Why we fail …

I read this article by Barry Farber in “Inc.” where he speaks from his experience on why salesmen fail. It’s just a brilliant article and a must read. Here’s the link 7 reasons salespeople fail . The article just made me think of why any of us fails, not just a salesman. Am borrowing the same seven reasons that Barry states in his article but sharing my views on why we fail in other professions precisely because of these reasons.

Barry says, the seven reasons a salesman fails are –

1. Lack of qualified activity – in every role, it’s important to ask the right questions, understand the value of what you are doing, how it affects a customer and come up with innovative solutions. Smart work, not just doing the same thing over and over again. One of Krishnan’s bosses used a great phrase that stuck in his head all this while “do you have 20 years of experience or is it one year repeated 20 times” – just check if you are repeating one day 220 times a year !!

2. No sense of urgency – we tease my mother endlessly because she needs to know at night what to cook the next day. Even if she is not the one making lunch, she needs to know what I am making. But really, that is the sense of urgency we need everyday at work, whatever role we are in. I generally review my next week’s calendar and then everyday I check my next day’s calendar because it’s important to plan ahead and not realise at the last minute that you don’t have a particular vegetable for lunch or an important file for a presentation.

3. Being Unorganized – Our Chartered Accountant for the past twelve years gets answers to his queries within a few hours and our papers are always filed neatly. Krishnan learnt being organized from his mom, who would keep separate envelopes for different expenses, neatly labeled. I learnt being organized from my dad and Krishnan. When dad passed away suddenly, we had no difficulty locating his papers or which bank had what money. He had kept the papers neatly filed and also wrote all the details in a small notebook. Being organized is super critical for success, it is right after brains and hard work !!

4. Negative attitude – Just yesterday someone posted this awesome story on Facebook. A farmer’s donkey falls into a dry well. The farmer tries for a couple of days to get the donkey out, but nothing works. Finally he decides to shovel earth into the well and just let the donkey be buried. He gets a few of his friends to help him shovel earth into the well. At first the donkey starts braying piteously when he realises they are trying to bury him. But soon, the braying stops and when the farmer looks down, he sees the donkey shaking off the earth they thrown in and stepping up with every shovel that’s thrown in. Soon he gets to the top of the well and walks off !! Just a classy story on how to have a positive attitude. Negative attitude would have just brought death …. And that’s what it brings to human beings too.

5. Poor work ethic – I always say to all my managers and team members, your work shows how high a standard you keep for yourself. It’s not to show someone else that you need to do a great job, it’s to show yourself. I feel terrible if I didn’t do something to the best of my ability, not because someone will say something, but because I will say something to myself.

6. Doesn’t believe in themselves or their product – if you don’t believe that something will succeed … Well it won’t. It’s very important to buy into whatever you are trying to sell – and not just a product. I always say that all of us are in sales, we are either selling an idea, ourselves or a product. Recently Dan Pink wrote the book “To sell is human” which says the same thing. So believe in whatever it is you are selling, only then can you sell. At appraisal times, many managers shy away from difficult conversations and just say, it is either forced ranking on the bell curve or their manager said so… I once had a situation where a manager of mine said, I rated you better but our team’s bell curve wasn’t approved. I would have preferred to hear why I was rated lower, rather than this lame reason. I have scant respect for that manager.

7. Honesty is not their policy – there may be some easy success using dubious means, and staying honest and acting with integrity makes success sweet, but does take longer. I have a simple reason to stay honest – it’s too much pain to remember a lie and fabricated stories, much better to be honest and face the music. There is huge temptation to fudge small numbers to make the overall story to look good, but it always catches up. Stay honest, stay happy.

Thanks Barry for writing your wonderful piece – really set me thinking and hopefully will get many more people to think.

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