Why it’s important to train from the trenches

“From now on, I am going to make it a fixed rule that no unit, from the time it reaches this theater until the war is won, will ever stop training.”
—Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces

I’ve just returned from a trip to Normandy for the 75th anniversary of the Allied Landing to ensure freedom for Europe and the world. Standing on the great expanse of Omaha Beach and learning about that infamous day, June 6, 1944, was surreal. People return every year to commemorate the bravery and the horror that occurred on those beaches. Now I truly understood the weight of the decision Eisenhower had to make.

I also learned about the intense training that our allied troops underwent and the critical importance of ongoing training.

You see, the Americans thought they had emphasized training in 1942, but in 1943 at Kasserine Pass, they learned their training was inadequate to withstand the rigors of modern warfare. As Eisenhower put it, “Our people, from the very highest to the very lowest, have learned that this is not a child’s game and are ready and eager to get down to fundamentals.”

Obviously, selling is not combat, but the lessons about ongoing training and practicing the fundamentals still apply. If you want to be great at what you do—no matter what you do—you need to train, practice, and train some more.

In the meantime, here’s what you might have missed from No More Cold Calling this month:

How to Ask for Referrals: A Comprehensive Guide

This is a truthful and proven guide for how to ask for referrals. You won’t read that referrals are easy or that all you have to do is ask. What you will read are lessons and insights that I have gleaned from working my referral system with clients for the past 23 years. I’m not braggadocious, but I know what works. I also know there’s a lot of bad advice that’s proffered about referrals. You may not agree with everything I say, and that’s OK. Just know I always tell the truth. You can’t shortcut relationships, and there are no shortcuts to how to ask for referrals.

Sales leaders acknowledge that referrals are their fastest revenue driver and solve their two biggest issues: getting qualified leads in the pipe and scoring meetings with decision-makers. But referral selling is easier said than done. While all salespeople love to receive referrals, most are uncomfortable asking for them, and many sales leaders don’t believe referrals can scale. One reason is their sales teams don’t know how to ask for referrals. (Read “How to Ask for Referrals: A Comprehensive Guide.”)

To Get B2B Leads, Pick Up the Damn Phone

Successful sales professionals understand that technology is a must-have business tool. But very few understand how to incorporate technology into their prospecting strategy. As a result, their unsolicited invitations go unanswered and their lead generation campaigns under deliver. So, they rely on outdated tactics that fail to engage the 21st-century buyer—tactics like cold calling, sending cold emails, and stalking prospects on social media. These practices only alienate potential customers and eat up company time and resources in the process. They don’t fill your pipeline with qualified B2B leads.

Despite the ever-growing treasure trove of new sales technology, research shows that sales is actually harder than it used to be. Granted, there are many reasons that sales has gotten harder, but technology clearly isn’t the only solution to common sales challenges, or even the best solution. (Read “To Get B2B Leads, Pick Up the Damn Phone.”)

Why Technology Is Ruining Our Mental Health

Call or text me anytime. You won’t disturb me. My phone and smartwatch are turned off when I’m sleeping. They’re nowhere near me. They’re in the kitchen charging. There’s nothing so urgent in my business that my sleep needs to be disturbed. We still have a landline, just in case our kids or grandkids need to reach us. I hope there’s never an emergency necessitating a middle-of-the-night call. Bottom line: I need sleep to be a good salesperson, and to be a healthy human being. So, I’m not letting technology rob me of my slumber. But I might be in the minority.

Digital dependence doesn’t just hinder sales. It can also wreak havoc on our personal lives and careers. Companies need to acknowledge the dangers to their workforce and take action. Some companies already are. (Read “Why Technology Is Ruining Our Mental Health.”)

The Number of LinkedIn Contacts You Have Doesn’t Matter

Should I accept every LinkedIn invitation? I’m frequently asked that question. It’s a personal choice. Some people do. Some people only connect with people they know in real life. Others screen every invitation; they write to people first and ask why they want to connect. I’m in-between. I view every invitation. If people pitch in their invitations, I ignore them. Otherwise, if they’re in a sales-related field, I’ll often accept. However, when I invite someone to connect, I always include a personal message. I never pitch. Instead, I explain why I think the connection would be valuable for us both.

Salespeople often forget that social media is the place to begin a conversation and begin a relationship. Social selling success is not about the number of contacts, but about the number of true connections you have. In the world of social media, less is more. (Read “The Number of LinkedIn Contacts You Have Doesn’t Matter.”)