The art of failure when selling

Updated: Jul 27, 2021

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent." -Calvin Coolidge


Failure is a fact of life--and not just for salespeople. Author Kurt Vonnegut Jr. was an abject disappointment for the first half of his life. He bankrupted a Saab dealership and was a failed inventor, all while struggling to feed his family. Jack Ma, of Alibaba fame, was rejected by Harvard ten times. Kentucky Fried Chicken turned down his job application when he applied for counter work as a teen.


And every salesperson will tell you that they lose many more deals than they close. But the goal is not to avoid failure. As I tell every client who wants to become a better presenter, "Make mistakes and learn from them."


I've made tons of mistakes. As a keynote speaker who has been video recorded thousands of times, some of those faux pas have been quite public. Watch me screw up big time in Dallas.


More "no" than "yes"


The sales trade is definitely not for the faint of heart. Selling is about celebrating the occasional close and overlooking the nearly constant stream of rejections that play out in a myriad of ways. Prospects refuse to answer your emails, hide behind voice mail, and decline meeting invitations. Potential customers will try to wear you down on price and waste your time in ways that haven't even been invented, yet.


And yet, there is no greater thrill than helping people obtain quality products and services.



Never give up


Never stop trying to bolster your confidence (video). It's super important to maintain self-acceptance and a desire for self-improvement at the same time.


Remember that avoiding failure isn't the same as achieving success. Now go make mistakes and learn from them.


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