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On a recent trip to Europe I found myself training an audience of 36 software sales professionals. “Raise your hand if you didn’t hit your target last year?” I asked. Over twenty hands were raised. “Now, raise your hand if over the last three years you have failed at least once to hit your annual target.” Over 30 hands were raised. I then proceeded to select a few delegates at random; “Tell me in one sentence, why didn’t you hit your target?” One person replied, “Too many operational problems.” Another lamented, “Our customers lost confidence in the service.” A third piped up, “Not enough support internally!” And so it went on, excuse after excuse: 
“I had to get involved in too many customer service issues.” 
“My targets weren’t really realistic.” 
“I lack confidence.” 
“We can’t compete on price.” 
“We have to do too much admin.” 
“Our product [or service] is a commodity.” 
“Marketing didn’t generate nearly enough leads!” 
“If halfway through the year where you didn’t hit your target, I had put £5M in cash right in front of you and told you that in order to keep the money, all you would have to do is to hit your targets, would you have hit them?” I asked. Without exception they all agreed that with such an incentive they would have hit their targets. Despite the excuses and explanations, they admitted that they would have found a way through. It is always the way. 
Every time I ask this question I get the same response. But what does this tell us? It tells us that hitting sales targets (or any target) is not necessarily based on the level of skill or opportunity the individual has, but on what is at stake, and what is at stake is a function of the individual’s mindset. I shared with the delegates that over the course of a 32 year career in sales I can state, with considerable confidence, that the sales people who consistently deliver sales at acceptable margins for their companies are not the most highly skilled, slick or experienced. They do not necessarily possess the gift of the gab, nor are they pushy or competitive, and they were certainly not born to be salesmen. The ones that can hit and exceed their targets have developed a balance between three essential foundational elements. Mindset, Skill and Fearlessness. If one of the three is missing, the other two must compensate. If two are missing, then the third had better be awesome. Skill will only get you so far, in fact unless the sale is complex you don’t need a great deal of skill if the other two elements in this three-dimensional model are fully present. 
Ironically, having worked with, trained and coached thousands of sales people across the globe, I find the highest producing sales people seldom have an above average level of expertise in how to sell. If you look at their results, you could be forgiven for expecting a higher level of sales expertise, but typically it is not there. They have simply balanced the three elements well. 
The above is an excerpt from Sales Genius # 1.  
Sales Genius # 1 delivers smart cuts on sales and selling from 20 top sales professionals who share their best key secrets and savviest thinking on sales, selling, winning more customers and driving revenues. Buy it here  
As a Consultant Sales Director, Speaker and Accredited Master Coach (CSA), Glen Williamson leads and inspires hundreds of sales professionals and new business owners to reach new height of sales performance. 
Taking his 32 years of experience in sales and business development, Glen develops methodologies that help SME’s and sales people to exceed their targets while transforming who they are being so that they can live happier, full and more fulfilled lives. 
Glen believes that sales is a collaborative process, part of who we are and how we survive, and at its core, must be a desire to ‘help’, not ‘sell’. 
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