Practice – 9th of the 10 Kurlan Sales Competencies That are Key to Building a Sales Culture

This is the 9th in the series of articles on the 10 Kurlan Sales Competencies That are Key to Building a Sales Culture.


I was at Dave Pelz’ short game (golf) school in February of 2008 when I learned this important competency and wrote two articles about it at the time, without actually mentioning PRACTICE MAKES PERMANENT. This one made me look prophetic.  This one had to do with today’s lesson.

Let’s take the last piece first.  Permanent.  Without question, the biggest challenge for me, my colleagues, associates, and the salespeople and sales managers we develop is the permanent problem.  All of the stuff they have been doing, including the order in which they have been doing it, is usually wrong when we begin working with them –  and permanently so.  It’s harder to stop doing the permanent stuff than it is to learn a more effective way.  Think of an elastic band.  The information from the new lesson stretches the band a lot.  Then the natural tendency to do what has become permanent snaps the band back into its original shape.  Solution?

  • Repetition – as with exercising
  • Let go – as with a massage
  • Reinforcement – as with variations of the same messages
  • Role playing – as in practice
  • Mistakes – as in golf or tennis
  • Coaching – as in private golf or tennis lessons
  • Commitment and Discipline (see this article)

Now comes the Practice part.  What exactly does one practice so that excellence becomes permanent?

  • Strategies – only the effective ones please
  • Tactics – only the ones that work consistently
  • The difficult scenarios – not the easy stuff – like:
    • resistance
    • push-back
    • ambivalence
    • pricing
    • competition
    • incumbents
    • relationships
    • renewals
    • delays
    • complaints

How often should one practice “selling”?  Most salespeople never practice – ever!  Let’s take a look at some of the top professional athletes in the world.  Not only do they all have coaches, but their practice schedules and disciplines should embarrass you.

Tiger Woods, the best golfer of all time, practices 6.5 hours a day – after he works out!

  • 1.5 Hours fitness
  • 4 Hours of ball striking
  • 2 Hours of playing
  • 2 Hours of short game

Michael Jordan used to take from 125-300 practice shots, sometimes after the actual game!

It doesn’t happen any more since the advent of batting gloves, but most of the members of baseball’s Hall of Fame, as well as former major leaguers who weren’t elected, used to take batting practice until and after their hands were bleeding.  Pete Rose, Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio, were among the known bleeders.

So if the best professional athletes in history practice more hours than they spend performing, how can salespeople complain about practicing for 30-60 minutes per day?

Practice makes permanent.