Top Five Reasons Sales People Fail

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb

Failure Success buttonsSales people can find dozens of reasons for failure, as can many sales managers and supervisors.  However, there really aren’t a whole lot of reasons for failing in professional selling.  The reasons may come in all kinds of shapes and disguises, but the actual reasons are few.

Below are what I believe to be the top five reasons that sales people fail.  As you read on, please stop and think about who the culprit in these cases may be.

#1: Lack Of Belief In The Product Or Service

The easiest reason that sales people can fail is that they simply do not truly believe in what they are selling and doing.  Without true belief in what you do, without passionate conviction that the prospect wins in a sale; it becomes very difficult to be persistent.  Today’s modern and educated buyer will look right through the false enthusiasm and see a self-centered motive every time.

#2: Lack Of A Scientific Sales System

No matter how much hard work, enthusiasm and belief in the product you have, without a data driven, fact-based sales system, most sales people are doomed for failure.   Going out to sell every day without a proven plan of action is like trying to drive a car without a steering wheel. Just hoping and wishing that the car will go exactly where you want it to simply does not work.  Likewise, sales do not fall in your lap by mere chance.

#3: Lack Of Training

Ok, so you have the belief and you have a system. However, without the proper training to work that system, success is very hard to come by.   In addition to the obvious areas of training such as the sales interaction, prospecting and closing skills, sales people must have training in how to follow a scientific game plan.  Management often assume that since they have laid out a plan of action, that their sales people know what to do and that it is obvious how they should approach selling.  But it is not, especially when you have sales people who lack experience in following a detailed sales process.

#4: Lack Of A Consistent Work Ethic

Now, in following that plan, the sales person must get out there and do it.  He or she has to stay consistent in following the numbers.  However, this really comes on the heels of #3 above, because without the proper training to stay on point, most sales people will be lost.

#5: Too Easy In The Beginning

This reason for why sales people fail may come as a bit of a surprise.   However, I know that much of everything depends on a person’s expectations, and this reason for not succeeding happens when those expectations have been poorly established.

When a sales person starts off with a very easy sale, especially a big sale, where everything just went perfectly; it could spell trouble.  Often sales management team will also help or assist a new sales person with the first sale, which in and of itself is not a bad thing.  But when the sales person gets the impression that “this is easy…” he or she is going to have problems.

Many industries do this deliberately, persuading sales people to sell to their family and friends right out of the gate.  But once the sales person who is used to easy successes, begins calling on strangers and reality sets in; they are done.  It’s good for new sales people to see some early victories, but they need to understand that the road is long and hard.

Avoid these five problems, or better yet, avoid the excuses for them, and you greatly increase your chances for success.

Happy Selling!


Sean McPheat

Sean McPheat
Managing Director

MTD Sales Training | Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

450 sales questions free report

Originally published: 8 November, 2012

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