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The Oblivious Sales Professional: The Dangers of Overconfidence

10 Questions to Uncover Customer Obstacles

Keeping an upbeat and positive attitude is an essential attribute to being able to handle the day to day ups and downs of a profession in sales. Learning how to handle rejection is just part of the job, and comes with the territory. However, there is a danger in being too positive and hearing only what you want to. There is a doctrine in sales that to think positive will ultimately lead to positive results. “Stay positive” and “stay focused” are just some of the phrases sales professionals often hear.

The push from management and coworkers to always remain positive often interferes with the sales professional’s ability to properly disseminate information uncovered in customer visits. Some are so overconfident or preoccupied with remaining positive, that they ignore the obstacles and realities behind what’s standing in their way of success. The reality is that most sales opportunities have hidden issues that need to be addressed. Ignoring them, or pretending they do not exist, is a prelude to failure.

Every potential customer has a history of bad experiences or issues that play an important role in their decision making process. It is those sales professionals who pay close attention to details, uncover these issues, and confront them, that greatly increase their ability to win business. Unfortunately, sales professionals who point out these obstacles to coworkers, and management, can often be labeled as being negative. In fact, they are doing exactly what needs to be done to increase their odds at securing the order.

Whether it is overconfidence, company culture or the inability to identify the real issues, there are far too many sales professionals that come away from customer visits convinced the order is a foregone conclusion. It simply isn’t. Nothing is ever guaranteed. However, there is a way to provide a balance against being too positive or overconfident with some simple questions all sales people should prepare before and after meeting customers.


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Having a solid understanding of the customer’s purchasing criteria is essential. There is nothing negative about understanding the obstacles and objections your customer may have. Uncovering objections and handling issues, is what separates the average sales professional from the one who continuously exceeds expectations. Remain positive, but cognizant of what’s needed to win the customer over.

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