Sales POP - Purveyors of Propserity
Learning from Failure: Wrong Assumptions
Blog / For Sales Pros / Sep 6, 2016 / Posted by Nikolaus Kimla / 5898

Learning from Failure: Wrong Assumptions

For some, failure can mean the end of the road on some activity, venture or goal. But that is only true if you give up and just stop. For me—and for many others like me—failure in some area can act as a valuable learning experience that further enables success. This new series of blogs illustrates, with my own experience and observation, how learning from failure is possible.

Over the last several years, I have hired different types of personnel for various teams. They were to cover functions from many aspects, including bringing assets to the company. The idea was that they were experts where we were not—they were to step in and help figure out, in their specific areas, what to do.

A period of time later, after a great deal of expenditure and little to no results, I regretfully had to let some of them go. They obviously weren’t happy, and neither was I.

These were intelligent, capable people who actually did a decent job. It was definitely a failure on my part—and it was based on incorrect assumptions from the beginning.

Assumption #1

The first assumption I made when these people were hired was that they were on the same page as we were, and proceeding with the same strategy, goals and technology. What I failed do was to ask them, right at the outset, “What do you see should be our strategy going forward, based on what you’ve seen in the company?” We should have asked them what they intended to do, and then clarified exactly what that was.

If we had done this, we might have

a) avoided problems that later arose by clarifying individual intentions up front or, even better

b) been able to correct their course by informing them of exactly where we were going, and guiding them in the right direction.

Instead, I (and others at my company, too) assumed we were all going in that direction, and proceeded on that basis.

Assumption #2

The second assumption we made was that these people were taking the needed actions to produce the kind of results that we expected of them.

This actually stemmed from different understandings—mine and theirs—of the results we were going for.

I almost but not quite corrected this issue as we went along. Several times I saw that that the results being produced were not what I thought they should be. Each of those times I accepted explanations as to why those results weren’t happening.

Sometime later overall results had gotten worse, and there were other major issues with these personnel as well. I ended up, after looking everything over, letting them all go.

6 Principles Violated

As you might have seen in my blog posts or ebooks, I’m a great believer in the management techniques of Fredmund Malik. He bases his philosophy in 6 basic principles. In looking back at the mistakes I made with some of these personnel, I realized that all of them were violated.

Positive Thinking

From the beginning, a number of these people criticized the very foundation of how Pipeliner was operating. There was also constant complaints about various people and issues within our company.

This was another clue—that I missed—that we weren’t on the same page.


Trust is something that must exist in a business relationship, especially in a virtual operation such as ours in which nobody is reporting to an office. If we had been able to see some of these people every day, and actually look at what they were doing, many of the problems that later arose certainly would have been caught almost immediately.

And most importantly, as I have now learned, trust cannot be founded on assumptions that have not been verified.

Concentration On a Few Things

This principle is especially important when you’re in the midst of early growth, as our company is. Practically from the time they arrived, several of these people insisted on starting all kinds of projects and making increasing changes. We had our priorities—they were already in progress when these people were hired. We—and they—should have stuck to them.

Focus on Results

Instead of focusing on the results that mattered most to us, a number of these people kept changing the results they felt we needed to focus on. The “result” on which to focus become a constantly moving target.

Utilizing strengths

One of Malik’s most astute principles is that of utilizing strengths—meaning, don’t spend your time trying to strengthen weaknesses. Focusing on strong points and strengthening them is a much more positive and effective way to go.

Certain of these people kept trying to dictate what direction product development should take, which wasn’t even their job. Instead, they should have been utilizing their own strengths, their own expertise, in their own areas.

Contribution to the whole

Every action taken within a company should, in some way, contribute to the whole, the overall effort. Yet the actions these people took did not.

I would again emphasize that these were very capable individuals, who thought they were doing the job they were hired to do. I assumed they were, too. The lesson I learned, and that you can learn from me, is never making assumptions, especially with new hires, and especially with crucial company functions.

Pipeliner CRM helps you accurately predict and monitor the results you are after. Get your free trial of Pipeliner CRM now.

About Author

CEO and partner of and the uptime ITechnologies, which I founded in 1994 and has since played a significant role in the development of the IT-environment. pipeliner is the most innovative sales CRM management solution on the market. Pipeliner was designed by sales professionals for sales professionals and helps close the gap between the requirements of C-level executives for transparency and the day-to-day operational needs of field and inside sales. I am also the founder and Initiator of the independent economic platform GO-AHEAD!, which orientates itself on the principles of a free marketplace in terms of liberal and social responsibility. Connecting people, the trust of business leadership in terms of values such as freedom, self-responsibility, and entrepreneurial spirit, and strengthening their awareness in order to create a dynamic boost within the economy triggered through spontaneity, all stand for the initial ideas surrounding GO-AHEAD! I studied in Los Angeles and Vienna and received my Masters's Degree in 1994. I am married and have 3 children My Specialties are in: Sales Management, Sales CRM Software, CRM Cloud Solutions, SAAS, Business Strategy, Software Development, "Pipeline Management", Social responsibility, outbound sales, b2b sales, inside sales, sales strategy, lead generation, sales process, entrepreneurship, coaching, mentoring, speaker, opportunity management, lead management, Austrian School of Economics

Author's Publications on Amazon

This is a practical manual covering the vital subject of Sales Management. I firmly believe that sales are the most important profession for dealing with today’s turbulent world and Econo my, for salespeople create wealth and produce peace. But salespeople need a competent, stable leader—and…
Buy on Amazon
Inside this eBook, you’ll discover a series of chapters dedicated to some of the most important areas facing sales today. From the sales process definition to measurement, lead generation, and proven sales techniques, this comprehensive eBook will provide you with the information you need to…
Buy on Amazon
A common term in sales today is EQ, which stands for “emotional I.Q.” It means the skill a salesperson has in reading emotions and utilizing them in sales. It means empathy and a number of other abilities. The short version is, it’s an I.Q. when…
Buy on Amazon
People are smart to question the future of automation, for it has become part of everything we do. With the quantity of applications and technology around us, we yet still crave more. We become convinced of its power when our package is delivered from Amazon…
Buy on Amazon
Sales management isn’t a simple subject by any means. But at the same time, it does have some basic and somewhat simple fundamentals—and that is what we are bringing to you with this book. First come pain points of sales management, and how to overcome…
Buy on Amazon
Today the Internet has transformed a seller's market into a buyer's market and author Nikolaus Kimla states that the role of sales has never been more crucial. It is now time to give salespeople the role they factually can play: entrepreneurs within the enterprise. They…
Buy on Amazon
This is our public declaration of the intentions behind Pipeliner, and our objectives and motives for the product and for our company. Behind the development of that CRM application and, in fact, behind everything we do, we have a real cause. The story begins with…
Buy on Amazon
For the future, there must be a perfect balance of humans and technology. You have to have the perfect technology, andthen the perfect human being in application, performance and presentation. Today and into the future, it’s a 50-50 balance. In the past it was perhaps…
Buy on Amazon
The salespreneur is based on the concept of the entrepreneur. Before we can explain the salespreneur, you have to have some understanding of the entrepreneur. The entrepreneur plays a crucial role in any economic system. The entrepreneur seeks out information that can be utilized for…
Buy on Amazon
A seasoned captain would never leave port without a competent navigator. In a similar way, a sales manager might be a total ace at "commanding the ship" – at inspiring and coaching sales reps, pointing out and getting agreement on making quotas, and keeping everyone's…
Buy on Amazon
Sales Process Automation
This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this website you are giving consent to cookies being used. For information on cookies and how you can disable them, visit our privacy and cookie policy.