Have you ever had a moment in life where it felt like everything just clicked into place? It’s an amazing feeling. Where everything that you’ve been working so hard to achieve all comes together at once in this beautiful symphony and makes all of your hard work worthwhile. I remember when I first had that realisation, but it didn’t come easy. When I first began my journey into entrepreneurship, I didn’t even know where to begin.
I knew where I wanted to go but I had absolutely no idea how to get there. More importantly, I didn’t even know what I didn’t know. But what does that mean? Well there are generally 4 stages of learning. These are: unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence and unconscious competence.
Unconscious incompetence essentially means that you don’t know what you don’t know. This is the first step for every person looking to educate themselves about a new subject or skill. You first have to try and gain an understanding of the size and complexity of the topic that you’re trying to learn before you can move onto the next stage.
The second step is conscious incompetence. This is a pretty scary place to be. When you reach conscious incompetence you’re like “Holy crap, there’s so much information that I don’t know about this that I don’t even know where to begin”. You now know enough to recognise exactly what is is that you don’t know. And while that can be daunting, it’s a critical step in the journey towards mastery because you now know what knowledge is missing and can begin taking steps towards acquiring it.
The third step is conscious competence. When you reach conscious competence you’ve come a long way. Not only do you now know what you don’t know, but you’ve been able to learn and implement that knowledge to the extent that you can act on it consciously. Do you remember the first time you were able to drive a car? Or your first time you were able to tie your shoe laces as a child? It usually took every single ounce of your concentration, but more importantly, through conscious competence you were able to do it.
The final step is unconscious competence. There’s only one way to reach unconscious competence: and that’s practice. It’s the holy grail of learning because once you reach unconscious competence you earn mastery status. Think about your shoelaces again for a moment, does tying them today require you to think about? Of course not. You’ve become unconsciously competent through years of repetition, and you can acquire any other skill in life by applying the same approach.
In that moment I discovered the missing ingredient in my life – and it changed it forever.
So where were we ..
Ah, that’s it. So I’ve had this “Aha!” moment that made everything in my life click together. I’d spent the last few years reading about operations, strategy, leadership, innovation, product development, accounting, marketing and the list goes on, but I still hadn’t been able to achieve my goals. In that moment I discovered the missing ingredient in my life – and it changed it forever. That missing ingredient was sales.
Sales people are evil?
It’s funny looking back but I had this preconceived notion, what I like to call a limiting belief, that sales professionals were somehow bad people. I’d gravitated towards an industry where I was working with other technical professionals, and to many of these often introverted technology pros there was nothing worse than a salesperson.
“Sales people are a necessary evil” I’d hear. And I wasn’t only hearing it at work, either. I was raised to believe that sales people were sleazy and dishonest, and that it was a dishonourable profession for smooth talkers with no morals. I didn’t want to become a salesperson, because after all, I had great technical ability and sales was below me.
The Psychology of Selling
You know looking back, it’s laughable to think that I was conditioned to believe those things. I picked up a book by Brian Tracey called The Psychology of Selling and it changed my life. In that moment I realised that I had been misguided the entire time, and that through my own ignorance and self-limiting beliefs I’d been pushing myself away from acquiring the single most valuable skill that I have ever learned.
Everything in life in sales. In fact, I’m selling you my ideas, thoughts and opinions right now. You’re selling the interviewer each time you interview for a new job, or ask your current employer for a pay rise. In fact, some of the best salespeople in the world are your children, “Can we have some ice-cream pleaseeeeeeee?”. They’re even natural at multi-stakeholder sales – i.e. “Mummy said we can”.
Learning the skill of sales from the likes of Brian Tracey, Tom Hopkins, Zig Zigler and Grant Cardone has allowed me to take my products and services and share the value that they deliver to the world. Sales is a noble profession, and is the single greatest skill that you can acquire if you’d like to increase your income. Sure, it’s great being technical too, but if you can learn to do both, then you’ll have a rare blend of skills that can enable you to soar to the highest realms of your profession.
Sales is no different to learning to drive or tie your shoelaces. There’s no special genetic make-up gifted to salespeople, and it’s not a profession reserved for the fast talkers of the world (in fact, the faster they talk the less people will often listen). Sales is a learn-able skill like any other and with enough commitment and practice, you too can achieve the status of master in any area of your life and take your personal and business success to brand new heights.
If you’re interested in learning more about sales, or the book that changed my view on how salespeople influence the world, then I’ve included a link below to Brian Tracey’s – The Psychology of Selling.