Jim Rohn used the Bible story about the talents to make the point that we should not waste the talents we’ve been given, no matter how meager. They should be invested in, developed, and appreciated, not buried, disrespected, and disregarded. Similarly, an old sales manager of mine used to say the hottest seat in Hell was reserved for people who squandered opportunities — a less elegant way of saying the same thing.
For example, one in four people never bothered to pick up a useful book last year, and of those who did, they only spent an average of seven minutes a day reading. Most of what was consumed was fiction. However, 50% of the population spent more than two hours a week watching online videos (not including other forms of digital media) and three hours and 15 minutes a day on their phone texting, watching videos, scrolling social media, etc., despite the fact that many books can be read online for free.
Folks, this is squandering opportunities. Every day, they had the opportunity to learn, get better, and apply themselves, but they’re “too busy” frittering their time away on nonsense.
When I interview salespeople, I like to ask them what their favorite book on selling is. Over 90% can’t answer because they haven’t read a single book on selling — not one — yet they profess to make a living selling. Imagine a CPA, doctor, or lawyer providing that same answer to the question: “What’s your favorite book on being a great doctor?” Would you want someone operating on you who said they had never read a book on the operation they were performing on you but just “picked it up” by working in the ER every day? Or a CPA without any formal training and no desire to read? Worse yet, someone with ZERO ambition to learn?
When hiring salespeople, this is a motivation you want to look for. A real hunger to learn, to invest in skill development, and to improve their abilities to sell, negotiate, and close. Show me someone who is consistently reading, learning, and developing themselves, and I’ll show you a high-performing salesperson. Show me someone who’s never read a book on the topic, and I’ll show you a very average under-performer.
From my experience in selling educational materials, many MSPs don’t like my marketing campaigns and instruction because they require “too much time” in watching, reading, and learning. Not that the value isn’t there, but that extracting the value is too much work. Don’t I have something easier? Simpler? Less time consuming? Less expensive? Can’t I just give them an email to shoot out to a spam list that will get some good clients calling their office to buy IT services? Sorry, Charlie. You cannot develop a truly successful company on a “simple” and “easy” plan, and your unwillingness to roll your sleeves up to do the work and learn what is necessary is what’s truly holding you back.
So, here’s a big question and a decisively indicative test: Exactly how motivated are you and your sales team to truly master selling? How much do you/they appreciate the opportunity to learn? A lot can be understood about a person by knowing the real answer to this question. I assure you that if someone is consistently, persistently, eagerly looking to up their game, improve their knowledge, and master the skills of selling, they will be in the top 1% of income earners. Maybe not the day they start, but over time — I can assure you of this.
In my career of meeting, interviewing, and working with giants — people who make a lot of money and are at the top of their game — I’ve never met one who failed the test that I mentioned above. They are all serious students of their profession, putting in hours of work, reading, watching, learning, and practicing their craft, as well as getting more sales, perfecting marketing strategies, and finding effective selling methods.
Personally, I love all things tied to personal development, which is why I do this today. I’ve always had a burning desire to learn a new strategy, to sharpen my skills, and to clarify my thinking. When I got my first taste of sales and selling, I listened to and read every book I could get on the topic. I studied Zig, reading and rereading his books, with a highlighter in hand. I took every opportunity to attend seminars on selling. Every day on my drive to work, I played a sales training tape of Hopkins, Zig, Brian Tracy, and Tony Robbins (“The Power Of Influence”). I watched old VHS tapes of sales training during my lunch break in the break room — and I loved every minute of it.
Sadly, no place I ever worked offered to train me, much less pay for my training. (Note to all salespeople reading this: If you work for someone who would cheerfully pay for you to attend classes so you can learn how to sell more effectively, you’re working for a great organization. Appreciate them by taking them up on their offer and applying yourself. If you’re not working for such an organization, it’s still 100% up to you to invest in yourself and put the time into reading, watching, listening, and learning how to be better at selling, communication, time management, and speaking.)