Are you interested in more than doubling your sales?

Before I tell you how, I want you to think about the best class you've ever taken. Was it a class where the teacher or professor lectured at you, and you were expected to sit quietly and listen? Likely not. Your favorite class was probably one where you were actively pursuing the subject matter; it was a class that made you excited to learn. And when it comes to sales, you should strive to do the same; make your clients excited to learn about what you're selling them. Make them so excited that they can't help but repeat your sales pitch to their friends, unknowingly generating you referrals.

Before I show you how to harness the secret sales weapon of your best teachers, let's examine one such exemplary teacher.

The Hindu Caste System: Would You Prefer to Sit on Top of Your Desk, or Be Banished From the Classroom?

How did you learn about the Hindu Caste System? If you were in the classroom of Mr. Klaameyer, my ninth grade world history teacher, you actually lived it out. Each student was randomly assigned to one of the Hindu Castes. If you were an untouchable, you were forced to sit outside of the classroom while instruction took place. If you were a Sudra (servant class), you had to sit on the floor and do the Brahmins' homework. If you were a Vaisya (farming class), you had to bring in snacks for all the other students. If you were a Kshatriya (warrior class), you were responsible for collecting taxes, $5/student. And, finally, if you were lucky enough to be a Brahmin (the top of the Caste System), you got to sit on top of your desks, and had Sudras to do your homework for you. (By the way, notice how, to this day, I still remember each and every single one of the Hindu Castes thanks to his amazing teaching techniques.) As the role play progressed, your Caste would receive a set of challenges that you must complete.

In academics, the style that Mr. Klaameyer used is called "active learning." Instead of "passively" sitting back and being expected to absorb information from a teacher's lecture or a textbook, you "actively" become a part of the lesson. You "actively" think through problems and work out your thoughts on a subject.

Did Mr. Klaameyer have us sit back and listen to a lecture? Certainly not. And I doubt I would remember each and every component of the Hindu Caste well past high school and into my adult life if he had taught us in a more conventional ("passive") manner.

In sales, you, too, can harness the power of "active learning" to get your clients excited about and better remembering your sales calls.

What Does "Active Learning" Mean for Your Sales?

For God's sake, quit lecturing your prospective clients during sales calls! Having them sit back and listen to your pitch is not anywhere near the most effective way to get them to remember your ideas and buy into the benefits of your product or service. One of the most common complaints about salespeople is that they talk too much, and don't listen to their clients. Making the shift to active learning helps to avoid this problem, first and foremost.

But perhaps more importantly, if you get your clients to "actively" think about the benefits of your product or service, your clients will have come up with the benefits on their own, which will make them more passionate and excited about your sales proposition. Have you seen the movie Inception? The central premise of the movie is that the protagonists must plant (through "inception") an idea in one of the other character's brain; if they plant the idea in his brain, then he will think it's his own, and support it much more fervently than if somebody else offered the idea to him. Your goal in sales should be similar; if you can make your clients think that they came up with the ideas for why your product or service is great, they'll be far more likely to believe the ideas, and also are far more likely to remember the benefits when sharing them with others.

How Do You Incorporate "Active Learning" in Your Sales?

First, ask a ton of questions during your sales calls. Ask questions that make your clients think about and realize the problems with their present situation, and also ask questions that get them to come up with benefits of your product or service. Remember that if they (not you) are the ones coming up with the ideas for benefits your product or service brings, they're far more likely to believe and embrace those benefits, which makes them more likely to buy from you.

Instead of stating benefits during your sales call, ask questions that will get your client to state the benefit for you. For instance, let's say you're selling a high-priced photocopier. It may cost more money upfront, but it doesn't break down as frequently, which saves money on the costs of repairs. Instead of simply stating that the copier breaks down less frequently or saves money on repairs, ask your client how often their current copier breaks down. Ask your client how much it costs to repair the copier. Ask your client what the value would be if they had a copier that was more durable.

These sorts of questions turn a "passive" sales presentation into an "active learning" experience. The result is that your clients will remember the benefits better (since they thought of the benefits themselves), which both makes them more likely to buy as well as more enthusiastic when repeating your selling points to their colleagues or other prospective clients.

What You Learned About Sales From Your Best Teachers

People can learn a lot about your product or service if "active learning" is pursued during the sales call, just as you learned a lot about all manners of subjects in school from your most creative teachers, teachers who were willing to move beyond the books and lectures. Think of some of the people who positively influenced your education, as Mr. Klaameyer influenced mine, and then strive to emulate their teaching techniques as you teach others about the wonderful benefits of your products or services. Converting these teaching techniques into sales techniques will make your sales soar.

Author's Bio: 

Matt Vassar is a sales training consultant as well as a professor at Stanford University. His Secrets to Soaring Sales blog can be found at: