The Main Differences Between Successful & Failing Salespeople

I’ve had the privilege of working with many salespeople in my career and have seen a great number of successes gained by these highly-prized professionals.

Sometimes, I’m asked what makes the difference between success and failure, and it makes me think about the salespeople who have seen great success in their careers and those who have failed miserably, barely able to maintain a standard of living.

The main differences, as I see it, stem from the filters through which these salespeople view situations and circumstances. Even in difficult times, successful salespeople are able to drive themselves forward because they live their lives in the present and future.

Failures tend to see only the past and the present and judge their lives and identify their very character by what is going on now and they have done in the past.

Hence, the filters you use to see the current situation will determine the quality of the future you have.

While we may not be able to control circumstances and those things that happen to us, we can all control our responses to those circumstances and determine how we will view them.

So what do we see in successful salespeople, as opposed to failures? Here are some ideas:

1) Successful salespeople choose their associates very well

By associates, I don’t just mean their friends and colleagues. I also mean the people they listen to on CD, watch on DVD and talk to at seminars. One of my long-term mentors, the deeply-missed Jim Rohn, said that “you are the average of the five people you spend most time with”. People transmit their moods and attitudes all round, and if you associate with others, you are bound to be infected by what attitude they carry. Everyone’s attitude is contagious…is the one you are breathing in worth catching?

2) When things go wrong, successful salespeople ask, “What can I learn from this? What lessons will help me not repeat the same mistakes again?”

Do you know how to build big muscles? By continuously driving and pressurising them, under stress, until they fail. They then grow back better and bigger than before. I don’t mean you have to go on till you fail; you just need to learn from what you do so you can repeat the good things and detour the bad things.

3) Successful salespeople are always future-oriented

When I talk to up-beat, quality salespeople, I always notice that they are looking ahead, discussing the next call or the future opportunity. Poor salespeople blame other things for their passed failings; successful ones aim for future goals with the wisdom of having learned from mistakes. By identifying what you can do to make your future successful, you can control it. You can’t control what happened in the past. It’s gone, yet many failures spend their time living there.


Most successful people will tell you that the one thing that got them there, supported them through thick and thin and enabled them to reap the rewards of success was attitude. Having a high IQ might get you the job, but the perseverance and integrity of a positive outlook and hard work are what keeps you there. Here’s to success!

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Sales Training

(Image by Stuart Miles at

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In Sales Management, You Reap What You Sow

Every sales manager, supervisor, director or otherwise frontline sales team leader, wants to have and develop a great sales force. Everyone wants eventually to have a sales team made up of superstar sales people. We all want that sales crew in where every sales person is a high-level, top performing, consultative, executive-level super sales person.

However, I am continually surprised at how many of those same sales managers are not willing to treat their sales crew like that which they want them to become. The fact is that if you treat sales people as if they are low-level, slipshod, unprofessional slackers, what you will get is the same.

At some point, you have to “Act as if.” You have to treat people as you want them to perform. If you want responsible, successful, multi-million pound producers, don’t treat them like irresponsible, £5 an hour, children.

Here are a few tips to help you plant good seed to reap great harvest.

Start by trusting your sales people to do what they say they will do and believe that they will. On one hand, you say you believe in the sales person. You say you have confidence that he or she can achieve the agreed upon goals. Then, you stand watch like a mother hen, or establish rules and regulations that clearly demonstrate that you do NOT trust or believe in the sales person. When you do this, you can easily stifle their potential. If you say you believe, then act accordingly.

Pressure and Time
If you tell the sales person, you truly believe that he or she can achieve a particular goal before the end of the month, then don’t start jumping on his or her back after the first week. You may think you are helping to “remind” the sales person of their goal and commitment.

However, what you are really saying is, “I really don’t believe you can do this, and I must therefore keep reminding you of your commitment every 15 minutes.”

Such micromanagement of good sales people will cause animosity and an anti-productive atmosphere.

To Manage or Not To Manage
Some successful sales people become such due to their sales management. However, some sales people become successful in spite of their sales management. Do not be the latter manager.

Happy Selling!


Sean McPheat
MTD Sales Training

(Image by Winnond)

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