I Know you “Read,” but are You a Learning Machine?

Brad Feld had a killer post the other day called; I Invest in CEO’s who are Learning Machines.  In it he talks about the type of CEO’s he likes to work with and invests in. Brad calls out a number of CEO’s he works with, CEO’s of The Foundry Group’s portfolio companies and what he likes about working with them;

I’m regularly blown away by these two guys ability to collect new information, process it, and learn from it.

Brad loves, what he calls learning machines and I couldn’t agree with him more. People who have the inclination, ability, commitment and curiosity to be learning machines will always win.

I have said before learning is critical to success and selling.

I fundamentally believe that if you are not learning new things, you stop doing great and useful things. – Satya Nadella Microsofts New CEO

I was doing an interview for a client the other day and I asked the candidate if he was a student of sales. He said, “Yes.”  Obviously, I then asked him what book(s) he was reading. He said he wasn’t reading one at the moment. I then asked the last book on sales he read, he said it was Cold Call Techniques that Really Work. He read that book a year ago. A year ago, really?  I then asked what his favorite blogs were, his response; “I don’t read any blogs.”  I finally ask, how he learns about sales, he says by watching the other people in his office. Come on man!!?? Really?

Learning isn’t a part-time job or a spot in time exercise. It’s an ongoing process that is embedded into the fabric of how one does business. Either you are or you aren’t a learning machine.

Learning machines are information hounds. They are continually trying to understand how things work. Curiosity drives them like no ones business. Learning machines recognize knowledge is the cure to all that ails and therefore they are in the constant quest for a cure. Learning machines will have stacks of books they can never get through, their feedreader will be filled with “favorite” blogs and blog posts that can’t all be possible read, but they keep adding more, because this post or that post caught their eye. Learning machines are continually asking questions, always trying to understand how things work and what’s behind the curtain. Learning machine’s desire for information and learning is insatiable.

The best sales people are learning machines. There is zero inertia in their ability, desire and commitment to learning. They have an uncanny talent to acquire, process, learn from and apply information. Information is a tool for killer sales people.

If you’re a sales person, be a learning machine too. It will increase sales.