Parents get great joy watching their children turn over, then crawl, and eventually stand up and take those first steps. In most cases the kids don’t succeed on the first attempt. Undoubtedly the parents are just a few steps away encouraging the little one to come to them. But under no circumstances, if the baby fails during those first steps and falls, would any parent say, “Okay, that’s it. You had your chance. It’s permanently back in the crib for you. You’re done. Don’t you ever try to walk again!”

That’s absurd, but isn’t it equally ridiculous to think we can accomplish major things in our lives without experiencing some reversals at some point? It’s crucial to remember that failure is an event, not a person. Likewise, success is a process and not an instant happening. Few succeed overnight, the lion’s share of those who do make it achieve success over time.

Troy Aikman, Steve Young, Brett Favre, and Dan Marino were extremely effective NFL quarterbacks and yet each of the four threw more incomplete passes than 99% of all the quarterbacks who ever threw a football. Obviously, along the way they also threw an awful lot of completions.

There’s never been a long-practicing doctor who did not lose some patients to death. But they understand this is part of the medical profession. The top salesperson in every organization probably missed more sales than 90% of the sales people on the team, but he or she also made more sales calls than the others.

It’s also very important to remember that there is a huge difference between failing in an event and failing in life. The chance for success dramatically increases once that is burned into our brains. So then the winners at everything are those who got up one more time than they were knocked down.

Why Do People Fail in Sales?


Over my 45 years in every corner of selling, I’ve asked this question to multitudes of people. Most have responded by stating that failure was due to not closing enough sales. On the surface that might sound like it makes sense, but I see it differently. I believe they failed because they didn’t open enough sales.

The way to open more sales is to learn to prospect effectively and often. When sellers prospect correctly, closing won’t be a problem. This is because they will have qualified and profiled the type of person who can buy and who has a need for what is being offered.

When sales managers and business owners say their salespeople need training on closing sales, I immediately ask about their prospecting. How and how often are they doing it? Time and again I remind sales reps that company-provided leads are basically interruptions to well-planned days.

Most respond by saying, “Seriously?” Then they stare at me like I reside in Area 51. Very quickly I’m able to determine that there is not much of a prospecting culture in place in their workplace. They would rather complain about not receiving enough leads and usually the conversation quickly goes to the ineffectiveness of the advertising and marketing campaigns at their company.


For years one of my mantras when coaching salespeople is to remind them they were “hired to be creative salespeople who occasionally get company leads and NOT lead hounds who occasionally need to prospect.”

Regardless of your industry, if you establish a regular and effective prospecting regimen, you can weather any gyrations in the selling universe. As the subtitle of my book states, “earn an above-average living while maintaining your integrity.”

What do you need to change to make that a reality for you?

Seven years ago when Doug retired from corporate America, after a lifetime of selling and training, he started conducting online sales coaching for a specific clientele. He only works with customers who are willing to schedule 30 minute sessions with him on a recurring basis each week. Should you take a look and see if Doug might be the missing piece for your company? Investigate for yourself, HERE.


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