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Turn Setbacks into Success

Jill Konrath

The other day I was at the Olive Garden talking to a prospective client over lunch. He was telling me about the all challenges his sales organization was facing. Decisions were being delayed because of the economy. Competition was everywhere, cutting prices to bare bones to get the orders. His reps were frustrated, discouraged.

"If only they could all be like Paul," he said, shaking his head in frustration. "Can you clone him?

I laughed, but my curiosity was piqued. "Tell me more," I asked.

It seems that Paul was having a really good year, despite everything that was going on. He'd lost some business to competitors, but had won more than his share without major discounting. Even the numerous obstacles he encountered, which totally derailed the other sales reps, only set him back temporarily.

"Let me guess," I interrupted. "Those setbacks almost seem to energize him. Right?"

My client, who was about to take a bite of fettucini, set down his fork. Looking at me quizzically, he said almost in a whisper, "How did you know? That is exactly what happens."

I smiled slowly, but couldn't keep the twinkle out of my eyes. I leaned forward and whispered back, "Paul kisses the frogs."

My client burst out laughing. It certainly was not the answer he expected, but it's the truth. Over the years I've met other Pauls and they are usually the top performers. What differentiates them from their colleagues is how they approach the setbacks (or ugly frogs) they invariably encounter in selling.

When setbacks occur, frog kissers like Paul reframe these obstacles into personal challenges. Rather than getting discouraged or blaming others, they ask, "How can I tackle this new situation? What other options can I try? What can I learn by kissing this frog?"

With their creative energies ignited, new options and alternatives emerge. Limitations become possibilities. They experiment with different approaches, willing to grow in the process. In doing this, frog kissers are often able to transform their setbacks into successes.

So, here's my challenge to you. In the next month you're likely to run into a few sales problems such as disinterested prospects, angry customers, delayed decisions, or cut-throat competitors. This time, instead of getting upset, go kiss the frogs.

That's right. Kiss the frogs. I guarantee you that princely pay-offs are hidden inside.

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Jill Konrath, President of Selling to Big Companies and Leapfrog-Strategies Inc., helps sellers create value, differentiation and demand in competitive markets. For info on speaking, training or consulting services, please call 651-429-1922 or email us at


Copyright 2005, Jill Konrath - (651) 429-1922