As a CEO of my business I sometimes think about "Mastery" and what this means.
- How does one define Mastery?
- How does one reach Mastery?
- How can I hire people who have reached the level of Mastery?
- How can I train or support training to help employees reach Mastery?
- What kind of training does it take to reach Mastery?
- How important is mastery and why the hell does this even matter?
Okay, you get the picture. In the book by Malcolm Gladwell titled Outliers: The Story of Success I understand (I have not read this one yet) that Malcolm says it takes 10,000 hours to reach mastery. This makes sense to me but makes me think about that 10,000 hours. So let's say you have 10 or 20 years of selling or any other skill under your belt, does that make you a master? Let's dig in a bit…
Well, let's first start by looking at how long it takes to hit 10,000 hours.
Let's say you work on your skills daily and focus 6 hours of your day on that skill. In a week you'd have 30 hours under your belt (5 business days). Then let's multiply 30 by 50 weeks (giving yourself 2 weeks of vacation) that would be 1,500 hours of skilled training and practice. So if this is the case it would take 7 years to hit 10,500 hours.
Does that mean everyone that has 10 to 20 years under their belt has reached Mastery? No!
Let me give you some examples…
I see life long designers that are okay at design. They think they are pretty good, their co-workers keep telling them they are good, but a seasoned designer knows they are just okay and far from reaching mastery. I remember early in my own design career I had about 2 years under my belt I was okay but then I started working with Bob Rios and this guy was really great at vector illustrations and drawling. Working under and around Bob for 2-3 years allowed me to ramp up my skills of illustration and set me on a path of mastery. Then I had about 5-6 years under my belt and I thought I was a pretty hot designer. Then I met Ed Broderick. Ed was an advertising, design and branding master. Working 2 years under his wing gave me the skills to ignite my design and branding skills heading to mastery. This is something that I could not have reached by myself (at least not in 2 years).
Okay now let's get into Sales Mastery. I often see sales veterans who are currently struggling with sales. Okay maybe "struggling" is strong they may have reach mild success, heck they may even be bringing in $1MM in sales each year. However these same sales people have not reached mastery. I also see these same people attend 3 Day Sales Training Seminars every few years. These seminars seem to be great for motivation, but are not delivering long term and continued success year over year.
Does a 3 Day Sales Training Seminar lead to Mastery? Rarely! Here's why…
Think about how much you are able to actually learn in a 3 day packed seminar. If you personally have attended any event like this you know that you go in excited and on fire. You learn as much as you can in 3 days and you leave super excited and start applying the strategies you learned. Then slowly you start sliding back into your bad habits. If you are serious about continual improvement you attend these type events/seminars every year, but still struggle to reach mastery. Why? Well because in order to reach mastery you need to break bad habits that you have used for years, maybe all your life. Breaking habits can not happen in 3 days and takes a lot of ongoing work, support and typically needs an accountability partner.
So above I shared experiences that have truly pushed me into mastery in certain areas in my life (illustration, design). Although I did these things for years on my own it took working under a mentor or a seasoned professional and expert for a few years in order to break my habits and take these skills and make them new habits and a part of my daily life. Let's fast forward to my sales career. I've been in sales for the last 16+ years that I have owned my business. I have been in what I call "Professional Sales" for only the last 5 year though.
Basically I read sales books and tried improving my sales skills on my own, but I didn't really get anywhere and I can honestly say… I sucked at sales for first 10 to 12 years of being in business. I was successful in spite of my sales skills. Maybe it was a numbers game or maybe it was that people liked me and saw I was a master in my areas of expertise (design). Either way I was mildly successful in my efforts. However in those first 10 years I didn't come close to Mastery of sales even when I attended Seminars, read books, or tried self-learning. I held on to the books and handouts from those seminars for years and tried to continually apply these strategies, but for some reason they never seemed to stick.
Then I hired a professional sales trainer and coach… Rick Roberge. I worked with him for about 2 years. In this time, as with the previous people I worked under, I started accelerating my growth and mastery quickly. I now have roughly 5 years under my belt of professional sales and 2 full years working with Rick. Because of this I now see many veteran salespeople that struggle with sales mastery. Have I personally reached mastery yet? Maybe not, but it is within reach. The reason is because I hired a professional and worked on the skills daily for years. I continue to work on this weekly and still have a big part of my week that is focused on sales. If you are a CEO reading this you may no longer be heavy in the sales world, but understanding your team and what it will take to become a master in sales is vital to your success.
Okay so why is mastery so important?
Well in my world reaching mastery is taking my company from having 5 figure years to 6 figure years. Yep we are on the verge of moving from the hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue to million dollar years. Now think about this. Hopefully moving into multi-million dollar year in the very near future.
A few weeks ago I talked to a prospect about a salesperson that could go from doing $1.5MM in business to $2.4MM in 24 months. That is nearly $500K a year in additional sales by doing weekly training for 18 to 24 months. Can a 3 Day Sales Training Seminar bring in these kinds of results? Doubtful!
Yes… I know what your thinking "but a 3 day seminar only cost $1500, what does weekly training and coaching cost?" Granted working with a sales training company could cost tens of thousands of dollars each year. But ask yourself where are you getting more bang for your buck? If you spend $1500 on a 3 day workshop how much additional revenue do you make that year?
Do you see a 30% bump in sales from a 3 day training and then nearly double your sales in 2 years? Doubtful!
Working for 2 years on mastery will often double or triple your sales… even for the seasoned salesperson. Let's say the previous salesperson hires a professional trainer and spends $24,000 over a two year period. In year one they often take their sales from $1.5MM up to $1.8MM (a $300K increase) and then in year two grow from $1.8MM to $2.4MM (a $600K increase). So does it make sense to make a large commitment of $24K? If you can easily get your money back 50 fold, it seems like a no-brainer to me. You tell me… does this make sense to you?
- Does this seam like a worthwhile investment of time and money to move into mastery?
- Does it seem like an important goal to hire or train your people to reach mastery?
- What are other areas mastery could help your business?
We hope this helps you rethink mastery and if it is important. More importantly we hope this type conversation help you reach your goals faster.
As you may know the reason Brandwise does all this is to Empower CEOs with Growth, Scalability, & Sustainability. Reaching mastery within Sales, Operations, and Finance at a very basic level will help you hit your growth goals, scaling goals and give you the ability to sustain your growth. So with that I'll wish you a great weekend and much success!
Other Sales Tips you might like…
- Check out the Sales Hiring Mistake Calculator to get a feel for what hiring the wrong salespeople is costing you.
- Free Webinar on February 26th, 2015: Have you ever hired a bad salesperson? Learn success in sales hiring!