Sandler Training: How Much Sales Experience Do You Have?

Mark had been making a decent living for ten years as a salesperson. Always in the middle of the sales charts, Mark was comfortable with his selling skills. At least he was until taking his most recent sales position three months ago. In his new position, he was at the bottom of the sales chart. “I don’t understand,” thought Mark. “I’m doing the same things here that I did at the other companies and I can’t get anywhere. Maybe it’s the quality of the prospects; they are pretty dismal.” “No,” he thought, “they’re pathetic.” Particularly rankling was the situation with Susan. Hired on the same day as Mark, with six months of sales experience, she was consistently climbing up the sales chart. “She probably does better because she’s a woman,” he thought. “The prospects aren’t expecting a woman salesperson, and that’s her edge. Yeah, that’s it.” “Of course,” he decided to himself, “the other reason I’m not doing as well is because the territory I’ve been given is mined out. Nobody could sell to these idiots.”

Feeling somewhat better, Mark closed up his briefcase and decided to drop in at the mall. Perhaps he needed a new suit to bring his luck back.

On the way over to the mall he wondered for a moment if he should have signed up for the sales skills seminar the company was offering. “No,” he decided, “that’s only for people who don’t know which end is up. The only salespeople there would be the newbies and the company brown-nosers.”

Mark has a problem.

Mark is equating the length of his selling history with quality. In addition, he has convinced himself that his current situation is not his responsibility. Will a new suit help Mark? While Mark may seem to have an overabundance of excuses for not performing well, it is not unusual to hear many of these same ones from other salespeople. The common thread through all of these excuses is the total refusal to accept any responsibility for current performance.

“It’s not my fault I’m doing (fill in one of the following: poorly, marginally, about average), it’s because of (fill in anything that the salesperson has no control over).”

The number of years someone has spent in sales does not guarantee success today with a prospect who has just walked in. Success with a prospect is guaranteed when the salesperson accepts responsibility for performing in a professional manner. If the prospect buys, great. If the prospect doesn’t buy but gives five warm referrals, great. Ask a consistently successful salesperson, in any product area, what he/she attributes his/her success to, and you will hear many different things. The common thread will be, “I take complete responsibility for my success or failure in sales.”

Every salesperson knows he/she should have a positive mental outlook. The only problem with that phrase is that it is meaningless. But it sounds good. Either a salesperson takes complete responsibility for his or her sales, or the sales will not be made. They will not be made because there is always an excuse for why not. A salesperson’s sales are a result of taking complete responsibility for performance. If not, 20 years of sales experience can equate to one year of sales experience 20 times. So, how many years of sales experience do you have?

Sandler Training is a global training organization with over three decades of experience and proven results. Sandler provides sales and management training and consulting services for small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) as well as corporate training for Fortune 1000 companies. For more information, please contact Karl Schaphorst at (402) 403-4334 or by email at You can also follow his blog at