This is an excerpt from my second book, Managing the Sales Process, available on Amazon.com. You can find a series of these excerpts in a dedicated blog category to get a broad overview, post-by-post, of the book (they are listed in reverse order in the category, so start with the oldest).

From Chapter 1 – The Core Attributes of Sales Success

Positive attitude
Those familiar with sales know it’s a tough profession. To survive, and certainly to succeed, a career in sales requires a substantial amount of psychological strength, determination, and perseverance.

In seeking new clients, sales people can face 70-90% rejection. When they ask for a first conversation from 10 people, they may only get three or fewer to agree.

During the course of trying to make a sale ─ to a new or to an existing customer ─ sales people are constantly hit with objections, hard questions, and concerns about the products and services that they sell.

Once agreement has been made to work together, negotiations over price and work fulfillment can be contentious, even seemingly impossible to reconcile.

And even when all goes right, there is always the potential that some random outside event derails the entire process, in spite of everything else being managed and dealt with. The product might fail and be returned on warranty; customer service might alienate the client; implementation might not go as planned, etc.

Even when everything lines up and the customer makes a satisfied purchase, many salespeople have their commissions jeopardized by late payments from the clients.
In many sales organizations that pay commission, commissions can be pulled back or not paid if client payments are late.

Maybe my friends are right. Why would someone want to be a salesperson?

Well, there are a lot of reasons why sales is a great career for some people ─ the personal challenge, the independence, the potential for creativity and for high income. But given the kinds of issues that salespeople are likely to face, the inclination towards a more positive attitude about sales is a major indicator of long-term success, not to mention happiness in this profession.

If a salesperson tends to view normal kinds of sales-related events in a negative light, each will cause fatigue and frustration. Each one separately may be small, but over time they add up. The Grand Canyon was carved by a river. Similarly, obstacles always will flow across the professional lives of salespeople, and their reactions to them can literally make or break them.

A highly visible negative attitude among one or more team members is infectious, like a virus. It can be harder for those more inclined to be positive to remain so in the face of constant whining and complaining.

For someone who maintains a positive outlook, these obstacles are simply issues to be dealt with, and in the absence of contrived negativity they don’t have the weight that they otherwise could. They may be frustrating, but frustrating and manageable feels much different than frustrating, manageable, and self-despairing.

Many marriages break up when salespeople bring home their frustrations. I don’t mean to minimize these frustrations; they are real, and everyone feels them. But the extent to which they can be seen as things to be dealt with as opposed to something terrible can make the difference between a salesperson who can find the energy and strength to deal with them and one who lets those issues wear him or her down.

The Buddha said that enlightened people don’t have problems. They face the same challenges as everyone else, only they see them simply as situations that need to be handled. The content of the situation and the course of remedy is the same, but the perspective taken with which to deal with them is completely different. In your sales organization, you want people with a positive attitude dealing with the inevitable problems in their jobs. Everyone has them; your salespeople, their peers, you as their manager and the organization as a whole.

However, you all will have a much lighter, proactive, and effective approach about these issues when your salespeople are more positive than negative.

Watch for this, interview for this, seek to instill this in your team. You will all sleep much better and sell much better too.

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Authors note (AKA shameless plugs)

So, this 7-step sales process and associated topics…. Yup, I write about that a lot. I’ve been working with it since I developed it about 25 years ago – in my own diverse work experiences, with my teams when I had them, and with clients ever since.

If you would like to develop you own personalized and customized, highly effective and efficient B2B selling system, here are some further steps you can take:

The Salesman’s Guide to Dating is a free or very cheap (depending on Amazon) Kindle book that walks you through the sales process using the familiar analogy of dating. It’s a good, fun and quick way to get your mind around the whole process and how the pieces fit together.

Building Your Sales Process (BYSP) is a free and very thorough exploration of the same 7-step process that will walk you through the development of your own customized, personal B2B selling system. When you are done, you will know exactly what to do to get new business.

The Momentum Selling System® is an inexpensive but very robust online sales training course that is similar to BYSP, but goes deeper into the concepts behind each of the steps, and also helps you develop a plan not only for the 7-step process but also addresses mindset, repeat business and client base management.

If none of that sounds right, I do personal coaching and offer a free 30-minute intake session so that we can both learn if it makes sense to work together 1-on-1. If this sounds interesting, click over to the coaching page on this site and sign up for the free session.

Here’s to your success!

-David