3 Ways That Graduation Looks Like Sales Training

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First and foremost, congratulations to all May graduates. By the time you put on your cap and gown, the work has been completed, which, in my opinion, makes the actual ceremony a great time for reflection.

As I watched one of my good friends walk across the stage this weekend, I couldn’t help but reflect a bit on how the learning styles we have adopted in the school system have created the structure of our graduation ceremonies. I took note of a few examples:

It’s unenjoyable to watch an entire ceremony

There’s just too many graduates. Hundreds of students received their diploma and by the end of the event, two hours had passed. Just like the diploma, each graduate became, for better or worse, the same in my eyes. It was monotonous, and as the event progressed, I all too quickly lost sight of what was required of each student to make it to this point.

If you asked each of them individually to describe their learning journey, not a single story would sound the same. Some would speak to their profuse reliance on coffee or Red Bull. Others might make mention of a particular class that truly shaped their development. Perhaps a few would speak very little of their schooling altogether. They all took different steps to make it to the stage, yet I never got a sense of their individual journey.

Recognition is small

As a crowd member, I could appreciate the effort to speed up the ceremony. In particular, the one I attended decided to have two people call names from both entrances to the stage. If you weren’t quick enough, you might miss your opportunity to congratulate your grad. Something seemed to be missing: recognition.

I personally believe that recognition is one way that we push an individual onto their next endeavor. It’s why at the beginning of nearly every MVP, Championship, or award acceptance speech that we watch on TV, the recipient’s first inclination is to thank their mom. As an Oklahoma City Thunder fan, I can’t help but be reminded of Kevin Durant’s MVP acceptance speech from last year.

I think that, if the ceremony was structured differently, and my friend was given the opportunity, he would have paused to thank the people that helped him to this achievement. And upon exiting the stage, we as members of the audience would have had a better opportunity to push him toward his next goal. Although I am confident in my friend’s ability move forward, after all the work over multiple years, his recognition seemed too short.

Not all graduates are the same

90 percent of the graduates this weekend graduated without honors. When a name was called for someone who did, it was followed with the designation of Magna or Summa Cum Laude — in quite a boisterous and baritone voice, I might add. I’m not here to say that this designation ensures the student developed mastery in his or her field, but it’s certainly a good indicator. So how do we continue the education for both the 90 and 10 percent groups? Hopefully, this graduation ceremony doesn’t mark the end of their learning. How should the curriculum/learning styles look different for both groups as they move forward? It obviously shouldn’t look the same.

I started at CommercialTribe in May of last year. I would tell you that my sales experience has been a product of my time here: I’ve learned to cold call, articulate CommercialTribe’s value proposition, diagnose key issues, and more, but I’ve yet to graduate. As a matter of fact, I don’t see that day coming. This upcoming year I’ll continue to learn, refine and evolve, a journey toward mastery.

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