Success in Sales Requires the Right Mindset – by Townsend Wardlaw

In recent post, one of my favorite sales ‘gurus’ S. Anthony Iannarino stated (quite accurately) “Who you are matters more than what you do.

In ‘The War of Art,’ Steven Pressfield shares this: “The place from which you are speaking matters more than the words you say.

Mahann Khalsa of Franklin Covey fame says: “Intent counts more than technique.”

Each of these wonderful quotes actually mean the same thing:

Above all else, success in sales requires the right mindset.

In reality, having the right sales mindset is difficult because it requires we maintain two personal ‘truths’:

1) I truly care for my prospect

2) I am not afraid of failure

These ‘truths’ matter more than any other selling skill, technique, tool, or process.

Caring Comes First

To serve your prospects and clients you must first possess and demonstrate an actual care for them.

Then you must remove (or at least partition) your fears associated with failure or attainment of the desired outcome.

(Whoa…That sounds deep)

Ask Yourself: Do You Care about Your Prospect?

Do you care about them?

Do you care about their success?

Do you understand their hopes and dreams?

Do you understand what they are deeply fearful of?

I work with entrepreneurs (ie. individuals) who put everything on the line to achieve something they believe in. They risk their money and their relationships and their sanity pretty much every day.

Want to know what I ask almost every entrepreneur early in my ‘discovery’ process?

I ask them about their relationship with their wife (or husband) and their children.

Rather than explain why I do this I’ll let you think on this for a bit. No rush. I’ll wait.

You Back?

Great, let’s keep going…

Of course you realized that I ask this question because I actually care about their relationship with their wife (or husband) and their children. I care because for most of us, this is the single most important part of our life.

Yet for most of us, it is also the part that tends to suffer catastrophically in the process of building a company.

I should know.

So back to you…

Do you care about your prospects?

Do you care about them personally?

Do you care enough?

Because if you do, there is nothing you won’t ask them.

When you care, there are no ‘tough’ questions.

When you care, there is nothing you won’t do to help them.

Unless, of course, you are afraid.

Newsflash: We Are All Afraid.

What are you afraid of?

  • Maybe this deal will fall through.
  • What if they don’t buy from me?
  • Will they want to negotiate?
  • What happens if I don’t close this before the end of the month?
  • I hear there may be layoffs.

Do you feel that?

It’s the sensation we all get in the pit of our stomach when the truth starts to bubble up.

  • All of this applies to me.
  • This could happen to me.
  • I am vulnerable.

What can I do to make this feeling go away?

  • I will defend my position.
  • I will ignore the naysayers.
  • I will bury my doubts.
  • I will declare my invulnerability.

Can you see how these reactions might impede your ability to serve even when you care deeply about them?

Again, take a minute and think about this

No rush. I’ll wait.

You Back?

Great, let’s keep going.

It’s hard to be authentic when you are afraid. It’s even harder to be unafraid.

Actually, it’s impossible to be unafraid.

I’ll Say It Again: We Are All Afraid.

Fear is an emotion, and an important one at that.

Stated simply, an absence of fear would be an undesirable attribute. An absence of fear would likely get you killed or, at a minimum, qualify you as a psychopath.

So what is one to do?

Fear must be faced and confronted and managed. It cannot be avoided.

It’s normal and quite ok to be afraid of the Deal-Falling-Through-Losing-Your-Job-and-Living-In-A-Van-Down-By-The-River.

It’s what you do with that fear that matters.

It’s what you do with that fear that determines if your care for your prospect will allow you to serve them.


    1. The place from which you are speaking matters more than the words you say.
    2. Who you are matters more than what you do.
    3. Intent counts more than technique.


With tours of duty at AT&T, BDM, TRW Technology Services, Lucent, and Avaya, Townsend Wardlaw had his share of large corporations and left a secure job and hefty salary to start his own company, Three Value Logic. For six years, he ran his own sales consultancy and sales outsourcing company that, at its peak, delivered millions of cold calls and many more millions in revenue for our clients. Since shutting Three Value Logic down in 2009, he has lived the glamorous, profitable and relaxing life of the sole proprietor. His boutique consultancy works with Founders and CEO’s of companies earning between $1M and $10M to help them lead happier and (more importantly) more profitable lives.

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