Setting realistic goals.

A popular theory that had its contemporary roots in the 1920’s suggests that you can be anything you want to be.

The mantra varies from program to program but essentially the message is “if your mind can imagine it – you can do it.”

It’s an invigorating concept. It’s one that is sure to fire the ambitions of anyone seeking a better lifestyle and an escape from grinding boredom or even poverty.

Certain product distribution structures including multi level marketing depend upon the acceptance of this concept to recruit and expand.

Unfortunately, I’m afraid I don’t believe it.

Consider this exaggeration for emphasis. In my best days as a youth I was a mediocre athlete. Because of my size (for my age), I made the high school football team. But I could never run faster than the average turtle. I suspect it had something to do with my short legs.

On the other hand, those same dumpy stumps made it possible for me to lay my hands flat on the floor doing pushups while my long-legged buddies could barely stretch their finger tips to graze the mat.

My point is that I was never going to run the 100 at The Olympics, even with performance enhancing pharmaceutical assistance. But I wasn’t a bad centre in football because my low point of gravity made it tough to knock me over.

Academically I was clearly no mensa candidate so my future in molecular biology was in peril from the get go.

So perhaps the suggestion that we are only a wisp of willpower away from our dream is at best misleading – at worst demoralizing.

I find myself agreeing with those who suggest we should strive to be the best we can be. The recognition and acceptance of our unique qualities position each one of us to maximize our potential.

We have all been privileged to witness individuals overcoming enormous obstacles to achieve outstanding success. But even those victories are attained by utilizing the resources that exist within the individual and in recognition of the “possible” as opposed to the “impossible.”

On the other hand, probably one area where I feel that almost anyone can succeed is in sales.

Over the years I have found it almost impossible to predict the future of many of the people I have seen enter the business of selling. Of course many of them have demonstrated characteristics and possess backgrounds which suggest they would be “naturals.” Many of these continue to produce somewhat mediocre results.

Conversely, some folks I felt perhaps would be better off seeking other employment have become top producers and have parlayed their success in sales to outstanding careers in management and ownership.

Accordingly my unscientific study has resulted in my keeping an open mind on the prospects for those new to ranks of selling.

Of course, if I am hiring, I continue to choose those who come closest to the “model” I have developed over the years. But it remains obvious that success is related more to the dedication of the individual to certain basic principles than “natural” gifts.

In fact many of those who come to this profession with the considerable advantages of family, education, and training fail because they never really master the disciplines necessary to capitalize on these gifts.

The ability to sell is not a gift. It is a set of skills which are developed though observation, experience and training. It requires constant upgrading and the learning never stops. Every sale provides rewards but every lost sale provides an opportunity to learn.

I have found that I learn little from my successes but much from my failures. It’s a good thing too because we have all had a lot more of the latter.

But isn’t that what selling is all about – learning from our experience and developing the capacity to understand that loss is not a personal rejection. If we can review an unsuccessful negotiation without trying to attach “blame” – particularly to the buyer – we can develop strategies which will lead to future business.

The characteristics of successful sales people are fundamental and universal.

We know them as perseverance, enthusiasm, knowledge, confidence and industry.

Virtually anyone who wants to succeed in sales can. Of course it takes effort and time but it probably is the most democratic of all professions. Regardless of background, race, creed, gender or physical dimensions you can accomplish much if you believe you can.

Even if you have legs like fire hydrants.