To start something at the beginning and complete it (in order) to the very end is seen as a virtue. Linear thinking is logical, and experts say that most of us in the western world rely on it 90% of the time. But don’t let that limit you into believing there's always just one path to the best result.
What result do you want from sales training? To say the team completed all the courses or learn to sell smarter or faster?
The Difference Between Linear and Non-Linear Thinking
Linear thinking is an analytical, logical thinking style. The process works best when we want to make simple connections in sequential order.
Non-linear thinking is an emotional, intuitive thinking style. Less-restrictive thoughts can expand in multiple directions and outside of the box.
- Linear thinkers use consistency, rules, formulas or patterns to make decisions in life.
- Non-linear thinkers make connections and draw conclusions from unrelated concepts or ideas.
- Both linear and non-linear thinking are integral to success in business and leadership.
Linear Thinking and Sales Training
It makes sense for a new seller to start at the beginning and work their way (slowly) through the modules for each step. The real end goal is to improve how they do business by applying the concepts with real clients and prospects. A veteran seller might find the most value by zeroing in on one area of the sales process first. Key areas where they want to improve their game and have the greatest potential to improve.
Eventually, everyone may be required to complete all of the courses, but they should focus first on those areas most important to them.
The idea of “not completing every course, in order” goes against our normal way of thinking. Linear thinking is not always bad, but we need to be linear in the right places.
Linear Thinking and Leadership
For sales managers, spend time in your Individual Focus Meetings directing your salespeople to the specific courses that make the most sense for them personally. Then, expect and look for visible signs that they have applied what they learned. A simple report that the team has completed all the courses is easier, but having your salespeople demonstrate that they are applying the proven sales process in their own selling is what helps make budget.
What training are you taking or have access to? Choose ONE area that stands out as something that would improve your performance:
- Take your time. This is no longer a race, but a strategic deep dive.
- Download and read all the handouts.
- Think seriously about how you will put the concepts into practice.
- Hold yourself (or your people) accountable.
A final note, if you’ve already completed many of your training courses, use this approach to go back and review an area where you could still benefit. The real end goal is to improve the way you do business and find greater success in the process.