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The Worst “F” Word in Sales
Blog / For Sales Pros / Apr 1, 2018 / Posted by Spencer Marona / 4813

The Worst “F” Word in Sales


Have you ever thought that you would prefer to hear the “f” word (profanity) over another that we and our kids use multiple times per day? I didn’t and that’s where I’m at.

“Failure” is a word I despise. Our society is conditioned to loosely throw this word around and it officially starts at an early age when we begin to receive grades on our academic performance. It has taken me a long time to understand that there are two other “f” words that go along with “failure” for one to move forward: forgiveness and focus.

Too often in sales, we blame ourselves for “failing” if we did not close the deal.

But, here’s the deal – the reason we feel like a failure is directly due to our thoughts.

Everything we feel is a direct result of how we chose to think about the situation.

We can choose how we think about the circumstances of our decisions. Those who want to blame and rationalize their behaviors will continue to do so. I now know that every problem I have ever had was a direct result of how I chose to think about the given situation.

Instead of wallowing in self-pity, frustration, anger or blame for not procuring and new client, perhaps it makes sense to be curious and reflect on what can be learned and gained from not winning the sale?

I can list dozens of questions that would be relevant to reflect on, but here are a few examples:

  • If we think we lost on price, did we not uncover and articulate a better value?
  • How did we do at qualifying the actual needs for the organization along with the tangible and intangible benefits for the organization and decision-maker?
  • Did we do a sufficient job at building rapport while gaining an understanding of the buyer’s decision-making process?

The sooner we can learn lessons from our mistakes combined with the ability to forgive ourselves or others we’ve have let down (if applicable), the sooner we can move forward.

Recognize the difference between “failing” and “strategically” quitting.

History has many inspirational individuals that have used their failure(s) as leverage for success through perseverance. Some include: Abraham Lincoln’s multiple campaigns for presidency, Thomas Edison and the light bulb and Dr. Seuss’ two dozen plus rejections before publishing his first book. These triumphs and countless more embody timeless lessons worthy to learn from.

Our country loves underdogs and we celebrate comebacks. These individuals succeeded because they got undesired results and “failure” was not in their vernacular. They recognized the difference between “failing” and “strategically” quitting. Seth Godin explains this concept perfectly in his book The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick),“Quitting is not the same as failing. Strategic quitting is a conscious decision you make based on the choices available to you…failing, on the other hand means your dream is over. It’s easy to wring your hands about becoming a failure. Quitting smart though, is a great way to avoid failing.”

In this context with sales, strategically quitting is gaining a self-awareness of what went wrong and fixing it. Meaning, you will learn from the loss, improve and deliberately quit doing it again. This is not failure. It’s growth and improvement.

Forgive yourself, learn what needs to change and make it happen because failure loses fuel to the speed of forgiveness and focus.

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About Author

Spencer Marona, CSC is the founder and owner of PERFORMANCE NORTH, a sales performance, and leadership development consulting firm. Spencer helps his clients rapidly elevate their revenue via a hybrid of solutions including using an objective, scientific, and measurable tool that measures how the thinking of an individual, team and/or organization impacts performance.


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