RAB Research Archive

Professionals practice until they can't get it wrong



Sports fans are people who come together for the love of the game and their team. The people of Wisconsin take "fanatic" to a whole new level. Try presenting to a client Monday morning, or try motivating the sellers in the Monday meeting after a Packers loss. People here aren't just fans of the team; they allow it to impact their attitudes, buying habits and moods. I'm not passing judgment, just sharing how unique this behavior is. It's unlike anything I've seen in any other state.

Last week at the Kellar Radio Talent Institute, we had the opportunity to hear from high-profile talent in NASCAR, the Carolina Panthers NFL football team and the Charlotte Hornets NBA basketball team. All of the high-profile talent shared with us the importance of preparation and practice.

Fan is derived from the word fanatic, which is defined as a belief or behavior involving uncritical zeal or obsessive enthusiasm. In a recent sales meeting, I asked the sellers if they had an audience every time they presented; would they do anything differently? Would they "up their game?" The unanimous opinion was, yes, they would do better. What would they do better? Answer: Preparation. Each of the sellers revealed that if there was an audience, they would do more preparation.

In 1898, Norman Tripplett pioneered research on a theory that came to be known as the Yerkes-Dodson Law — the theory of social facilitation. Social facilitation is the tendency for people to do better on simple tasks when in the presence of other people. This implies that whenever people are being watched by others, they will do well on things that they are already good at doing. According to the theory: "The mere presence of other people will enhance the performance in speed and accuracy of well-practiced tasks but will degrade the performance of less familiar tasks."

The Yerkes-Dodson Law would say that a star football player would perform better when more people are watching him. However, if a person who is not a professional mechanic is asked to fix a car's engine during a road race, he will not perform as well in the presence of others as he would in a situation (like fixing a car in his garage) where he feels less evaluated or pressured. The difference is confidence in his/her ability to perform the task.

As the research suggests, if people are well-practiced and good at something, they love an audience, and it helps them improve their performance. However, if they have any doubt in their ability or apprehension about the presentation they are making, then the opposite effect occurs, and people do what we commonly refer to as "choking."

This research supports an age-old sales training technique called role-playing. Prepare and practice your presentation in the sales meeting before you go live to clients. Professional football players practice Monday through Friday for several hours a day, just to play one game on Sunday. Imagine how we would be as sellers if we spent Saturday to Thursday preparing for our one presentation on Friday. Think we would leave anything out?

I'm convinced that one of the things that helped me achieve almost instant success in sales was the fact that my manager, Bill Mann, made it very clear that I was never to present to a client without first presenting to him. Role-playing not only served as a great "visualization" of how things would go, but it also served as a preparation tool to ensure that I was well prepared with all the objections and questions covered before I faced the client.

"Amateurs practice until they can get it right; professionals practice until they can't get it wrong." - Harold Craxton, professor at the Royal Academy of Music in London.

Practice and role-playing are professional development tools that are critical to growing your income and effectiveness in sales. When was the last time you did some role-playing in your sales meeting?

Jeff Schmidt is SVP-Professional Development at the Radio Advertising Bureau. You can reach Jeff at jeff.Schmidt@Rab.com or follow him on social media: Twitter, LinkedIn.

Source: Jeff Schmidt, SVP of Professional Development





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