Why Reinforcement Is Necessary for Sales Success is a subject discussed by other serious sales trainers as well. It's not just me. You hear me say, "Ongoing reinforcement is needed for getting results in selling." That a one-time seminar or lecture won't get you results.
Why is that?
Let's deal first with the lecturing. Why doesn't hearing a sales technique once at a seminar work? The answer is because actual learning did not occur. The salesperson goes into congnitive overload. They become defensive. The message is tuned out.
"I already do that."
"This guy isn't telling me anything new."
"I'm already a great salesperson."
Even if the salesperson does accept the new idea, after a couple of weeks they'll forget it. Back to their old comfort zone. Back to their old techniques.
Why Reinforcement Is Necessary: How It Overcomes Inertia
But the sales manager/trainer/leader has to have a playbook. The playbook can be a consistent sales process. It can be objections and rebuttals. It can be an equation to be applied to the customer's business--can we reduce their costs or increase their revenues? What is inside the playbook doesn't matter as much as having one.
Without the playbook, you don't have a target to aim at. If you don't have a target, will you have consistency? If you don't have consistency, can you manage your results?
The Three Learning Phases Showing Why Reinforcement Is Necessary
The plain truth is the way we learn is why reinforcement is necessary for sales success. Some approaches are based on studies of adult learning. Effective coaching simply bolsters that adult learning process. So how do we do it?
First, we perceive. We assess a situation and perceive which variables are critical to our success.
Second, we decide. Which course of action should we take? Thank goodness we have that playbook handy!
Third, we act. We practice, we roleplay, we rehearse--but most of all we use the new technique in real life.
The salesperson can practice. The coach gives ongoing feedback. That feedback can come in the form of ridealongs and a debriefing chat right after the prospect visit. It can come in the form of simulations. And it can be in the form of team coaching, where peers work with one another.
But the common key is that you need to see the new technique over and over again...interacting with real life. That's how it will stick. You must first perceive the need for it. Then decide to use the techique. And then really use it, taking action with the new technique in live selling situations.
Sounds simple? Doing this consciously is not nearly as easy as talking about it. That's why having a coach who will keep showing you why reinforcement is necessary helps so much.
Update: Is Ongoing Re-Learning of Sales Technique Still Needed In 2022?
Many years have passed since the first version of this post was written in 2014. Have people gotten any smarter? Are they more effective at learning and retaining information?
Of course not!
The belief that "I looked the course over one time, and now I know everything forever" remains an extremely common one. But let me remind you that * I * have to go over my own material several times a year—or else I'll forget the techniques just as easily as anyone else. And I'm more familiar with these concepts than anybody!
Humanity has a belief that just because we read or heard something and it seemed good, we must now know that thing and retain it for all time. You know just by reading the previous sentence that the idea is ridiculous; however, you go on acting as if it is true.
Don't fall for this unthinking belief. It's not just silly: it's harmful to you. Get a coach and a continuous sales training program in place to support your success.
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