualified prospects.

Most salespeople present to everyone, and often too early, then have to wait and hope for an answer that may never come.  Leaving them dangling in the wind like a bed sheet on a clothesline. 

Sandler is also different from other programs because they understand nobody learns much in a seminar.  People get charged up and motivated in seminars, but the effect usually wears off.

Sandler training meets weekly, and you become a lifetime member meaning you can attend training classes anytime and anywhere.  It’s a similar model to joining a gym with locations across the country, like Lifetime Fitness.

It was the most transformational training I’ve ever been exposed to and it cost me over $10,000.  And I didn’t have the money, in fact, I was deeply in debt.  I put it on my credit card, and they billed me in installments.  But it was 100% worth it. 

You Should Read and/or Listen

Another transformational habit I developed was instead of watching or looking at any kind of news in the morning, I now read a book.  I don’t read much more than one or two chapters per morning with my coffee.  But I learn so much, and it starts my day off on a much more positive and productive note.

I read mostly self-help books on sales, marketing, investing, business, history, and more.  And I have learned so much by just reallocating a few minutes of my morning to ingesting positive content.

When  driving I prefer to listen to music or sports talk, I just want to zone out.  But as often as possible I force myself to listen to some type of inspirational audio programs.  Podcasts, audio books, training materials.  Just something positive and uplifting about goal setting or sales. 

Here is a list of 10 books that influenced how I sell:

Discover Dan Kennedy, and start with these four books

  • Magnetic Marketing
  • No B.S. Sales Success in the New Economy
  • The Ultimate Sales Letter
  • No B.S. Direct Marketing

Tony Robbins, I like to listen to Tony while I’m driving and this is the one I revisit the most:

  • Awaken the Giant Within

Zig Zigler is classic, very inspirational and folksy:

  • Goals: How to Set Then, How to Achieve Them
  • Secrets of Closing the Sale

Sandler Sales Training has published some great books, this is my favorite:

  • Prospect the Sandler Way by John Rosso

Dale Carnegie

  • How to Win Friends and Influence People

Vash Young was an insurance salesman who inspired Dale Carnegie

  • The Go-Giver

The great thing about reading books is you’ll find out about other books that inspired the author. With every book I read I probably buy at least one more book based on those recommendations.

The price of the information in books pales in comparison to their value.  You can buy life changing information for $20 or less in a paperback book on Amazon, and have it delivered the very next day.