People don’t fail. Oh, wait. Yes they do.

People don’t fail. Oh, wait. Yes they do.

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at

Ever hear the old saying, “Failure is an event, not a person.” That statement is half right.
Failure is an event AND a person.

The bigger statements are: Failure is avoidable. Failure is a lesson – a hard one.

No one celebrates failure – unless you’re from Philly and you just beat Dallas. No one goes into an event, a business, or a sales call expecting to fail, or wanting to fail. Yet failure occurs time after time.

There’s another old saying: Learn from your mistakes.
And another old saying: Never make the same mistake twice.
And another old saying: You only fail when you quit.

Maybe there’s some validity to them. But, in my eyes, not much.

So much for old sayings – let’s get to something new.

I read an article and saw a book on the topic of “self sabotage.” What a bunch of bull that is. It’s not self-sabotage; no one in their right mind will stop themselves on purpose. It’s stupidity or mediocrity that stops you.

  • It’s lack of preparation.
  • It’s lack of execution.
  • It’s lack of experience.
  • It’s nervous or afraid to win.
  • It’s getting too conservative when it’s time to claim victory.

Failure is never simple. It’s usually a series of events or circumstances. A series of actions or inactions that end in some form of failure – mostly self-inflicted wounds that were totally avoidable and that end up with “blame” on the end of the stick. I mean, come on, what fun is failure without pinning it on other people or other events?

Here are 17.5 reasons that failure occurs:

1. Self-defeatist. Telling yourself why it won’t happen, not why it will.

2. Lack of belief in company, product, and or yourself. If you don’t “believe,” you can’t convince others to believe in you.

3. Limited self-image. Needing acceptance without regard to winning. Hoping they like you, because you don’t like yourself enough to create your own self-confidence

4. Laziness. You lack the personal sense of urgency needed to create it in others.

5. Failure to prepare. This is most evident in the presentation phase of persuading or trying to get your way. Without preparation you substitute winning for losing.

6. Failure to do your homework. Part of preparation failure is the knowledge you must acquire about how your customer or prospect will benefit and profit from your product or service.

7. Procrastination. A full brother to laziness, and a full sister to failure to prepare, procrastination takes failure to an all-new level. Putting off doing the homework it takes to be a winner – both personally and in terms of the customer.

8. Poor timing. Trying to be there at the wrong time

9. Saying the wrong thing. To the customer, about the competition, about your company, about your product and, about yourself, is an easy way to lose (and lose respect.)

10. Showing greed (money ahead of help). Trying too hard to close the sale, and or make your quota, rather than trying to help the customer profit or benefit.

11. Insincerity. Most salespeople never get this one, because they think they can “get over.”

12. Inability to be perceived as trustworthy. Trust is something that is earned through likeability and believability. If you’re not likable and believable, you’ll never gain the trust necessary to succeed.

13. Failure to work your butt off. Many seasoned salespeople become complacent, and get out hustled by a younger, more aggressive, inexperienced salesperson. The most interesting part of this scenario is that after they lose the sale on hustle, they blame the loss on price.

14. Failure to follow your own plan. Salespeople tend to seek the easy way and the fast way rather than the sure way. Cutting corners almost always results in loss of business.

15. Trying to do everything yourself. You have a team of people, a boss, and an army of customers, all willing to help you. The only way to get their help is ask for it. It’s a sign of strength.

16. Making excuses rather than making sales. Excuses are not an actual reason for failure; they’re the scapegoat. Here are a few examples: Blaming your situation — the weather, the season, the economy, your own company. In short anything but your inadequacies. Blaming others – your customer, your boss, your fellow salespeople, the competition, and anyone else you can pin the tag on, other than the person you see in the mirror. Failure to take responsibility – this is the backbone of failure. Once you, as a person, own up to the process of succeeding or failing, you’ve started on the road to responsibility. If you’re looking for the best example of failure to take responsibility, listen to any politician. Blame and spin are their main modes of communication.

17. Failure to do your best. Second best is first loser in sales. Best requires commitment, focus, and dedication. In short, hard work and smart work.

17.5 Not loving what you do. Nothing ensures failure more than a lack of passion for what you do or a lack of passion for what you sell. It’s evident in your effort as much as it is in your words.

The only good part about failure is that it’s an option.

Something you can choose or choose not to. Failure to do your best is making a choice – the same with any of the other items numbered above. I numbered them for your excuse making pleasure. To make it easier to tell others why you failed.

And, notice I didn’t say “got beat on price” as one of the failures. It’s one of the excuses – and a weak one at that.


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