Ask yourself these 3 questions and start turning failure into success

by Steli Efti

Imagine you’re a brand new sales rep and you’ve just been given your first prospect. It’s a small account, but your heart still races as you make your first cold call.

But when you hang up the phone 30 minutes later, you’ve closed your first deal. Wow. That wasn’t so bad! Then you close your second. And your third. And your fourth. By the end of the week, your unstoppable performance tops the charts.

Soon, you get the attention of the CEO. He wants you to take over the company’s biggest account, one that’s been in the works since before you were hired.

Confident, you accept and pick up the phone. Only to discover that your lucky streak is over.

15 minutes later, the deal is dead. You just lost the most valuable prospect in the pipeline, and now you have to tell the CEO.

Sound like a nightmare? It was the harsh reality for one salesperson we talked to. But what happened after that phone call changed the way he looked at sales forever.

The truth about failure

The rep was devastated. They trusted him, and he’d failed.

He stood outside the CEO’s office for a moment, half-expecting to lose his job. Then he took a deep breath and knocked on the door.

The CEO sat him down and, after a couple seconds of silence, leaned forward and said, “Well, that didn’t work out. What did you learn?”

The rep was too dumbfounded to respond at first, so the CEO repeated the question. “What did you learn from this experience?”

“Well …” the rep finally responded, and the conversation that followed transformed the way he looked at missed opportunities.

The CEO taught him that there’s no such thing as failures, only learning experiences. That lesson has stuck with him ever since. Today, he manages a sales team of his own and teaches his reps that the only failure in sales is the mistake you fail to learn from.

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There’s no such thing as a 100% close rate, so don’t beat yourself up when you lose opportunities. Rejection is a part of the process, so learn to love it by asking these three questions:

  • “What did I do right?”
  • “What did I do wrong?”
  • “How can I apply this information to future opportunities?”

Start today: Think back on your most recent deal, won or lost, and ask those three questions. Then scroll down and share your answers in the comments.

I can’t wait to hear your stories.

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