Top 5 Reasons That You Might Suck at Sales

#5) You’re Lazy

You “fell into” sales because you believed there was no structure or rigorous discipline required.  And while there is no one telling you when to get your sorry ass out of bed, or watching you when you clock out after lunch, there is a structure and discipline that is required for successful selling; especially today.  If you don’t have the gumption to create this structure and discipline for yourself, for God’s sake get someone to help you.

#4) You Speak Like a Moron

If every phrase or sentence that comes out of your pie hole is an overused metaphor, buzzword, or analogy, then you need to relearn how to speak.  After all, if you want to be on the same page, hit the ground running, and have your ducks in a row, then you need to zoom out to a 30,000 foot view and realize that your buyers have seen this movie before.  They’ve seen all the robust, seamless, cutting edge, actionable, and epic products and solutions out there.  If this sounds like you then you need to reach out to someone for help.


#3) You Don’t Care About Buyers’ Goals and Objectives

Being in sales presupposes that you have high economic values.  However, if all you care about is YOUR financial gain then you are wasting your buyer’s time AND you won’t achieve your goal.  The current buyers’ landscape requires that sellers have a vested interest in the outcome of their buyers.  While not caring about the buyers’ outcome may have short term success, you will eventually be found out.  The law of Karma is amplified in a hyperconnected world.  If this describes you then you need help reconnecting with WHY you are doing what you are doing.  Get help please.

#2) You are not prepared

Because of #5 and #3, you don’t bother to prepare.  You believe that your looks, charm and ability to think on your feet will win the day.  Buyers aren’t impressed.  Not only do you have to understand your buyer’s business but you have to add something to their understanding of their business. You have to change their minds about how they view their business.  This requires preparation.  If you don’t know how to effectively prepare for a buyer engagement then please get some help.

#1) You are Completely Full of **it

There is absolutely no connection between who you are and what you do.  Some call this a lack of congruence.  I call it living a lie.  Your buyer calls it an endless and unrelenting stream of BS.  Breaking through in this selling environment requires authenticity.  That means being in true alignment with why you are doing what you are doing.  It also means being in true alignment with your buyers’ goals and objectives which, in most cases, occur AFTER you close the transaction.

If you are afflicted by these symptoms don’t be too hard on yourself.  These symptoms are the result of years of poor instruction and bad conditioning.  It takes real commitment and courage to eradicate them from your life.  If you or someone you know are plagued by these issues please do us all a favor, and reach out for help.

Nobody is here!


I recently participated in a meeting.  There were about 10 of us in a conference room.  The table was full of open laptops, presumably for note taking.  Iphones and Androids were on the table.  As we began the discussion, people would tune in and out.  When addressed some would ask that the question be repeated.  There was a point during one of the discussions that a silence came over the group.  All that could be heard was the clickety-clack of keyboards.  Peoples’ faces were locked into their computer screens or their cell phones.  It dawned on me that…

At this moment, no one was actually AT this meeting.  They were all somewhere else. They were thinking about or doing something else.

This is the other side of technology — the apparent inability of people in the business world to be present and contribute fully to the task at hand.

The question is: what to do about it?  I’m still thinking about how I will handle it.  Do you have some good ideas about how to handle this?

Cognitive Dissonance in Sales Culture

Cognitive Dissonance:

“an uncomfortable feeling or stress caused by holding two contradictory ideas simultaneously. The theory of cognitive dissonance proposes that people have a fundamental cognitive drive to reduce this dissonance by modifying an existing belief, or rejecting one of the contradictory ideas.” – Wikipedia

Today’s Sales culture is wrought with cognitive dissonance.  Here is an example:

The executive orators give great lip service to how we are in all this for the long term success of the customer.  All the marketing material says this, so it MUST be true, but you better frig’n get that deal in and hit that number this quarter…the interest of the customer is clearly secondary.  In addition, there are no metrics or compensation mechanisms in place to reinforce the behavior. Unfortunately, Salespeople live in this dissonance every day.  In fact, if you can’t handle a significant amount of cognitive dissonance, today’s sales culture may not be for you. (There are a few companies, however, that go to great lengths to align their corporate lip service to the compensation plans of their Salespeople.  We have a long way to go in this area but at least its a start.)

I’ve known some good salespeople who have been eaten alive by the cognitive dissonance in their sales organizations.  Unfortunately, pointing this out in one of these organizations will usually not do you any good.  Either the dissonance will chip away at your performance until you leave or you are asked to leave, you will succumb to it and become a second rate sales person, OR you will learn to navigate through the dissonance and serve the customer despite it.

I suggest the latter.

The Sales Lexicon


Have you ever heard how most salespeople talk?

Let’s take for example the sales “pitch”.  Salespeople make
“pitches” to their prospects.  Salespeople are the pitchers, and
prospects are the batters.  If we take the analogy further, the pitcher
tries to strike the batter out and send him back to the dugout with
nothing for his effort.  Wait, there’s more… Companies want their sales
people to be able to make this pitch, if, by chance, they are in an
elevator with one of their prospects.  Is it any wonder that
salespeople get a bad wrap?

Salespeople struggle to “close” deals.  The prospect  wants or needs
the product or service but it seems that they are trying to keep the
deal “open”.  The problem is that while it may be the end of a process
for the salesperson, it is just the beginning for the prospect.  The
process of achieving value from the product or service has not even
started for the prospect.  No wonder there is resistance.

My point is that the sales lexicon is wrought with contentiousness
between sellers and the prospects that we are supposed to be trying to
help.  By talking this way we prepare ourselves for conflict with the
prospect. The way we talk and think about our prospects &
customers when they are not around, will affect the way that we treat
them when we interact with them directly.

One way to practice this is to go through an entire day pretending
that your prospects can see and hear everything you say and do.  Try
this and you will be surprised at what you discover.  My experience was
that I first noticed myself thinking carefully before I spoke with my
colleagues about different sales cycles.  After I got used to it, I
began to notice a heightened energy level within myself and my own
sales culture.  A much more constructive dialogue began to occur around
my sales cycles.  After all, if my prospects/customers were watching
me, I would want them to see a positive, constructive person who
is calmly and firmly looking out for their best interest.

The same rule applies here.  The way we talk and think about our
prospects & customers when they are not around, will affect the way
that we treat them when we interact with them directly.  Try this, and
you will be surprised at the change that takes place in your sales
culture and in your sales cycles.

OH.. **IT!!

In one of my previous blogs I discussed the importance of how we talk about our prospects or customers when they are not around.  I recently was having lunch with a colleague named “Jim” who told me the following story:

Jim had managed to work his way to the CEO of an organization to sell his solution.  After numerous meetings he was a bit discouraged because he didn’t seem to be making much progress.  The only thing that was progressing was the amount of follow-up information he was asked to generate after every meeting.  So, he reached out via email to a colleague to get some additional ROI information for the prospect.  The colleague emailed back asking some additional quesitons about what he was trying to accomplish there.

Jim clicked back, “I’m trying to get this dumb-ass to buy something.”

The appropriate ROI information was eventually sent back to the CEO of the organization and yes… the unthinkable happened.  The email was sent with the trailing thread that included the “dumb-ass” quote.  Jim said there was a second after that send button was pushed that he irked in horror “OH SHIT!”

So what happened then?  Jim immediately called his boss to tell him what had happened.  They discussed a few options.  Since the comment was at the bottom of the thread, they could take the chance that the CEO would never read it.  Or they could ‘fess up and take their licks.  They decided on the latter.

Jim went to the CEO and told him what happened.  He told the CEO that indeed, it was he that was the dumb-ass.  The CEO, who obviously was not a dumb-ass as accused and was actually quite a thoughtful person, lectured Jim that he needed to be more careful about what he said and wrote about his prospects.  After the lecture the CEO told Jim that despite this error he still wanted to consider Jim’s product.

Jim got the order last week.

There are lessons to be learned here the least of which is to never put in writing derogatory comments about your prospects or customers.  More importantly, we should avoid the mindset where we are disparaging our prospects or customers in any way.  We (our products and services) are not the center of their universe.  It is our job to earn their mind share.  Somehow, in ways not necessarily as overt as this story, your attitudes about your prospects and customers will manifest themselves.

My Favorite Scene in Mad Men

To me, this is what sales should be all about.  Finding a way to reach people at a personal level… a place that everyone has, but few, especially in the business world, ever reach out and grab. Establishing this kind of vulnerability and relationship with your prospect is what can make your profession meaningful… And as a byproduct, make you a whole bunch of money.


Too much Personal Power?

Duff McDuffee at Precision Change has a great blog on the possibility of having too much “personal power”.  In it he describes what a person might become when they cross this line.  The description reminded me of a lot of some Salespeople that I know.

“nobody else can get a word in when he walks in the door due to his overwhelming personal power and charisma. He can’t be missed, as he now dresses in stylish and even flashy ways. He tells extremely interesting stories, talks loudly, and takes up a lot of space.”

So much space that there is no room for the prospect or customer.

I’m all for high energy and self-directness but sometimes I get the feeling that we salespeople can gin up our personal power and motivation a bit much.  And what for??  Are we taking on some kind of daunting, monstrous opponent?

They’re just people for God’s sake.  You have something and maybe they want or need it.

Have a conversation!

Too much personal power isn’t personal power. It comes across as hubris and arrogance and in the new sales world its effect is inversely proportional to achieving the objective to which it is aimed.