BY GREGG SCHWARTZ

Albert Einstein was one of the most famous and enduring scientific and cultural figures of the 20th Century, whose ideas shaped our understanding of the universe. But in addition to his genius as a physicist, Einstein offers many surprising and inspiring lessons for many other fields of endeavor, including lessons for those of us in the sales business.

Here are a few lessons that sales professionals can learn from the life and work of Albert Einstein:

1 Let curiosity fuel your work

Einstein is widely known as one of the smartest, most naturally gifted people who has ever lived – but he took a humble approach, saying, “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” In the same way, many sales people wrongly believe that sales pros are born, not made. But the truth is that so-called “natural” sales ability is less important than the sales person’s willingness to keep working hard and keep learning along the way. The best sales people are relentlessly curious. They know how to ask questions, research, and probe farther into a conversation to uncover the underlying customer needs.

As a sales person, your curiosity is one of your best prospecting tools. Einstein would have been a great lead generator because he was aware that digging deep into data was the lifeblood of his success.

2 Persevere

Albert Einstein was known for his persistence in focusing on problems until he found a solution. In the same way, sales people need to develop a knack for perseverance. Just as Einstein had to keep following up on leads as he tackled a scientific problem, sales people need to keep nurturing and following up on sales leads over time. Keep looking for new angles to approach prospects. Keep trying. Keep making the calls, even when (especially when) it’s hard.

3 Don’t be afraid to make mistakes

Even Albert Einstein wasn’t right all the time – but he wasn’t afraid to make mistakes, because he knew that this was

the best way to learn and improve. We know from research that great sales performers are forever tweaking their sales process. They learn from every make. If something about your sales process isn’t working, what can you change? What could you try to do differently? How can you mix things up and start with a fresh approach? Mistakes and failures are going to happen, because that’s part of life – especially for sales people, who have to deal with rejection and failure on a daily basis. The challenge is, how are you going to learn from your mistakes?

4 Create lasting value

Einstein was one of the most famous people in the world, but he didn’t seem to be motivated by conventional definitions of success; he lived modestly and spoke humbly. He seemed genuinely interested not only in his own material wealth, but in larger questions affecting humankind. As sales people, we of course need to make sales and negotiate deals and make money – but the best way to do this is to forget about making your numbers for a moment and instead zero in on the real value that your product or service offers to potential clients. Drill down to below your basic pitch to better understand what your real mission or value is. Make sure you can convey this sense of value to your prospects, and you believe in it yourself.

5 If something isn’t working, change it

Einstein was a proponent of the saying, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” If something in your sales process isn’t working as well as it should, you need to make some changes. If you’re not filling your pipeline with new business prospects, not getting enough appointments, or not closing enough deals, then why aren’t you changing up your sales process? Why keep doing the same things and expecting the results to change? If you are not experimenting or innovating then you’re not taking enough chances.

The sales profession is more of an art than a science, but sales people can still take heart in these lessons from one of history’s greatest scientific minds. If we can all approach each day with a spirit of curiosity, perseverance and creativity, we’ll be able to carve out our own definition of sales genius – and generate more lasting value for our customers, our organizations and ourselves.

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