Now I’m sure others have described it better, but from my understanding, experiential learning can sometimes be described as learning through doing. Instead of rote memorization or instruction, you learn from direct interaction and experience at a rate that cannot be achieved through other methods.
This idea has been weighing rather heavily on me lately. As I’ve considered it, I’ve become more and more convinced of not only its validity, but also its importance to those of us in the world of sales. When speaking with clients and prospects, you are learning more about their business, the problems that they face, and what they are doing to solve them.
As you continue to have more of these types of conversations with more of the people that you sell to, you begin to establish your own base of understanding of their issues and concerns. Thus, after doing this for even a relatively short time, you are able to become a true consultant and bring value to a conversation. You don’t necessarily come to the table at the beginning as an expert in every way. Instead, you become the expert through your interactions with your clients and prospects.
Bringing Experiential Learning to Your Clients
In contrast to that is the declining rate of learning that is happening within your buyer’s organization. I believe that even as the rate of learning is growing for the salesperson, in relative terms, it is declining for the client. In fact, I will say that your client is hungry for the knowledge that you bring from the outside world to provide a new perspective and refresh established ideas.
In their world, they have to spend less time learning what solutions are out there and more time protecting their reputation, pleasing the boss, and doing the many things they have been mandated to do – all of which can inhibit learning or the freedom to learn.
Don't discount the value of the knowledge that you continue to learn though interacting and doing. Even if you’re not quite an expert yet, the process is like laying a lot of points out there early on in your new job or career. At some point during your momentum phase, you will suddenly be able to connect all the dots and gain a clear picture of who and what your clients really are.
Do you have any ideas on how to incorporate experiential learning into buying and selling? Let us know in the comments!