Sales and Sales Management Blog

January 9, 2012

Four Signs It Is Time to Throw in the Towel

Filed under: attitude,career development,sales,Sales Failure,selling — Paul McCord @ 1:03 pm
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A question I’m asked more often now than in the past is “how do I know if it’s time to look for another career?”  With the economy in dire straits it is more difficult to sell now than in the past.

For many sellers who began selling prior to the current economic morass, when selling was pretty easy and many sellers were gobbling up the sales and commissions, they’re having to radically change their thinking as they discover selling isn’t as easy as they thought.

Those who began selling only since 2007, today’s economy is the only selling environment they know.  In a sense, that’s a real advantage.

Although it would seem reasonable to assume that most of the sellers who entered the field prior to 2007 would have adjusted to the new reality by now, I find that many still haven’t and are still having a difficult time trying to get mentally and emotionally adjusted to the fact that what they did in the past isn’t working today.

And, of course, many of the newer sellers are struggling with the traditional problems of learning how to sell which are compounded by having to compete in a very tight and cut throat market.

Thus, I find myself addressing the how to know when to quit question more today than in the past.

I wish I could give a more cut and dried answer, but in reality there are so many factors involved in that decision that for many a cut and dried answer would do more harm than good.  Are the seller’s struggles things that he or she can take responsibility for–or do they lay outside their ability to control?  If the issues are ones they have some control over, are they willing and committed to addressing them?  If they are, do they have the time to do or has their time literally run out?

These and many other questions need to be addressed to really come to a decision on whether it is time to give up a career in selling—for a great many sellers.

However, for many others I think the answer really can be and should be cut and dried.  If any of these five issues apply, you need to make a quick exit, stage left:

  • No Passion or the Passion is Gone:  If there’s no passion for selling or if the passion that had once been there is gone, it’s time to hit the streets.  I’m not talking about a passion  particular products or services (if you’ve lost that passion but still are passionate about selling, all you need do is find a company whose products or services you can get passionate about).  I’m speaking here of a general passion for selling, a desire to provide the goods and/or services that will solve buyer’s issues or wants.
  • A Dread of Doing the Selling:  I’ve known men and women in selling positions who loved the ancillary work of creating selling materials, putting together lists, attending sales meetings, putting together proposals, and attending networking events but who dreaded and hated the actual selling.  For them the fun was in the busy work while the actual work of selling was despised.  If you hate the actual selling, get out and get out quick.
  • Unwillingness to Invest the Time and Money to Become a Professional:  The unfortunate truth is that few companies provide every bit of training a seller needs.  Companies by nature are more interested in providing product training than sales training.  Product training and sales training are not the same, although many sellers and companies want to think they are.

    Professional selling has nothing to do with the stereotypical fast talking huckster and everything to do with being skilled in understanding human nature, having strong analytical and problem solving skills, being an excellent communicator who is more attuned to listening than talking, and having the process that will enable you to work with a prospect to analyze and then solve their issues.

    It is the seller’s responsibility to acquire these skills and since few companies provide all of the needed training, the seller must be willing to invest their time and money in becoming the best seller possible.  If you’re not willing to make the time and financial commitment to become the highest skilled seller possible, a new, less demanding career would be an excellent choice.

  • No Commitment to Succeed:  Having a passion for selling does not necessarily translate into a commitment to succeed.  Selling is a tough business.  It certainly isn’t a 40 hour a week business.  For most sellers the selling part is the easy part, it’s the finding and connecting with high quality prospects and then the follow-up and problem solving that’s the hard part.

    Selling takes a great deal of energy, both physical and emotional.  It also demands a level of commitment that few other positions demand.  In a word, whether you’re a top seller making a million or more a year or an average producer making 6o or 70 thousand, selling is hard work.

    For a great many the time demands and the physical and emotional energy needed is simply too much to ask.  They want the rewards without having to make the investment.  They either can’t or aren’t willing to take the passion and put it into motion.  And frankly, unfulfilled passion is more of a tragedy than having no passion at all.

  • Undivided Focus on Money:  Selling can be extremely lucrative.  On the other hand, many, many sellers starve because they don’t have the commitment, passion and dedication.  Unfortunately for some, money becomes the only focus in the sale.  They don’t care about the prospect, the company they are selling for—and in many cases for themselves as they are willing to sell their soul to the Devil in order to get a few bucks with a “whatever it takes” mentality.

    If the only reason you’re in sales is money, get out as you’ll eventually find that you either hate what you do or, more likely, decide that the end justifies the means and you’ll do whatever it takes to pry the dollars out of the prospect’s hand.

    Selling is a high potential income SERVICE business and when the service becomes secondary to the income, ethics and honesty have a way of becoming secondary also.

Do any of these ring a bell?  If they do, it’s time to get out.

If they don’t and you’re still questioning whether or not it’s time to throw in the towel, I advise you to get with someone you trust—a mentor, coach, or maybe your manager—and work through to discover the issues you’re facing and whether or not you can and if you are willing to take the necessary steps to overcoming them.

Selling is tough and you need to be tough to succeed.  But if you’re struggling and are wondering if it is time for a new career, do yourself a favor and make an honest analysis of the situation before you make your decision.  If you decide to stay, you’ll know where your issues lie and what to do about them.  If you decide to leave, you’ll know you made the right decision and won’t be wondering for years to come what might have been if you’d stuck it out.


Connect with Paul on Twitter @paul_mccord

Or on Facebook at McCord Training


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