Good Sales People Are Luckier

People talk about their expectations as if they have some objective validity.  Sometimes it is more of a wish.  In any case it has to do with the future and as we know the future is unknown.  There are ways to condition future outcomes though.

In statistics, expectation, or as they call it expected value, is more formal.  It is the product of probability and number of repetitions.  For example, the probability of tossing heads is 50% and if you toss a fair coin twice you might see 1 head but you might see none or two.  If you toss the coin 1,000,000 times heads will appear close to half the time.

In life, if the possibility of success for some activity is one in five, and success is important, you have choices.  Find ways to make the odds better or have more repetitions, (exposures to the opportunity.) Either way will return higher value. Value = probability x number of repetitions.

Take sales. Successful sales people are “Luckier” than the others.  It is provably true and people ask, Why?

The answer is three part.

  1. They are more skilled and thus they improve the odds of closing a deal, but that advantage is not large.
  2. They expose their skills to more potential buyers. 
  3. They are fussy and expose their skills to only some of the possible population. The ones who have the highest transactional value. Not every potential client is the same in terms of potential and ease of connection.

The expected value of a days work for a high performing salesperson could be many times higher than an average salesperson.

So we see performance is not just probability.  (Luck)  Pity, because luck so readily explains the success of people we don’t like.

It is easier to talk to more people than improve your sales skill.  You can find many technique emphasized courses, but pay more attention to connections than to methods.  Connections work better.

Even The Harvard Business Review thinks so.  Why The Best Salespeople Get So Lucky

  1. There are simple things to learn about connecting.
  2. Decide who is a “right” person for you to talk to.
  3. Acquire the necessary skills to serve that person.  Learn their needs or better still their hopes, fears and aspirations.
  4. Be creative.  Show how techniques or products work in context of other things they do rather than operating in isolation.
  5. Connect with people who have a concentration of the kind of person that you want and who can and will refer them to you.  You might think through the “What’s in it for them?” and the “How do I make the connection?” questions.
  6. Make finding people a priority.  High performing sales people spend more of their time finding people than their less successful peers.

Client acquisition and client connection are fundamental to any sales business.  Almost anyone can learn the conventional track to sell some product or other.  Spend time and trouble to be different.  Solve problems.  Deliver dreams.


Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international public accounting firm and is now with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario.

One Comment on “Good Sales People Are Luckier

  1. Pingback: More on Sales Luck | moneyFYI

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