Why Sales People Fail

It's commonly believed that sales people fail for 4 key reasons: Lack of persistence,a poor presentation, laziness and not enough proactivity.

If only it were that simple.

I have studied the art and science of effective sales for over 20 years and I believe there are numerous other factors that lead to sales failure.


In this article i'd like to discuss three of the most important ones.


There's not a professional athlete alive who would consider turning up to a competition without ensuring that they have their body in superb shape.

They know that their main tool is their body and so they are dedicated to keeping it strong and healthy.

In sales, the main tool is surely the sales person's mind. After all we've all had times when we've been mentally in good shape, and sold through the roof. Equally we've all had times when our mental state was weak and distracted - and our sales ended up pretty dismal. The importance of having a correct mental state is irrefutable, yet so many sales executives do very little to make sure their mind is strong and ready to perform.

Millions of sales people turn up to work every day without doing any mental training whatsoever - and as a result often experience poor results.

I believe sales people need to have a daily mental regimen, just like top athletes have a daily physical regimen. It doesn't need to take hours, in fact it can usually be done effectively in a few minutes. But it does need to be done.

It should include:

  1. Reviewing our vision of the ideal type of person we want to be - as both a sales person and a human.
  2. Reminding ourselves of why we are good at what we do.
    There's no profession in the world that involves as much rejection as sales, and after awhile it's easy to forget our good points and start beating ourselves up about our weaknesses. So I advocate creating a list of all the reasons that we are actually pretty damn good at this game, and reading them each and every day. The more you remind yourself of how you have what it takes to succeed in sales, the more confidence you will have. The more confidence you have the more effective action you will take. The more effective action you take, inevitably the better your sales figures will be.
  3. Imagining perfect performance.
    We tend to behave in accordance with our self identity.

So it makes sense to build up that identity regularly. Just 3 minutes of imagining superb performance each day will make a significant difference to our sales results within 2 weeks. After all, sports psychologists have long identified that people usually perform in accordance with the inner pictures they have of themselves. So let's make sure our pictures support us, rather than bring us down.


Sales is possibly the most results oriented career on the planet. We know that if we don't hit our numbers we have no future in the business. But that hyper results orientation can actually hurt our performance, if we let it stress us out.

If we're not careful we can end up feeling stressed every day, ever more concerned about reaching our numbers each month. Feeling this way is not just a bad way to live, it leads to lower sales.

I believe there is a direct correlation to how much a sales person is enjoying themselves and how much they sell.

Customers are only human- they are naturally attracted to people who look like they are happy to be there, people who are actually enjoying the process of being a sales person, not just doing it for the money. And as we all know, when people feel good about the person selling, they usually buy more stuff.

So we have to treat our own daily enjoyment far more seriously than many of us do.

We have to make what I call 'The Pivotal Choice'.

That choice is to choose to have an enjoyable day, REGARDLESS of how successful we are that day saleswise. Let me repeat, the enjoyment must come before the sale, if we are to sell successfully long term. Let me also emphasise that feeling good is a CHOICE, it does not have to be dependent on how much money you've made that week, month or year.

Most sales people have it totally around the wrong way: they spend most of the month not enjoying themselves, until they hit their sales target, and only then do they allow themselves to have some fun. As a result of their stressed out,somewhat negative mood, they often come across badly to the sales prospect ,which so often leads to the failure to get the sale.

Make enjoying yourself a priority each and every day and watch how your sales results speedily improve.


The human brain represents only 2% of our body weight, but it uses 20% of the body's oxygen intake. Clearly, oxygen is critical to the brain's performance, and therefore your performance as a sales person.

I assert that you will make a lot more money if you can improve oxygen flow to your brain.

Why? Because it has been shown in countless scientific studies that when oxygen flows freely to the brain, humans:

  1. Think more quickly.
  2. Are more optimistic.
  3. Persist longer.
  4. Have more energy.
  5. Have higher morale

As we know,these five attributes are all of vital importance to any sales person.

So how do we improve the oxygen flow?

There are two primary ways.

We can either take deep breaths throughout the day ( I recommend 10 deep breaths 3 times a day. In for 4 beats, hold for 4 beats and out for 4 beats).

Or we can do any exercise that gets the heart beat up. ( In my experience even 10 minutes will completely change the air flow to the brain).

If you do either of these things regularly you will usually see an improvement in your sales performance within ten days. 

Remember, in the end the human body and mind are much like machines - when you change the input you end up with a change in output. Feed your mind and body superior fuel ( thoughts for the mind and oxygen for the brain for example) and the results can be spectacular.

So there you have it, three important ways to avoid failure in sales.

Test them out for the next month.

Each takes only a few minutes each day to activate, but each can have an extraordinary effect on your sales results.


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