111008 Lessons From Super-Learners

In which we're reminded that our value comes from our ability to learn, synthesize, and put ideas together.


Our visit to our son’s college for Freshman Parents Weekend included reading an article, Secrets of the Super-Learners, from which:

Preceptor in mathematics Robin Gottlieb adds that [super-learners] “know how to change focus – going from the big issues to the details, then back to the big picture. They are trying to actively synthesize the material. They use assignments as vehicles to help put ideas together, rather than seeing the completion of a task – such as a problem set – as the final goal.”


In contrast, less successful students “would like to have a recipe,” she says. “They might do a problem set by mimicking problems they have already solved, and feel satisfied knowing that the assignment is done.’”


Twist this into the sales world.  What would you think of this?


Highly successful sales people know how to change focus, going from the big issues to the detail, then back to the big picture. They are trying to actively synthesize information about their clients and prospects. They use research, account plans, call plans, and sales calls as vehicles to help put ideas together rather than seeing their completion as “just more tasks to be checked off.” 


In contrast, less successful sales people like to have a recipe. They might make prepare for or complete sales calls by mimicking profiling or questioning models they learned in sales training classes and feeling satisfied knowing that they elicited answers to all the questions.


Yeah, we all get trapped in the grind, from time to time. Making calls, following up. Making calls, following up. We cut corners where we can to work faster, cover more ground.  That’s how we drive up our efficiency.


But not necessarily our productivity or our value to our clients and prospects.  Our biggest “value to clients” as sales people involves thinking – synthesizing information, offering perspective, defining strategies, and asking questions in new ways.  Being curious, doing research, and putting ideas together. 


If our goal is to “sell them something,” we limit our questions and conversation to those points that tell us whether there’s a problem, a product fit, desire, and a budget.  If our goal is “to make our customers more effective,” we ask questions and prompt discussion that may range far more broadly.  We work like “super-learners.”



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