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Failure, Brad McDonald, Donald C. Kelly

TSE 1174: Why Do You Say That Failure is the Greatest Sales Lesson?

Failure, Brad McDonald, Donald C. KellySellers get knocked down plenty of times, but sometimes failure is the greatest sales lesson.

Brad McDonald works with Sandler Systems which has 250 franchises around the world that help businesses grow by improving their sales processes. 


Brad’s 28-year career in the U.S. Navy taught him that failure could mean the difference between life and death. When he transitioned from the Navy to the sales world, he realized that many of his attempts were going to end in failure. He had to change the paradigm. 

The things he perceived were failures — having people hang up on him or cancel an appointment — weren’t really failures. 

Along the way, he learned to embrace failure. 


You must make a lot of sales calls in order to get to yes. On the other hand, if we see the sales calls that ended in “no” as a failure, that will feel bad. 

Brad uses a gumball analogy to explain it. If you want a green gumball from a gumball machine, and there are multiple colors inside, there’s a good chance you won’t get a green one. When you put the quarter inside, there’s a good chance you’ll get a different color. 

Imagine you’re making prospecting phone calls, or cold calls; the most dreaded form of prospecting. If you make 10, 20, or 30 calls, you’ll eventually get someone who wants to talk, just like you’ll eventually get a green gumball. 

You’ll also likely get an orange gumball which might represent a buyer who wants to talk more to see if there’s interest. If you view every orange gumball as a failure, you won’t be very likely to keep going while you wait for the green ones. If, on the other hand, you understand that you have to get the orange gumball out of the way in order to get to the green one, you can embrace it.    

Process of failure

Brad came from a culture where sailors did what he told them to do and they didn’t say no. He was surprised to find in the sales world that prospects aren’t always honest and they don’t always respect his time. And they certainly don’t feel compelled to follow his orders. Initially, all those things felt like failures. 

Failure mimics the stages of grief which are disbelief, fear, despair, anger, and acceptance. 

Brad refers to the “ok, not ok principle.” He came to believe that he needed to be ok being not ok. 

He needed to not seek to meet his emotional needs in a sales call. Many sellers get emotionally involved in their sales calls and that’s one of the five big conceptual roadblocks in sales. Head trash gets in the way. We get excited when we’re about to make a sale and we stop doing the things we need to do. 

Sales activities

Brad learned along the way that his focus on outcomes and results was wrong. He was excited when he made sales and dejected when he wasn’t. He discovered over time that focusing on things he could control, like activities, made more sense. He started doing the things he knew would make him more successful and he tracked those things. 

Brad focused on his tonality, his demeanor, his body language and other things that were well within his control. 

Conceptual issues

Brad believes that all sales problems come in one or two categories. 

  • Tactical. What do I say, When do I say it? How do I say it?
  • Conceptual. Relating to the beliefs we have between our ears.

Most tactical problems have a conceptual basis. In Brad’s case, he came out of the Navy where he didn’t fear much of anything into a setting where he was afraid to make a cold call. The fear was a result of the beliefs he held about sales.

The conceptual issues are these:

  1. The need for approval. The problem occurs when you want to be liked more than you want to make sales.
  2. The BUY cycle. How do you buy things? How do I treat salespeople when someone is trying to sell something to me? We tend to sell the same way we buy. If you tend to comparison shop, you’ll be more forgiving of buyers who do the same.
  3. Negative scripts. Many of these originate in childhood. Examples are the idea that you shouldn’t openly talk about money. Also, very few of us were raised by parents who hoped we would grow up to be successful sellers. 
  4. Emotional involvement in the sales process. It’s ok to have a love for your prospects, but you must also have the mindset that you don’t need anyone. Instead, find something that’s mutually beneficial.
  5. Money concept. Your very first memory of money has a relationship to how you feel about money now. When Brad made his first big commission check, he felt guilty for earning so much money. He had a money concept issue. 

Changing beliefs

Changing your own beliefs will take time. It’s a process. 

For his own therapy, he sat down each Sunday and wrote about his sales experiences. Those articles helped him process the emotional aspects and taught him to have honest conversations with his prospects. 

Salespeople can benefit from journaling about their own experiences, about the perceived failures, and about the head trash. 

“Failure is the Greatest Sales Lesson” episode resources

Grab a copy of Brad’s book, The Art and Skill of Sales Psychology, or email him at

If you’re a sales rep looking to hone your craft and learn from the top 1% of sellers, make plans to attend the Sales Success Summit in Austin, Tx, October 14-15. Scheduled on a Monday and Tuesday to limit the impact to the sales week, the Sales Success Summit connects sellers with top-level performers who have appeared on the podcast. Visit to learn more and register! 

You can also connect with me at or try our first module of  TSE Certified Sales Training Program for free. This episode has been made possible with the help of  TSE Certified Sales Training Program, a training course designed to help sellers in improving their performance. We want you guys to go out each and every single day to find more ideal customers and do big things.

I hope you like and learned many things from this episode. If you did, please review us and give us a five-star rating on Apple podcast or in any platform you’re using – Google Podcast, Stitcher, and Spotify.  You can also share this with your friends and colleagues. 

Audio provided by Free SFX and Bensound.

Donald Kelly, The Sales Evangelist, Confidence, Salespeople

TSE 1012: You Are Important As Well!!!

Donald Kelly, The Sales Evangelist, Confidence, SalespeopleIf you find yourself hesitant to tell people that you work in sales because you think anyone can do it, today we’re discussing the fact that You are Important as Well!!

The year was 2011. I was a recent college graduate working for the first company in my professional career. I was attending a fine dining networking event when I ran into an old friend.

The old friend, it turns out, had decided to take on Wall Street after graduation and was now the head of finance for a multinational company in Miami. It sounded like he was doing great.

“Hey! Donald! It’s great to see you! What are you doing these days?!”

I clammed up because I didn’t want to tell him that I was in sales for a medical company. I was ashamed of saying I was a sales rep because, early on, it felt to me like anyone could do sales. [0:00]

Change your mindset

It took me awhile to realize that not just anyone can do well in sales. And I want to help you change your mindset, too. I want you to understand that you are important as well!

Many professional careers – medical, law, finance – require college degrees. They are critical jobs with important tasks.

Sales, however, doesn’t carry the glamour it once did. Many of us don’t even wear a suit to work anymore. Rather, it is believed that anyone who can “sell” can get a job in sales. We sit behind a computer and make phone calls … we are pushy people, bottom feeders, and we lack the ability to do anything else. [03:19]

That is how I used to feel. Now I know better.


In sales, we have an unlimited level of income. After executives, sellers earn the highest incomes.

  • As a salesperson, it is your job to bring money into the organization.
  • Money is the lifeblood of any company, even for non-profits.
  • Finance, HR, tech, even the CEO – none of them can do their job without money.
  • The company cannot grow without money.

Every department needs money but only sales can deliver it. [04:38]

Certain jobs, like sales, are an asset to any company. Other positions – ones that earn a paycheck every week without bringing money into the firm – are liabilities. [06:21]

Salespeople are so important to the bottom line. The information we have is needed in board meetings because everyone wants to know what the sales pipeline looks like.  They need to know. [06:52]


Sales can be an easier field to get started in because it doesn’t require a lot of technical training.

It is why I do this podcast. It is why I offer training and how I am able to help companies, and their sales teams, do better.

Understanding individuals, understanding the industry, and understanding the sales process is all part of training. It increases our education.

Schools are now spending time and effort to offer sales training as a degree because they recognize the power of the sales role. They recognize how critical sales is to any organization.

The prestigious capabilities of sales is returning and it is exciting. [07:33]

Believe in yourself

I am ashamed sometimes for ever doubting myself but I learned from it. I learned and I improved and I was able to perform better as a result. Now I understand what I am truly capable of bringing to an organization and I understand how valuable I am.

Have the strong and firm knowledge and belief that you are important. Listening to this podcast, for example, shows that you have taken an interest in learning something new. Improving yourself improves the entire profession. [09:19]

I was fortunate enough the other day to be thanked by a regular listener who credits this podcast with helping him succeed. He took some of the things he has learned from our guests and from the books we’ve recommended and is currently enjoying a sales incentive trip for doing so well in 2018. [10:00]

Recognize that you are important.

You are a professional sales rep with a skill that many people do not have. Work for a company that validates your contributions and offers a product or service that you feel strongly about.

Keep learning and keep growing. Earn that unlimited income.

I want you to be successful and to find more ideal customers. Build stronger value, close more deals. Do more each and every day. [10:56]

“You are Important as Well!!” episode resources

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This episode is brought to you in part by, a powerful sales automation platform that allows you to build highly personalized, cold email campaigns. To learn more, go to It will help you with your outbound to expand your outreach. It allows you to set it and forget it. Your prospecting will never ever be the same. is offering three months at half-price.

Previously known as TSE Hustler’s League, our TSE Certified Sales Program offers modules that you can engage on your own schedule as well as opportunities to engage with other sellers in other industries.

This episode is brought to you in part by, a Chrome browser extension for Gmail that allows you to track and schedule your emails. It’s super easy, it’s helpful, and I recommend that you try it out. You’ll receive real-time alerts anyone opens an email or clicks a link. will give you half-off your subscription for life when you use the Promo Code: Donald at check out.

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Audio provided by Free SFX and Bensound.







Greatest Showman, Sales, Entrepreneur, Business Person

TSE 767: 6 Sales Principles I Took Away From The Greatest Showman (Part 1)

Greatest Showman, Sales, Entrepreneur, Business Person

This past weekend, we watched The Greatest Showman. Over two episodes, I will share with you what I learned from The Greatest Showman as a business owner and valuable sales principles you can take and apply to your life. Check it out and let me know your thoughts.

My coach, Linda Yates, has watched the movie two times so it got me curious what actually makes the movie so great.

So there I watched it and looked for the entrepreneurial/sales aspect of it.

The First Three Sales Principles from The Greatest Showman

Setting Goals

In the movie, P.T. Barnum started from scratch and he wanted to prove to his father-in-law who said he couldn’t make it, wrong. He wanted to make himself something in the society. Third, he wanted to be respected by the higher classes.

While this gave him a lot of drive, there is also a flaw here. You can’t base your success on somebody else. You have to do it for yourself.

I was raised by my single mom and when when to the point that we were homeless. From then on, I promised myself I would never go broke again. At that age, it gave me the desire to earn my income. It gave me the drive that I will never allow my family to be in that situation like that again.

Working Beyond the No

You’ve got to hustle. The only person that’s stopping you from getting that big deal is yourself. Don’t let that stop you!

When Is Enough, Enough?

There comes a time where you will be achieving your goals. But is this going to push you beyond the things that matter the most? At one point, P.T. did.  And when you allow this to take over your whole life, then you will have a problem. You must have an idea of when is enough, enough. It’s okay if you always have that goal but make sure you don’t put that stuff in front of your family. Never neglect your family. Spend some time with them. Don’t let money come before you and your family. So have that number in your mind.

Episode Resources:

The 12 Week Year by Brian P. Morgan and Michael Lennington

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