How can FAILURE build confidence in sales teams

How can FAILURE build confidence in sales teams?

Everyone hates to fail. We don’t want to admit to failure. I despise it.

Even though we’re familiar with sayings that tell us how much we learn from failure, how it makes us stronger . . . and all those other rah-rah messages.

Sure, we learn what we SHOULD have done. That’s easy to see when you flop, but there’s a far bigger payoff to failing. Especially with those of us in a “performance” sport, such as sales.

Sales author, Jill Konrath suggests that the biggest gift we can give ourselves and sales teams through failure is “Confidence.”

Yes. Confidence. From failure.

It’s not that we’re afraid of failing. We’re scared of the consequences of failure. We fear the unknown so we don’t want to mess up and earn those unspecified consequences. In our minds, the unknown is mysterious and we often imagine consequences that are far worse than what would really happen.

To counter this, Jill suggests holding a “Pre-Mortem” discussion with sales teams – discussing what COULD go wrong and how will we handle the fallout or navigate any failures. Using examples and case studies helps us learn what to avoid but discussing how you’ll handle failures and flops as learning opportunities takes a lot of air out of the “fear” balloon.

Creating a sales culture that acknowledges screw-ups are going to happen, gives salespeople the confidence to try new things.

That confidence is what finally grabs the attention of elusive buyers.

That confidence is what un-sticks deals.

That confidence is what advances opportunities before your competition reaches your customers.

It’s not fear of failure. It’s fear of the consequences of failure that holds us hostage and keeps us from trying things. Can you create a culture that doesn’t punish failure, but celebrates it? Ask yourselves –

  • How can you create an environment that encourages trying new things?
  • How do you discuss failure and its consequence in a way that encourages creative thinking and unique problem-solving?
  • Can you commit to rewarding efforts to disrupt the status quo – even if they don’t pan out or worse, blow up in your face?

I like to wear my sales badge of failures pretty prominently. I’ve been hung up on, thrown out of buildings, chased out of lobbies by security guards, and flubbed presentations, meetings, and proposals pretty spectacularly. ALL the mistakes.

I probably would have been more adventurous and tried more out-of-the-box things if I was clear about the consequences of my failures – that I wouldn’t be fired or embarrassed in reprimand or whatever other awful things I imagined.

Take a look at how you or your team thinks about the “F-word” and see if you can create a new framework that embraces flops to build CONFIDENCE in trying new things.

Until next time, stop hoping and start SELLING!


PS – Get a unique perspective on sales flops with this episode of The SellOut Show where we discuss #SalesFails when we have to say “I’m Sorry” to our customers! Take a watch at the Raw & Uncut version and subscribe if the content moves you!

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Straightforward, practical and perhaps slightly cheeky, Shawn Karol Sandy's innate gift is helping people find new ways to solve old problems, unique ways to approach new problems and helping businesses re-invent themselves and their sales strategies. With Bold and Brave thought leadership and Clear Action Plans, her impact on business is Measurable and Meaningful and will lead your sales revolution to growth and revenue goals.

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