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What Causes Salespeople to Fail?

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When I am asked to diagnose why an individual or sales team are not performing at optimum levels, I usually ask four very straightforward questions:

  1. Are they visiting/talking to enough clients/prospects? In other words are they proactive and are their activity levels high? I call this CCT as a percentage of TWT (customer contact time as a percentage of total working time). But, be warned: We should never believe that activity alone will guarantee success. We can all be busy fools.
  2. Are they talking to the right people within those client/prospect organizations? Are they able to first identify and then penetrate to the formal DMU (decision-making unit) and reach the man (the person or people with the money, authority and need)?
  3. Are they saying/doing the right things? This really refers to how strong their selling skills are. How broad is their commercial bandwidth?
  4. And finally, what is the predominant attitude? This one small thing makes such a big difference. In fact, attitude drives everything else.

From these four questions, I can usually diagnose a sales problem. Hopefully, by asking yourself these questions, you will be able to shine a light on the path toward reaching your full potential.

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Jonathan Farrington is a globally recognized business coach, mentor, author, consultant and chairman of The JF Corporation and CEO of Top Sales Associates. For more information and tips from Jonathan, visit, or go to his blog at


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