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Sales training starts with The Dummy Curve

Say you are good at something, and you want to get even better. You study, practice, and work at it.  But, instead of getting better, you get worse.

I’ve seen this occur many times. It’s the demoralizing effect of working hard and not having the results to show for it.

It’s what happens with many of the salespeople we hire at FringeSport. We hire them because they have a record of sales success. We then train and adapt them to the FringeSport way of selling.

And they get worse.

They eventually get way better, however. But they have to face “The Dummy Curve” first.

…they have to face “The Dummy Curve”…

As it applies to selling, The Dummy Curve says that many untrained workers have a basic ability to close sales. However, as they work on their technique (hopefully with a coach), the dollar volume of sales often goes down. Once they keep at it, practicing methodology, their sales ability goes up, far beyond where they started. This is The Dummy Curve.

In other words, you start with a moderate-to-high ability at something. You work at getting better and, paradoxically, your ability temporarily decreases. But if you keep at it, your ability more than recovers.

The problem with The Dummy Curve is that salespeople want results — now. You see your sales declining, even as you’re working harder. It can be demoralizing. It’s easy to abandon the new methodology and revert to your old habits. But if you abandon too early, you’re not going to reap the massive rewards or gains that are often inevitable.

We use the Sandler sales methodology at FringeSport. Most of the salespeople we hire are not Sandler-trained. Most have never heard of it.

We put them through a boot camp with Market Sense, a Sandler trainer here in Austin. And they meet The Dummy Curve.

The key is to educate salespeople about The Dummy Curve before they experience it. Then, once they encounter the downward effects, we describe how their sales will improve on the other side.

Until then, however, they are often tempted to abandon the training, or even quit. After all, the system does not appear to work. It’s made them less effective. But the training pays off in time.

I see The Dummy Curve in many aspects of life when learning a new skill.

We apply it at FringeSport when we introduce new technology. Frequently a new technology makes things worse, slower, or more complicated — at the beginning. It can stall the implementation process. But, with time and effort, you bust through. You achieve substantial gains in productivity.

So how do we train salespeople at FringeSport? We undo much of what they think they know. It leads to The Dummy Curve and then to new levels of success.

Peter Keller
Peter Keller
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