Simple Sales Tracking Blog

Are You Continually Improving Your Sales Skills?

In a recent article I mentioned the importance of “sharpening the saw” from a concept which Steven Covey talks about. Due to requests I have included the story below which illustrates the importance of taking time out to refresh and sharpen your selling skills.

There were two forestry workers, who were very competitive axemen, who decided they would have a wood chopping competition to see who was the fittest and the better axeman. The rules were simple – whoever chopped the most wood on the day would be declared the undisputed winner. Both were perched a fair distance from each other – barely able to see the figure of the other person. The chopping commenced at dawn. From time to time they both took a look at each other to see how much wood was being chopped. By mid morning the contest was closed.

One of the axemen stopped for about 20 minutes. The other kept chopping to gain an advantage. During mid-day the axeman who took a break in the morning took another break. I’m sure the other guy was thinking, “I’ll get him now”.

They kept chopping. In the middle of the afternoon the break-meister took still another break. The other guy just kept chopping. When the sun had set, the axeman who hadn’t stopped once looked at what he had chopped and felt he had the advantage. He walked some distance to greet his opponent. When he had arrived – he almost went into shock at the sight of the opponent’s chopped wood – which was substantially more than his own. He grumbled, “How did this happen, you stopped chopping three times for breaks and lunch, while I kept chopping. I just don’t understand what happened.” In a soft and deliberate voice the winner said “yes I did stop three times, but you see, it was to sharpen my axe.” Abraham Lincoln once said, “If I had six hours to chop down a big tree, I’d take two hours to sharpen my axe.” You don’t have to be Abraham Lincoln to sharpen your axe.

There are a lot of impersonators out there – pretending to be professional salespeople. They are devoid of any selling skills and basic fundamentals and certainly wouldn’t dream of spending any of their own money on personal development.

Every day you’d better make it a priority to read books and articles, listen to CD’s while driving from account to account, sharpening your axe, (I mean your selling skills) improving your attitude and developing mini-systems, creating your own competitive advantage. The simple truth is, if you don’t sharpen your axe, you could be working with a dull blade and worse still working for the opposition i.e. presenting to prospects and priming them for your competitors to close. The key point to all this is we need to be constantly looking at better ways to improve our skills in whichever field we choose to work if we are to retain our competitive advantage.

The benefits are:

Sales Confidence
– Bigger closing ratios
– Increased Profits

Staff Retention
– Client continuity
– Reduced costs of recruitment

Reduced costs to make sales e.g. higher conversion ratio
– Focused prospecting
– Higher qualified referrals

Many companies can’t find money for training yet spend thousands on advertising and marketing to try to attract new business, instead of converting higher percentage of enquiries they are already receiving.

I will continue with this topic in my next article.

Quote of the Week:

Winners evaluate themselves in a positive manner and look for their strengths as they work to overcome weaknesses.

Zig Ziglar

Brett Burgess is a Sales Trainer and Programme Developer for Sales Impact Group Limited.

Filed under: Sales Techniques and Strategy, , , , ,

Are You a Sales Seminar Enthusiast?

Last time we began to look at the need for salespeople to become more professional in their approach to selling.

Gone are the days when, as one famous commentator put it “all you had to do was show up to make a sale”.

If you do this in today’s selling environment you are not in the sales profession you are in the gambling profession and as we all know not too many of these people survive. Hence the need to up skill regularly.

I used to be a seminar junkie – anything to do with personal or business development I’d be there in the front row. The one thing I found was that these people including Michael Gerber – author of The E Myth, Mikhail Gorbachev, Al Ries, Brian Tracey etc. all seemed to be very good at increasing your motivation temporarily and giving you concepts without actually giving you the “how to”.

Zig Ziglar has a very good quote regarding motivation.

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last, well neither does bathing, that’s why we recommend it daily”

Coming back to my point – most sales seminars are of the motivational type and are usually entertaining. The down side is that you’ve forgotten most of what you heard by the time you get back to work.

Motivation comes from confidence which comes from knowledge which in turn comes from training. For those of us involved with sales, the two types of training we need to focus on are – 1. Product Knowledge 2. Selling Skills

It has been found that lack of training is one of the biggest inhibitors to increasing sales and margins.

Still on the subject of motivation the salespeople themselves need to want to improve their skills. Some believe that they are already so good at what they do that it would be a waste of their time to undergo sales training. They probably worked their way up from retail sales or landed the job by chance and view their work as a job to be done rather than a profession to develop in or they are happy for their companies to organize training as long as they aren’t required to change what they are doing now.

A study done on millionaires in the states some years ago revealed some very interesting statistics. Movie Stars, Entertainers, and Sports Stars only accounted for 1% of all the millionaires in America. More importantly over 70% of the millionaires had made it through sales careers. It would be interesting to see the results of a similar study conducted here.

I will continue with this subject and how to gain the most from developing yourself and your team through training in my next article.

Quote of the Week.

There’s no magic to it, and you don’t need a lot of natural talent. What you need is a disciplined, organized approach to selling. If you have that, you’ll understand the process every time. Selling can definitely be learned.

Steve Bostic

Brett Burgess is a Sales Trainer and Programme Developer for Sales Impact Group Limited

Filed under: Sales Techniques and Strategy, ,


Simple Sales Tracking is web-based sales CRM software for the tracking, analysis and forecasting of individual and team sales pipeline and contacts.

Built with simplicity at its core, focus is kept on key sales tasks, while eliminating unnecessary ones, helping to ensure buy-in of the entire sales team.
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