Four Reasons Why New Salespeople Fail
Someone asked me an interesting question the other day, “Why do new salespeople fail?” It got me thinking. Here’s my response:
- Fear—Without question, this is the number one killer for new sales reps. Sales is a very intimidating career choice. Your job is to talk to strangers and ask them for things like appointments, orders, and money. Not only is there fear involved in achieving these tasks, there is also the fear of failure that can be just as paralyzing.
- Lack of Effort—Forget about what I said above. Without question, this is the number one killer for new sales reps. I mean it this time. In my 20+ years as a sales coach in this industry, I have never heard of or seen a diligent failure. I’ve spoken to some of the worst, most inept, and non-natural salespeople on the planet. They can be all those things but if they are diligent, they will succeed 100 percent of the time.
- Lack of Business Acumen—Ken Olson, founder of Digital Equipment Corp. (Under 30? Google it. Hold on. Sadly, make that 40) once said, “I used to believe that you had to work for a big company before you could go out on your own. Now I think you have to have owned your own business in order to work for a big company.” I think what what he means is that it helps to have some business smarts; the kind that comes from first-hand experience.
- Can’t Build a Relationship—Yeah, this one surprises me, too. In the long run, what it takes to hold onto an account is the same today as it was 30 years ago: Trust and loyalty. It’s amazing to me how foreign the concept of building a relationship is to the younger generations. So long as they rely on Facebook to keep in touch, they will continue to suffer in this area and it very well may be their downfall if they choose sales.
In almost any industry, the majority (and sometimes overwhelming majority) of salespeople fail in the first 12 months. Naturally, there are myriad reasons for that failure. Some are within the control of the sales rep and others aren’t. When I think about my first job in sales, the biggest reason for my failure was #1. No, wait. It was the first two. Actually, I didn’t understand business, either. So, let’s include #3. Um, come to think of it, it was all four. I was a complete and miserable failure.