How To Turn Failure Into Success In Sales

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb

Success Failure road signLet me say something that, on the face of it, may sound puzzling.

You learn more when things are going badly than when they are going well.

Go on, admit it…that’s an interesting statement (even if you don’t agree with it!)

What I’m referring to is the fact that no-one goes through life being successful every time.

The only way you can avoid failure is if you stay in bed all the time.

And even then you might fail to get up in time to get to the loo! (oops, failed again!)

Do you know anyone who has never failed?

Nor do I. So why are we so worried about failure?

Actually, we’re worried about failing because of the consequences.

We might lose the sale or get a rollicking from the boss or miss out on a promotion.

Yes, the consequences of failure can often be hurtful.

However, our attitude towards failure can often make the difference in the future.

As the saying goes, ‘It’s not the falling over that’s the problem….it’s the not getting up again that causes the problems.’

I like that quote because it proves that actions are the remedy to failure.

A failure only remains a failure if you don’t learn something from it.

If you learn something, it’s an outcome that won’t be repeated, so it’s not classed as a failure.

So what can you learn when things go wrong?

You learn what not to do next time.

You learn how that particular person needs to be approached in the future.

You learn how to present better, matching product benefits with customer needs.

You learn what will make that person happy.

And you learn the difficulties that can be caused to a client if we get our service wrong.

In other words, if you learn from when things go wrong, the chances of the same thing happening again are vastly reduced.

Compare that with what you learn when things are going swimmingly.

You might see a long-time prospect become a new client.

Doesn’t that feel good? Of course!

Though if you tried the same technique with a different prospect, you might not get the same response.

No, the truth is that you can learn better lessons when things go wrong, because you can identify the rationale that caused you to make the mistake and you can ensure you put in strategies so it doesn’t happen again.

An old boss of mine said to me, ‘Fail often. At least I know you’re trying. But make sure you learn your lessons well. I’d rather that than you try nothing in case you fail.’

I’ve always remembered that, as it has given me the confidence to try out things that I might not have done before.

If I apply the idea that you should learn from failures, it guarantees I won’t go down the wrong road twice.

Michael Jordan once said, ‘You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take’.

By taking the shot, missing, re-aligning, matching up, learning from what went wrong and applying those lessons, we stand a much better chance of hitting the next shot successfully.

Applying that dogma to sales, we see lots of failures magnified against the backdrop of poor results and we think we will never get better.

On the contrary, if we examine the way things are done and make sure they don’t get repeated in the same way, we can’t help but get better and aim higher.

Happy Selling!


Sean McPheat

Sean McPheat
Managing Director

MTD Sales Training | Image courtesy of Big Stock Photo

450 sales questions free report

Originally published: 23 April, 2018

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