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Success depends on learning


(Editor’s note: This is the second part of a column on how salespeople learn. If you missed Part 1 in the March 22 issue of the Business Record, go to www.gitomer.com and enter the word LEARN in the GitBit box.)

How do you learn? As a teacher, speaker, writer and student, I am as interested in how to learn as anyone. I want to understand it from both perspectives: the teacher’s and the student’s.

So, a bigger question for me is not simply what I know, but how I can teach what I know so others will want to learn and apply it.

Here are the rest of the 12.5 elements of how to learn:

4. Talking. Sometimes just talking to others about what you know or are thinking about clarifies it in your own mind. Have you ever had an idea and shared it with somebody else just so you could hear what it sounded like and, as a result, clarified it in your own mind? Thinking about it is one thing; talking about it makes it seem more real.

5. Talking to experts. This is one of the best ways to learn, especially if you have great questions and are willing to take notes as you listen. Experts (mentors) possess great wisdom and love to share it.

6. Speaking. A public speech will enhance your knowledge because you have to prepare for the talk. Fear of failure in public will make you a great student.

7. Teaching. Include training in weekly sales meetings. You’ll be forced to both become more of an expert and give a great presentation. Teaching begins with writing. You have to write your lesson, or at least some notes, you’ll be prepared. When you did that as a kid, it was called homework or a book report.

8. Thinking. On the surface, thinking seems kind of dull, ordinary and unexciting. In fact, if you peruse your day planner, I guarantee the word “thinking” does not appear in any shape or form. That’s a big mistake. “Think time” creates and clarifies ideas. It gives you an opportunity to work them out in your own mind. The more you think, the more you’ll learn.

9. Paying attention to the world around you and the people around you. The best way to do this is to vary your concentration. Most people focus on their own objectives, especially in sales. By shifting your focus to other people and your surroundings once in a while, you can observe and learn new things.

10. Traveling. When you visit someplace new, or someplace you love, or even someplace to relax, you become more motivated, more open, more receptive to and more observant of what is going on around you. You’re not just “open” to learning; you’re “inspired” to learn.

11. Doing. Just living life is a learning experience, if you take life the right way. Take action and you will learn. Take risk and you will learn more. Fail and you will learn the most. Failure is a teacher, just as success is.

12. Repeating. If you hear a song once, you may like it and want to hear it again. After you hear it 10 times, you can sing along. The same is true with a sales strategy or product knowledge.

12.5. Willing to learn. Many of you may claim a willingness to learn, but very few of you will actually dedicate the time to do it. Dedicating time is the key to new knowledge.

The secret: A positive attitude will give you the mental freedom to think, “I didn’t know that. I can do that.”

Beware of ignorance. People fail to learn because of complacency, misplaced or upside-down priorities, or the misperception that they already know everything. These people are easy to spot. They’re always too busy to learn, or they’re watching reruns on TV. You can also spot them in bars and at parties (they’re the loudest).

Start by taking a walk in a bookstore, or by going to www.amazon.com and clicking around. If you’re looking for the secrets of success, a bookstore beats a beer store every time.

If you want to build wealth, first build a wealth of knowledge.

Free GitBit: Miss part one? Want the whole piece on learning? Go to www.gitomer.com, register if you’re a first-time user and enter the word LEARN in the GitBit box.

Jeffrey Gitomer is president of Charlotte, N.C.-based Buy Gitomer. He can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or by e-mail at salesman@gitomer.com.

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