Have you ever played the piano? If you’ve ever learned to play the piano, or any other musical instrument for that matter, you know that at first the learning process is very mechanical. First, you have to figure out what keys relate to what note. Then you begin to methodically try and turn the written music on the page into the song this written music is supposed to produce.

In the beginning it’s a rather agonizing process. Then it becomes easier and perhaps methodical, and you can technically take the written music and turn it into sound. But, you also notice that when you play the music it doesn’t even come close to sounding the same way it does when this same written music is played by a professional.

The same can be said for the way a sales conversation is conducted by a beginner, an average sales person, and a top producer. Technically all three can be following the same sales process. Yet, experientially for the prospect these three experiences are almost unrecognizably different. And the only way to close the gap is to focus on closing the gap.

Sales isn’t a mental exercise where you can read a book and come away with the skills of a top producer. Sales is more like a sport in that you have to actually actively be in the game practicing your fundamentals day-in-day-out. But with the subtle difference of writing your own most effective interpretation of the music so that when you have that sales conversation it’s your conversation.

You won’t become a top producer unless you have self-leadership skills. Self-leadership will enable you to determine your direction and build the confidence to make your plans a reality. And you will achieve the greatest success when you’re able to include your uniqueness into your interpretation and application of any sales process.

Leaders and top producers recognize their strengths and acknowledge their weaknesses. They also are committed to doing whatever it takes to become the best at what they do. That means that not only are they practicing their skills on a daily basis, but they’re challenging their interpretation and application of those skills.

As a spectator when you’ve really enjoyed a particular piece of music did you think about the notes and rests of that music? No, you were completely engaged in the sound and the experience that sound produced in you. The same should be true of the sales conversation you’re having with a prospect. They shouldn’t be thinking uh-oh here comes the presumptive close.

When different musicians with different instruments come together to present a musical piece in a symphony they build on the energy and talents of each other, you and your prospect need to be engaged and building on and from each other too. Just like the musician, that can and will only happen when you’re able to transition from technical skill to subtle interpretation and adaptation in how those skills are used. That requires knowing the music and the instrument at a much deeper level than just reading the notes and striking the correlating keys on the piano. In sales it means knowing yourself and the sales process on such an intimate level that you’re able to blend your skills and talents with the process in a way that energizes both you and the prospect.

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