Salespeople fail for a variety of reasons. I know this from personal experience; early in my career as a salesperson, I made all of these mistakes. Fortunately, I was able to learn from my failures and eventually become successful. By understanding these causes of failure in sales and taking steps to avoid them, salespeople can increase their chances of success.

4 Common Causes of Failure In Sales

Everyone has been in those frustrating situations. After setting up an appointment and giving a great presentation, the prospect expresses their interest. Then, all of a sudden, you don’t hear from them again. These breakdowns can be particularly frustrating, especially when they occur after the salesperson is certain the sale will close and has put a lot of effort into making it happen.

Here are the top four causes of failure n sales and how you can avoid them.

1. No Urgent

A prospect may not be interested in buying your super-fast widget if he already has a perfectly functional widget. A prospect like this may set up an appointment just to see if the product is interesting, even though he doesn’t intend to buy it.

If the prospect doesn’t really need your product, you won’t close the sale today. It is possible to uncover the motivation of your prospect early in the sales funnel by asking thoughtful questions. Ask questions such as “Have your ever owned a product similar to this?”

You can identify window-shopping prospects by asking questions like, “How did your previous purchase go?” If this happens, you need to ask them when they’ll be ready to buy. For instance, you might ask them when their extended warranty will expire. Then, schedule a call or appointment.

2. Not Qualified

If your product doesn’t have the features and options that your prospective customer is looking for, there’s not much you can do to close a deal. Misunderstandings happen all the time, so it’s possible that your prospective customers think that the product doesn’t meet their needs.

Doing some pre-appointment qualifications can help you to eliminate these prospects. Ask the prospect what features are most important to him. If your product doesn’t have these features, tell them so. If your product has all the features he desires, be sure to mention them during your presentation. This will let him know that you can provide what he needs.

3. Never Planned to Buy

Some people like to compare their supplier’s competitors from time to time to ensure that they are getting a good deal. They may make appointments with salespeople and then go through the whole process without ever intending on buying. Some buyers, especially those who are price-conscious and savvy, may try to get a better deal from your competitor. What can you do ?”).?

These people can be difficult to spot because they have played the game often. If you suspect you have been put in a no-win situation, it is possible to ask the buyer straight-out if he is just using you as an intermediary. You’re already out of luck, so there’s nothing to lose. However, you might impress the buyer with your perceptiveness and open the possibility of a future sale.

4. Risk-Averse

The key part of the sales process is building trust between you and your prospect. Your prospect may not be able to overcome his natural fear of making mistakes if you don’t build enough trust between you. He will likely tell you at the end that he needs “to think it over” and then not return your message.

This is because you have not spent enough time and effort to show the prospect that your company is trustworthy. You will need to find out what is holding you back and then show him how your product can help. If you are able to reach him, this will likely mean another appointment. It’s best to approach the prospect with a relaxed, no-pressure approach.

Fear is what keeps prospects from buying. If you try to sell him, you will only drive them away.

Managing Sales Failure

Many sales teams struggle with managing sales failure.

It doesn’t matter if you feel the sting of rejection during a cold call or the anxiety that follows a lost deal, there are three truths about sales failure:

  1. Failing is painful.
  2. Failing is terrifying.
  3. Failure is not uncommon.

Why is failure so painful?

Harvard Professor Edmundson talks about how failure is first learned and how it hurts, starting at an early age.

Growing up, we were exposed to difficult emotions such as shame, guilt, humiliation, and ridicule when we did wrong, failed a test, or were blamed for a group’s failure to achieve its goals.

These emotions combine to create a very uncomfortable experience for a child.

Our parents, teachers, coaches, and coaches rarely acknowledged the emotions that are associated with failure. They did not teach us how to manage failure well – many times because they didn’t know how to.

We learn from these early childhood experiences.

Failure can be fatal and must be avoided.

These learning lessons are ingrained in our brains. These lessons are carried with us into adulthood, and we learn a variety of unhealthy coping strategies along the way.

We obsess about outcomes and results. Excessive control is a way to achieve perfection. To numb the pain of failure, you can also use bad habits and addictions. We learn how to blame others so that we don’t feel like a failure.

This avoidance is a big mistake in our efforts to manage sales failure. It stems from believing that failure is bad.

Failure is not always black and white. Failing can be bad or good.

All experience failure on a spectrum.

Accepting that not all failures are created equal allows us to inject compassion and curiosity into our daily lives. This means that you should not blame yourself or make a sham of yourself for having suffered a setback.

Learning to manage failure and treating it as a spectrum will help us be successful.

It allows us to overcome negative emotions such as fear and anxiety, shame, and strong positive emotions such as curiosity and compassion.

Now, failure is no longer something we fear but something we can learn from. To improve, we can ask exploratory questions to analyze our failures.

  1. What is the reason for it?
  2. What did you learn?
  3. What is one thing you can do to stop it from happening in the future

Next time you have a sales failure, take a deep breath and pause.

Everything is fine.

Identify the type of failure that you have just experienced. Spend some time analyzing your failure to improve your chances of succeeding tomorrow. 

Salespeople need also to learn new sales skills and behaviors to help them avoid downfalls in sales.


Now you know the four main causes of failure in sales. By understanding these causes and taking steps to avoid them, sales teams can increase their chances of success. If you’re struggling in sales, take a look at your process and see if any of these mistakes might be holding you back. With some effort and perseverance, you can turn things around and start achieving the success you deserve.

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Justin McGill
About Author: Justin McGill
This post was generated for LeadFuze and attributed to Justin McGill, the Founder of LeadFuze.