>When is the last time your name appeared at the top of your to do list? When is the last time you blocked off an hour even fifteen minutes just to work on personal growth and development? My guess is it has been a while. If you want to turn your prospects into customers, the first investment you need to make as a sales person is in yourself.

Your prospects are relying on you to be confident, to be the expert, to have ideas and to provide solutions. That is a tough bill to fill in any economy, but in an economy that is rapidly changing and increasingly competitive, you have got to be at the top of your game if you are going to deliver.

Personal development is always important, but in this day and age it is more critical that it has ever been. We are in tough economic times, and economic times that are changing rapidly. New technology is leading to new ways for people to communicate and do business. Growing competition is increasing the need to be better skilled at building relationships, conveying value and delivering service. And product and service innovation is changing the customer’s expectation of value. How can you keep up if you are not consistently devoting time to improving your skills, motivating yourself, and gaining new perspective.

Now I realize, we are all pressed for time. Certainly, I am not advocating you spend days per month reading books, watching videos or attending seminars. What I am advocating is you dedicate time every single day to doing something to improve your skills and talents as a sales person. Yes, I said every single day! Scheduling small amounts of time everyday to personal growth and development is not only manageable, it is powerful in its impact and result. The magic is in the short time frame and the consistency.

I am an early riser, I love to get up in the morning, make a pot of coffee and enjoy the peace, quiet and alone time of the morning. It is also the time I invest in myself. If you walked in my house long before dawn you would find me, jammies and slippers, big cup of coffee, hair pinned on top of my head, with either my head in a book or watching a video online. Learning something pertaining to business development, business trends, strategic planning or any other topic I feel I need to research in order to be at the top of my game. The first 30-minutes of every morning, I devote to learning. I read books a chapter at a time, I read articles no more than two or three per session, and I can usually watch three or four videos and still have time to take notes and develop plans on how to implement what I have learned.

This practice I feel puts me in pretty good company, among them is David Nour, one of my favorite experts to follow. I read his blog, belong to his social network and soak up everything I can in terms of his knowledge and expertise. One of the first things I heard him say in a lecture he was giving, was that he devotes an hour every day to learning. An hour every day! This is a man who is already recognized as someone who is at the top of his game. He is known as an expert in the field of social networking and relationship technology. He works with Fortune 500 companies around the world helping them design and implement their social networks. With all that he has accomplished, he still respects the importance of investing time in yourself on a consistent basis. I suspect, he knows it is what keeps him valuable to his clients and ahead of his competition.

Your prospects are paying you for your knowledge, whether you realize it or not. The more value you can add in addition to that of your product or service, the more likely you are to not only close the deal, but keep the relationship for the long term. Prospects need you to be experts not only of your product or service, but of the market, your competition, the latest trends. Now more than ever, prospects need confident sales people who can help them on so many levels.

This takes dedication and commitment to personal growth and development. If you want to turn your prospects into customers, then invest in yourself. It will be the highest ROI you will ever make!