I just talked to my daughter who was incredibly excited about her second day in a self-defense class. Part of the “learning” is that there aren’t just weeks of simulations. Instead, after letting participants practice a few key moves, the instructors come at them with full body weight and actually “attack” them. The instructors know that practicing with friends is not the same as being attacked by a stronger, more violent opponent. They prepare their participants for the real world. My daughter talked about how the instructor grabbed her from behind with incredible strength while she tried to use one of her practiced moves. She was shocked because it didn’t work – he was too strong. He had to come at her a few times before she got used to his strength, weight, and the intensity of the attack. Finally, he grabbed her and she pushed his arms down, kicked him and head-butted him in the nose. That worked!
Here’s my point. Sometimes we’re too soft with our training and preparation for real world events, and we give up when skills don’t work the first time. I’ve taught sales classes where participants don’t even want to practice the conversations in front of others, much less pick up a phone and actually call a customer. I always say “if you won’t do it in here, you won’t do it when you’re out there.” Even those who practiced won’t succeed until they try in a real situation. Why? Because no matter how much you practice something you’re not going to conquer the situation until it comes at you with its full weight.
If you want to be the best in your field, you have to be uncomfortable. A lot. If you want to become a more successful salesperson, you can’t stay at Barnes & Noble with a cup of Godiva hot chocolate (hmmmm) reading all of the latest books on sales. Believe me, I tried. I gained five pounds and was no better at sales :(. To improve, you have to pick up the phone, hit the street, try your conversations and be willing to be blind-sided by objections than were stronger than you thought until you figure out a way to pull those objections through to success. And you will stumble. But only once or twice.
To truly become victorious in any situation you must have first hand information about the battlefield. The Marines call this “ground truth.” Training may teach you that most customer objections occur at the close of the sale. In your field, ground truth may teach you that most objections come when you walk through the door.
My daughter has not perfected the art of self-defense, but today she knew what it was like to keep trying until she dropped her instructor to the mat. Did she drop him to the mat the first time? No. What about the second try? No. She had to experience the “attack” five times before she figured out what to do. She had to experience the ground truth, take a few blows to her ego, and learn. Sales isn’t all that difference. Now get out there!!