Sales is hard. You can get depressed – or study probability.

Sales is the land of set-backs, emotionally called rejection.  A “good” day is 3 step backwards, and one step forward. A very good day, is just two steps backwards.

Sales is approached emotionally by most salespeople. We get depressed over single events, usually events where the odds were lottery-like in the first place, or we failed to manage the situation ourselves, and then blame the prospect when we get a negative outcome. 

Sales is yield-based work, where winning requires more losing than winning. There are numbers, ratios and yields at work underneath all the noise and disappointment. Those numbers are called statistics, and specifically, probability. Set-backs and rejection are the statistical process playing out. The statistics reflect a combination of the status quo in the marketplace and our performance and no matter what changes, most of the time we “lose”. We just need to win often enough. 

While one salesperson is painting a picture of a disappointing outcome, another – the professional – is quietly shaping the number of favourable outcomes, focusing on the opportunities and situations they can create and influence to guarantee the target.

The professional never reacts one way or the other to either good or bad news. The professional reports back facts in a neutral, non-emotional way. Set-backs are seen as the price of success, yielding new learning and insights.

You will find no mention of statistics, let alone probability in any sales book, because it’s not fashionable to say sales is a numbers game. (Actually, it’s a ratios game, but we won’t get into that level here). Let go of the emotional approach to sales and selling. It’s reducing your income. You can get depressed or instead, you can study how the numbers work and how you can shape your success rate.