clock-95330_640No one wins the game without putting in the practice.

“From this day on I’d like to be known as ‘The Big Aristotle’ because Aristotle once said, ‘Excellence is not a singular act; it’s a habit. You are what you repeatedly do.’” —Shaquille O’Neal

Practice? Who me?

Sure, sales reps know they must practice new skills, practice presentations, practice writing, practice speaking—practice, practice, practice. But we resist practice, even with proof right in front of us. Why? We get paid to sell. Practice time is on our own dime. And who has extra time just floating around?

Sales reps in the top 10 percent operate differently. These super-sales achievers determine the critical, deal-breaking skills needed for sales success. Then they narrow their focus—relentlessly learning and honing those new sales skills by committing to daily practice. Yes, daily practice.

They make the time, so they win the deals.

Practice Makes Permanent

Anthony Iannarino makes the business case for sales practice in his post, “How You Practice Is How You Play the Game.” As he puts it:

How you practice the game is how you play the game. If you don’t practice using the language that you are going to use when you are sitting face-to-face with your dream client, that is not how you’re going to playOccasionally, something brilliant comes out of your mouth. Something unexpected. You’re in the middle of a conversation with your dream client, and you say something so brilliant even you are stunned. Occasionally.

Most of the time, you say what you’ve said hundreds—if not thousands—of times before. You say what you’re comfortable saying. And you’re afraid of saying something that you haven’t said before because you don’t know how your dream client is going to respond.

It’s nice to be lucky, but it’s better to win by intention. If you are going to win by intention, you have to get the language you need inside your body. You have to be comfortable saying the words, lest you be afraid to say them. 

(Read the rest of Anthony’s post.)

The Practice Payoff

Everyone can access greatness and win, but it takes practice. And salespeople don’t like to practice. So, smart sales leaders must make it a requirement.

Referral selling is a skill that requires practice—lots of it. Yet, sales leaders make the mistake of telling their sales reps to just go “out there” and ask for referrals.

Not so fast! Unless they learn the right way to ask for referrals, and practice doing it, they’ll mess it up.

Practice ensures that your sales reps are conversational, that they include all of the key points, and that they receive immediate feedback on what works and what they need to do differently.

One of my clients—a seasoned sales rep—figured she could just ask one of her clients for a referral. She didn’t heed my instructions to practice with at least three people. She stumbled over her words and skipped essential steps. She said she felt ridiculous. And then she decided to practice.

Some sales reps tell me they “forgot” to practice. No, they didn’t forget. They just decided not to remember. There’s a difference.

Get your sales reps to focus on specific selling skills and practice. Practice becomes their game-changing, compelling sales event. Practice is your sales organization’s future. After all, practice makes permanent.

To learn more about how to practice asking for referrals, check out our No More Cold Calling Individual Referral Selling Programs.

Connect with No More Cold Calling

Follow Joanne on Google+ or Twitter @ReferralSales, or connect on LinkedIn and Facebook.