A Story about a Young Salesman
By David Foster, Sr. Trainer, Sales Training International

I have been watching this man struggle for the last three months and thinking about how I used to be him. First, perhaps, a little background information is in order. Three months ago he started a new position as a salesman. He had some limited background in selling, but this is a new product, a new environment and a new sales model. Now anytime that you start a new job, it is stressful. I personally think that it is even more stressful for sales people because there is often so much more to learn.
Truth be told, the expectations of the employer are also often unrealistic.

I already mentioned that he was struggling. Let me explain why. He had certain traits that were keeping him from being successful:

1.. He was hungry for knowledge
2.. He was driven to succeed
3.. He was ambitious
I can almost hear people screaming as they read this. How could these traits - normally highly valued - be preventing him from achieving success? The reason is the fourth trait on the list:

4.. He lacked patience
See his youth and enthusiasm were getting in the way.

He was hungry for knowledge. He read everything that he could get his hands on, listened to tapes and attended webinars, but he never gave himself the time to really process the information and make it a part of him. When you take in that much information, there is always the possibility that some of it will be inappropriate for you or your situation. In some cases the information may even contradict other information. You have to internalize the information, decide if it is right for you and find a way to apply it
that is appropriate, before you bring in more information. Also, just because an "expert" said it doesn't make it right (unless it was me).

He was driven to succeed. At 26 he felt that too much of his life was gone already and that success needed to be in the next few minutes. This drive caused him to look for the quick answer rather than making the decisions that would lead to long term success. Sometimes he was driving so fast that he sped right by opportunities without slowing down to explore them.

He was ambitious. He, like most of us I would guess, wants to be the best. In fact, one of the first things that he ever said to me was how he was going to knock the company's top producer off their throne in another 30 days. This was part way through his first day. Now don't misunderstand me, I think that having goals is a critical part of success - in sales or any other field - and I think that it is important that they be challenging. I also think that it is important that they have some basis in reality. Otherwise they don't motivate you; they bring you down. His failure to dethrone the reigning champ began to weigh on him as though it were a

See, for most of us, selling isn't a summer job, it is a career. As such we have to take the long-term approach. Success comes for the people who do the things today that will cause sales to happen tomorrow. The traits that can lead to success can also lead to failure. It is never about the traits that we have; it is about how we use them.

As for this young salesman, I think that he will be okay. I had all the same problems when I started, as did many that have worked with or for me since then. Most have come through just fine. Some have even become very knowledgeable and successful and have reached their ambitious goals.


Copyright 2003 Sales Training International