How To Learn From Your Selling Failures

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb

Chalkboard with man with decreasing graphHow do you feel when you don’t make a sale, hit your objectives or make your target? A lot of salespeople we talk to consider themselves to have failed if they don’t achieve their goal. They are certainly made to feel that way by their boss!

We’ve mentioned before that there are three areas of our lives that affect us; things that are totally within our control, things we can’t control but can influence, and things that are totally outside of our control.

In sales, we are often at the mercy of things outside of our control, and the current position of our prospect may fall into that category. They may not need our products or services, may be using another supplier, or simply doesn’t have the budget for it. These are things we may be able to influence over the longer term, but may not result in a short-term win for us.

How do we view this? If it happens over a period of time, we might view it as a failure. We have called 8 billion prospects and got no sales. Yep, one big, fat failure!

How about viewing it differently? Our definition of failure here at MTD is when you haven’t achieved your goals and have learned nothing from it!

One definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result. If you continue to sell in the same way, present in the same way, negotiate price in the same way, try to close in the same way, and still get poor results, then you can consider yourself failing in your duty of a salesperson for your company.

If you have tried some ideas and not got the results you want, learn what didn’t work and try something different next time. Don’t expect to succeed if you don’t become flexible. Adapt your presentation. Discuss needs in a different way, Try getting the client to close for you.

If you learn from your experiences, you never fail. Thomas Edison tried thousands of times before finding the filament to light the electric light bulb. He viewed the thousands of failures as learning outcomes, and said they set him on a different path until he eventually succeeded.

If you view all your sales results as ‘outcomes’ it means you can never fail; you just get an outcome you can learn from. It means you can approach the next prospect with the aim of putting into practice what you’ve learned. This way, you can’t fail when you learn. And that can only be good for business!

Happy selling!


Sean McPheat

Sean McPheat
Managing Director

MTD Sales Training

450 sales questions free report

Originally published: 20 May, 2020

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