4 Key Components to Experiential Learning in Sales

December 23, 2020
4 Key Components to Experiential Learning in Sales

I define experiential learning as learning through doing. Instead of rote memorization or instruction, experiential learning means that you are able to learn from direct interaction and experience at a rate that cannot be achieved through other methods.

The more I have considered the idea of experiential learning, the more I think about its importance to those of us in the world of sales.

Of course, the idea of experiential learning may seem frustrating in these times. Most are working from home, people are unable to have typical in-person meetings, prospects may seem scarce. How can one go out and simply gain experience? This in itself, however, is an experience to capitalize on.

When speaking with clients and prospects, salespeople are learning more about their client's businesses, the problems that their leads may face, and the approaches that people are taking to solve such problems.

When you connect with different people and have more conversations with those you sell to, you start to develop your own unique understanding of clients, businesses, and common issues or concerns. This breadth of information offers the opportunity to be smarter and get creative in your problem-solving abilities as a salesperson. This is the foundation of experiential learning.

So how can you bake experiential learning into your sales methodology, and what more can you gain from doing so?

The following 4 components answer these questions, and might just be what you need in order to become the dynamic salesperson you aspire to be.

4 Key Components to Experiential Learning in Sales

  1. Stay engaged.

    This is the first and most important component to experiential learning. Being engaged means active listening, being curious, and reflecting on your experiences. The more engaged you are in these moments, the more you will get out of each conversation, each new meeting, each client relationship, and so on.

  2. Be empathetic.

    We are in trying times with the pandemic. It is important to remember that this year has affected everyone differently. Do not assume that you understand someone else's experience. Instead, try to get to know where they are coming from, where they have been, and they currently stand. Learning about their journey can provide you with new wisdom. You will not necessarily start out as an expert. But you can grow into the perceptive person you want to be through your interactions and conversations, through trial and error, and through experience. If your prospect feels understood by you, they are likely to continue the relationship.

  3. A true consultant brings value to a conversation.

    There is a declining rate of learning that is happening within your buyer’s organization. Buyer's need answers, solutions, and options. This is where you come in. Now that you have learned, what can you share? Your client is hungry for the knowledge that you bring from outside their organization. You can provide a new perspective and refresh established ideas.

  4. Even small moments have worth.

    Understand that something like a meaningful conversation might not bring you business, but it will bring you insight, which is still valuable. If you can adjust your expectations, you will begin to surprise yourself with what interests and satisfies you. This type of consideration can yield more ideas and solutions. Ultimately, it is a life skill that transfers well into sales. If there is anything we have learned from this past year, it is that life is filled with uncertainty. So if you can, approach every interaction with a blank slate, ready to absorb new information.

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Do not discount the value of the knowledge that you continue to learn though interacting and doing – even remotely.

If you do not feel entirely confident yet, it is the process that will spark growth and provide you with self-assurance down the line. At some point during your momentum phase, you will suddenly realize you are able to connect the dots and gain a clear picture of who and what your clients really are, what they need, and what you can offer.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “It's the not the destination, it's the journey.”

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If you can make the most of out every situation as a keen observer, a good listener, and an insightful partner, you will learn to find value in all of life's situations–big and small.

Do you have ideas on how to incorporate experiential learning into buying and selling? Let us know in the comments! We love to hear from our readers.


  • Bill - Reply

    I enjoy the read, keep-up the good work.

  • Agnese - Reply

    Great article, very interesting and helpful. Which activities should you suggest me to train retail staff in the boutique?
    Thank you very much
    Take care

    • Rylan Sylvester - Reply

      Hi Agnese! Thank you so much for your comment and question. I would suggest activities where the staff gets to practice active listening, i.e. role play scenarios as buyers and sellers, where those in the role of sellers repeat back information provided by those in the role of buyers, in order to show they have paid attention. Anything to encourage an in-the-moment attitude so that future customers of your boutique feel they are being given unique attention (in a way that is not too overbearing, of course). Hope this helps, and thanks for reading!

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