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SINO: The Number One Reason Salespeople Fail

Anthony Iannarino
Post by Anthony Iannarino
April 12, 2010

There are millions of reasons that salespeople fail, and there are even more ideas about how to help them improve and succeed. But the primary reason that salespeople fail is something that is irreparable; it is something for which there is no available remedy that can be administered. Training won’t help. Neither will mentoring or coaching.

SINO: Sales In Name Only

The primary reason that salespeople fail is because they aren’t really salespeople. These people have job titles that suggest that they are in sales, and they work in the sales department of an organization. They even report to a sales manager. But even though all of these things are true, they are salespeople in name only.

The reasons this group of people who we call salespeople fail in their role as salespeople is that they have never embraced selling. They don’t embrace selling, and they don’t see themselves as professional salespeople.

They are uncomfortable prospecting because they don’t believe in what they are doing. They suffer call reluctance because they don’t feel strongly enough about what they are doing; they don’t feel right asking for an appointment.

They are uncomfortable asking for and obtaining commitments, and they reject using any commitment-obtaining language.

Occasionally, they make some deals because they are good, hard working people. But because they never embrace sales, they never really succeed. Instead they move from one sales job to another sales job, usually because they want the high rewards that come with success in sales, rewards they never obtain.


When consulting with a small group of salespeople over the telephone, I asked one of their team members, let’s call him John, to give me his thoughts and opinions on an idea we were working on. Another of his teammates spoke up and said: “Uh . . . John isn’t here.” I replied: “Well, we will just bring him up to speed next week.”

John’s teammate responded: “John’s not coming back. He quit after our last call.” A little taken aback, I asked: “What happened.” John’s team leader spoke up: “John decided after our last call with you that he wasn’t a salesperson. He decided to go do something else where he wouldn’t have to try to acquire new clients.”

Knowing that my coaching on sales activity caused him to reevaluate his role as a salesperson and ultimately to quit, my natural instinct was to apologize, which I did. But before I could finish the team leader spoke up. He said: “Listen, we liked John, but we can’t afford to have anybody on our team who isn’t going to sell and win new clients. He is going to be happier and we feel better now that we don’t have to try to make him something he isn’t.”

From SINO to Sales

Even though there is no way that you can make a SINO into a salesperson, they can transform themselves into salespeople, and some do. Sometimes, albeit rarely, a SINO sees something or reads something that allows them to finally embrace sales a profession. They find some way to overcome their own internal resistance and to finally become a salesperson.

Once they embrace sales, magically, their call reluctance disappears, their activity improves, and their results improve. But it isn’t something you can do to them or for them.


The primary reason that salespeople fail is that they are salespeople in name only. They fail because they never truly embrace sales. It is this failure to completely embrace sales that prevents them from taking the actions necessary to succeed in sales.


What does it take to embrace sales as a profession?

How does embracing sales as a profession improve your ability to take the actions that lead to success in sales?

How does a failure to embrace sales as a profession produce poor results?

If you weren’t selling what you sell now, what would you sell instead?

Sales 2010
Post by Anthony Iannarino on April 12, 2010

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. He is the author of four books on the modern sales approach, one book on sales leadership, and his latest book called The Negativity Fast releases on 10.31.23. Anthony posts daily content here at TheSalesBlog.com.
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