I’m often asked, “Why do salespeople fail?”

The answer is: They don’t fail.

They fail to be their best. They fail to do their best. They fail to think their best. And they fail to take the best actions to help them succeed.

There are symptoms that allow either a sales leader or the salesperson to recognize that failure is on its way. Most salespeople blame circumstances rather than take responsibility. 

I want to talk about the salespeople who are out there every day, who are trying to make their quotas, who are trying to achieve their sales plan or hit the numbers that were arbitrarily given to them by the boss.

Add to that, that most salespeople are both inadequately trained and inadequately supported. Add to that, that salespeople are generally half-prepared. They prepare in terms of themselves, but very little in terms of the customer.

If you’re reading this and thinking, “Jeffrey, this does not apply to me. I prepare, and I hit my quota, and I’m doing pretty well for myself.” My response to that thought is a challenge to you. After reading this list, self-evaluate your present circumstance related to each symptom. 

Even if you’re hitting your numbers, even if you believe you’re well prepared, here are 11.5 symptoms of why most salespeople hit a wall, and can’t climb above it:

Symptom 1. Your inability to set up an initial appointment with the real decision maker.
Symptom 2. Beyond price, your inability to uncover the real buying motive of the customer.
Symptom 3. Believing that competition forces price reduction.
Symptom 4. Shallow relationships that force both proposals and bidding.
Symptom 5. Poor social media participation that results in low or no personal branding and low or no personal reputation.
Symptom 6. Poor follow-up after the initial meeting or initial sales meeting.
Symptom 7. Long sales cycle based on presentations to low-level decision makers.
Symptom 8. Prospects going dark or disappearing after the first sales presentation.
Symptom 9. Prospects not returning your phone calls.
Symptom 10. Blaming inside circumstances for the loss of a customer.
Symptom 11. Blaming customers and prospects for the loss of a sale.
Symptom 11.5. Failure to take responsibility for the circumstances you create.

Here are a few things you can do that will help your prospective customers decide to buy:
1. Prepare in terms of them, not just you. The customer must perceive that there is a value in doing business with you, rather than your competition. Focus on ownership, and focus on outcome after purchase as you’re making your presentation. 
2. Prove it, don’t just say it. It amazes me how many salespeople do not use testimonials. Video proof of everything you claim so that a prospective customer can feel comfort, can eliminate the feeling of risk, and justify value over price – all based on the words of other customers.
2.5. Be there after the sale to prove your worth and earn a referral. The biggest lost opportunity in any relationship is the absence of the salesperson after the sale has taken place. Help the customer install. Help the customer get started. Help the customer understand and take advantage of “best use.” 

Stop worrying about failing, and start offering value:

• At your highest and best level.
• With your highest and best effort.
• With your highest and best preparation.
• With the emotional passion that becomes transferable to a point where the customer will buy from you.

This represents harder work than you’re used to, but it sure beats losing the sale.