Warren Buffet once famously said, “The more you learn, the more you earn.” And this is one of the biggest truths in sales. It has always been true, and it will always be true.
But the difference is that today we have a limitless amount of resources at our fingertips. From e-courses to business books to sales training workshops, the list goes on and on. There’s really no excuse not to be a lifelong learner.
The salesperson who climbs the commissions ladder to break $100,000, $200,000 or even $500,000 or more is the one who is constantly learning. When they hit a new career-high earnings mark, they don’t just coast through the next year. They double-down and tell themselves “I did well, but I still haven’t reached my potential.” And they get to work working on themselves. They get to work LEARNING.
And this isn’t about learning your product or service better. It’s not about learning how to better manage your time, either. It’s not even about learning how to overcome objections by rote memory. You can toss that little manual in the trash. Don’t worry — this isn’t the kind of textbook learning that put you to sleep through most of the 10th grade.
This is different. This is lifelong learning — which is not only learning how to be better at sales, but learning about motivation and psychology, leadership, and how to win at life. So let’s dive right in to find out how to learn, what to learn, and I’m even sharing my recommended learning track for you.
How to Learn
These days you can find great online sales courses to quickly improve your sales game. I’d recommend checking out Udemy, LinkedIn Learning, or finding a proven sales influencer like Patrick Bet-David (PBD). Just beware of self-professed sales gurus, as they can lead you astray. And there’s no need to spend a fortune — but if you budget a few thousand dollars yearly on sales courses, you will easily make that money back in dividends just by applying what you’ve learned. For many, they’ll double, triple, or 5-10x their investment in continued education. Remember, the more you learn, the more you earn.
Every great salesperson (and especially sales leader) has a growing library of sales books in their home. I recommend reading Mike Weinberg, Jeb Blount, Jill Konrath, and yours truly Johnny-Lee Reinoso. Even the classics from Zig Ziglar and Jim Rohn are worth a read. Build a daily reading habit where you read a chapter in the morning and a chapter before you go to bed at night (leave your scrolling for another time, as nighttime is for reading, reflection, and prayer).
I’m also a big fan of highlighting, underlining, and writing in the margins of books. If you find something helpful or insightful — be sure to note it! Not a reader? You can learn to be. And Audible works, too. You can even take notes in Audible (just tap the Clip button in the Player view).
Finally, you must find a mentor. This can be someone at your current company, or it can be someone you’ve never worked with. But it’s best to find a mentor who understands your industry and the type of sales you do. In other words, find someone who’s already achieved the success you desire and ask them to be your mentor. They will likely say yes and take you under their wing and teach you how to succeed. You have blind spots, like everyone, and your mentor can point those out to you. They can motivate you, help you adopt the right mindsets, and encourage you to think BIG. Because chances are you’ve set your sights too low. And it’s time to learn what it means to succeed and leave a lasting legacy.
What to Learn
Now below are the types of things you should be learning. I like to put them in three main buckets: Strategy & Tactics, Motivation & Mindset, and Leadership & Entrepreneurship.
Strategy & Tactics
Educate yourself on sales strategies, like how to develop a sales model, cold call outreach, building a multi-channel sales sequence, etc. And also learn tactics like assuming the sale, tonality, and smiling on the phones. You need to be solid on both strategies and tactics to win at sales.
Mindset & Motivation
These are two sides of the same coin. You should constantly be improving your mindset and learning what motivates you. The key differentiator between the status quo and greatness in sales is mindset. Those who train their minds to believe they can accomplish anything are the ones who get ahead. And I emphasize “train” their minds, because this doesn’t come naturally.
Leadership & Entrepreneurship
If you’re driven to succeed, you will eventually come to the point when it’s time to lead a team. This could be promoting from within your company to Sales Manager, Director, VP, and so on. Or at some point down the road you might go into business for yourself. So it’s critical to begin learning leadership and entrepreneurship early. You’ll use it in your day-to-day life right from the start. And the knowledge you gain will contribute to mindset shifts for continued success. It’s a win-win-win.
Recommended Learning Track
Here’s what I recommend: Take one online sales course per quarter, read two sales books every month, and meet with a mentor at least once every month for one hour. By the end of year one you’ll have a strong foundation to build on and a toolkit with which to continue building. By year two you’ll be making your mark in your industry. And by year five you’ll most likely be a completely different person (in a good way) making absurd amounts of money and probably leading a team in some form or fashion. That is — IF you apply what you learn.
Of course, let’s leave some room for individual learning pace. That is, you might want to read five books each month instead of two. Or maybe you can only read one because you have a young family with kids in the home. The important thing is that you make daily progress, no matter how small, toward your goal of lifelong learning.
How To Apply What You Learn?
This is an article unto itself, but I’ll quickly summarize it for you. To apply what you’ve learned you will take the main point of the course, book, or meeting with your mentor and WRITE IT DOWN. Little nuggets of wisdom here and there are great to jot down, too. But the main thesis of the material, the main thrust of it, is what you want to retain. That’s what matters most. So don’t miss it! Now review this daily and incorporate what makes sense into your sales career. And leave behind what’s not applicable or useful.
Before we wrap up, I have a couple of forewarnings for you. First, be wary of the material and the types of influencers you read, watch, or otherwise consume. For example, while some motivational gurus have risen in popularity, it doesn’t mean they are good for everyone.
Take David Goggins for instance. Goggins is incredibly driven and he can motivate just about anyone to work hard. But he’s so extreme that some people will burn out from the hustle within a month of following Goggins’ teachings. And then they are worse off than when they started!
Other gurus are just in it for the money, and they can steer you wrong with bad teachings if you’re not careful. And finally, don’t get caught in the endless cycle of YouTube video binging. You might think you’re learning about sales and mindset, but much of it is purely entertainment (no curriculum or real coherence to the material!) and so you risk spinning your wheels. That is not learning.
Typically, the faster a piece of content takes to create, the less helpful it will be. That’s why books take months if not years to write, courses take just as long to create, and mentors take a lifetime to gain the experience they have. None of this is fly-by-night, so keep that in mind.
And now there’s nothing left to do but get out there and learn, learn, learn!
Until next time…