Sales is challenging.
Objections, rejections, and stalled deals can put a dent in the spirits of even the most ardent salesperson. Sometimes we all need a little pep-talk, and in this fast-moving industry, the pithier, the better.
If you’re running a little low on inspiration, we’ve rounded up some of the best motivational sales quotes of all time to put a fire under your team and supercharge your sales.
Grab a post-it note; you’re going to want to keep some of these handy.
“If you have to eat two frogs, eat the ugliest one first.” Brian Tracy
Motivational speaker and self-development guru Brian Tracy is a veritable fountain of pithy wisdom, but we’re particular fans of this quote about productivity and procrastination.
Tracy’s grotesque amphibian metaphor sums up his approach to efficiency; tackle the hardest, most arduous task first. Once that job is off your plate, and you’re no longer languishing under its shadow, then you can stop procrastinating and get down to some real graft.
So next time you’re being bogged down by a tricky task, go ahead and eat that frog.
“Sales are contingent upon the attitude of the salesman, not the attitude of the prospect.”
W. Clement Stone
A businessman, philanthropist, and lifelong optimist, William Clement Stone was a vocal proponent of the importance of a positive attitude. He attributed his success as an insurance magnate to his upbeat outlook and persistent cheerfulness; traits that he preached through his writings and charity work.
Stone believed that it was up to the salesperson to maintain an optimistic attitude, and not be put off by whatever came at them from the other end of the telephone line. His idea was that a buoyant salesperson made themselves bulletproof to refusals and objections, and that their positivity would rub off on their customers.
Leaving behind a company worth $2bn at his death, Stone’s rags-to-riches story is a testament to how a can-do mindset and a genuine desire to help others can lead to enormous success.
“Champions keep playing until they get it right.” Billie Jean King
A legendary American tennis player who fought for equal prize money for female players, Billie Jean King knows a thing or two about winning.
This inspirational quote is all about resilience; an essential trait for successful salespeople. You will get knocked down, you will get rejections, but the key is to get back up and keep going until you get that all-important win.
“If you are not taking care of your customer, your competitor will.” Bob Hooey
Unless you’re the world’s luckiest sales executive, then you’re in a constant battle against your competitors, no matter which market you operate in.
Even so, sometimes we need a reminder about how easy it is to drive customers into the arms of our competitors. This quote from Bob Hooey—the self-proclaimed “ideas man” and business coach—encapsulates the importance of customer focus.
No matter how good a salesperson you believe you are, no matter how prominent your company is in your market, there is always someone in the shadows who is just as hungry as you, waiting to snap up your customers the moment their faith in you waivers.
That’s not to say you need to be looking over your shoulder and worrying about your competitors all day long—if you focus on your customers and deliver the best possible service, they won’t have any reason to engage with your rivals.
“Timid salesmen have skinny kids.” Zig Ziglar
Salesman and speaker Hilary Hinton “Zig” Ziglar was renowned for his drive, writing more than 30 motivational books throughout his career. His first book, See You at the Top, was rejected 39 times before it was finally published in 1975, and is still in print today.
The above is one of his most famous quotes, and is a concise reminder of the importance of being a self-starter. There’s a lot of talk in sales about opportunity, but the biggest mistake a salesperson can make is waiting for opportunity to come to them.
For every great lead that lands in your lap, you’ve probably missed 100 that have passed you by because you haven’t chased them hard enough. You reap only what you sow, and salespeople who are dynamic, ambitious, and resourceful are the ones who will come out on top.
“Nothing will work unless you do.” Maya Angelou
If anyone exemplifies the power of hard work, it’s Maya Angelou. A poet, singer, memoirist, civil rights activist, dancer, journalist, actress, director, and producer (not to mention the first black female cable car conductor in San Francisco), Angelou achieved a staggering amount in her lifetime, and she did so solely because she worked for it.
There will always be the temptation to take shortcuts, or to dedicate less than 100% of your abilities to a task, but always remember that you get out what you put in.
“Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.” Truman Capote
The only way to learn is to fail. Failure is something that we all experience, but it’s how we deal with it that counts. Every mistake, every setback is a learning experience, and one that will make your eventual success all the more rewarding knowing that you’ve weathered the storm.
This well-known quote from writer Truman Capote is a call to reframe your missteps, learn from them, and move forward with the knowledge that you are now more knowledgeable and well-equipped to succeed than you were before.
“I attribute my success to this: I never gave or took an excuse.” Florence Nightingale
Straight from the mouth of the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale’s quote on accountability serves as a curt overview of the relationship between accomplishment and responsibility.
We all know how easy it is to procrastinate with excuses, whether that means the excuses we make to our teammates or the ones we make to ourselves. They are the chief enablers of feet-dragging, and a sure-fire way to hold yourself back. Not only does making—and accepting—excuses keep you from achieving your goals, it also stifles your professional and personal development. After all, you can’t learn from your mistakes if you’re forever passing them off as someone else’s fault.
As Nightingale herself put it: “I do see the difference now between me and other men. When a disaster happens, I act and they make excuses.”
“You just can’t beat the person who never gives up.” Babe Ruth
It’s said that hard work always beats out raw talent. It could be argued that Babe Ruth, America’s most famous baseball player, utilized both, but that doesn’t take away from his famous quote about tenacity and graft.
Ruth broke countless records during his career, including a personal best of 714 career home runs before his retirement in 1935—a high few other players have even come close to. Though he undoubtedly possessed a level of innate sporting talent rarely seen since, Ruth was also a workhorse. He played as often as possible, fully committing himself to be better and push himself further than any other player, and it’s that resolve and effort that saw Ruth build a legacy that’s still going strong 100 years later.
“You are what you repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle (kind of)
He may have lived some 2,400 years ago, but Aristotle’s take on consistency is still relevant today.
Since we’re striving for excellence here, it’s important to note that what Aristotle actually said in his Nicomachean Ethics was: “these virtues are formed in man by his doing the actions.” This notion was later elegantly summarized by philosopher Will Durant in his book The Story of Philosophy.
Whichever way you want to phrase it, though, the sentiment is imperative. One good day does not a good salesperson make; success is built on the foundation of relentless, repetitive good habits. Consistently exceptional, reliable service is what creates a positive brand both for yourself as a professional and for your business.
Brilliance is rarely born; more often than not, it’s hard-won through practice and habituation. We don’t succeed because we are great salespeople, we are great salespeople because we do the things we need to do to achieve success over and over again. And we have both Aristotle and Will Durant to thank for reminding us.
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