A Sales Success Secret: Find your anchors!

Look at a suspension bridge. You may not expect it, but at each cable on a bridge, there are gigantic concrete “anchors” that hold the bridge in place so it won’t get dislodged in a storm. Most people aren’t looking for anchors on a bridge, but they’re vital all the same. It can be the same for people. For a salesperson, the “anchors” are what holds that person in place in the face of rejection, lost deals, cold-calling, and other challenges. This includes your values, beliefs, and the habits they develop.

Honesty, Integrity and Morals

One of the biggest keys to my success in business was that the people I worked with could trust what I told them.

Honesty, integrity and morals are anchors because they help hold you to the values you need, when you may feel pulled in another direction. They’re a support in that it is an essential part of building your career success.

A Story

 I know of a company that had a solidly profitable account worth nearly $20 million a year in billings. The vendor’s founder had built strong relationships with the key personnel within the customer company.

After the vendor company’s founder had sold the business upon retirement, an executive with the customer company contacted him to say that there was a lack of communication with the vendor, and that the new owner of the vendor company failed to address the customer’s concerns.

What is surprising is that the customer still feels the loyalty that was built up by the founder, which has left a long-lasting impression even though the founder no longer has any involvement or ownership. What is even more surprising is that the founder’s footprint survived beyond his expectations.

To top it off — the new management at the vendor company let their lack of integrity lose them a key account.

Steps to Take

 To build honesty, integrity and morals into your work as a salesperson, think of the long-term consequences. The right thing is always also the long-run smart thing.

If you “think” something is true but aren’t sure, don’t make a firm commitment until you’re able to check. For example, let’s say you’re discussing a possible order with a customer, but you don’t know for sure that your company has inventory to cover the quantity the customer wants. Don’t take the order right away. Say you need to check deliverability first. Your customer will understand, and appreciate your honesty. Just remember to get back to the customer – and then book that order!

Everyone makes mistakes. But it’s important to own up to them, deal with the customer’s concern, and find ways to make sure it never happens again.

Listen to Your “Sixth Sense”

We’re all aware of our five senses: sight, smell, touch, taste and hearing. There’s one more, talked about by many doctors, psychologists and educators. There must be hundreds of books about it, but we still know very little about its use inside us. But I’d bet you’ve come into contact with it.

Let’s say you’re with a prospective customer, and you can tell that they need your product or service. But this uneasiness enters the room. If you can feel it, so can they.

That’s your cue to bow out of the situation as gracefully as you can. Leave the door open for a return call at a later date, but for now move on to your next call.

Your sales manager may have other ideas – he or she might really want you to close that business. But it is always better to spend your energy on positive sales calls with receptive clients, than on situations that may become a problem. You’ll be meeting hundreds or even thousands of people during your career – you need to know when a situation will be a no-win one for you, so you can put your attention on those that will work.

A Story

 I can’t say that this has happened often in my case, but once, I met with a prospective client and I had this sixth-sense feeling that I’d be best off without the business. I listened to that feeling and backed away.

Later, I had the chance to meet this man outside of business, at a tennis tournament we were both playing in. When we both got to the finals, I soon found out why that feeling had come to me in our earlier sales meeting. He was a true competitor. His will to win was all that mattered to him – and mine was about the same. This wasn’t “customer tennis” in which the customer just naturally gets to win. It was hard competition.

So, guess where that tension in our meeting came from? We both wanted to win. It would have been a competitive relationship, not the kind of cooperative one that succeeds for both companies involved.

So no, I never called on him again. It would have been a struggle right from the start. I didn’t need the mental challenge that comes from working with this type of customer.


 If you build a reputation for honesty, integrity and morals, you’ll be in demand. You’ll be the last person let go if times are difficult, and if your employer goes out of business you’ll easily get picked up again right away. One of my friends, who’s built a solid reputation, lost his job when his employer went out of business. Within just 24 hours, he was re-hired by another company, who was aware of his reputation and wanted what he had to offer.

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