By Jeff Shore

4 Steps to Better Sales Skills

In his book The Talent Code, author Dan Coyle lays out an interesting though counterintuitive progression of performance improvement. It is a paradoxical way of looking at how talent is grown.

I will roughly paraphrase Coyle’s thoughts in the following four steps that lead to skill development.

1.  Failure. This is the first step in the process of developing any skill.

If you try something for the first time and say to yourself, “Nailed it!”, you can forego any hope of performance improvement. Failure is a necessary prerequisite to growth, as it teaches you the gap between right and wrong

2.  Frustration. Invariably, that failure leads to frustration, and this second step might be the most difficult of all.

We do not embrace frustration. In fact, we see it as a very bad thing. But what if we rethought that? What if we saw frustration as an opportunity? That very frustration might very well be the ticket to a new and better performance.

3.  Find. Once we have failed and endured the frustration, the next step is to discover what went wrong.

This find step is an opportunity to replay the event in our mind in an attempt to diagnose where the stumble took place. In the sales world, that means thinking back on the conversation you just had with a prospect and determining what could be improved.

4.  Fix. In this final step we take what we have learned and apply those lessons to a practice regimen that will help us further develop a new and higher level skill. In so doing, we take our game to another level.

So where do most sales professionals struggle in this four-part list? Which step tends to trip us up?

I suggest that it all comes back to #1 – failure.

Too many sales people avoid failure at any cost. After all, failure is not an option, right? Hey look – if you’re trying to bring back a space ship on a rescue mission, I would agree that failure is not an option. But if you are attempting to grow your own skill set, failure is the only option.

If we never try we never fail. And while that might mean less frustration in life, it also means zero growth.

I have a better idea. When you fail, give yourself a fist pump. Yell out a hearty “Yes!” That failure might just put you on the path to frustration, finding, and fixing.

Failure is not as bad as we often think it is. Failure might be the first step in changing someone’s world.