Two types of pain in selling; Choose one

“Regrets, I’ve had a few…”

Remember that old song My Way, made famous by Frank Sinatra?


As a lifelong, commissioned salesperson, I can really identify with a song that references the pain of over-ambition, doubt, tears, taking “the blows,” and “my share of losing.”


I’ve lost deals that would pay for a house.  Not a house payment—the entire house.


When I was getting started as a salesperson, I wasted incredible amounts of time.  I still have my old selling scripts and pull them out to read whenever I want to have a good laugh.


I did the wrong things in the wrong order for the wrong reasons.


But I learned a lot.


Pain hurts, but helps us grow


I’ve goofed up many times during my career, especially in the early days.

But mistakes help us improve.


Over time, I became more effective at persuasion and was involved with bigger opportunities.


More success led to more confidence, which gave me more success.


I’ve sold a lot of things in my career, including intangibles such as entertainment, keynote speeches, membership packages, and consulting services.


I’ve sold tangibles, including irrigation systems, food, books, and parts for telephone systems.


Eventually other salespeople started asking me for tips. I wrote a couple of articles about “best practices” and then wrote a book on selling so I could help even more people.


Meanwhile, an insurance company in Ohio hired me to watch each of its salespeople give their presentation and then help them craft an improved version.


A financial services company in Michigan flew me to 20 American cities to ride along with their salespeople, observe them at sales meetings, and then coach them afterwards.


All these experiences helped me understand exactly what closes deals and what does not. But you don’t want to try a bunch of stuff that doesn’t work, do you?


Anyone can learn from his own mistakes.  But fast-trackers are able to learn from other people’s mistakes.


There are two types of pain for those of us in sales.


The pain of discipline and the pain of regret.  Choose one.  


It’s a simple option, really


Choose to be a disciplined salesperson who constantly takes in new ideas, studies the profession of selling and invests in lifelong learning.


Or choose to look back on your time in sales with regret about not having done your best and really applied yourself when you had the chance.


[Watch the video version of this idea here.

Subscribe to Michael's YouTube channel (click that silver bell!) to get ongoing selling tips.]


When you choose discipline, you are challenged to establish working systems and not deviate from the success formula. But choose the pain of discipline and you'll get to celebrate a long series of victories and always look forward to more good news with confidence.


Choose the pain of regret and you get to spend a lot of time looking in the rear view mirror. You'll constantly suffer from making poor choices and not taking full advantage of ongoing opportunities.


The quality of your decisions determine the quality of your life. Choose the pain of discipline over the pain of regret whenever possible.


Keep learning and you will be more successful.  If you're in sales, check out my article on how selling got to be so hard.


What’s that old saying?


You can’t be lucky all the time, but you can be smart every day.

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