From the February 2008 issue of Entrepreneur

How do you create your best selling style? By using the techniques of the top producers and then selling with confidence? Actually, there is no one way to do it, nor one single person whose style you can imitate to get you there. The greatest salespeople I've ever met, worked with and interviewed over the past 25 years all have unique styles. What they have in common is how they've cultivated their skills and strategies from many qualified people and resources. It becomes dangerous when we follow only one person or one way and fail to keep our minds open to other possibilities and mentors. Great salespeople have an uncanny way of collecting information and creating their own styles. I call it the CDC process to selling: collect, discard and create.

  • Collect. I'm a big believer in constant learning--not just from books, but from the day-to-day application of the selling process. Every week, I'm on the road selling--often assisting customers who I've licensed my products to and helping them in presentations to their customers. It's amazing how many new skills and strategies you can pick up when watching other successful salespeople do their thing. It's critical to align yourself with the best. Whether you like it or not, you are the product of the people you surround yourself with. While I'm on a call with other partners, I start collecting new questions to ask and new ways to listen and present. The key to this step is having a constant high-quality stream of resources and people to collect your information from. It's also easy to learn new ways to sell, but it's more difficult to unlearn old ways that may not be working anymore.
  • Discard. Discard what is not useful. Sometimes knowing what to let go of is the best knowledge we can have. As Lao Zi said in Tao TeChing, "To attain knowledge, add things every day; to attain wisdom, remove things every day."

Not everything or everyone you learn from will help you hone your style of selling, so take what's useful and discard the rest. The only way to remove information on selling is by constantly adding fresh ideas that push the others out. I've heard the word burnout more in the sales profession than in any other. That's because many of us stop learning and studying new ways to be effective. The mind is like a well: If we don't keep taking water from the well, it goes stagnant. If you're not constantly putting new information into your mind and getting rid of what doesn't work for you, you go stagnant. Learning is how you stay fresh, current and motivated.

  • Create. Strive to create your own unique style of selling based on the knowledge you've gathered and what works for you. It's what will differentiate you from everybody else and help you stand out from the competition. Many of you reading this might be saying to yourself, "But this is what I've always done!" That's good, because the underlying message of CDC is the ongoing passion for learning and re-creating yourself to succeed in the ever-changing world of sales.