Determination: The Ability to Persevere

The sixth in the foundational attributes of sales effectiveness is Determination.

Determination follows the first attribute, self-discipline. Self-discipline provides the foundation for the ability to persevere, to keep trying even when things aren’t working.

Determination follows the second attribute, optimism. Optimism enables determination by allowing you to continue to try without being discouraged.

Determination stands on top of the third attribute, competitiveness, enabling you to continue fight and to win in a tough contest.

Determination follows the fourth attribute, initiative, sustaining the desire and the ability be proactive.

Determination follows the fifth attribute, resourcefulness, allowing you to persevere until you finally find a way to succeed or until you make one.

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

Calvin Coolidge, 30th President of the United States

What is Determination?

Determination is the act of deciding on a desired outcome and taking action to achieve it. Determination is being resolute in purpose and persevering until you achieve your desired outcome.

Determination is what allows one person to continue in their pursuit of and idea or a goal for as long as it takes for that goal to be achieved. It provides those who possess it with the ability to continue to chase a dream, even when all of the evidence indicates that it cannot or will nor be realized.

Determination is the ability to continue to try. To persist. To press on.

Determination in Sales

Success in sales requires determination, plain and simple.

Determination allows the salesperson to hear the word “no” and to continue to pursue their objective undeterred. Determination is what allows the salesperson to pick themselves, dust themselves off, and to try again. Determination allows the salesperson to keep calling.

It allows salespeople to continue to pursue their dream clients for years, never failing to nurture the relationship, even when there is no indication that the prospect will give them an opportunity.

Determination allows the salesperson to believe that the contest is never over, even when the bell has rung. It allows the salesperson to remain engaged with their prospects, even after they choose a competitor. Determination underlies the salesperson to believe the contest never ends. There is always one more round.

Determination is what drives a salesperson to continue, to persist, to press on.

This determination continues even after the deal has been won. Prospects and customers value this persistence, this determination, and they buy it because they know that it is this attribute that will ensure that the salesperson will help them achieve the outcome that have promised.

When Determination is Missing

When determination is missing, the salesperson accepts “no” as a final answer. The lack of determination feels smart: “They said no, so I am moving on.” But it isn’t smart. The lack of determination is detrimental to their success.

The best and most desirable clients always belong to your competitor. And they always start by saying no.

When determination is missing, the salesperson floats from one “no” to the next, never putting in the time and effort to nurture the relationship. They never create the familiarity that later allows them to gain access to the prospect. The prospect tells every salesperson no, and all but the most persistent simply go away. They only remember the salesperson that persists. When there is an opportunity, the short list is made up of the few salespeople who were determined to be on that list. Their determination is what makes them worth talking to.


Determination is an essential attribute of great salespeople, allowing them to succeed where others fail. It provides the salesperson with an immunity to the word “no.” Determination allows the professional salesperson to persist in their efforts to acquire new clients and to succeed in delivering the outcomes they have promised.


Do I too easily accept “no.”?

Do I fail in persisting to pursue the difficult but most desirable prospects because they belong to my competitor?

Do I believe that “no” is final? Do I believe that things will always be the way they are now, not recognizing that my prospect’s needs are constantly changing?

Am I trying to find an easier path instead of the path I really want to take?

Is it ever right to stop pursuing something that you really desire? Is it ever right to quit, to give up?

Am I failing my dream clients by giving up on them, even though I can provide them with something better than they have now?

Will I be the first person my dream prospect thinks of when their needs change? Why not?



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  • Conor Neill

    I spent some time

    I have been teaching MBAs for 6 years and am often asked over a coffee a question on the general theme of “what should I do with my life?” or “how can I be a success?” to which I feel hugely underqualified to provide answers. I have spent time reflecting on my own life and those of others who I can speak to and would consider successful. I came up with 17 habits…

    I don’t have determination as a separate item, but your blog post has provoked me to think more. Thanks

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  • Hans de Kraker

    Hi Anthony,

    I think you will find “Adversity quotient: turning obstacles into opportunities”
    By Paul Gordon Stoltz a very interesting book. is his web site. They have been able to measure AQ and turn it into a science.

    In 2006, Harvard Business School contacted Dr. Stoltz with its discovery that resilience was a key factor in leadership and business success, requesting permission to integrate AQ theory and methods into executive education courses and Harvard MBA curricula

    In 2008, a groundbreaking study in the UK revealed that AQ predicts a broad range of new factors including respiratory, digestive, cardiac, nutritional, sick days, and mental health. The same study showed that AQ predicts (correlates with) optimism, happiness, engagement at work, and overall quality of life. New health care studies, currently underway, are sure to expand this promising and critical application of AQ.

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      Of course they started teaching this the year AFTER I completed their program! I am going out to get the books delivered to my Kindle immediately! Thanks for pointing me to them!


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  • Tanya Jones

    Hi Anthony!
    Okay, I hate when people go to my blog and try to sell me something but here it goes…I came across your blog when I googled Persevere/Believe/Win …which is the tag- line for my motivational t-shirts. Contact me if you are ever in the need to wear or share what you practice and teach!!

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