Whether you’re a lifelong salesperson or just starting out in sales, I think you’ll agree the world of selling is changing faster now than ever before. If you’ve ever found yourself worrying or anxious about how you’ll keep up with this accelerating pace of change, I think you’ll be interested in my interview today with Jill Konrath, talking about her newest book, AGILE SELLING.
KL. You’ve said that you write books to solve tough sales challenges. What’s the big issue you address in AGILE SELLING?
Overwhelm – for salespeople. After SNAP Selling came out, I repeatedly heard, “This is great info on selling to today’s crazy-busy prospects. But I’m frazzled too. How can you help me?”
It took me a while to realize it wasn’t a time management issue. Instead, it was keeping up with everything that was changing: buyer expectations, the economy, technology, competitors, products/services, new market directions.
The list was endless. It was literally impossible to stay up-to-date on everything when you’re under pressure to meet quota. Yet if you don’t, selling just keeps getting harder.
For new salespeople, the challenge is even harder because they have so much they need to learn.
KL. How does being an “agile seller” help? And what exactly do you mean by this term?
Being agile means that you’re able to quickly adapt to the changes you encounter. It means being able to rapidly absorb new information or pick up new skills in the shortest possible time. And, it also means getting the maximum impact from every client interaction.
How does it help? Today, when our expertise is our primary differentiator, it means everything. Salespeople who learn faster than others will have a serious competitive advantage. Unfortunately, most people have never learned how to do it well.
KL. Let’s talk about rapid learning. You’re saying it’s THE most important skill today, yet I’ve never heard other sales gurus address this topic before. Tell me more.
First off, it’s not just me who’s talking about rapid learning. Lots of major consulting firms are addressing the impact of agile (rapid) learning on success. According to Korn/Ferry, “Learning agility is a leading predictor of leadership success today – even more reliable than IQ, EQ or even leadership competencies.”
The same thing is true in sales. Sellers have to bring value to relationships. And, our customers define value as ideas, insights and information that impact their businesses. So the faster you can learn these things, the better.
Plus, it’s also about learning new sales skills too. Most sellers haven’t done a serious upgrade in years, yet during that time their own customers have changed dramatically.
KL. What do agile sellers do that helps them learn quickly? Do they use any special techniques or strategies?
Absolutely. What people don’t realize is that learning agility is a skill that can be mastered – just like any other.
The first thing agile sellers do is to get real clear on what they want to learn. For example, if they were pursuing a new target market they’d focus on industry trends, primary decision makers (roles, objectives, initiatives), buying process and trigger events.
In the process, they’d use the rapid learning skills I describe in AGILE SELLING: chunking, sequencing, prioritizing, connecting, practicing and dumping.
BTW, these six skills can be used to learn anything new, whether you want to learn Chinese, unclog your kitchen sink or upgrade your sales skills.
KL. In your new book, you also talk about habits of agile sellers. Do they really do things that much differently?
Yes. There’s an incredibly body of research on this topic too. For example, Agile sellers don’t multi-task, they mono-task. They don’t bop in and out of email during the day. They have set times for that.
Agile sellers also pick the right role models. They play games with themselves. And, they borrow other people’s brains.
It’s fascinating when you learn about these habits. Even one tidbit can radically transform your success.
KL. Where can sellers learn more about AGILE SELLING?