Stay Cutting Edge by Sharpening Your Saw:

by Craig Harrison

Stephen Covey describes the importance of continuously "sharpening our saw." Investing in our own education, self-maintenance and growth will best equip us to succeed in times of rapid change and opportunity. In sales there are many ways we can do this. Some are obvious and some less so. This month I offer you some perspectives on continuing education and ways of adding to or sprucing up your skill set.

Sales Prophets Increase Profits
Sales rallies and motivational extravaganzas offer value. The opportunity to take time out and expose yourself to a series of selling professionals can be inspirational, motivational, educational and often entertaining, too. Whether your entire staff enjoys the experience or you take some time away from others to re-energize, it's time well spent. Whether your whole perspective changes, or you simply hear old ideas in a new way, sometimes just a tip or two can make the big difference. You know that a one degree shift in your direction, over time, can lead you to a different hemisphere. Attend with an open mind and be prepared to make adjustments as warranted.

Class Knows Money!
While the thought of going back to school may unnerve some, night classes, short courses, workshops and seminars can give you focused training in valuable areas. These days you needn't leave your computer monitor or telephone. Choices abound, from distance learning and computer-based training to teleseminars using bridge lines. Whether you take a professional development seminar from a local or national association or your alma mater, or utilize your local community college or career center, there are ample opportunities to enroll in specialized classes to bolster areas of your acumen. Possible topics for your consideration: negotiation, listening, public speaking, Internet marketing, memory or a foreign language. Whether or not certifications are achieved or credits are accrued, you're bettering yourself and strengthening your skill set. It's an investment well worth making.

Replenish The Spirit
Sometimes it's the non-work related class that actually improves your business the most. If the stress of sales is affecting you, perhaps a meditation or yoga class is most valuable. If the complexities of work life are troubling, joining a Simplicity Circle could be your best investment. Joining a walking or jogging club, taking an aerobics or dance class, or adopting a new practice such as tai chi can be invigorating. The new perspectives each of these pursuits offers can replenish your spirit and revitalize your outlook. Don't underestimate the importance of maintaining your physical and spiritual self.

Book Your Travel Through Reading
Through reading you can visit other cultures and other worlds and return with new ideas and wider perspectives. Expand your reading list to include topics not normally associated with sales. Have you read The Art of War by Sun Tzu? What about a book on barter? Or a novel on Marco Polo and the trade routes of old? Often innovation and creativity derive from applying old ideas in new ways. The more ideas you expose yourself to the better equipped you will be to problem solve, strategize and innovate.

Sharpen your saw and cut your teeth on new and expanded business opportunities.

Craig Harrison is a speaker, trainer and communication coach who makes customer service and communication fun and easy. Contact him at 888.450.0664 or through [email protected] for help in improving your communication skills and customer service orientation. Visit his website at

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