What’s not holding you back from getting promoted

What I thought was holding me back from being promoted ended up being completely false.

When I interviewed for two promotions in the same year and didn’t get either, I thought it must have been:

– good politicking by the people getting promoted

– senior leaders not understanding the needs of their team

– favorites being played

– teams not knowing the support they really needed

It turns out, all of those things were wrong. Also, it wasn’t about other people at all.

It was all about me.

During my first three years at the company, I had branded myself as a great sales person, a cool guy to have a beer with, and someone who had a few good ideas about the business.

Nothing bad, but also nothing that made me stand out as someone they wanted to turn the keys of the company over to.

Without knowing it, I was building a brand.

But it wasn’t the brand I needed to be building.

Once I figured this out, my career took off, almost instantly. I realized that how people perceived me had more to do with my success that anything else.

Chapter 2 of my new book is titled “Intentionally Build Your Brand”. It goes way into the weeds of why this is a key element of self-promotion, and offers several keys for building the brand to get yourself where you need to.

If this sounds like something you may need, click the link in my bio, and pick up your copy today! 🔥 🔥 🔥 


Bret Barrie was a Hall-of-Fame and President’s Club-winning sales rep and has been a top-producing sales leader in multiple industries. He is also the author of The Selling Edge: How to Reach the Top in any Sales Industry. His newest book, Promoted: The Proven Path to Career Advancement, is available now. A baseball enthusiast and fitness junkie, he is happily married with three children and lives in the greater Sacramento area. For more information, visit bretbarrie.com.

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How to Stay Consistent

Sometimes I don’t feel like doing what I know I need to.

Here’s my best tip for those moments:

Regardless of how you feel, do it anyway.

If you don’t feel like waking up in the morning, wake up anyway.

Don’t feel like working out? Go work out anyway.

Don’t feel like making that last sales call at 4:30 on a Friday afternoon? You know the answer.

Just do it.

As Tony Robbins says, “Motion creates emotion.”

Once you get moving, once you get into your flow, and most important, once you’re finished, you’ll be glad you did.

Even if it wasn’t your best, you will still feel exponentially better than if you did nothing at all.

We don’t need to be motivated, because as humans we aren’t always motivated.

We need to be disciplined. The most successful people have the discipline to do the work when they don’t feel like it.

Be disciplined, and stay consistent.

You’ll be amazed what you can accomplish. 💯 💯 💯 


Bret Barrie was a Hall-of-Fame and President’s Club-winning sales rep and has been a top-producing sales leader in multiple industries. He is also the author of The Selling Edge: How to Reach the Top in any Sales Industry. His newest book, Promoted: The Proven Path to Career Advancement, is available now. A baseball enthusiast and fitness junkie, he is happily married with three children and lives in the greater Sacramento area. For more information, visit bretbarrie.com.

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The Best Part about Writing Books

The best part about writing books…

For me, it’s the people I’ve been able to connect with along the way.

Throughout the past several months, I’ve gotten better-acqainted with and met some people I never thought in a million years I would.

One of those people is Mareo McCracken.

Mareo and I have followed each other on LinkedIn for a few years now, and before me writing my new book, we’d had only a modest amount of interaction.

But Mareo and I have a lot in common. We both have families we’re incredibly devoted to and prioritize life around, we both are leaders in the medtech space, and we both like fitness. 

We each share a lot on LinkedIn, are published authors, and we also enjoy learning from good books as well.

When I originally reached out to Mareo and asked if he’d review and potentially provide an endorsement for my book, I thought it was a longshot. But I did anyways.

He’s a busy guy, so I didn’t know if he’d have the time, or if he’d even be willing to take the time and effort of reading it.

He’s also a published author himself and well-connected to several of the household names of sales training gurus we all have grown up following. So I also didn’t know if he’d think it was any good.

When I got this review back, I was floored.

I was also incredibly grateful and humbled that someone at his level had this to say about my book.

That’s also the minute I knew my new book was going to be well received.

Mareo- thank you again for all your support and for putting your name on my work. It means the world to me.

The book launches on Tuesday. Time to make a splash and teach people how to get that promotion they’ve always wanted!

Click on the link in my bio to order your copy today!


Bret Barrie was a Hall-of-Fame and President’s Club-winning sales rep and has been a top-producing sales leader in multiple industries. He is also the author of The Selling Edge: How to Reach the Top in any Sales Industry. His newest book, Promoted: The Proven Path to Career Advancement, is available now. A baseball enthusiast and fitness junkie, he is happily married with three children and lives in the greater Sacramento area. For more information, visit bretbarrie.com.

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PROMOTED: The Proven Path to Career Advancement

I was at a crossroads in my career.

In seven short years, I had reached the top in sales in two different industries. I’d won multiple President’s Club awards, been inducted into my first company’s Hall of Fame, and was making a really good living.

Life was good.

…but I wasn’t happy.

Despite the large amount of sales success I’d achieved in a very short period of time, I knew I could contribute in a much larger way than I was. Although my territory was producing significant revenue for the company, I knew my impact could be much greater if I could influence more people.

Although I always helped other sales reps and volunteered on company projects, I wanted to help people more than that. My understanding of the business, ability to break down complex challenges into simple actions, passion for helping others, and willingness to go above and beyond were intangibles that would allow me to help many more people than I was at that time.

I’d succeeded as an individual contributor. I thought I was ready. I’d built solid relationships. I was all in and ready to move into leadership.

There was one problem.

No one above me agreed with any of that.

Transitioning into leadership was going to require additional skills I had not yet built. It was also going to require me to change my approach and how I presented myself to others.

Fortunately, the leaders above me saw enough promise and leadership potential that they invested in me. They supported me along the way, but they also made me do the work.

I had to prove it.

Over the next several years, I dedicated immense effort to learning the skills it takes to be a great leader, and also in proving it to those above me in the organization. It wasn’t easy, I made several missteps along the way, and it took me far longer than it should have.

Eventually, I was promoted into my first leadership role. It’s been everything I expected and then some.

There have certainly been challenges and sticky situations to work through. There have also been huge wins to celebrate.

Many of them.

In leading others, it’s changed my life. It’s also changed the lives of others. Aside from having an amazing wife and family, it’s been the next most rewarding thing for me.

Over the last several years, I’ve had the opportunity to lead several very successful teams in multiple industries. As I’ve ascended in my career, several of the individuals on those teams have also moved into leadership positions.

To me, that’s what you should be shooting for as a leader. To develop other leaders.

It’s been important that I help others avoid the same mistakes I made early in my career. Most of those who reported to me were smarter and quicker learners than me, so they didn’t.

They knew their why, followed the plan we created together, asked for advice along the way, and when opportunities opened up for them to lead, they were ready.

That’s not always the case, and that’s why I wrote my newest book.

If you’re a top performer and considering the move into leadership, this book is for you. Within the pages, you’ll learn how to:

  • Clarify why you want to pursue leadership roles
  • Frame the discussions with those above you to gain their support
  • Create a roadmap to gain the skills and experience needed
  • Solidify an accountability plan to see it through

The steps in this book are simple, straightforward, and proven to work. If you read this book and implement the practices immediately, you’ll be on your way to your next promotion!

If you’re a sales leader responsible for developing others, you will also gain immense value from this book. It will help you keep your top employees engaged, moving forward, and staying with your company.

It’s available for Kindle pre-order by clicking here. It will automatically drop into your Kindle on the launch date of March 14, 2023. Paperback and hardcover versions will be available for order that day!


Bret Barrie was a Hall-of-Fame and President’s Club-winning sales rep and has been a top-producing sales leader in multiple industries. He is also the author of The Selling Edge: How to Reach the Top in any Sales Industry. His newest book, Promoted: The Proven Path to Career Advancement, is available for pre-order now. A baseball enthusiast and fitness junkie, he is happily married with three children and lives in the greater Sacramento area. For more information, visit bretbarrie.com.

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How are You Living and Learning?

You live and learn.

We’ve all heard the saying, but I often question how much I’m really living. I also constantly question how much I’m learning.

It’s easy to fall into the routine we call “the rat race.” We’re all living it.

Over the past few years, I’ve been studying people. Especially the ones that are thriving in all aspects of life.

Not just having a good job and being successful on paper.

I mean people who have that, but people who are also healthy, full of energy, are well connected with their spouse and children, and are active in their community.

While I don’t think everyone has it all together, I do think there are some who are thriving at a level most are not.

Here are a few commonalities I’ve observed:

✔️ Prioritize health

This means being intentional and specific about what they eat, limiting or eliminating alcohol completely, exercising daily, and getting 7+ hours of sleep every night.

There’s a reason they tell us on airplanes to put our own mask on first. People who prioritize their health or stronger for all those who need them.

✔️ Set personal and professional goals

When we have something we’re shooting for, it makes the daily activities a lot more intentional.

When we don’t know what we’re aiming for, it’s human nature to sell ourselves short, or get distracted by unproductive things.

✔️ Invest in learning

There are so many resources available today. There’s no excuse to not have information that can help us.

Setting aside an hour a day, either early in the morning or in the evening, to read a good book, listen to a podcast or an audio book, or watch a LinkedIn Learning, Ted Talk, or educational YouTube video is a much better use of time than Netflix.

✔️ Have an outlet

It’s good to disconnect from the stresses of life and do something we enjoy.

Having a hobby is a good thing. It’s healthy, and it models a great learned behavior for kids to see.

For me, my two outlets are working out and writing. They clear my head and make me more effective at everything in life.

✔️ Do fun things with family, friends and their community

This is one of the most important, and it’s also the hardest as our families get older, kids are more active in sports, and our responsibilities grow.

During the pandemic, we bought a travel trailer.

The kids were remote learning, I wasn’t traveling, and we were all home.

So we packed our computers in the trailer, did school work and conference calls at camp site picnic tables, and we did PE on the beaches in California and Oregon for most of 2020.

Although life is busier again, we realized we were missing a huge piece of connecting as a family, and we’ve continued booking 3-4 camping trips a year.

We certainly don’t have things down perfectly. But we’re trying our best.

And we’re constantly learning how to live better.


Bret Barrie was a Hall-of-Fame and President’s Club-winning sales rep and has been a top-producing sales leader in multiple industries. He is also the author of The Selling Edge: How to Reach the Top in any Sales Industry. A baseball enthusiast and fitness junkie, he is happily married with three children and lives in the greater Sacramento area. For more information, visit bretbarrie.com.

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Learn to be Part of the Solution

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In most organizations, problems become pretty easy to spot and call out. I’ve believed for a long time that one of the key qualities of people who rise through the ranks quickly is their ability to take the next step:

Bring forth solutions to the problems. Teddy Roosevelt used to say, “Complaining about a problem without proposing a solution is called whining.”

We all encounter problems. Everyday. But the people who achieve at the highest levels are the ones who are best at solving problems.

The bigger, the better.

Here are four important watch outs to ensure you are solving problems and not just calling them out, in the workplace and at home:

1. Begin with the end in mind

Stephen Covey used to say, “Begin with the end in mind.”

A great place to start is by looking at what the best possible experience needs to be for the end user, which is usually the consumer or business who will be buying the product. From that starting point, you can work backward toward the solution.

If the situation is not in business, the process shouldn’t change. Think to yourself, “What does the ideal outcome to this situation need to look like?” This level of thinking forces you to think more creatively and will increase your chances of creating a solution.

2. Utilize people of different backgrounds

Often times, it can be extremely difficult to take a holistic look at situations, especially if you’re immersed in one particular function of the business. When you’re buried in the day-to-day of your own responsibility, it’s easy to get tunnel vision and be closed off to other possibilities and ideas.

Step back, detach, and attempt to look at the situation from 30,000 feet, not just from the ground level. Ask some teammates for their opinion on the topic. Also, ask people in other departments if they have any ideas.

In my own life, my wife gives me the best advice. She is incredibly resourceful, intuitive, and solution-oriented. I hate to admit, but there have also been times in business where she’s told me I was going down the wrong path on a decision, and she’s almost always been right.

If you have someone outside of your current business to bounce ideas off, I highly recommend you entertain their thoughts and opinions when possible.

3. Use all resources available

In today’s world, there are very few problems to solve where you can’t find an answer somewhere. With all the resources and tools available today, I firmly believe the only answer you can’t find is the one you don’t look hard enough for.

Books, podcasts, and blogs are great places to find useful wisdom and guidance. Books are my favorite resource. If someone has taken the effort to research, write, and publish a book on a topic, even if the entire work isn’t amazing, there are usually at least one or two nuggets I can learn and act on.

One word of caution: because there are is so much content out in the world today, and there are so many “experts” in practically every field, you must be careful who you take advice from. Before absorbing someone’s advice or opinion, take a few minutes and research the person who created it. Some good qualifiers are the person’s background, certifications and/or qualifications, who they’re connected to, and who they’re endorsed by.

4. Set it aside and come back later

Frustration kills creative thinking, and it is possible to be so frustrated that there’s little chance you can think of a solution in a particular moment. This is completely normal, and it’s okay.

In times when a problem is really frustrating, and you’re not making any progress, it’s okay to put it down and come back later with a clearer head. Take a day or two, walk away from it, and revisit it later.

As long as you make the commitment to come back to problem at a later time, stepping away can be a good thing.

Problems are not only frustrating, but they are what leaders in all walks of life are trying to solve. In most cases, the reason people have been put in top positions is because of their ability to lead teams to solving problems.

And most are always looking for more people to help them. Bring more solutions, and you’ll watch your career take off.

What are your best tips for being a part of the solution?


Bret Barrie was a Hall-of-Fame and President’s Club-winning sales rep and has been a top-producing sales leader in multiple industries. He is also the author of The Selling Edge: How to Reach the Top in any Sales Industry. A baseball enthusiast and fitness junkie, he is happily married with three children and lives in the greater Sacramento area. For more information, visit bretbarrie.com.

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How to Maintain Control in this Crazy Time

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To say this is a tough time in the world would be an understatement. As we all are taking precautions to minimize the spread of COVID-19, every aspect of people’s lives has been affected by this pandemic.

For most people, most of the adjustments related to “social distancing” are perceived negatively.

With businesses shut down, the stock market taking a historic tumble, people losing jobs, kids being out of school, and virtually all recreation activities, sports, and entertainment events canceled, there’s a lot to be anxious about. When you add being isolated in your home for weeks or months on end, you start feeling like you don’t have any choices or control in life.

While there is a lot of truth to that, we have to remember this is a short term thing. Eventually the virus’ curve will flatten, we will be able to get out of isolation, and we’ll return to life as we knew a few weeks ago.

Life may not turn out exactly how it was before, and that’s certainly a popular debate these days. The truth is, no one knows exactly what life will look like, but it will certainly be closer to what it was before this pandemic.

In the meantime, here are a few things you can do to weather this storm and ensure you come out better on the other side:

1. Control your thoughts and attitude

In his famous book Man’s Search for Meaning, Austrian physicist and holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl says, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

While our experience in today’s world is clearly not comparable to Frankl’s experience in concentration camps, what is the same is our ability to dictate our thoughts, attitudes, and actions.

What you choose to focus on grows.

If you spend your quarantined time focused on the negative aspects of this experience, I guarantee you’ll see more of that than you’ll see good. That thinking will cause you to dwell on things you truly don’t have control over, and you’ll miss out on opportunities that, even in these dark times, are right in front of you.

Focusing on the positive aspects of this situation doesn’t mean you disregard the challenges. No doubt, these are tough times. But it means you are shifting your focus toward solutions and what can be done, as opposed to spending the majority of time dwelling on things you have no control over.

You are always free to choose how you feel, look at, and act on situations.

2. Create a daily to-do list and commit to it

I’ve always believed people are happiest when they are productive. In my own life, that has definitely been proven true over the years. When I’m sitting around too much, not doing enough, I don’t do well mentally.

Generally, it seems like people who are the most miserable are the ones with too much time on their hands. If you’re busy and focused on productivity, progress, and moving forward, there’s something contagious and motivating about that.

As Tony Robbins says, “Motion creates emotion.” I’ve found this to be incredibly true. It’s one of the reasons people who enjoy early-morning workouts swear by them.

If you’re like my family, your to-do list may look a little different than it usually does, and that’s okay. During this time of quarantine, now is a great time to knock out projects, focus on hobbies, or honey-do’s you haven’t been able to do ordinarily.

Use this time to clean out that closet or garage, make a trip or two to Goodwill (maintaining appropriate social distance, of course), read a few extra books, start that blog you’ve want to for years, and anything else you’ve been putting off. Binging on some Netflix won’t hurt, but just make sure it’s kept in check and during times you’ve planned.

3. Exercise daily

For most people, this is one of the biggest adjustments of all. Especially for gym goers, the adjustment to an at-home workout can be extremely tough. However, there are several things you can do to transition to at-home workouts and still maintain a solid level of fitness.

There are several apps and programs designed specifically for at home or on the road workouts, and many of them don’t require any weights or equipment at all. Additionally, most fitness clubs have also launched at-home workout plans and additional resources for their members.  If you haven’t checked your health club’s website or mobile app, log in and see if they have launched a virtual workout plan you can follow.

Another challenge to working out at home can be family getting in the way, especially if you have young children. Three options I suggest: work out with them, let them tag along or play nearby (and realize it won’t be exactly the same), or wake up before everyone else and knock it out.

One of the group fitness classes my wife takes has transitioned to virtual classes on Zoom. Since there’s no gym daycare at the house, and often times I’m working in my office, our little guy does the workout with my wife.

While it may not give her the adult alone time she usually enjoys during her usual routine, she still is able to get a solid workout in, and it also sets a great example for our kids of staying active and healthy. Plus, the other ladies in the class are most definitely entertained by our video-bombing pre-schooler.

4. Monitor your information consumption

My old friend Isaac Tolpin likes to ask his clients, “Are you producing more than you’re consuming?” This plays out in multiple areas of life, but the area that gets most people into trouble is on their mobile device.

Do you find yourself spending too much time scrolling your news feeds on social media, “spying” on people, liking too many things, leaving a ton of comments each day? Additionally, how much time are you spending on news sites, watching politically-charged television, and allowing yourself to get swept up in that vicious cycle?

That’s consuming.

I’m not saying it’s not important to see what’s going on in the news. I definitely read the news every day, and I encourage you to do the same. However, keep a limit on it.

There are two ways I’ve found to work best on not over-consuming the news. First, limit your exposure to 30-60 minutes first thing in the morning. This is more than enough time to get a general pulse on what’s going on in the world. Second, check or tune in for 10-15 minutes in the early evening. If you’re on a news website or a television newscast, any significant happenings for the day will be readily available.

More than that, and you’re spending too much time focused on negative topics, most of which you have no immediate control over.

5. Spend extra time with family

There have been some silver linings during this pandemic, and the best one for me is it’s given me more time at home with family. While we haven’t been able to go to playgrounds or visit fun places like we usually do, we have been able to spend more quality time together, when I’m usually gone for most of the work week.

We’ve gone on numerous bike rides around the neighborhood, played baseball in the backyard, built crazy Hot Wheels tracks in the playroom, read books, worked on puzzles, and played board games. Also, my wife got me hooked on Ellen’s show Game of Games, which reminds me of an adult version of Nickelodeon’s old show Double Dare.

I recently re-read Gary Chapman‘s book The 5 Love Languages of Children. One of the love languages that can have a profound impact on our relationships with our spouse, children, and family is quality time, which simply consists of spending time together where you’re present and focused on them. Now is a great time to practice that.

Undoubtedly, these are unprecedented, uncertain, unbelievable and crazy times. None of us know for certain how this pandemic will end, and exactly what things will look like when it’s over.

There are a lot of outcomes that will be outside of most of our immediate control, that’s for sure. However, uncertainty doesn’t give us the excuse to not control the things we can influence directly.

One of my old bosses used to say, “Control your controllables and the rest will take care of itself.” Let’s remember that as we move into our new future.


Bret Barrie was a Hall-of-Fame and President’s Club-winning sales rep and has been a top-producing sales leader in multiple industries. He is also the author of The Selling Edge: How to Reach the Top in any Sales Industry. A baseball enthusiast and fitness junkie, he is happily married with three children and lives in the greater Sacramento area. For more information, visit bretbarrie.com.

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How to Believe You Can Achieve Your Goals

IMG_6734James Allen once said, “The will to do springs from the knowledge that we can do.”

Regardless of the endeavor, belief in what you’re doing matters. It matters more than most other factors. In many cases, a lack of belief is what holds people back from taking the actions that lead to positive results.

When you look at people who are successful, whether it’s people in business, athletes, actors, or normal people like you and I,  belief in themselves is one of the key traits.

Belief leads to action. Action then leads to results. Results create more motivation and makes it easier to take more action.

Momentum matters.

If you’re struggling to believe, and struggling to gain momentum in one or more areas of life, here are three quick actions you can take to change that:

1. Look at those who are succeeding

Regardless of the activity, there are most likely people already succeeding. Look to them as proof that it can be done. Once someone accomplishes a great feat, it should serve as proof that others can accomplish it too.

The 4-minute mile is a great example of this. For years, people thought it was physically impossible for a human to run a mile in under four minutes. It was so ridiculous that even doctors were trying to justify how the human body couldn’t handle running that fast.

Then on May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister achieved the first sub- 4-minute mile. The interesting thing is, that record only stood for 46 days. Within a year, several others had also broken the mark.

All it took was one person to show the world it was possible.

When things aren’t going well, it’s easy to get lost in your own personal doldrums. Salespeople do this all the time. Instead, look around and see what others in your profession are achieving.

2. Learn the specific actions they took

One of the common challenges I see when people look at others who are successful is they want to distance themselves from that person. Or they make excuses why that person’s success can’t be duplicated.

In sales, it might be someone having a better territory with more hot prospects. In sports, maybe someone had better coaching or played against tougher competition. Maybe an actor had connections to people that others don’t.

Don’t go down that path. Instead, look at what the person DID. What actions did he or she take? What resources and training did they have to seek or engage in before they achieved the results?

How many times did they fail before they made it? What did they do to overcome their challenges? Once they reached the top, what actions did they take to reach even higher levels of success?

Some people do have  starting points that are farther along than most of us. But more often than not, you’ll find the true key to their success lies in their work ethic, tenacity, willingness to push through challenges, and an effort higher than most. There were challenges to overcome, and they didn’t give up.

3. Scale your actions to theirs

If you want to be successful, do what successful people do and emulate the same volume of activity. It’s that simple, and it’s also the only thing you have total control over.

You may not achieve the same exact results as they did, but you’ll achieve more than you currently are. Over time, your experience and skill level will improve, and so will your results.

When I was new in sales, I struggled bad. My first 12 appointments resulted in no-sales.

Then I went to a conference and learned some selling skills and messaging techniques that helped me make some sales. Then I plateaued again.

What helped me through the second plateau was emulating the volume of actions other reps were taking. I just wasn’t doing enough appointments, and what that took was making more prospecting phone calls.

An increase in focus, discipline, and tenacity was all it took, and my sales took off even more from there.

Ultimately, all roads lead to this conclusion: take action, and take more of it! Taking more disciplined action cures a lot of problems. Once you do, you’ll see results, and you’ll know you can do it. Then you’ll want to take even more action.


Bret Barrie was a Hall-of-Fame and President’s Club-winning sales rep and is a top-producing sales leader. He is also the author of The Selling Edge: How to Reach the Top in any Sales Industry. A baseball enthusiast and fitness junkie, he is happily married with three children and lives in the greater Sacramento area. For more information, visit bretbarrie.com.

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8 Reasons Salespeople Fail & How to Avoid Them

DCCCF4AC-52C9-4633-9774-E6BD87F42056Too many salespeople don’t succeed.

Out of the thousands of sales people in the world, most are not “crushing it”. Unfortunately, it’s reality.

There are some in sales who do quite well. But that’s usually not the majority, and typically when you look at the percentage of a sales force that hits quota, it’s usually not more than 60 percent.

An article published in Forbes last year cited that 57% of sales reps missed target in 2017. For most sales people, the story line plays out a couple different ways.

The most common scenario is: the salesperson jumps from job to job, and has really good stories (either blaming the prior company or telling a grass is greener story) as to why they needed to make the jump.

The other script is the tenured sales rep, who has never performed at plan, and is left alone because the leadership of the company doesn’t take the steps to correct the situation. Maybe it’s an HR or a loyalty issue, but the bottom line is, it’s bad leadership.

Harsh reality: either the person needs to be coached up, or he needs to be coached out of that position.

Usually, people just need coaching up.

This requires properly diagnosing why a person isn’t succeeding, giving them proper feedback, and putting specific accountability measures in place to help that person out.

If one of your sales people is currently struggling, or if you’re a salesperson and find yourself in this position, here are the 8 most common reasons sales people don’t succeed and thoughts on how to avoid them:

1. They don’t believe they can succeed

Often times sales people do not believe they have what it takes to succeed. This can be especially true for new salespeople. I know, because I was in this same boat 18 years ago as a brand new sales rep.

In my book, The Selling Edge: How to Reach the Top in any Sales Industry, I discuss what it took to go from starting my career with 12 straight no-sales to becoming one of the high achievers in a very short time frame.

If someone on your team is struggling to believe, match them up with one of your top reps as a mentor. Show them the evidence of success, and have one of your top reps show them step-by-step how to do it.

James Allen once said, “The will to do springs from the knowledge that we can do.”

If sales people can see evidence of success and learn to emulate the habits that create superior results, sooner or later they will achieve those results.  Then they will believe as well.

2. They’re not provided proper training and onboarding

My boss often says, “You live with what you launch”. In terms of team and employee leadership, there is no truer application of this than in onboarding and initial training. This is one of the biggest developmental gaps for most people managers, especially those who are new to leadership.

Put yourself in the shoes of a new hire.

New hires are joining a new company, and they really don’t know what to expect. They could be doing a new industry altogether. Furthermore, they may have even turned down a counter-offer from their prior company.

There’s a built-in level of apprehension that all new hires have. They’re trying to figure out a new job while also hoping they made the right decision joining a new company.

So get them started out on the right foot. Make sure all their electronics and email addresses work and are ready for them, have their desk (if working in the office) set up and ready, make sure everyone on the team personally welcomes them, and have their first two weeks mapped out impeccably.

Most companies have the HR and paperwork piece handled. However, making someone feel welcome and their first day memorable involves a lot more than supplying an I-9 and a W-4.

3. They shouldn’t be in sales in the first place

When interviewing candidates, I love asking how they got into sales. The answer to the question usually gives me a good indication if we should proceed with the candidate.

Some candidates will give an entrepreneurial or business-type response, how they’ve always been a go-getter, are goal-oriented, want to control their own paycheck, want to get paid what they’re worth, have unlimited income potential, or answers like that.

Those people are often times a good fit to continue in the hiring process.

The other most common answer is: “Well, I got to the end of my senior year in college, and I always got good grades, but I didn’t really know what I wanted to do still. Then, I went and met with a counselor (also insert, professor, grandparent, friend, aunt, or uncle, or best friend’s mom or dad), and they told me I should get in to sales because I’m good with people.”

Now, that doesn’t mean I would automatically rule that person out. And there are plenty of top sales people who stumbled their way into this profession. But make sure they are in sales for the right reason and have a full understanding of the grind before moving them forward.

As the great Tom Hopkins likes to say, “Sales is the highest paid hard work, and the lowest paid easy work.”

Sales is hard, and it’s not for everyone. As hiring managers, we owe it to prospective employees to make sure the business, and the effort and actions required, are truly for them.

4. They don’t follow the training

It amazes me how many people try to reinvent the wheel. This sets them back in the training process and doesn’t set them up for success.

With most activities or endeavors, there have already been trailblazers who have figured things out, usually the hard way. Sales is definitely one of those endeavors. Even if the company training program isn’t that great, there’s usually immense value in following it.

Follow the program, at least initially. After about 100 appointments or customer interactions, you can adjust if necessary. In my experience, most sales companies do a pretty solid job at training new hires.

Sure, some don’t. But if the company has been around for a while, generally the training program is good enough to achieve some level of success.

If the employee doesn’t follow the training, that’s another story. As a sales leader, you must also sell the new hire on the necessity of following the program and ensure that happens.

5. They don’t take enough action

Sales people need to know the volume of specific actions that are expected of them, and they should also be shown the exact steps that top producers are taking daily.

This was one of the mistakes I made when I was new in sales. After I got through my initial training, I was eventually making some sales. However, my overall revenue wasn’t growing as rapidly as it could because I wasn’t doing enough appointments.

To get more appointments, I needed do engage in a higher volume of prospecting activities, which back then was phone calls. I needed to make four times the amount of phone calls than I was.

So I went field training with one of the top reps (shoutout to Adam Curchack), watched him do four sales appointments and watched him do phone time. After that day, I realized that I wasn’t working nearly as hard as I thought I was or needed to.

6. They’re not given proper ongoing coaching

Coaching makes all the difference in the world, especially in sales. Coaching can come from several different angles.

Sales people need feedback and coaching, regardless of how tenured they are. Hall of Fame quarterbacks have coaches and coordinators. Baseball players have hitting, pitching, and position coaches. Golfers have swing coaches.

Sales people need coaching too. At all levels.

A common mistake sales managers make is not actively coaching their best people as hard as they do their newer employees and under performers. Big mistake.

The best people want to be challenged, coached, and developed. One of the keys to having a high-achieving organization is to have the most talented people possible.

Getting the people is one thing. But work with them. Develop them. And don’t stop coaching.

7. They’re not held accountable to adapting

In today’s world, being adaptable wins over most other qualities. It’s right up there with work ethic in my book, especially in the new world of sales we live in.

Sales today isn’t done the same way it was 10 or 15 years ago, and that’s in all businesses. We can thank the online world for much of that.

Markets…customers…competitors…technology…education…economics… it all changes over time. If your sales people aren’t nimble and able to make adjustments to how they approach their business and customers, they won’t make it long term.

The best read on adaptability is Who Moved My Cheese by the late Spencer Johnson. It’s a classic on how to deal with change, both personally and professionally.

I’ve bought several copies for my sales teams over the last few years, and it’s always been a hit. If you, or people on your team have already read it, have them read it again.

8. They quit

The harsh reality is, a lot of sales people are not succeeding at high levels because they’ve simply given up. They may not have formally resigned, but they’ve quit.

How many people on your team have quit?

If you feel this is the case for anyone on your team, you need to work to re-engage them, or they need to leave. Maybe there’s an opening in a different department, or even on a different sales team.

Or maybe they need to exit the organization, which can be a positive thing for all parties, if the situation truly isn’t a good fit.

However, most sales people don’t quit, unless several of the first 7 points in this article ring true. Engage with your team, and make sure that doesn’t happen.

What are your best ways to ensure salespeople succeed, thrive, and develop under your watch? Please feel free to provide comments below.


Bret Barrie was a Hall-of-Fame and President’s Club-winning sales rep and is a top-producing sales leader in the medical device industry. He is also the author of The Selling Edge: How to Reach the Top in any Sales Industry. A baseball enthusiast and fitness junkie, he is happily married with three children and lives in the greater Sacramento area. For more information, visit bretbarrie.com.

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3 Questions all Sales People Should Ask

Are your sales initiatives making progress, and are your current projects moving forward? Or are you stuck and can’t figure out why?

If you find yourself in the latter category, the solution may be a lot easier than you think.

Sales efforts stall out for a variety of reasons, ranging from not having a need for the product, not liking the sales rep, not being able to get all important parties on board, among several other reasons.

However, if you want to increase your odds, ask yourself these 3 questions and ensure your sales communications and meetings also follow these themes:

1. What is my customer or prospect’s agenda?

So many sales people make the mistake of starting with the mindset of having to sell the customer their product or service, and sell it to them now. Why wouldn’t they? After all, you need to hit your quota, right?

Even if your product or service fits into a customer’s need, that doesn’t necessarily mean it does right now.

Try this: instead of walking into your next 10 sales meetings with the mindset of selling your customer what you have, take the mindset of finding out what their initiatives are, what problems they’re trying to fix in their business, and what the time frame looks like for them.

2. How can I align my strategy to theirs?

Your answer may still be your product or service, especially if you are in a business structure where you only carry one product or service. But you’ll at least have a better idea of how it may need to look for your prospect to move forward with you.

If you sell a portfolio of products, really listening to your customer, specifically the pain points they may be encounter with their current vendor or product offering, will be highly beneficial.

In today’s world, especially in big business, most deals involve multiple decision makers within highly complex organizations. Often times, that means projects and budgets are mapped out well in advance, sometimes by several years.

For sales people, this means the sales cycle can be very, very long for many products and technologies. Always longer than your company wants to see too, by the way. So the best way to shorten this cycle as much as possible is to get a solid understanding of what the customer’s process, projects, timelines, and key players look like, and align your initiatives to what they’re already doing.

The other way around will not be as successful. I can 100% guarantee you of that.

3. What does a successful relationship look like to them?

Have you ever asked your customer what they expect of you, and how you can be a great partner to them? It may sound like a pretty elementary question to ask, and because of that, most people don’t ask it.

Most people assume they know what the customer wants. Most are probably incorrect.

During your next meeting with your top customer, say something like, “Mary, I want to make sure that me and my company are great partners to you and your company. May I ask you how we’re doing so far, and what thoughts you have on how we can be a better partner to you?”

Again, it sounds simple, but I bet not many people have asked your customer that question lately. And if your competitor hasn’t, you’ve already got a leg up.

What are your best strategies for aligning your message to your customer’s agenda? Feel free to comment below.


Bret Barrie was a Hall-of-Fame and President’s Club-winning sales rep and is a top-producing sales leader in the medical device industry. He is also the author of The Selling Edge: How to Reach the Top in any Sales Industry. A baseball enthusiast and fitness junkie, he is happily married with three children and lives in the greater Sacramento area. For more information, visit bretbarrie.com.

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