I’m going to share a story with you and then I’m going to relate it to your sales career.
When I was in middle school, my strong interest in heavy metal drove me to want to learn to play guitar. Having played trumpet in band from elementary school on, I figured learning a new instrument wouldn’t be that big of a stretch.
One or two Christmas mornings later, there it was. A Jasmine by Takamine beginner acoustic. It wasn’t the electric axe that I wanted, but it would get things going – along with the beginner, teach-yourself-guitar book.
It came with almost everything. A fresh set of strings. A pick. A pretty decent case. The works.
I couldn’t wait to strum chords and pick notes. My dad had casually mentioned that the salesman at the store recommended a tuner. Yeah, yeah. I know what it should sound like. I can probably tune it to my trumpet. So that’s what I did.
I cracked open the lesson book, set the guitar on my lap, grabbed the pick, placed my fingers on the fret per instruction and strummed what would be my first chord.
My first, horrible, ear-bleeding chord. I checked the book, double checked my finger positions. All seemed to match up. I tried again. Same result.
I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but I tried several times to get the guitar in tune to no avail. In fact, I made it progressively worse.
Subsequently, my career as a guitarist faded as fast as my interest. I had resolved that I was likely never going to be a guitar player in any capacity. So, I gave up. In the case it went, to be stored away for several years and eventually sold at a garage sale. Failure.
Years later, my daughter wanted to learn guitar and, enthusiastic to advance her musical interest, my wife and I bought her one. Electric. With amp.
I relayed my story above to a coworker, who suggested I learn to play with my daughter. It would help her learn faster and I’d have a good time learning with her. He graciously lent me his well-used classical acoustic guitar he “hardly played anymore.”
He also lent me his tuner.
I used the tuner to tune my daughter’s guitar, then the one on loan to me. My daughter and I played our first chords. Let me say this: if I had used a proper tuner those many years ago, the Jasmine by Takamine wouldn’t have been stowed away and I would have continued playing.
So what’s the point? Somehow this relates to sales, right?
In fact, it does.
Very likely, many of you who read my story above thought to yourselves something like, “Really? Of course, you need a tuner to play a guitar. Everyone knows that.” Fair and accurate.
During your sales career, from beginning to advanced, you’re going to run into at least one thing that you feel you’re a failure at. Being brutally honest, you’re going to find lots of things that you’ll feel like you’re a failure at. This is okay. We learn, grow and get better from mistakes and failure.
This is about recurring issues that need to be addressed.
Perhaps you’ll start walking away from sales appointments wondering why on earth you signed up for this profession because you keep bombing the presentations in spectacular fashion. Maybe you’re getting destroyed by a competitor who’s figured out how to effectively sell against you. Insert any number of chronic challenges in your sales career here. All of them lead to a shortage in quota and a thinning bank account.
When this happens, it’s because something is out of tune.
Getting back in tune is simple. You just need a tuner.
A tuner in sales can take on many forms. It can be a mentor, an accountability partner, sales manager, strategic sales role playing, additional training or another avenue to sharpen your skills. Any one of these, or a combination, can be your tuner.
When things go bad in the sales process on a regular basis, you urgently need to find the methods and techniques that match your selling style to identify and address the issue. Your tuner will help you identify what your challenge is and how to address it. Find your tuner and use it. Use it often.
Once you find your personal tuner, and if you use it often to do a recalibration of skills, you’ll find chronic sales problems will become a thing of the past. If another chronic issue does come up, use your tuner and practice the skill set.
Had I realized how important something as simple as a tuner would be for learning guitar, I likely never would have put it down. I’d still be writing sales blog articles, but at least as a moderately decent guitar player.
The common saying is “practice makes perfect.” When you are in tune, when you are practicing the skill sets and techniques that fit your personality and style, you will significantly expedite your professional sales development.
And if you buy yourself a nice guitar with your commission check, don’t forget the tuner.