He Said: Learning The Skills To “Hunt”
Sometime around the age of eight years old, I got to go on my first hunting trip. While that may sound like an exciting adventure to an 8-year-old boy, it was not the great woodland experience that I hoped for. I was basically the “fetch my quail kiddo” of the bird hunting party. Dad informed me, halfway to the hunting field, that I was much too young to shoot a shotgun. He said, “The recoil from the blast would badly bruise your shoulder. I also promised your momma that I would bring you home safely.” While this first adventure in hunting would not go as I had dreamed, this event would be one of many critical learning experiences. Ever heard that before? We never appreciate those moments until much later in life. So that day, I became a retriever and vowed that the next year I would either graduate to hunter first class.
When I entered the world of business sales, I was struck by how many of the hunting skills and tools I had learned all those years ago from my father applied.
1. If you want to be a great hunter, learn from a great hunter. That year of “fetch my quail kiddo” taught me to learn from the other around me. They would share tips on how to camouflage your location the best. They would share information about the habitats of birds so that I could better track and scope out where the quarry would be. They even shared the best ammo and firearms to use.
2. They helped me when the skill was new to me. From sighting a gun to field dressing a bird, there was always someone near me to help me learn or show me an easier way.
3. They let me slowly gain the confidence to hunt on my own. The goal was to train me. It was never about keeping the “kid” down.
I remember those first days in my first sales position. I so wanted to make a great impression. I just knew I was ready to go out there and blow the lid off the company records. However, I soon learned there was way more to sales than I thought. The lessons I learned out hunting started rolling back.
I remember being paired with a more “seasoned” salesman. I rode around with him for several weeks. There were many times I felt like the “fetch my quail kid”. But I soon realized, I was being given a very valuable gift. He would share tips on how he would prospect and locate the best potential customers. It was very much like the information the men shared with me during my first hunting trip. He shared what clients like to know. He shared what he listened for when the client was talking; how to learn what problems they had that he could solve. He shared how he learned how to dress appropriately for different clients ; very much like dressing correctly for a hunt. He talked about what brochures or samples he used that worked best for different customer; very much like knowing which firearm or ammo to use.
Just when I thought I was ready to go out on my own, I discovered that I was now going to learn from people that worked in the home office. Again, I had that old feeling of “fetch the quail kid.” This time, I was able to transition to learner much faster. I discovered that the skills and tools these people used were critical knowledge for me. If I was really going help people with their problems (which is what sales really is), I needed to know who did what and how they did it. This was like learning all the vast skills of how to site a gun to how to field dress a bird.
I think you can guess the next step.
I was ready to “hunt” or sale on my own. Because hunters and salespeople have to have a huge amount of confidence to perform, it is very easy to let your ego get in the way of learning the HOW. As a young salesman, those first few weeks of riding around with another more seasoned salesman felt like punishment. However, once I got my ego under control, I saw the value in what he had to share. Even my experience shadowing the office staff gave me a valuable perspective that would allow me to earn the trust of my customers faster.
I have watched this same process in our business. Whether the client is learning about sales from Amy in the consulting and coaching side of our business, or if they are learning about online sales marketing from me in the social media management side of our business…they always come in with confidence and moxie. The faster they open themselves up to learn and listen…they gain our experience and knowledge. They learn our tools and techniques. They then go out into their own businesses and take on the sales process in a professional and expert way. They wow their clients. They earn referral business.
I still remember how hard it was for me to be willing to learn during the “fetch my quail kiddo” days. I can also remember the hit to my ego when I had needed to shadow more experienced salespeople. However, I can tell you from my own experience….and watching the experience of our clients….make the best use of your “fetch the quail kiddo” days, they lead you to successful hunting.
If you are struggling with sales, remember that the GOLD team is here to share their years of experience in the “hunt” with you.