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Being successful—particularly in sales—requires that you be optimistic. You have to believe. And you have to believe the future is going to be better (it is), and that it is through your actions that the future is better.

Being optimistic doesn’t mean avoiding reality. It means facing it with the confidence that you can achieve a positive outcome.

Winning, Even When It’s Ugly

The path from target to close is littered with potential threats that could cause your deal to come apart. Your optimism is what allows you to believe that you are going to win your opportunity even when things look their bleakest. But optimism by isn’t the complete recipe for achieving the positive outcome that you need. That optimism needs to come with the ability to unflinchingly look reality straight in the eye.

When your deal is coming apart, an optimistic outlook by itself isn’t going to put it back together again. To put your opportunity back together you are going to have to face the ugly truth, the things that are causing your deal to to come undone. And you are going to have to take action.

You are having trouble shifting your dream client from a conversation about price (where your competitors have the advantage) to a conversation about cost (where you have a decidedly clear advantage). If the decision is made soon, and it will be, it will be easier for your dream client to choose the lower price.

You have built the consensus around your solution with the buying committee—with the exception of one key member. This key member has their own horse in the race—a horse they intend to ride across the finish line in first place. For you to win, you have to work with your dream client to impact their messy, internal politics. Winning means making an enemy that will make execution next to impossible.

You’ve won your dream client and the execution isn’t going as well as either of you need it to. As it turns out, the problem is on their side, and someone is going to have to have a very real—and very difficult—conversation to get things unstuck. Not doing so means the deal you just won is the deal you just lost.

These issues (all fictional, I promise) and issues like them will stretch you. They will challenge your ability to maintain your optimistic outlook, and they will challenge your ability to sell.

Succeeding here means digging in on the ugly parts and facing reality as you find it. It means doing so with the strong belief and confidence that you can succeed.

What You Can Control

Facing reality means taking action even when—especially when—finding the way is difficult.

Avoiding the difficult conversations doesn’t eliminate the need to have the conversation. It means that you prolong the pain and likely destroy trust in the process.

Avoiding the real issues doesn’t make those issues go away. It’s likely that the issue will not only get worse, but you will have added the issue that is the fact that you weren’t standing in the foxhole with your client facing the big, ugly issue.

You can control your attitude. You can control whether you take action or not. You can control whether you face reality, or whether you instead hope against hope that something changes. Regardless of the outcome, succeeding means tackling the ugly problems. It is what makes you a professional, and it is why your clients will trust you with their business.

Be optimistic. Courageously face reality.


Does optimism require that you take an unrealistic view of difficult situations?

How does your optimistic, positive attitude help you confidently tackle issues?

What are the tough challenges that you have to face as a salesperson?

How do you control your attitude and outlook? What do you say to yourself about challenging situations?

Sales 2011
Post by Anthony Iannarino on August 19, 2011

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino

Anthony Iannarino is an American writer. He has published daily at thesalesblog.com for more than 14 years, amassing over 5,300 articles and making this platform a destination for salespeople and sales leaders. Anthony is also the author of four best-selling books documenting modern sales methodologies and a fifth book for sales leaders seeking revenue growth. His latest book for an even wider audience is titled, The Negativity Fast: Proven Techniques to Increase Positivity, Reduce Fear, and Boost Success.

Anthony speaks to sales organizations worldwide, delivering cutting-edge sales strategies and tactics that work in this ever-evolving B2B landscape. He also provides workshops and seminars. You can reach Anthony at thesalesblog.com or email Beth@b2bsalescoach.com.

Connect with Anthony on LinkedIn, X or Youtube. You can email Anthony at iannarino@gmail.com

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