The Seven Cardinal Sins of Sales Professionals


By Sean Moore, Business Unit Vice President, Olympus Corporation of the Americas


Do you want to be the best in your field? Do you want to be a person who consistently produces amazing results? There are seven cardinal sins that I believe can get in the way of reaching success and achieving your goals. The regular avoidance of these sins will ensure sales success and allow you to reach your career and financial goals

Complacency—feeling comfortable with being second best.

Make a decision to go all the way to the top of the sales team. Choose today to join the top 10%. The most important step you can take is to commit yourself to personal excellence, to becoming one of the best in your field. This industry is full of salespeople who are wishing, hoping, and praying for their sales results to be better, but they never make a DO decision that leads to great success. There is no one and nothing that can hold you back from being the best and achieving your career goals except yourself.

Negativity—surrounding yourself with the wrong people or the wrong influences.

Great salespeople choose to be around colleagues who have a positive attitude. Great salespeople associate with other sales professionals who are going somewhere or are where they themselves want to be. Great salespeople insulate themselves from negative people, gossip, and detrimental communication, both direct and indirect. It takes five positive interactions to remove a negative one, so why allow negative influences from complaining, grumpy, and belligerent people? This kind of negativity only drags sales professionals down, tires them out, distracts and discourages them, and inevitably leads them to underachievement and failure.

Self-limiting beliefs—not visualizing yourself as the best in your field.

The top 10% always visualize themselves performing at their very best day in and day out. These exceptional salespeople feed their minds with exciting, clear, emotional pictures of their successes. They imagine themselves as confident, competent, and in complete control of their own futures.

Make sure to feed your mind with clear mental pictures of success in your career goals. Refuse to give mental space to any self-limiting thoughts.

Poor inner dialogue—allowing negative self-talk.

The best-in-class sales professionals strictly control inner dialogue. It’s easy to set goals, formulate a plan to reach them, and tell yourself that nothing will stop you. However, as time goes by, the novelty wears off, and your optimistic attitude can give way to feelings of doubt and dissatisfaction. These negative thoughts and feelings are especially common when you’re not seeing results despite your hard work. Sure, it’s much easier to fill your head with negative self-talk than it is to give yourself a mental pep talk. But the latter is exactly what you need to do in order to stay on track. Successful salespeople are aware of their thoughts at all times, and they consciously decide to think more positively. It’s been said that our minds can only hold one thought at a time, which means we have a choice: we can focus on a thought that makes us feel badly, or we can focus on something that makes us feel good. Often the only thing holding us back is our thinking.

Blind spots—not knowing your weakness and not leveraging your strengths.

Identify your biggest weakness that may be sabotaging your success. I do not believe it’s possible to immediately eliminate weaknesses, but you must at least neutralize any weaknesses that are hindering your results while working on a long-term plan for change.Identify a skill you have and make a plan to become absolutely excellent in that area. Work with a mentor or your manager and ask, “What one skill, if I developed and practiced it consistently in an excellent fashion, would have the greatest positive effect on my sales?” This decision alone can propel you to the top 10% and is one of the most important success factors in sales.

Unhealthy lifestyle—not caring for your physical health.

This is something many sales professionals overlook. Maintaining good physical health is of the utmost importance. I have always believed you need high levels of energy to sell effectively (and to bounce back from constant rejection and discouragement). Be sure to eat the right foods, get the right amount of exercise, and get plenty of rest and recreation.

Reactivity—not taking action toward or owning your career goals.

Be proactive rather than reactive. Own every result in your life. Grab the bull by the horns. If you are not pleased with your income, get out there, hit the pavement, and get in front of more customers. Work hard at working smarter. Control your destiny! If you are not happy with any part of your life, accept responsibility and take charge—make the changes needed to get the life you want!

In conclusion, all successful salespeople are intensely action oriented and have a tremendous sense of urgency. They are all about action—immediate action! If we are honest with ourselves, we have all committed one or several of the cardinal sins that lead to sales mediocrity. If we are serious about our success, we must stop making these mistakes and remove the influences that could tempt us to return to our old ways. The more we take complete control of our entire lives, the more we will guarantee our success as top performers and earners in our field.

Sean Moore is responsible for leading US Sales and Marketing for Surgical Energy at Olympus. He has extensive experience establishing and managing top-producing sales organizations. Sean also has a proven success record generating, negotiating, and winning major national accounts. Prior to joining Olympus, Sean was the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at ConMed, a world-class provider of medical equipment for minimally invasive surgeries, and prior to that was at Covidien after beginning in sales at Sherwin Williams.