Never has it been easier to learn!
Sometimes the choice can be paralysing in itself and the digital temptations and notifications that are around us from the Internet and Smartphones tests our patience and focus like no other time in history, but master this and you can learn some new, highly valuable skills in a relatively short space of time.
Educational bodies have adapted accordingly and you will find more bite sized courses than ever before, over the 2 / 3 year study options of before (which still exist of course as there are clear benefits to committing to the long term).
I’ve taken advantage of these new ways of learning and will be listing eight ways to help you become better at what you do in your role. This post focusses specifically on being a sales professional but you can use the ideas to help you in whatever your profession is.
1 – Get a mentor, or reverse mentor!
I’ve had two mentors so far.
My first mentor was Felicitas Betzl of Serps Invaders. Felicitas was a past networking contact and offered her time for free a few years ago, when I was looking to go from working in a digital role for a publisher, to agency side. I worked with Felicitas for around one year and this helped me hugely by making the transition from Romanes Media Group to a well known Scottish Marketing agency! One of the key take aways from that process was to work on my personal brand and ensure that my Social Media profiles spoke to my prospect (in this case, an employer).
My latest mentor was Ollie Whitfield. Ollie and I had built up an online business relationship and he mentioned he was looking for someone to mentor. At the time, he was 20 and I was 36! Why would someone at 36 want a 20 year old mentor? Well, Ollie was working for Creation Agency, who I knew well as Sales and Marketing experts so already I viewed Ollie as an expert through association. Additionally, Ollie is a millennial, so I thought I could learn how the millennial mind works and that would be advantageous to my career.
By chance, it turned out this ‘reverse mentor’ relationship paid bigger dividends than was intended as I ended up being offered a role with Creation Agency via our relationship.
I would highly suggest you search out a mentor, especially in today’s landscape where sales and marketing roles are becoming more entwined. A sales person and marketing manager could learn vast amounts from each other for example.
2. Find and follow influencers
One way to get expert advice is to follow and learn from the experts themselves.
There are many ways to do this (for example reading their books, watching their videos etc), but the first thing you need to do, is know who they are!
This piece of data was put together by Jason Burrows at Creation Agency. Take a look through and follow those that you would like to follow. Consider using the 360.me Chrome extension to find your influencers across platforms. One excellent way to do this is by creating and following Twitter Lists…
3 . Twitter Lists
I LOVE twitter lists.
To date, I have made and follow a combined 123 lists!
As well as acting as a list in the traditional sense (a place to keep accounts / people of interest), they play a key part in Social Selling strategy as they act as an extra touch point (think about your prospects / target market).
Here is a Twitter list of Social Selling Professionals that I created a year ago and use it almost daily to help keep me current with news and knowledge. I would urge you to make your own list too, as this will help build and strengthen your relationships!
4. Online Courses
Online Courses are a huge resource in the digital world. There are just too many of them, some valuable some not.
One of my first goals of moving into the new world of Social Selling, was to understand Social Media itself. I achieved that by using Hootsuite to manage my social media channels whilst I took their social media management course. At that time, the six courses were free and the exam was a total of £199.
Another course that I recently enrolled on was the SkillsLab Social Selling 101. This is a must for any sales professional who is looking to master social to help enchance their sales success. The course is split up into easily digestible chunks of information delivered by video – that’s brilliant for me, I was able to fit it around my busy schedule.
Some courses also offer a private Facebook group for the course attendees. The SkillsLab Facebook group is very useful and has a great community with lots of resources and the ability to connect with other like-minded social sellers.
Podcasts are a brilliant resource for anyone. Not just salespeople.
Right now, the only podcast I am listening to Will Barron on the Salesman Podcast. It’s garnered a huge audience and he’s just secured a partnership with Hubspot too! You can learn vast amounts simply by committing to listening to all the podcasts.
There are plenty other podcasts worth listening to which can be found on iTunes and other various podcast streaming services.
These are great for when you’re communicating. I’d highly recommend giving it a go.
Audio, paperback or e-books. The choice is great!
Books are worth reading, you will start to increase your knowledge the more you read.
Here’s a short list of modern sales books I’d recommend.
- Start with WHY – Simon Sinek
- The Challenger Sales – Matthew Dixon & Brent Adamson
- To Sell is Human – Daniel Pink
- Smart Calling – Art Sobczak
- New Sales. Simplified – Mike Weinberg
- The No1 Best Seller – Lee Bartlett
- The Perfect Close – James Muir
- The Only Sales Guide you’ll Ever Need – Anthony Iannarino & Mike Weinberg
- Social Selling Mastery – Jamie Shanks
- How to Write copy that Sells – Ray Edwards
- The Sales EQ – Jeb Blount & Anthony Iannarino
- High Profit Prospecting – Mark Hunter
- Converting Conversations to Customers – Nicky Kriel, Herve-G-Werty, Tim Hughes
- Tools of Titans – Tim Ferris
- Vlog like a Boss – Amy Schimittauer
- They ask, You answer – Marcus Sheridan
- Known – Mark W Schaefer
- Fanatical Prospecting – Jeb Blount
- Social Selling – Tim Hughes
Lately, I’ve probably focussed mostly on video learning. I have completed a range of courses from Lynda.com / LinkedIn learning. There are sometimes small tests between courses to ensure you are engaging with the course.
The average course tends to last 1 to 4 hours, but they also have learning paths. A learning path is a suggested route through courses which add together to give you an overall grounding in a particular subject matter (in my case digital marketing).
The two social selling courses by Gabe Villamizar are worth a watch!
8. Curating Content to read later
I use Pinterest a lot! I use it to educate myself and share valuable boards with my prospects. This Social Selling board is also what I sometimes send to my new connections so they have some valuable content they can learn from, but at the same time – I learn from it too.
As many of you will be aware, Pocket is also a great curation tool. I have a label set as ‘training’ so that any documents / blog posts / websites that I find during the week, I drop the in there to read later. Likewise, Facebook and LinkedIn now have this feature built in so you can read long form posts at a later date.
BONUS – 9. Saleshacker U
The guys behind #saleshackerchat on Twitter (another great way to learn incidentally) also have various B2B sales courses available under their Saleshacker U brand. Get yourself started with this free course!
About the Author: Gary Farmer is the Social Sales Executive at The Creation Agency. Gary’s role is to help clients use social selling and find new ways to optimise their processes. Outside of work, Gary likes to socialise and watch slapstick comedy films, his favourite is Napoleon Dynamite.