Adapted Growth

How to be a Successful Sales Rep: You Have to Practice

As with all things in life, learning how to be a successful sales rep starts by practicing your sales skills.
Photo by Charlein Gracia on Unsplash


Learning how to do anything in life takes plenty of practice. Yes, that includes learning how to be a successful sales rep. It doesn’t happen overnight.

The problem is that most salespeople aren’t given the space or time to practice. Most aren’t even given a suggestion to find it themselves. That’s why having a dedicated space and group of people is so important.


Sales Meets Martial Arts

 While you might not think that sales and martial arts have much in common, you’d be wrong.

In martial arts (and almost every other thing that you learn throughout your life), your skills begin to fade the minute you stop practicing and drilling. And your skills never improve when you stop learning.

Sales is a kind of verbal martial art.

Your skills fade if you don’t practice. And all the salespeople out there that are: 

  • training and keeping up with trends and best practices,
  • going to seminars,
  • learning under coaches and mentors,
  • roleplaying or practicing with peers,
  • reading books about selling, communication, business, and/or psychology,
  • and doing any of the other things you can do to improve

are going to be more successful than you. That’s just how it is.

A recent study showed that sales reps earn 50% more when they get regular practice. 50% is huge, and it can be all the difference needed to go from struggling to meet quota to being a successful sales rep.

Even if you’re going from two closed deals a month to four, that might be the difference between choosing which bills to pay first and living comfortably. 

Yet, salespeople don’t like to practice. It is part of the sales stigma that most people have because they look at sales as something you are born with. This same stigma is what keeps potentially incredible salespeople out of the industry, but we won’t get into that tragedy right now.


Practice Through Sales Conversation Roleplay

Here’s the real kicker; most salespeople don’t even know how to practice. 

They know they can read books, get training from their companies (maybe!), or maybe go to some seminars if they have the time and money. 

But they have no idea how to roleplay a conversation with other salespeople to improve their skills.

Maybe they’ve done it once or twice at a conference, but that’s far from the best environment to practice in. And, as with anything else, once or twice a year isn’t anywhere near enough to see any improvement. Those roleplay sessions are just there to illustrate a lesson at that moment. It’s not true practice.

If you’re learning to play golf, you can’t go to the golf course once a year, hit 18 balls, and be a pro. You have to practice consistently. And you probably have to find some resource, be it a coach, videos, or just a buddy, to help you.

Or let’s bring it back to martial arts.

If you only go to class once a week for 45 minutes, you will learn new things and get better. Slowly. But if you go to three classes a week and practice three other days a week, you’ll improve significantly quicker.

It’s the same with sales.

Your day-to-day job is like a once-a-week class. It’s the bare minimum in getting better, and it will take so much longer to reach your goals.


Successful Sales Reps Are Practiced, Not Gifted


Unfortunately, most people don’t look at it that way. Because they think it is a skill they were born with, practicing outside of their job could prove to them that there’s room for improvement. Confronting weakness isn’t something most of us want to do.

This leads to the other downside of sales culture. There are always other things to blame for not closing more deals. Bad leads, bad product, bad area/economy, bad (fill in the blank). While some of these may be true to an extent, it’s a mindset that will hold you back. 

If you blame everything else, you take away your own control to fix the situation.

Practicing is uncomfortable at times. Even the best of us will find gaps and weaknesses when we practice regularly. But this is a good thing!

The more you practice through those weaknesses, the stronger you’ll be when they happen in real life.

A common issue that many salespeople hate facing is the budget discussion. Most people don’t enjoy talking about money, and most salespeople do not enjoy asking about it. So when it has to happen, rapport is lost, discomfort grows, and the conversation can quickly go downhill.

But if you roleplay every possible response to the budget question, you’ll be better prepared when you have it with actual prospects. This weakness will turn into a strength, and your prospects will notice.


A Place to Practice


So why aren’t you roleplaying your sales conversations already?

Because most salespeople don’t feel comfortable doing it, it can be hard to find roleplaying partners.

That’s where our Adapted Growth Sales Lab comes in.

We know there are a lot of salespeople out there who want to get better, who want to practice and grow. They just don’t know where to start. 

Our Sales Lab group is a place where you can come to roleplay sales conversations comfortably, judgment-free, and, most importantly, effectively. And we have a lot of fun too!

Those conversations you used to hate having will be a breeze in no time with regular roleplay practice.

Think of it like your sales dojo. A place to practice, learn from others, move past your challenges, and be more confident in your sales conversations.

If you want to learn how to be a successful sales rep through practice, check out Sales Practice Lab. The first two weeks are completely free. Try it out and see what pressure-free practice can do for your sales success.


Want other ways to learn how to be a successful sales rep? Read more about my Sales SHERPA philosophy below.

Find out what being a Sales Sherpa means and how this sales method can help you improve all of your relationships.

The S in SHERPA stands for Skeptical, the (positive!) mindset you need to have effective sales conversations.

H stands for Helpful because your intent drives your ability to be the best salesperson you can be.  

One of the most important characteristics of successful salespeople is Empathy.

Another trait that makes a sales rep successful is being Resolute.

The last letter in SHERPA stands for Accepting because it’s one of the most valuable traits a successful salesperson can have.