19.5 Characteristics Of Sales Career Failures

by Jeffrey Gitomer

We are each responsible for our own success (or failure).

Winning at a career in sales is no exception. To ensure a win, you must take a proactive approach. Prevention of failure is an important part of that process. If you find yourself saying, I’m not cut out for sales, I’m not pushy enough, I hate cold calling, I can’t take the rejection, my boss is a jerk, or my boss is a real jerk, you are heading down the wrong path. Here are 19.5 recurring characteristics and traits of salespeople who thought they could hit a home run in a sales career but who struck out in their attempt. Many of them stood with their bats on their shoulders, failing to swing at the ball as it passed them by for a called third strike. How many of these apply to you?

1. You don’t believe in yourself

    If you don’t think you can do it, who will?

2. You don’t believe in your product

    Failure to believe your product or service is the best will show. Lack of conviction is evident to a buyer and manifests itself in low sales numbers.

3. Failure to set and achieve goals. Failure to plan

    Failure to define and achieve specific long-term (what you want) and short-term (how you’re going to get what you want) goals.

4. You’re lazy or just not prepared to make the sale

    Your self-motivation and preparation are the lifeblood of your outreach. You must be eager and ready to sell or you won’t.

5. Failure to understand how to accept rejection

    They’re not rejecting you, they’re just rejecting the offer you’re making them.

6. Failure to master the total knowledge of your product

    Total product knowledge gives you the mental freedom to concentrate on selling.

7. Failure to learn and execute the fundamentals of sales

    Read, listen to CDs, attend seminars and practice what you’ve just learned. Everything you need to know about sales has already been written or spoken. Learn something new every day.

8. Failure to understand the customer and meet his or her needs

    Failure to question and listen to the prospect and uncover true needs, including prejudging prospects.

9. Failure to overcome objections

    This is a complex issue. You are not listening to the prospect; you are not thinking in terms of solutions; you are not able to create an atmosphere of confidence and trust suitable enough to cause (effect) a sale. People aren’t afraid of failure; they just don’t know how to get to success.

10. Can’t cope with change

    Part of sales is change. Change in products, tactics and markets. Roll with it to succeed. Fight it and fail.

11. Can’t follow rules

    Salespeople often think rules are made for others. Think they’re not for you? Think again. Broken rules will only get you fired.

12. Can’t get along with others (co-workers and customers)

    Sales is never a solo effort. You must team with your co-workers and partner with your customers.

13. Too greedy

    Selling for commissions instead of helping customers.

14. Failure to deliver what you promised

    Failure to do what you say you’re going to do, either for your company or your customer, is a disaster from which you may never recover. If you do it often, the word gets out about you.

15. Failure to establish long-term relationships

    Trying to make commissions leads to failure through insincerity, failure by lack of service, failure to be motivated by anything but money.

16. Failure to understand that hard work makes luck

    Take a close look at the people you think are lucky. Either they or someone in their family put in years of hard work to create that luck. You can get just as lucky.

17. Blaming others when the fault (or responsibility) is yours

    Accepting responsibility is the fulcrum point of succeeding at anything. Doing something about it is the criterion. Execution is the reward (not the money). Money is just the byproduct of perfect execution.

18. Lack of persistence

    You are willing to take no for an answer and just accept it without a fight. You are unable to motivate the prospect to act or are unwilling to persist through the seven to 10 exposures it takes to make the sale.

19. Failure to establish and maintain a positive attitude

    The first rule of life.

The 19.5th characteristic that leads to sales failure: BTNA – Big Talk No Action

Too busy bragging about the sales you’re going to make and not busy enough making them.

Failure is not about insecurity. It’s about lack of execution. There’s no such thing as a total failure. Zig Ziglar has the answer, “Failure is an event, not a person.”

There are degrees of failing. Here are 5 of them. What degree are you?

  1. Failing to do your best.
  2. Failing to learn.
  3. Failing to accept responsibility.
  4. Failing to meet quota or pre-set goals.
  5. Failing to have a positive attitude.

Of the 80 articles I’ve written, this is the first that has negative overtones. It has been difficult to concentrate on the negative, but I felt it was the best way to deliver the message, or the wake up call. If you are weak in any one of the above 19.5 areas, it is urgent that you make a change as soon as possible. Sales weaknesses are like cancer – mostly self inflicted due to bad habits and neglect, easy to uncover, hard to cure — but not impossible. It takes outside help and regular treatments to maintain excellent sales health.

Failure is an event, not a person. Zig Ziglar


© 2006 All Rights Reserved – Don’t even think about reproducing this document without written permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer.

Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Little Red Book of Selling and The Little Red Book of Sales Answers. President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts Internet training programs on sales and customer service at www.trainone.com. He can be reached at 704/333-1112 or e-mail to [email protected].