The Practice Paradox
March 1, 2024
The Cringe Podcast - Episode 2 - Matt Cameron
Sales leaders understand that practice and real-world customer interactions are vital to maximizing sellers’ potential. This theory proposes that more practice leads to better performance. However, our observations and experiences frequently reveal what I call “The Practice Paradox.” This paradox may prompt top-level leaders to reconsider their sales training philosophy and methods.

This paradox stems from an important but often overlooked fact: not all practices are created equal. The belief that repeated sales role plays improve sellers’ conversational skills is incorrect. Bad practice creates and reinforces bad habits. Sellers who practice together without preparation or knowledge of effective sales methodologies highlight this issue. The feedback is frequently superficial or incorrect, failing to accurately reflect a customer’s perspective or the company’s sales strategy.

While sales and enablement leaders have good intentions, they may be unable to solve this problem by practicing with sellers themselves. Regardless of their expertise and availability, these leaders may fail to inspire focused practice. Leaders can go down a variety of rabbit holes when role-playing with sellers, which may prevent sellers from receiving adequate repetition needed to reach conversational mastery. 

The exhaustive nature of role plays may result in fatigue, lowering feedback quality and practice effectiveness. Leaders may not have access to the most recent customer data or clarity around what a good call looks like, which can detract from the practice’s ability to replicate customer interactions. Sellers may also struggle to learn, process, and retain new information due to the stress that comes from role-playing with, or in front of a superior.

Diverse managerial abilities and perspectives can also complicate matters. Disparities in what managers consider to be a successful sales conversation creates inconsistency in training, leaving sellers unsure about what “good” looks like.

Thus, The Practice Paradox emphasizes an important point: while practice is valuable, its quality, frequency, consistency, and relevance to customer interactions are critical. 

Effective practice must be intentional, frequent, risk-minimized, distraction-free, and enhanced by high-quality constructive feedback. It must be tailored to each seller’s learning needs and abilities, and allow some degree of seller autonomy. This approach is consistent with research on effective learning, reducing the risk of developing and reinforcing bad habits while empowering sellers to succeed in real-world customer conversations.

To maximize training dollars, unlock the power of practice, and achieve sales conversation mastery, leaders must understand The Practice Paradox.

 

 

 

This content was created by Stefanie Boyer

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