3 Crazy Causation Theories


There is that “correlation not causation” perspective that people talk about.   I ran across it most recently last week reading something, somewhere, about Diet Coke. 

Some article talked about a reputable study a couple of years ago suggesting that you, the Diet Coke drinker, were by some large and scary percentage,  more likely to become obese if you drank Diet Coke vs. someone who did not drink Diet Coke. 

Good Times.  I love Diet Coke. 

Thankfully the article reminded us that the study was flawed because what you really had a hard time discerning was if those people who were becoming or were already obese, had decided to start drinking Diet Coke while “obesing” vs. the other way around so to speak.  Hence though there may be a “correlation” between Diet Coke and obesity, there is not necessarily, “causation” from Diet Coke to obesity.

There is a lot of that crazy “causation” stuff out there in the sales world too. 

Crazy Causation Theory # 1Successful salespeople have the best accounts; they don’t make half the calls or presentations you do, but are still raking in the most dough.

Ah….yes…I had the worst sales territory in the world back in my day.  I was insanely jealous of my fellow sales reps that had the best accounts or territory. 

So yes dear colleague of today, you are right; the successful reps often don’t make nearly as many calls as you do and they do have the best accounts.  Truth is though; their phone rings more often and their inboxes fill up faster than yours does.  When they do call out, they are more effective than you.  More often than not, these successful reps artfully cultivate customers, drive referrals through them and in essence, have and continue to deliver greater experiences to their clients thereby creating a misperception to the rest of us about what exactly causes what. 

Hats off to you Jack Barry in 1994, you’re territory was the best, but now I know you weren’t lucky; rather, you made it so. 

Crazy Causation Theory #2; The more calls or offers you make, the more sales you’ll get.

Nope, not in this business.  That adage in sales that  “It’s all a numbers game” is a horrible lie.  Never believe it.  Many of you reading this are you are working with a finite list of existing customers or prospects, or of calls coming into you; which you usually cannot control.

Pounding out calls or making 5 offers/closes on every incoming/outgoing call to a finite universe doesn’t make the sales; quality contacts do.  In Outbound calling, it’s even more dangerous.  Pound out some self serving, rapid fire voicemails or live monologues to your assigned clients hoping to the sales gods above that you caught the customer exactly when they have a need and you’ll put yourself in a worse position 6 weeks later or 6 months later when you try and sell them something else.   Customers want help, not pitches and power dialing.

If you have the world as your territory and the yellow pages as your lead source; yes indeed, it is all a numbers game then.  For a while.  Make as many calls and offers as you want.  And have fun with that as you’ll last about 6 months before you can’t wait to quit.  No worries, your boss already a replacement ready to backfill you who has the same false belief.

Crazy Causation Theory #3:   The harder you work, the more successful you will be.  

That ain’t true in sales.  It may be true for cemetery workers (been there, worked hard despite my co-workers’ slacker cries to “slow down!”).  It may be true for grocery baggers (worked hard there too and loved the job) and forklift operators (worked hard and proudly with no incidents thank you), but it is not true in sales.  Working hard just is not enough. 

Working hard will only get you so far; here is what else you need:

  • Acting skills: ( Be a story teller & have the ability to make your 41st  performance today look and sound like your first)
  • Thirst for knowledge and self learning. (Pssst… the webpage functionality just changed 5 minutes ago and your product offer is now outdated.  Do you really want to wait for the memo or the training on that? )
  • Mental Positivity.  If you close 15 % of your leads /opportunities then you are a ROCK STAR though that means the other 85% reject you.  Working harder doesn’t help you here.
  • Sales Skills; Have no idea where you are in the sales process or what a good question is vs. a bad one?  Good luck working hard here while you are in the dark.
  • Help:  Few sales stars work in a vacuum. They are not afraid to ask for help, seek guidance and even demand coaching.


There.  Now go chill and have a Diet Coke.  No causation there to worry about.

Till next time,

Grow The Business.



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