Two keys to success that every salesperson must have

It’s hard to succeed in business, and the competition is tough, especially in today’s tough times. Maybe that’s why the language of business is filled with so much sports language: metaphors, analogies, stories and phrases.

You make a great presentation to a prospect and your boss tells you “you hit it out of the park.”  You end up closing the deal, or getting it “over the goal line.”  And you’ll continue to profit from the relationship, as long as you don’t “drop the ball” of course.

I use a lot of this language in my own writing and training, I think because it helps people to grasp a key point more quickly.  So let me share an idea with you today that marries the best characteristics of top athletes, with the best characteristics of top salespeople. To be successful at sports or sales you have to have these two traits:  confidence and persistence.  You must be supremely confident in your knowledge, skill and ability, and you have to approach everything you do with optimistic persistence. Believe that today is going to be a great day.

I’m telling you this today because I know you.  I know how frustrated you can be when things don’t go well, when you forget that not everyone is going to buy from you, when all your glib objection responses are not going to work, when some people will hang up on you, or when you’re just having one of those crummy days when nothing works.

And I know this so well because I get your mail, I listen to you, I answer these “what if” questions in workshops…”but what should I do if I call and call and the guy still won’t let me in?” No, not everything works, but you still must smile, get up and make the next call.  Winners have these two traits.

Here’s Michael Jordan, who was arguably one of the greatest basketball players ever: “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career.  I’ve lost almost 300 games.  Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

So why am I reminding you of this seemingly obvious bit of advice?  Last week I had lunch with a friend, Kevin, who was recently assigned a huge territory, and because his company is not well-known there, he’s having a tough time getting in the door with his top prospects.  Many people would have been a bit down over this, but not him.  He was the most upbeat person I talked to all that day.  He wanted to have lunch not to bemoan his situation, but to talk through new and different courses of action he might take. Never was heard a discouraging word during that meeting.  He told me, “My company is happy with my effort.  They think I’m doing a great job. But I’m not satisfied. I think I can do better.”

And there it is. It’s just that simple. If you’re in sales, are you approaching your job the way my friend Kevin approaches his?  Confidence and persistence, that’s what you need.

Think Like Your Customer

About Gregory LaMothe
I teach people how to sell things. I own the company ActionSystems. Visit my website at

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