I spent this past weekend at a three-day aikido seminar taught by Hiroshi Ikeda Sensei. Aikido is a Japanese martial art that focuses on redirecting an attacker’s energy and using it against them. I’ve been studying it for about five years and absolutely love it. I’ve learned a lot that can be applied to life outside the dojo.
Here are five lessons I took away from the weekend seminar and how you can apply them to your sales.
1. Find the connection
Much of the weekend was devoted to finding the connection between you and the other person, an essential element of aikido. You can’t redirect an attacker’s energy if there’s no connection. Once you find that connection, however, you can redirect it wherever you want it to go.
Similarly, in sales, the power is in the connection. You need to connect with your prospect to create rapport and build trust. You can find that connection by doing research and by asking them questions. Look for common experiences, interests, fears and goals.
2. Doing it correctly is more important than doing it fast
Almost every time I tried to do a technique quickly, I failed. When I slowed down and focused on proper form, I had much better success.
Ideally, when it comes to sales—and business in general—you want to do things correctly and fast. If you have to choose though, pick doing it right, even if it takes longer. Correcting mistakes can be far more costly and make customers much angrier. And the more practice you have doing something correctly, the faster you’ll be able to do it.
3. Use what works for you
In aikido, every technique has different variations and every person you train with has a different style. Because what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work the same for someone else. Your height, weight, strength and other factors all influence what works best for you.
There are lots of different sales strategies and tactics as well. And again, what works for one person may not work for you, based on your personality, experience, industry and so on. That’s why when I conduct sales training seminars, I give attendees lots of ideas to choose from. Figure out what works best for you.
4. Don’t worry about how you compare to others
The participants at the seminar ranged from beginners to sixth degree black belts. Having trained for only about five years, I’m much closer to the former than the latter. So it was a bit frustrating at times when I was struggling with things others seemed to do effortlessly. I had to remind myself, “Of course they’re better than I am—they’ve been training much longer!” The only person I needed to compare myself to was me. What mattered was simply that I left the seminar better than I was before it.
It’s easy to compare yourself with other salespeople, professionals or business owners. But it’s a fool’s comparison. It’s irrelevant if someone else is better than you. What’s important is, are you better today than you were yesterday? And will you be better still tomorrow?
5. You need to always be learning
One tremendous benefit of training with so many different people over the course of the weekend was giving me a clearer sense of how far I’ve come and how far I still have to go. While I’ve learned a lot in the past five years of aikido training, the seminar reinforced how much more I have yet to learn. And it’s an exciting prospect.
Likewise, in sales, there’s always more to learn. In fact, if you’re not learning, you’re regressing, because you inevitably forget things. So you need to be committed to lifelong learning. Invest in seminars, CDs and videos. Read books, magazines and blogs. Get individual coaching. Always be thinking, “What can I do better?”
By the way, I recommend aikido to anyone interested in learning a martial art or looking for a new challenge. For more information, click here or do a search for the term “aikido” along with your city to find a dojo near you.