The number 2 reason why sales people fail

If you’re the kind of sales guy who always wants to make one more call, just in case the next one is the sale, you will never, ever fail.  For you, hearing “No” is as good as cash in the bank.  Hearing “No” is just something you have to hear before you get to the “Yes”.

Easy right?


It’s actually very hard to keep pressing on for the vast majority of people.  That’s why call centres have auto-diallers; they don’t give the guy a chance to feel sorry for himself.  The moment the phone is hung-up, another call is loaded.  If it were up to the people to dial themselves, they’d probably only manage a quarter of the outbound calls.  Primarily because they’re thinking about the last call and why it was the worst experience in the world and how the next call is going to suck even more.  So they sit there, create pointless reasons to delay and finally make the call after burning 20 minutes – only to be relieved when the voice mail picks up.

So how do you deal with the hundreds of “No’s” you’re going to encounter in any given selling year?

Track them.  The “No’s” feel so much worse when they’re rattling around in your brain, picking up all sorts of negative crud that they snowball into something unnecessary.  If you stick them on a chart, the “No” becomes a statistic.  A number.  Like an ‘At-bat’ in baseball, it’s an attempt, not a failure.  That said, if you give a 1000 pitches and can’t even close one, you need to leave sales.  Sorry.

Don’t feel bad. This guy is only about 32% successful and will likely be a first-ballot Hall of Famer

Independent or corporate sales people do not use automated call centres.  You’re not paid over a 100K to do robo-telemarketing.  When you’re calling out, you’re creating opportunities for down the road. You’re filling your pipeline to close later.  You’re building relationships that may not result in anything for a long time.  The reason most people in sales give up is because they didn’t think it would take 30 emails, 15 calls, 3 meetings and one basket of fruit to close a deal.  The number one reason sales people fail is false expectations.  Everybody assumes that selling is easy.  “I can talk, I can sell right?’  No.  The close is probably less than 15% of the work.  If you get a guy in front of people enough times, he will eventually be proficient at closing business.  85% of the work is getting in front of somebody to speak to.  This is where the vast majority of people who jump into some sort of selling career fail.

So they give up after 10 calls and blame the product and pricing.  Worst, they’ll convince themselves they stink at selling…but they’ll still blame the product and pricing.

So what’s the number 2 reason sales people fail?

Lack of immersion.

Here are three reasons why successful people believe in complete immersion.

1.  Nothing is easy.  If it were easy, they wouldn’t need to pay you that much money.  Why do you think successful insurance guys get paid so well?  That stuff is hard to sell!  All things being equal, the better sales guy is the guy who is better prepared.  He’s the guy (or lady) who does more homework, is constantly thinking about his territory, his market and how he can sell deeper and wider to his existing customers.  He’s the guy who is constantly thinking about opportunities to brand himself as the expert in his field.  He’s the guy who is constantly reading news about his industry and participating in activities that can move his company, products and himself top-of-mind.  Complete immersion means complete immersion in your product and industry.  If you’re not willing to do this, you gotta go somewhere else man.

2.  Nobody is a natural sales guy.  Average sales people study their own product and their customers.  Great sales people study the art and science of selling, persuasion, and rhetoric.  Great sales people look at themselves and see all the things they don’t know.  Great sales people are constantly searching for mentors that can teach them.  Great sales people often open themselves up to folks they can coach because they understand that by teaching, they reinforce their own knowledge. Complete immersion means complete immersion in the study of selling, communications and persuasion.  This benefits you more than it does the company you work for.  If you’re not willing to do this, it says a lot about your commitment to yourself.

3.  Complete responsibility.   Understand that professional buyers are supposed to be tough.  They go to school to learn how to negotiate, object and seek maximum ROI.  Business owners are even tougher because it’s their own money.  If you can’t close the deal, assume that it was you who couldn’t properly present your value over your competitor.  Any number of factors can prevent a deal from being closed and in about 30% of the time, it has nothing to do with you.  But you still have control of 70% of the conversation.   Any shifting of blame only prevents you from looking at your pitch to learn where things went wrong.  Complete immersion means taking as much time as needed to analyse your failures to make sure you don’t repeat them.  It’s one thing to not let failure get to you. But it’s a stupid thing to not figure out why you failed in the first place.

So that leads to the question, “Well, why aren’t all sales people as immersed in their work as they should be?”  Because few people do the little extra that’s needed to become extraordinary.

And that’s good thing for those of you who do.