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What You Most Need To Do Is That Which You Avoid

It’s easy to do all of the sales-related tasks that you enjoy. It’s difficult to find salespeople that don’t love face-to-face sales meetings. It’s even more difficult to find a salesperson that doesn’t enjoy entertaining clients at dinners, ball games, etc.

It’s not likely that any of these sales-related tasks are where you really need to focus your efforts and energy to improve your sales results. Being a more professional and more successful salesperson means doing what most needs done—and what you most often avoid.

Avoiding Difficult Calls and Difficult Conversations

Problems don’t age well. The longer they go unresolved, the more they fester. Unresolved problems create the dissatisfaction that causes you to lose your client or to lose the opportunity with your prospective dream client.

Avoiding the call and hoping that the problem resolves itself is a bad idea. The issue, whatever it is, isn’t likely to go away on it’s own. If it does go away, it might be because your client goes away!

Being professional means that you make the difficult call and that you have the difficult conversations.

Instead of avoiding the difficult calls, make these calls before you do anything else (yes, even before you prospect). Getting the most challenging calls and conversations out of the way gives you a tremendous sense of accomplishment and helps establish your momentum for the day; it’s remarkable how much easier it is to tackle other tasks after tackling the most difficult task.

If you are avoiding a call or a conversation, it is a certainty that it is what you most need to do now.

Avoiding Prospecting

The most successful—and most professional—salespeople that I know don’t avoid their prospecting work. Problems don’t resolve themselves, and pipelines don’t build themselves, either. You don’t succeed in sales by waiting for deals to walk themselves in; it doesn’t work that way.

Prospecting isn’t easy, and it isn’t always fun. But avoiding your prospecting is even less fun. Avoiding your prospecting work leads to missed opportunities, missed quotas, and maybe a whole lot worse (which I’ll leave to your imagination).

If you avoid prospecting, then it is certain that this is the most important sales-related task on which you need to spend your time. Get to the root of your call reluctance, practice your self-discipline, and just make your calls.

Avoiding Asking for What You Need to Win and to Succeed

This could be a subset of having difficult conversations, but it deserves it’s own treatment. You often know what you need to improve your chances of winning your dream client opportunity. But what you need to win and what will later allow you to succeed for your dream client isn’t always to obtain.

You may need access to the buying committee members. You may need to meet with decision-influencers deep within the organization. You may need access to information that will help you build the right solution. You may need your dream client to invest their time and energy in helping you.

Avoiding asking puts your opportunity at risk, and it may later put your ability to succeed at risk—should you win the chance to serve your dream client. Just ask!


What is that you routinely avoid doing?

What is your avoidance costing you in the way of results or your professionalism?

What are the risks of not taking the action you need to take?

Who do you have to be to stop procrastinating and to do what most needs to be done?

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  • Tim Mushey

    Awesome article Anthony!  At the end of the day, you cannot teach these concepts. They need to want success enough, to be able to persevere and get in the habit of completing these tasks, and handling all of these issues. They need to visualize the success at the end of the day, and work through the things that they just don’t like to do. Life is not about just doing all of the stuff that you like to do! The true test is bearing down and doing everything required to be successful. 

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      Thanks, Tim! I agree with almost everything you said, but I hope you are wrong and that it can be taught!


      • Tim Mushey

        Hey Anthony.. I hope it can be taught too, but I was being realistic (in many cases). Most people have to want to do these things as a means to their success. I guess in terms of athletes, they know that they have to work out and eat healthy on a regualar basis, but that does not mean that the neccesarily do so! Thanks for the reply, great stuff!

      • S. Anthony Iannarino

        I hear ya! I have watched lots of heavy weight boxing champions get soft and stop doing what they needed to do. It’s a human thing!


  • Adam

    Anthony, I strongly agree with your comments about problems not getting any better with time. I can’t think of one scenario where someone with a problem would be happy to have me delay my response.

    This is going to be a shock to all the sales pros out there but sales people aren’t perfect, neither are companies, products, etc. Problems will occur whether we like it or not.

    I am most impressed when customers apologize to me when they have a complaint. I always let them know I appreciate them sharing it with me. If I don’t know there is a problem, I can’t fix it.

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      As cliche as it is, a complaint is a gift. You are getting the opportunity to do something about it!

      Thanks, Adam!


  • Bzimmerman

    Anthony…I totally agree with your comments here.  We like to suggest to sales people building a Model Day to help with this.  Grouping reactive activities like….problem resolution and follow up and then proactive activites like….prospecting…. into time bands.  Mixing up these activities makes you risk being on top of your game as I think you are suggesting here.

    Thanks for the read!!


    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      Thanks for the comments, Brian. I like a model day and a model week. Big risk in bouncing around and not accomplishing what really needs done. 

  • Wholesale Suppliers

    Good article and the idea highlighted is really the dilemma most sales people face. Prospecting plays a vital role in plateauing professionalism. Sales is an endless occupation where there are no boundaries and client is main target. Avoiding contact/call with the client will result in losing the contract risking your chances ahead. Overcoming difficult conversations/meetings are the successful ways to gain the client’s trust enhancing possibilities to acquire future contracts. Avoiding a situation is not at all the solution hiding will create room for others to acquire your space and you will end losing your credibility.

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  • Valgen, Inc.

    There is such an art to these conversations, and a certain foresight and fortitude to carry it out. We were inspired from this to write a blog post from our own perspective of how a quantitative approach could help.

    Another great post by Anthony!

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts! And, great blog post!

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