A good attitude is one of the most important traits a sales professional can have. Most people who fail in business fail because they don’t know how to keep their attitudes positive on a daily basis. They start their careers learning and practicing the basics, applying these ideas and end up making lots of money. Then, they go into a slump. They will stay in their slump until they go back to the fundamentals, until they return to doing what they get paid for — accepting failure and rejection without letting it stop them.
The key to success is in how you handle failure. Handling failure does not come naturally to most people. It is an acquired skill. Some of your emotions tell you to sulk and avoid any situations in the future that are likely to put you in line to feel the pain of rejection again. Other emotions tell you to get more out of life for yourself and your loved ones. Instead, concentrate on what you have to gain, and learn how to change your attitude toward rejection.
I am going to present five sayings that have helped me move forward in all areas of my life. Memorize them and recall them when you’re rejected or have failed to achieve what you wanted.
1. Failure is a learning experience. Every sale that doesn’t go through is a chance to learn something, as is every challenge. Learn from your failures. Thomas Edison, who conducted more than ten thousand experiments on filaments before he produced a practical light bulb, was once asked, “How did you keep going after you failed more than ten thousand times?” Edison replied, “I did not fail ten thousand times; I learned ten thousand ways that didn’t work.” Like Edison, try to look at failure and rejection in a different light — as a learning experience.
2. Failure is the feedback I need to change my direction. Outside a restaurant with a lively bar, I once saw a gentleman who'd had too much to drink to try to unlock his car with the wrong key. No matter how many times he tried, the wrong key still didn’t work. After I’d talked to him into taking a taxi home, it occurred to me that sometimes we all keep trying to make the wrong key unlock the door, keep using techniques that don’t work in our selling endeavors, keep applying the wrong solution to the problem long after we’ve tried it and failed.
3. Failure is the opportunity to develop my sense of humor. Have you ever had a traumatic experience involving a sales presentation? Three weeks later, you finally tell someone about it and suddenly that same event is hilarious. The longer you wait to laugh, the more that failure will hold you back. Make a determined effort to laugh sooner, and learn the trick of telling a good story on yourself.
4. Failure is an opportunity to practice my techniques and perfect my performance. Every time you present your service to others and they don’t buy it, at least they gave you a chance to practice. Many people don’t realize the importance of this. Learn to appreciate the opportunity to become better.
5. Failure is the game I must play to win. Selling is a game with its own rules; luck plays a small part, but the winners play ball. Over the years, I’ve discovered that a single rule dominates every situation: those who risk failure by working with more people earn more money. If you risk failure, sometimes you will fail. But every time you fail, you’re that much closer to success. Success demands its percentage of failure.
Here is a philosophy that I teach my students to live by: I am not judged by the number of times I fail, but by the number of times I succeed, and the number of times I succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times I can fail and keep trying.
What counts isn’t how many transactions fall out, how many doors slam, how many things don’t work out, how many people go back on their word. What counts is how many times you pick yourself up, shrug and keep on trying to make things come together. There are challenges, obstacles and troubles in every kind of business, but they are all temporary if you take control of your thoughts and develop the right attitude. I believe that winners are winners because they’ve learned to fuel their success drives by overcoming failure.