Training Sales Reps, and the Selective Attention Challenge

This post comes courtesy of Dave Stein, author of the blog Commentary on Sales Effectiveness.

One of the most common issues that needs to be overcome through a sales-performance-improvement initiative is the subjectivity with which many salespeople pursue business. If left to their own, many sales reps see what they want to see, hear what they want to hear, and, frankly, do what they want to do.

This tendency is one of the most important reasons to hire the right people (with the relevant personal traits for the job) and provide those people with the structure, processes, and tools to assure that only the positive elements of subjectivity — reading people and situations, instinct (to a degree), and other capabilities one might classify as the “art” aspect of selling — impact their decision-making and how they pursue business.

Selective attention is an interesting behavior to study when it comes to salespeople.  Basically, it’s deliberate, focused attention. The problem, as I see it, is that many salespeople focus their attention on what they want to see, rather than what’s really there. Some of you may remember that I often use the quote, “We see things not as they are, but as we are.”  Or, the more popular and humorous, “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.”  That one is attributed to Mark Twain.

So here’s a video for you. I’d like you to watch it, then come back to me with your response to this question:

Do you agree or disagree that selective attention is an issue that must be addressed in a strategic sales effectiveness initiative?

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