Success depends on control of ‘ifs’

One of the most challenging jobs out there is that of a professional salesperson.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, there are more than 32,000 sales and sales-related jobs in Boulder County. With an increasingly elusive prospect base, what was once a hard job has only become harder. Professional salespeople can overcome some of their “head trash” by looking at how they can respond to things in their environment that are under their control.

Have you stopped to think just how much the word “if” is worth?

Judging by the way so many salespeople talk, it must be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. For example:

“If I had only gotten there sooner.”

“If our prices were only more competitive.”

“If the economy wasn’t so volatile.”

“If the competition wasn’t so stiff.”

“If the timing was better.”

“If I only had a bigger territory.”

“If only they would return my calls.”

The list is endless.

“If” appears to account for more missed opportunities than one could imagine. The professional salesperson can’t and wouldn’t blame a missed sale on any of the above “if” conditions. A more likely set of “ifs” would be:

“If I had only planned more specifically what I wanted to accomplish on this call.”

“If I had set the agenda for the meeting with my prospect up-front.”

“If I had only discussed all the money issues with my prospect earlier in the selling process.”

“If I had taken the time to listen to what my prospect was telling me, rather than being so concerned about what I wanted to tell him.”

This list, too, can be very lengthy.

The most important “if” is:

“If I would only take responsibility for my actions, then I would understand that sometimes the results will be unfavorable, but in the long run I will be better off. I will be in control, my confidence and self-esteem will grow, my knowledge will expand, I will gain new courage, my sales will improve, and I will be looked upon as a true sales professional.”

Yes, “if” is worth a great deal of money. Whether that money is in your bank account or someone else’s will be determined by the way in which you look at “ifs.” Are they externalized excuses over which you supposedly have no control, or are they internal conditions over which you have an absolute control? Be careful how you answer. Remember, it’s worth a lot of money.

Bob Bolak is president and owner of Sandler Training in Boulder. He can be reached at 303-376-6165 or


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