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Are You Fragile or Agile?

The sellers I've been working with this year seem battered and fatigued, unsure how to reenter and win the fight for new business.

Certainly, it's tough out there. Tougher than it's ever been for those in the sales profession.

Not only do the current sales climate and conditions make it harder than ever to do business, sellers have become increasingly fragile.

This fragility, a propensity toward delicacy, is partly a result of the strenuous requirements placed on modern sellers. But sellers, too, are responsible.

Being fragile means lacking in substance or force, being flimsy or brittle, able to be easily broken. Sellers don't have time to break and cannot be effective when they are fragile.

Nevertheless, many sellers are lacking resilience and fortitude that gets them over the hurdles and to their goals.

Reread that definition of fragility and note the first part of it: lacking substance. Without substance, no matter how much style there is on the outside, the seller simply isn't whole. Without the core substance, a seller will be fragile.

Substance comes from being open to learning. It develops over time as we take on new information and assimilate it in new ways to fit a variety of situations. Substance develops when we refuse to become complacent and focus on doing whatever it takes to learn, grow and win.

Substance can be developed by anyone who chooses to value it. However, there are better ways to learn than you might be thinking of now. There are so many more opportunities for learning and growing than the traditional classroom teaching models might suggest.

That's why Jill Konrath's book, Agile Selling, is so timely and important. In this work, this best – selling author explains learning agility and gives highly relevant examples and instruction for sellers who want to replace the fragility with agility.

Being agile means being quick and well coordinated, active, demonstrating an ability to think quickly and to be acute and aware.

This is exactly what buyers demand of sellers today. Sellers who are slow to respond, complacent, and unaware of all the change around them, are sellers who lose substance and become fragile.

It really is a choice. The biggest benefit of becoming an agile learner is that this competency is well documented as a compensator competency. What that means to you is that buyers, coworkers, and others will give you grace and space to learn other skills so long as you are demonstrating a learning agility. Not only does it help you to acquire other skills more quickly, but it also buys you the necessary time to do so.

The Center for Creative Leadership tells us that the greatest barrier to learning agility is defensiveness. So if you are to replace fragility with agility, you must first be willing to set aside your fallback defenses. Don't make excuses. Acknowledge your skills gaps. Open yourself up even to the point of being willing to fail so that you can learn from the experience.

At first, as you're developing an agility to learn, you may feel more fragile than you do now. That's because you are vulnerable and exposing yourself to growth that only comes by setting aside your defenses. Let it happen. It's a process and the strength that you gain by working through the process will make you much stronger, with the substance of steel.

The CONNECT2Sell Blog has been discontinued as our focus has shifted to leadership at every level. Research with buyers demonstrates that buyers respond favorably when sellers show up as leaders. If you'd like to step into your full potential as a leader (and boost sales!), take a look at our free and affordable courses on