The Case for Eternal Optimism

Terrible Salespeople Rose Colored Glasses

 We do not see the world as it is.

We see the world as we are.

– the Talmud


What if you could MASSIVELY increase your sales effectiveness with one simple commitment?

What if your workday could be filled with peace and your sense of well being could shoot through the roof?

Its possible.  Here’s how:

Choose to be optimistic, no matter what.*

Every single time you approach an opportunity of any kind, believe in advance that everything is going to work out exactly the way you intend it to.

Then, (and this is the crazy part) DO NOT care if it doesn’t.

I was reminded of this powerful lesson a few weeks back.

I was riding along with one of the salespeople on my team.  We spent the morning cold calling in a new area for him and we were meeting some great people and finding some great things to work on.

As we walked the neighborhood, we were discussing the general approach we train our salespeople to make, and how to prepare for the inevitable “rejection” that comes more than 75% of the time we make an initial contact.

We train our people to do the following when they cold call:

Expect the pushback.  Embrace it.

Absorb the prospect’s initial “oh crap its a salesperson” revulsion.  Don’t take it personally.

Study the prospect’s hesitance and fear.

Accept it.  Empathize with it.

Embrace the awkwardness and dance with it.

Use our super secret Judo-like techniques to redirect/diffuse the negativity and secure a second meeting.

Remember, just because someone’s initial reaction to your cold call isn’t positive, doesnt mean you can’t turn the interaction into something beautiful in a matter of minutes.

This was the basic theme of our conversation.

As we walked and talked, I was struck by a question he asked me: “Is this crazy optimism an act you have to put on?  Or are you always this positive?”

I answered, “If you’re going to be in sales, I don’t think there is any other way to be.”

I thought about his question more that afternoon and evening.  I realized for the last few years I have been taking optimism for granted.  I have the curse of knowledge. 

A strong, positive mindset isn’t something people usually start out with in sales.  In fact, the words and actions I see most newer salespeople use; hopeful, pleading, needy — all of these betray the fact that they are approaching most opportunities in a mindset that is marred by negativity.

I know this is difficult to master.  I struggled when I started in sales.  I was hopeful.  I was pleading. I was needy.  Fortunately, through a massive amount of action and paying attention,  I experienced the power and results that come from carrying a positive mindset no matter the outcome:

1.) Complete rejection with yelling and screaming (super rare…and hilarious to me).

2.) Pleasant dismissal (much more common).

3.) Lukewarm to warm reception and the beginning of a business relationship.

None of these individual outcomes matter.  If you take the macro view that you are doing enough work to succeed, you can choose to be positive no matter what happens.

From a coaching perspective, it’s unfortunate that I forgot what it was like to let discouragement overwhelm me.  From a sales perspective…I feel like I can’t ever lose.  I need to get that same feeling into my sales force.  You need to get that feeling inside of you.

Since sales is a game of numbers, I like to reference ratios with my reps constantly.   I look at every situation not as an individual opportunity, but as 1 out of 100 similar situations. The outcome of this one opportunity is unimportant…it is the successful outcome of the ultimate # of opportunities out of 100 that actually matter.

What can we think, do, or say that will push the “# out of 100” success rate just a few clicks higher?  True professionals always look for more ways to do this.

Let’s do an optimism thought experiment together:

If you were to attempt/approach ANY endeavor, be it in sales, a sport, or your personal life, 100 times, and you visualized a positive outcome before beginning the task.  How many times would you succeed?  It’s a number.  Doesn’t matter what.

Now take that same activity, and try it 100 more times, but before you do, visualize complete disaster.  Do you think you’d get better results?  Of course not.

This makes sense to you right?  If so, then you also must agree that there is NEVER not a time to be optimistic and cheerful about what’s about to happen on a sales call.

If you know your best chance for a positive result is unbridled optimism…no single rejection should be able to push you off that position.

Now picture this terrible scenario:

Your biggest client calls you and says they’re planning to switch all of their business from you to another supplier.

You WOULD STILL be best served by going in to see the client with the expectation that you can turn the whole thing around.  What’s the alternative that allows you to steer toward a better result?  I don’t see one. 😉

The external ramifications of optimism.

People generally like to be around people that are happy and having a good time.  If you walk into a sales call with an upbeat friendly attitude, will you be better received than if you walked in as a needy, hopeful beggar?

I realize it sounds absurd, and yet somehow there is a pandemic of hope and need among the general sales population.  How else can you explain the thriving industry of sales heresy that preys upon these weak minded salespeople?

A good salesperson doesn’t need.  She doesn’t hope.  She never pleads.

She approaches so many people with such a positive attitude and such a measure of faith that the results tend to come pouring in.

Somehow it looks like success was ordained from the beginning.

Guess what?  It was.

A couple weeks after that morning cold calling session that same salesperson summed everything up perfectly in one of our regularly scheduled one to ones.

He said, “Over the last week or two I have realized that I shouldn’t feel happy only when I am winning at this job.  I need to feel happy IN ORDER TO WIN at this job.”

The man speaks truth.


So what if you’re not a naturally optimistic person?  Where can you go to get what you need?

There are lots of things you can do to increase your optimism…but in the interest of brevity I’m only going to give you one for now.

It is the one thing I find gives me the most positivity.


Gratitude for everything I have and get to do is what allows me to be positive.

Look for all of the reasons you can find.  Think about those instead of thinking about being needy.

Here are a few of mine.

I get to work outside in the sun, and I get to see inside some amazing packaging operations. (think “How It’s Made” level stuff.)

I get to meet friendly new people every day.

I get to make a positive impact on the lives and businesses of other people.   I get to help make their lives easier.

I am amazed on a daily basis at some of the operations I see, where I know I have a better solution; a proven solution.  I get to reveal something new to people.  I get to help them be heroes in their companies.

I get to be a positive force in the industry as a whole.

I choose to have fun…and somehow…I always do.

There is no reason you can’t feel the same way.

You may have to work at it for a long time, but like most other difficult journeys, the destination is worth it….I’m positive 🙂  Hiyohhhhhhhhhhhh!

Good selling my friends.




*Obviously you still need to have a grasp on reality. If you find yourself in an absolutely terrible situation, you can’t always fight your way out with a positive attitude.  I just believe that the difficulty is often a minority of the time (let’s say 10% for fun), whereas the general population probably believes the inverse to be true.  Use good judgement. Don’t be a victim.

You also need to work your ass off 🙂    You can’t be optimistic twice a day and hope for smashing results.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

One thought on “The Case for Eternal Optimism

  1. Great read! Not only does being optimistic bring you more sales, it brings a happier life. A happier life makes for a better salesperson all around.