Sales Effectiveness is Execution of the Fundamentals

Anthony Iannarino
Post by Anthony Iannarino
March 31, 2010

Some people try to find things in this game that don’t exist but football is only two things – blocking and tackling. –Vince Lombardi

We human beings are novelty-seeking creatures; our attention is easily drawn to things that are new and novel, and that includes ideas. That is mostly a good thing, as it often leads to innovations, to improvement, and to progress.

But this novelty seeking isn’t without a cost. It is easy to believe that there is a better way, a faster way, and an easier way where none exists and where none is possible. We want to choose efficiency over effectiveness. We want to believe that we can lose weight without diet and exercise and that we can get rich quickly without working hard. We want to believe that these outcomes can be obtained by being more efficient instead of being more effective.

Being effective in sales isn’t easy. But novelty seeking isn’t the answer to most sales problems and challenges. Sales effectiveness is built on the plain, old, unsexy execution of the fundamentals.

Who Are You?

The first fundamental is the most critical. You have to be able to answer the questions “Who are you?” and “Why should I buy from you?” At your core, you have to be someone who is worth knowing and someone who can create something of value for someone else.

Being someone worth knowing and someone worth buying from is made up of dozens of attributes and skills, all of which you personally have to develop within yourself. These attributes include self-discipline, optimism, competitiveness, initiative, resourcefulness, determination, caring, empathy, communication, influence, passionate engagement, and adaptability.

There is no novelty here. The only way to be self-disciplined is to actual be self-disciplined. The same is true of all of the other attributes. What has made human beings effective hasn’t changed much in a millennium, if it has changed at all. This is where effectiveness in sales begins and ends.

Sales is About Effective Activity

Who you are is the first fundamental. What you do is the second fundamental.

Sales is made up of a lot of activities that are difficult to execute well. These skills and attributes include closing, differentiation, prospecting, business acumen, diagnosing, storytelling, negotiating, change management, leadership, and managing outcomes.

These activities are fundamental to success in sales. But because they are difficult to execute well, salespeople easily fall into the trap of believing that there is an easier way. Instead of focusing on building their competencies in the fundamentals, they look for ideas that will eliminate the fundamentals altogether. They look for solutions that promise effectiveness through efficiency. They look for the novelty that can be found in gimmicks, shortcuts, tricks and secrets.

Learning to obtain commitments is difficult. It becomes easier only when you create so much value on the sales calls that it is natural to move forward together. But instead of learning to create this value on the call, we work on closing techniques, many of which are worthless and more of which are plain offensive.

Learning to prospect well means learning to be effective at a bunch of activities that are difficult, including cold calling, asking for referrals, speaking well, and writing well. But instead of learning to execute well on these fundamental ways to open relationships, we work on ways to avoid these activities altogether. There is still nothing that eliminates the need to prospect and to open relationships.

Most of the problems in effectiveness in sales can be traced to one of these two categories: either the fundamentals of effectiveness as a human being are at some level are missing, or the fundamentals of sales effectiveness are missing. Both can be improved, but neither can be improved with gimmicks, shortcuts, tricks, or secrets.

No Gimmicks, No Shortcuts, No Tricks, and No Secrets

I have trained and coached hundreds of high-performing salespeople. None of them has ever asked for gimmicks, shortcuts, tricks, or secrets. Instead, they are always seeking an edge that will allow them to be more effective at the fundamentals. They don’t believe there are any secrets, but they believe strongly that, no matter how well they are performing, they can still learn and they can still improve their performance.

There are no gimmicks, no shortcuts, no tricks, and no secrets to being successful in sales. Sales effectiveness is mostly made up of blocking well and tackling well.


Sales effectiveness is made up of executing well on the fundamentals of human effectiveness and sales effectiveness. All of the attributes that make up effectiveness can be improved, but effectiveness can’t be found in gimmicks, shortcuts, tricks, or secrets. Instead, it is found in blocking and tackling.


1. Who are you? Why should someone buy from you?

2. Which of the fundamentals of human effectiveness do you need to work on to be more effective in sales?

3. Which of the fundamentals of sales success, if dramatically improved, would have the greatest impact on your performance?

4. Do you believe that your performance can be improved with gimmicks, tricks, shortcuts, or secrets?

5. Do you believe that high-performing salespeople perform well because of some secret?

6. What are the obstacles to improving your performance?

Sales 2010
Post by Anthony Iannarino on March 31, 2010
Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an author of four books on the modern sales approach, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. Anthony posts here daily.
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