When Success Stinks


Success is usually good, but sometimes it stinks.

My first huge commission sale came in late 80’s.   I got it when I inadvertently answered the company’s phone line past closing time at 5:15pm on a Friday.   Two weeks into my first real sales job and it was the Big City on the other end of the line looking for a spring water vendor to supply bottled water coolers and water for the school system whose water supply was just declared undrinkable.

I got that sale.  I was even on local TV news that weekend and was shown delivering and setting up water coolers in the schools.  I was a sales rock star at my company.  Already.

I thought I got the sale because of my insanely good sales skills on that phone call, my confidence and my gargantuan intelligence.  And I also thought that being a salesperson was a pretty easy gig.

And then the sales stopped coming in.

Truth was, we got the school sale because we were the only bottled water company that answered the phone after 5pm that Friday and the city needed the schools to have water for the students by the time classes started again on Monday.

But I didn’t know that then.  I couldn’t see that.   It took me about a year to realize I had nothing to do with that sale and that sales success takes a lot more work and learning than I wanted to accept at that time. 

Success is usually good but sometimes it stinks.  

Every once in a while think deep about that large sale you just landed, or that marketing initiative showing good results or that training you just delivered that got rave reviews. 

If you know deep down you got the sale out of luck:  don’t learn from that success.    If you know deep down that your marketing initiative launched at the same time a new sales rep incentive plan did, don’t bank on that success as a learning tool.   If that training class everyone is giddy about you suspect won’t bear out a month later in results on the floor, check into those results and don’t bask in what is really just the “promise” of success.

Given that, if the phone rings at 5:15pm on a Friday, make sure you pick it up and consider those moments as gifts that you deserve and not moments to learn from. 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.



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