Self-development is a critical component. Here is the transcript of an interview I recently gave that outlines the importance of self-development.

“Let’s start with what seems to be an obvious question…why is self-development so important?”

Business is more competitive and challenging than ever which means we need to continually improve our skills if we want to maintain a competitive edge. Also, because business is changing, what worked well last year, last month or even last week, may not be as effective now. That means upgrading your skills is critical to your long-term success.

“What are some of the mistakes sales people make when it comes to self-development?”

The most common mistake that I see is that many sales people think that they don’t need to update or upgrade their skills because they attended a program or training workshop sometime in the past.

I have also talked to many companies who say they’re not interested in a training program because they “did one” a few years ago. Sadly, these companies often consistently lose market share to their competitors who DO invest in the development of their sales people.

Another mistake is that people rely on their employer to either foot the bill or initiate something. If you’re not willing to invest in your future you won’t reach your full potential. I’ve noticed that self-employed or independent sales professionals are more likely to invest in their personal development more so than employees of a company.

“What do recommend for readers of this article?”

I recommend doing a quick self-evaluation to determine what specific areas they need to improve. Then, decide what you’re going to do to improve. This could mean attending a training workshop, a tele-seminar, or perhaps a conference to hear different speakers. If you get just one good idea that helps you improve your results, then it’s worth the investment.

“I think we’ve all heard about the importance of maintaining a positive attitude. Why is this so important for sales people?”

Sales is a great career but it’s also a challenging one. The attitude we display is contagious and our customers and prospects pick up on it. But, even more important, is the fact that a positive attitude helps us get through the difficult times and occasional slumps we encounter from time-to-time.

“What can we do to maintain a positive outlook?”

There are a few things.

First, we have to choose to be positive. No one can tell us how to behave and we can always choose to be in a great mood or a negative one. Now I’m certainly not suggesting that this is easy because it’s not. However, when you put negative experiences into perspective and look at the big picture, you can often see why it’s more important to focus on the positive.

Here’s an example. I know two people who both lost major clients this past year. One person chose to focus on getting new clients and maintained the mindset that she would be able to replace that client with a better on—one that would generate even more revenue and profit. The second person fell into a slump and frantically worried about the lost revenue he lost. His sales are sliding downward while the first person is now experiencing an increase in sales.

Next, associate with other positive-minded, goal-oriented people. Too many people are quick to bring you down so it’s essential that the people around us are also positive and optimistic. I once worked with an individual who was very pessimistic and negative and I always felt drained of energy after talking to him. Eventually, I stopped associating with him because he made it difficult for me to stay positive.

I also recommend starting your day with something positive like reading or listening to motivational material instead of reading the newspaper or watching the news. Other things like exercise, yoga, meditation are also a great way to start your day. It’s like tending a garden. If you don’t remove the weeds they will eventually take over and choke the flowers. Starting your day with something that is inspiring will kick start our day and keep the weeds away.

“What final words of advice do you have for our readers?”

Improvements don’t happen overnight. I suggest that people work at incorporating one change or something new into their approach or routine every week. For example, this week readers could focus on associating only with positive people. Each change, even if it’s small, makes a difference and can improve our results.

It’s like physical fitness. You can’t go from a being a couch potato to competing in an Ironman competition in a week or two. It takes time to build your stamina and strengthen your body so it can handle the stress effectively.

Make small changes but make them consistently and you will notice great results.

© 2007 Kelley Robertson, All rights reserved.

Author's Bio: 

Kelley Robertson, author of The Secrets of Power Selling helps sales professionals improve their results. Receive a FREE copy of “100 Ways to Increase Your Sales” by subscribing to his free newsletter available at Kelley conducts workshops and speaks regularly at sales meetings and conferences. For information on his programs contact him at 905-633-7750 or