As a sales consultant, I find that I’m playing the role of teacher in most of my interactions. That is probably to be expected for a consultant, but even when I was selling full time, or when I sell now, I am usually in the role of teacher. That’s a good thing. Teach, tailor, and take control is the hall mark of being what Matthew Dixon calls a “Challenger” seller.
That means that I’m often teaching or enlightening my clients on the issues or obstacles they are facing, and then of course I am teaching them again in how my solution or service might be able to help them overcome those obstacles or hurdles. The nature of the job puts me in the role of instructor.
I love teaching, so I enjoy that role, but there is a catch. The catch is that if you are always the teacher, you are never the student, and if you are never the student, you forget how it feels to be the student. Understanding how it feels to be the student makes you a better teacher, and it also makes you a better sales person, because your perspective changes enough that you notice small things and make additional distinctions that allow you to perform better.
So what does that mean, practically speaking? It means you need to put yourself back into student mode regularly. Ideally, once a day, place yourself in a situation where you are the novice in the room. That can mean starting your day with watching a couple of TED talks, or reading a blog, or even 15-30 mins or reading a book or listening to a podcast. However, nothing is more powerful than actual live human interaction. This week, I’m attending a conference that I refer to as my “annual brain upgrade”. It is a sales and business conference, two areas where I believe I have a decent game. In this room though, I am a novice compared to most people around me. I am back to being a student.
It doesn’t even have to be sales related. It can be a yoga class or a cooking seminar can put you back in student mode! The key is to pick something that moves you OUT of your comfort zone. Go and seek a daily opportunity to be a student. It will make you a better teacher.