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B2B Sales Can Be Hard Fun

Selling Business-to-Business should be fun. Often it can feel like a grind. There’s a need to make selling B2B more fun by provoking more learning from the grinding. Those involved in teaching, training, e-learning, and change management have important insights on how to do so.

Clark Quinn notes (in his book Engaging Learning) that often the fun of learning, at work, is ‘hard fun’. “It’s fun, in the sense that you’re engaged, there’s a story that you care about and you have the power to act; it’s hard in that it’s not trivial – there is sufficient challenge to keep you on your toes.”

In Quinn’s view, one of the keys to making work more effective via more learning is to make the learning interface inherently interesting to the end user. This requires the creation of learning environments where important behaviors affect goal achievement, where contexts are meaningful to the learner, and where decisions have visible consequences. “These types of learning experiences are difference-making.”

In my view, such learning environments resemble Chip Heath’s notion of ‘destination postcards’. They give sales people a sense of where they’re headed, and proof that what they do matters. They direct logically oriented folks + motivate emotionally oriented folks, then shape the path forward for both. They re-kindle a child-like curiosity to tackling challenges. They provoke learning, even in the absence of coaches.

We’re seeing early proof that such learning environments for sales people work as intended. They provoke changes in the behaviors of sales people in ways which set them on a path to increased sales productivity. Some sales people, when able to see + understand their (often disappointing) Return-on-Effort, gain a new will, and curiosity, to try new tactics. From their tries, they see what they do matters. They’re innovating in small increments, discovering it’s painless + worth doing, then doing more of it. They’re having hard fun.

These thoughts are a blend of what I’ve learned from Amacus users, plus a 1st look at Engaging Learning, plus several related, thought provoking, presentations last week at TEDxUBC. The wisdom in these thoughts is to their credit. The mistakes are mine.

This entry was posted in Change management, Craftsmanship, Fun, Metrics, Productivity, Return on Effort and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to B2B Sales Can Be Hard Fun

  1. Keith Bossey says:

    Hi John, as much as sales is about the money, it can't ALWAYS be about the money. I've found the best salespeople want to be engaged, want to learn. They are competitive with others AND have an internal competitive drive, that causes them to want to be better. At a base level, we all want to do something that matters. Great post.

  2. Andy says:

    The best salespeople are lifelong learners. Nothing is more energy-sapping than hearing "the way we've always done it is . . ."

  3. Don F Perkins says:


    Oh that my teachers knew this when I was in grade school. They wanted to lecture, but I wanted to PLAY! I'm encouraged that modern educators are finding that it is both possible and beneficial to make learning an engaging experience for the student.

    Behavioral change in organizations is a prime candidate for this kind of learning enhancement. I believe the challenge of shaping activity to acquire new outcomes will be greatly influenced by studying and adapting the learning interface in such a way that it piques the interest of the student.

    Don F Perkins

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