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Success in Sales and Luck


Written by Anne MacKeigan for the Burnside News, published December 2013

Last week I attended a sales awards ceremony for nearly 300 salespeople. As usual, there were crowds of people accepting Bronze, many accepting Silver, still a large number accepting Gold, but there were only a handful standing at the front of the room to accept Pinnacle – the highest sales award given.

Were these salespeople the fortunate few who lived in the largest market? Were they given the biggest accounts? Were they the lucky ones with the best products that were ‘easy to sell’?

The truth is, like most companies, it was an even playing field. Every one of us has the opportunity to get up each day and create our own luck. The only ‘dumb luck’ I know of is winning the lottery. Apart from that, people rarely stumble into success.

What you don’t see is the ‘get-up-every-morning-at-5:30-and-sweat-the-details luck. It takes persistence, tenacity and a tireless work ethic to be successful in sales. It takes a system you follow every time. It takes practice and it takes control.

These are the building blocks of sales. Successful salespeople are often called lucky, but it’s what you don’t see that makes them that way. I once asked the top salesperson in an international company what the secret of his success was. His reply?

“I have three talks everyday with a brand new prospect that may need our services.”

The secret sauce in that reply was ‘everyday’. Consistency and discipline build results faster than great intentions. Observe that salesperson and the next thing you’d notice is great follow up. As the saying goes, “mean what you say, say what you mean and do what you say you will do.”

Success must be self-defined. Perhaps your goal is an early retirement or travel. Perhaps it revolves around your family. Whatever your definition of success, it will not happen without a plan, a belief and action. If you’re not sure where to start, find someone who has the kind of success you’re seeking and ask them how it was achieved.

In the end, luck has little to do with success in business. It takes experience and hard work, pure and simple. Those who envy successful people should be studying their habits and learning. Envy is an abdication of personal responsibility, because as Will Smith said, “If you want something, go get it. Period.”

©2013 Sandler Training Inc. ( is an international sales and management training/consulting firm. To attend a free session of our weekly on-line Customer Service program, call the Sandler Training at 902-468-0787 or e-mail

Eric Fry

Sandler trainer