If salespeople have more than three years experience in their role one might refer to them as ‘experienced' I sometimes hear words like "don't need any training…" or "know what they are doing.." and "been here long enough to know the job...". It is understandable that the expectation for a salesperson is to have a good knowledge and grasp of the job at hand well before this period, but how do we know that their skills are improving alongside their knowledge or are their achievements a result of knowledge and not so much their skill?
If your car is more than three years old, the Law in the UK states that you must put it through an MOT test to ensure that it is roadworthy and not a risk. An ineffective car can’ be a risk and the culprit for accidents, failures and obstructions. In the same way, I believe salespeople should take a test for their roadworthiness. Without sales skills MOT's, how do you know your salespeople are operating as effectively as they could be?
Is it a risk worth taking?
I’m going to take the car analogy further to explain more;
A conscious competence model is about how we learn new skills and then how those new skills later become second nature. The model looks like this. Some of you may have seen it already;
When learning a new skill, we all start off being unconscious of what we need to do and incompetent in how to do it. When at this stage you are in quadrant 1.
Before you can competently carry out tasks, you have to learn what is required of you to fulfil it, so you start to become more conscious of what it takes to do well. At this point, you move into quadrant 2, and you become more conscious of what to do yet are not entirely competent.
Now you know what to do you will practice i.e. learn through repetitive actions and possibly supported by coaching. You then move into what is known as the conscious and competent stage. i/e you are more competent and fully conscious of what you are doing.
After a short period, the action will become second, and you no longer need to think about what you are doing. Hence you become unconscious of what you are doing yet competent enough to stay out of trouble.
Let me explain this again but using the car analogy and driving;
Stage 1 – Never driven before and so totally unaware of what it takes to get the vehicle moving.
Stage 2 – the instructor starts to inform you to make you more conscious of what you have to do to drive, though you still can't drive competently on your own. This stage continues through the first lessons.
Stage 3 – the following lessons are about practising and getting you ready for the test. You will attend the test while in this stage of the learning process.
Stage 4 – after you have passed and you have been driving on your own for a few months (this period will vary significantly from person to person)and no longer think about “mirror signal, manoeuvre".
Reality – car accidents happen – why? Because people are driving around in an unconscious state of mind and so mistakes happen. Turns are sometimes missed, manoeuvres are sometimes made before signals given etc.
So now putting this analogy back to sales: The more experienced you are, the more need there is for an MOT because how do you know you're not making mistakes if you are not made aware of them? How do you know you are not missing closing opportunities if you can't see yourself.
Do yourself a favour – go through a 'sales skills MOT'. We run bespoke simulations for salespeople if you want any help with this!