How Do You Define Failure in Sales?


Failure in sales is much like good art: I know it when I see it. Disconcertingly, it’s also a matter of degree. Total, abject, crash-​and-​burn, never-​darken-​my-​door-​again sales failures are extremely rare. That type of disaster you would note and certainly learn from. Unfortunately, there are failures that pass under the radar, and those are the most dangerous. Also, the sales process has so many moving parts and hidden actors that knowing when and why things went south is hard to determine. So, how do you define failure when you’re not sure where to place the blame, or worse, how to recover and learn?

The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” — Henry Ford

Define failure through a process of elimination

Your company relies on you to represent your products and services to the best of your ability. Diligently, you may study the industry, train your brain on the strengths of your offering, and do your best at sorting the most likely candidates. However, even with the best product on the market, the anticipated sale can end in disappointment. To make sense of what went wrong, you need to define failure in terms that help you learn from the error. The writers at morebusiness​.com assembled numerous points to check off on what you got right and, more importantly, what went wrong. Here are just four:

Believe in your product

The enthusiasm and energy you bring to the forefront as you present your product is wholly within your control. If buyers sense a lack of faith in how your product solves their problem, the deal will suffer. Your product knowledge is often the key to convince the prospect that you have their best interests at heart. Total confidence in your offering can eliminate the buyer's feeling of doubt.

Focus on solving the client’s problem

The prospect counts on you to understand their industry, appreciate their timetable, recognize their financial constraints, and get your product delivered and operating on schedule. If one or more of these points remain incomplete, then you may be able to define failure. Taking time to scrutinize all the obstacles and objections along the sales path is the best way to assure a positive outcome.

Selling yourself

Clients are more likely to buy from people they like and trust. If you have a credibility gap with your prospect, then you can directly define failure. Calling on a prospect without a sound business reason is an annoyance. However, reaching out with an idea or a solution can be evolutionary to a relationship. When you adopt the mindset for sales success, you approach each client with an authentic desire to be helpful and empathetic. 

Understand your customer 

The relationship between your company and your customer is a crucial component to your success. If you have not researched your customer or collected information about their interactions with your company, then you can honestly define failure. Today’s CRMs contain valuable information to help you determine customer behavior and preferences. It is a competitive edge that smart sellers use to better understand and get closer to their customers.

Dig deep to find the real reason deals fall apart

When you can check the boxes on all the steps in the sales process, you minimize sales failures. Obviously, nothing is guaranteed, but giving yourself a safety net can’t hurt. Using your product knowledge, analyzing your client’s problem and selling yourself are reasonable paths to victory. What’s more, working harder and working smarter are tried and true solutions for sales success. Universally, finding our mistakes and learning to avoid them is the way we live to fight another day.

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Tim Londergan

Tim Londergan

Tim is a research contributor at SalesFuel and he writes for SalesFuel Today. Previously, he worked as a Sales Development Manager, representing products such as AdMall and AudienceSCAN. Tim holds a B.S. from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University.
Tim Londergan

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