How to Fail at Sales


I was recently looking back at every single post that we’ve done here, and noticed a pretty curious thing. Every article we have written has effectively been a lesson on how to succeed. The primary focus of this website (as well as every other sales blog out there) is to help those who work in sales, marketing, and business get better at what they do. It makes sense that every article is presenting a way to improve. However, by only focusing on that, we miss a huge part of the picture.

We never really talk about how to fail at something. It’s always heavily implied, but it’s never really the focus of the conversation. When you do not bring it up, you miss a lot of great lessons that could be taken away from it.

That’s why this article is going to be about how to fail at sales.

(Un)fortunately, I have failed multiple times myself, so I know exactly what it takes to not succeed at sales.

Assume that you know everything

One of the classic ways to fail is to assume that you already know everything about the sales cycle and the product that you are selling. Don’t worry about asking your co-workers for advice. All those books and Podcasts that are available to you for free are just hogwash. Go ahead and close your mind to new ideas and just stop educating yourself on ways you can improve, but just don’t fall in to a rut!

Focus on your minimum performance requirements

Sales is tough. It’s tough because we have quotas that we must hit. If we miss them, we get fired. It’s nothing personal – that’s just business. Luckily, we know what our quotas will be ahead of time, so we can set goals for ourselves with time to prepare. Just focus solely on the minimum amount of sales you have to hit to keep your job. By focusing on that level, there is a good chance that we can get there. Even if there are bonus levels that we can hit, those are usually out of reach anyway.

Resist change

If things are going pretty good right now, why rock the boat? Sales are solid, our competitor is lagging behind us in market share – we are in good shape! Why would they make any changes to the product, service, or policy? If they do, it’s worth resisting. Why fix what isn’t broken?

Treat your clients as numbers

Look, we all have quotas that we have to hit. The customer in front of you can get you that 10th sale and earn you $500 in commissions. By focusing on the numbers, it allows you to see past the customer and focus on the important things here – the commission. Never mind the prospect’s feelings or actual needs – all you want is a sale.

Judge all of your leads ahead of time

Some salespeople are fortunate enough to have their leads made available to them ahead of time. This is a fantastic opportunity to dive deep in to the leads and really do some solid research on each and every one of them. If you see one that can easily be a sale, go ahead and call them. On the other hand, if you get a lead that’s terrible, don’t worry about calling on them. It would just be a waste of time!

Don’t follow up

If you already made the sale, following up is just a wasted opportunity to talk to someone else who might buy next! Once a prospect becomes a customer, just let the company take care of them from now on. On the other hand, if a customer tells you that they have no interest in your product, don’t follow up with them again either. They already said no – focus on better leads!

Be disorganized and don’t keep a schedule

It’s OK to be disorganized. Your job is to sell the product or service – keeping your work area clean and having a tight schedule comes secondary to that. Just as long as you have a general idea of your schedule today, that’s good enough.

Don’t help your coworkers out

Sales is competitive. A lot of us work for companies that rewards the top performers with additional compensation and benefits. You effectively want to be #1 in your company. If others are doing poorly this month, this is your time to shine. If someone asks for help, ignore them…you don’t want them to get a huge sale and beat you!

Be timid

It’s good to be shy and timid. Clients hate feeling pressured, so it’s good to give them the power in the conversation and let them direct it. If they want to buy, they will tell you! No need to ask for the sale.

Think about work all the time

Working in business requires us to be “on” all the time. Even when you leave work for the day, it’s beneficial to bring your work home with you. By focusing on your job when you are hanging out with family or friends or when you are on vacation, you will be able to focus yourself on your profession and block out any distractions.

Well, there we go. Do all of the above if you want to fail at sales!

(Disclaimer: please don’t actually do any of the above. Do the opposite!)



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Author: Jason Karaman

Hello! I’m a marketing, sales, and customer service author, blogger and doer. I live in the South Carolina Lowcountry with my wife. I enjoy reading, writing, hiking, kayaking, and all things beach. For media inquiries, send an email to

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