Linda Nash

Linda Nash

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Attitude = Altitude in Sales

Studies have shown that 50% of failure in sales is attitude. Do you believe in your product or service? More importantly, do you believe in yourself? “A strong, positive self-concept is probably the most valuable personal attribute any salesperson can have,” says Ray Leone, author of “Success Secrets of the Sales Funnel.” “The way you see yourself determines the way you are seen by others. Your self-concept shows up in the way you dress, walk, talk, sit, laugh, and what you do with your eyes and hands... all the things people notice while deciding whether or not to believe you.”

More than 75% of the signals you send to others are nonverbal. Your product knowledge and sales techniques may be solid but it is the nonverbal communication that determines your success at least 50% of the time. For phone sales, where people can't see you, your attitude and nonverbals come through in your voice. Think about the people who call you. Are they smiling, nervous, rigid, boring, pleasant, confident, or friendly? You can tell.

Self-concept is strongly impacted by fear of failure or rejection. Remember the grasshopper theory. If you catch a grasshopper, place it in a jar and hold something over the top, it will try to jump out. It will continue trying for 20-30 minutes. But then, something unusual happens. It stops trying. Even if you take the obstruction away, the grasshopper will almost never try to jump out of the jar again.

Fear of failure is a self-imposed prison. It will keep you from achieving your goals. Some salespeople say, “Oh I can handle rejection, I know that sales is an up and down business.” These same people often confide to me that they know they will never be the top salesperson in their company like Harry or Sue. Why not? They believe they won't. And, they have a great list of reasons to defend that position. You build your own walls and set your own limits. It's what you believe you can accomplish and your willingness to work for it that determines your success.

Check through the list of statements below. If you are making any of them without a solution statement that follows, you are probably in the bottom 25% of sales performance.

  • Our products are too expensive.
  • I've got a lousy territory.
  • My manager is a jerk.
  • The market is weak.
  • People just aren't buying.

Don't set yourself up to fail. Any of the above may be true, but don't use them as an excuse. Find a solution if you want to move to the top.

A woman I know became the top inside salesperson for a wholesale company while she was in her early twenties. She had no previous sales experience, but she worked hard and in a few short years was outperforming 20 year veterans twice her age. Because of her high performance, her quota was increased. This happened at the same time that competitors were undercutting prices on some major items. She called me saying, `I've done my best already, this is just impossible!” Although she had a successful track record she felt overwhelmed and was fearing failure. We talked about her attitude. She had overcome incredible obstacles already. She knew her products and had always taken care of her customers, going the extra mile to assure their satisfaction. This was just another challenge. What she needed to work on was the how, not the list of reasons why not.

She listened. She developed her strategy to increase her sales a whopping 25%. The first two months she failed. Unlike the grasshopper, she didn't give up. At the end of the year she had a 28% increase and was again the top salesperson by a wide margin. She has gone on to another company where both the challenges and rewards are even greater. Her sales technique is excellent, and she has developed strong interpersonal skills, but most of all, she is positive she will succeed and does what is necessary to insure it. What is your attitude? Answer the questions below. Do you_____

  • set realistic goals?
  • believe that life happens and you have little control?
  • believe that you're mediocre due to education, social background or past performance?
  • continuously educate yourself?
  • make a plan to achieve your goals and implement the plan?
  • watch more than one hour of TV daily?
  • take lots of coffee break?

The answer to these simple questions will tell you a great deal about yourself or your sales staff. If you set realistic goals, make a plan and implement it – you have a positive attitude. If you believe you have little control over your life3, think you're mediocre, watch hours of TV and take numerous coffee breaks – you tend to be negative or, at least, afraid. “Killing time” is a form of procrastination. You are avoiding the rejection and failure you've sure will occur.

While some of us come from negative families and science has shown that some of our brains are wired for negativity, attitude remains a choice. You can do something about it. You can't change other people, but you can change your response and work to rewire your thinking. As I said in my book, The Shorter Road to Success, “The road to success is dotted with many tempting parking places, don't park!” Believe in yourself and face the fear. You, too, can be a top performer.

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Linda Nash
Linda Nash is a nationally recognized consultant, speaker and author in the areas of change and resilience. To receive her free E-zine Bouncing Back go to  To contact Linda call
314.872.8787 or e-mail

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