Learners or lookers: How to tell if sales reps will earn or burn!

Learners or lookers: How to tell if sales reps will earn or burn!
by Kirk Wakefield – November 2013

How do you know the difference between a sales rep who’s going to make it and those who won’t?

Research tell us that one way is to look at whether they’re learners or lookers.

What do learners look like?

Learners  are the sales reps who focus on mastering new situations, exploring tasks, acquiring new skills, and learning from experience, all with an ultimate goal of self-improvement.

How do you know if you have a learner? When learners face a challenge they will:

  1. probe problems,
  2. persist,
  3. escalate effort,
  4. seek feedback, and
  5. seek solutions.

Obviously, you don’t have a learner if they avoid problems, give up, keep doing what they’ve been doing, don’t ask for help, and don’t solve problems.

What do lookers look like?

Some reps just want to look like they’re doing something instead of doing it. They are out to prove themselves to others instead of just improving.

Lookers  focus on appearing competent to others and gaining favorable evaluations. They run away from challenges that might pose the risk of making mistakes. Instead their ultimate goal is positive self-presentation and impression management.

How do you know if you have a looker? When lookers face a challenge they will:

  1. avoid challenging tasks,
  2. withdraw from the task,
  3. set low goals,
  4. make negative ability attributions, and
  5. demonstrate a helpless response.

In contrast, learners will embrace the challenge, set high goals, assume they have the ability to figure it out, and will even want to help others meet and beat the challenge.

What about your staff?

George Killebrew, Executive Vice President, Dallas Mavericks, breaks down the importance of learning and adapting:

George Killebrew
George Killebrew

“Our staff  includes those with us just a short time as well as those who’ve been with us 14 years and even 22 years.  They all realize that they must keep up with the ever changing world of sponsorship–from understanding digital, to mobile, to social media, to all the latest trends.  If they fail to adapt, they become dinosaurs.  This is a fairly young at heart business and you must have the stamina to keep up!  Not just physically working 50 home games each year, but mentally with all the new inventory that comes our way and the changing trends in our industry. Those that fail to adapt, unfortunately have to go.  It’s learn or leave!”

Look carefully at your sales team. Is everyone on board a true learner? What answers would you get if you showed them the five characteristics of learners and lookers and asked, “Which one are you?”

Take action

Do you have a bunch of learners or lookers? Can lookers learn to be learners? What can you do to challenge your group to keep learning?

Click the Twitter or LinkedIn buttons below to share with others and keep the conversation going. Tweet to us @kirkwakefield, @georgekillebrew, #learners!


Read the original research here: Chai, J., Zhao, G., & Babin, B. J. (2012). An Empirical Study on the Impact of Two Types of Goal Orientation and Salesperson Perceived Obsolescence on Adaptive Selling. Journal Of Personal Selling & Sales Management, 32(2), 261-274.

Does using social media in selling increase performance?

Does using social media in selling increase performance?
by Wayne Guymon – October 2013

Social Media is all fun and no work, right?  Those “millennials” are always on their phones, checking Facebook and “LOL’ing” with their friends.  It always seems to be “tweet this” and “hashtag that.”  I can hardly understand what they are saying sometimes!

The truth of the matter is that social media, when used effectively, can be an extremely beneficial tool.

A study of business-to-business salespeople found that 42% frequently use social media in their selling efforts to:

  1. Build awareness.
  2. Prospect.
  3. Obtain leads.
  4. Connect with customers and keep them feeling important.
  5. Maintain good business relationships.
  6. Obtain referrals.
  7. Communicate thoroughly.

As we might guess, 73% of millennial’s use social media in selling, while 60% of Gen X salespeople do, and only 33% of baby boomers.

More importantly, the sales performance of those who use social media in these ways is significantly higher than those who don’t.

During a recent brainstorming session with one of my sales AE’s, we pulled up a prospective partner’s Facebook page.  By literally spending a few minutes browsing the page, we completely overhauled our proposal to incorporate some themes that we discovered.  When we subsequently made the pitch, the client remarked on how our theme was spot-on with their current objectives.

While there are plenty of fun and games involved, used effectively and efficiently, social media can help lead the sales charge for your sales teams.

How about your sales team?

At your next sales team meeting, see how your group is doing by asking the questions below.

How can we use social media and which social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Vine, Instagram, blogs, etc.) work best to:

  1. Increase your awareness among potential and current customers?
  2. Prospect new customers?
  3. Obtain leads? Referrals?
  4. Connect with customers and make them feel important?
  5. Maintain good business relationships?
  6. Communicate thoroughly?

We’d like to hear what you come up with! We’re all learning together! Tweet to us @BaylorS3 and @Wguymon. #sellsports


Join the S3 Report.

The study of 309 B2B salespeople from a national sample was conducted by: Schultz, Robert J., Charles Schwepker, and David J. Good (2012). “An exploratory study of social media in B2B selling: Salesperson characteristics, activities, and performance,” Marketing Management Journal, 22 (2), 76-89.

Cover photo courtesy of Leah Carroll.

 

 

Skip to toolbar