Recently, I was speaking to a group of sales professionals. Some were new to sales; most were experienced pros. I was delivering a totally new keynote speech for my book, Agile Selling, and sharing strategies on how to quickly learn new things so you can stay at the top of your game—or get there.

Now, I may not seem like the type of person who gets nervous at the prospect of doing new things, but I am. I want my keynotes and workshops to be an awesome experience for everyone in the audience, so I work hard on them.

This speech took me a long time to prepare. I thought about how to capture people’s attention at the very beginning. I spent hours developing the key points as well as selecting stories to illustrate them. I wrestled with how to create audience engagement. I practiced my speech at my office beforehand. On the airplane, I did a couple mental run-throughs. By the time I arrived, I was well rehearsed—and completely and utterly terrified. 

The first time you do anything is risky. You’re vulnerable and likely to screw up (which, of course, I did). But if you do screw up, that doesn’t mean you’ve failed. The people who heard my speech had no idea that things hadn’t gone exactly as planned. You’ve only failed at something when you refuse to try.

After the speech was over, I made a note of what went well and where I wanted to make improvements. I even asked for feedback from some of the attendees. Facing my trepidation head-on gave me a real sense of pride and accomplishment.

Why am I telling you all this? Because even though it can make you uncomfortable, pushing yourself to learn new things is the only way to stay relevant in today’s business world. What are you learning—right now—to help you avoid a stagnating sales career?

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Jill Konrath is the author of SNAP Selling, Selling to Big Companies and Agile Selling. If you’re struggling to set up meetings, click here to get a free Prospecting Tool Kit.