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The 7 Laws of Sales Success

There are certain "Laws" of the universe which successful people often leverage, and today's' sales people must learn to embrace some of these important laws to ensure future sales success.

The 7 Laws of Sales Success -

Practically every profession has some laws (if not, then Guidelines) that practitioners must abide by....that is, except for the so called 'sales profession'.

  • Marketers have increasing laws around Privacy and Permission. GDPR etc.
  • Finance professionals must adhere to increasing laws around compliance (Sarbanes Oxley) Governance and Reporting (GAAP).
  • Human Resources, - Workplace Law, Employment Law. Labor Regulations etc.
  • Health care professionals – laws and regulations everywhere you look.
  • Sales professionals – zip, zilch, nada. Aside from the laws that everyone must follow in business there are no specific certifications, qualifications or LAWS that govern the conduct of sales people, more's the pity.

Sales has always been a strange anomaly (in so many ways) and throughout my 3 decades of sales experience, I have witnessed some reoccurring themes and some unwritten laws of the universe that always seem to be at play. Thus, I’m now going to present my view of 7 well known “Laws” that I believe must be observed if you want to be successful as a modern sales professional:

1. The Law of Attraction (LoA) :

LoA states that you will attract into your life whatever you focus on, meaning that whatever you give your energy and attention to will come back to you. What you give is what you get returned, and I have personally realised my greatest sales successes through selfless actions, and by being focused on helping the buyer get what they want.

The most consistently successful sales people that I know have always intuitively understood that we must: “create value BEFORE you try to extract value”…...and that means NOT focusing on your quota or commission.

The incredible power of the LoA cannot be underestimated, and it will bring unimaginable positivity and prosperity back to you as a by-product of simply focusing on the right things.

Sadly, the vast majority of my 30 year has been a constant battle against the principles of LoA. Why? Because I’ve nearly always been measured and managed (and rewarded) on self-interest, and until business leaders WAKE UP and change the focus, they will not reap the amazing benefits of LoA.

Create value before you try to extract value – Brian Halligan (CEO HubSpot)

2. The Law of Reciprocity (LoR)

LoR says that when someone does something nice for you, you will have a deep-rooted psychological urge to do something nice in return. Also known as the Law of Sowing and Reaping, allows us to receive as a result of what we give or do, and that’s why LoA and LoR work so well together. In a business context, if you want to change what you are reaping them you have to change what you are sowing.

In my experience, when modern B2B people switch the focus to giving, and not receiving, then sales success will take care of itself.

“Modern selling is about what you bring to the table, not what you can swipe from the table when nobody is looking"

3. The Law of Diminishing Returns (LoDR)

The LoDR is an economic principle that states that in a production process, as one input variable is increased, there will be a point at which the marginal per unit output will start to decrease, holding all other factors constant. In effect, this is exactly what is happening right now in the world of B2B sales….declining returns from the same (and now outdated) processes. 63% or the worlds B2B sales people are failing to meet or exceed quote and that trend increases in the wrong direction at pace.

As Einstein said, the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and expect a different result….so why the hell are so many of the worlds so-called business leaders making no effort to change the process? Are these senseless people unable to step back at see that their 1980’s approach to sales no longer works with modern buyers? Apparently, these same senseless people are happy to accept the ‘diminishing returns’.

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein.


4. The Law of Motion (LoM)

LoM states that a body at rest remains at rest and a body in motion remains in uniform motion in a straight line unless acted upon by an external force – sales success for me was always about knowing when I need to push hard at the beginning of the month/quarter/year in order to establish that all important sales momentum. Month/quarter/year end always means that the clock resets on your quota and it’s back to $0, and I’ve seen so many sales/business people that failed to understand the importance of exerting the right level of effort to generate the much needed motion for sales success. 

Once momentum has been established, then it becomes a fine balance to simply keep the motion moving forwards at the right speed.

“The momentum of continuous action fuels motivation whilst procrastination kills motivation” – Steve Pavlina

5. The Law of Propinquity (LoP)

LoP is not well known, and it states that the greater the physical (or psychological) proximity between people, the greater the chance that they will form friendships or romantic relationships.

In my sometimes overly simplistic way of thinking, sales people that do not go and meet their buyers where they are (nowadays on social platforms) then they have zero chance of ever building those coveted relationships.

As I keep saying, 'visibility creates opportunity' and if you don’t get in front of your customers then don’t be surprised when they form a relationship with your competitors - whom are meeting them where they are learning about solutions to business problems.

6. Law of Unintended Consequences,

LoUC states that actions often have effects that are unanticipated or unintended.

In modern sales parlance, it strikes me that it’s virtually impossible to have sales people focused (measured, managed and rewarded) on revenue/quota attainment and commissions without there being some unintended consequences. Seems obvious now, but these old models nearly always accentuate that “next deal” ethos along with a dreaded dog-eat-dog culture where unnatural acts are committed often to hit some silly internal KPI.

If you subscribe (as I do) to the old ‘what gets measured gets managed' then you can’t be surprised when self-interested sales folks are unable to practice the LoA or LoR….that is, their self-interest precludes them from ever being able to properly focus on creating customer outcomes/value because their self-interest is too prominent. And that’s more akin to the LoDR.

"In any two horse race, always put your money on the horse called 'Self Interest' - because at least you know it's trying' - Paul Keating

7.    Pareto Law (PL)

Put simply, PL states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes, and we have all heard that 80% of revenues tend to come from about 20% of customers. So, why are so many sales leaders still focused so heavily on chasing shiny new logo’s [link to recent short form post]….often at the expense of those high value existing clients?

Everyone knows about the old 80/20 rule, and yet far too many businesses ignore it. Very few business leaders have a sensible strategy about which clients they pursue or why, and that’s a disaster just waiting to happen. We must ALL be crystal clear about a) our unique value proposition, and b) where, how and with whom that value proposition is best applied. Most businesses only need 40 new customers each year, and yet they chase 400…anything that looks like a potential buyer is pursued and that approach simply throws scarce company resource into the toilet.

Despite how much we all seem to over-complicate it, business is really not that difficult. The above ‘Laws’ simply serve to highlight that if we follow some of these well established concepts and principles (in effect, going back to the basics) then we ‘should’ become much better aligned with our buyers.

Play the long game, be patient, put aside self interest, and create value before we attempt to extract value then it will come back to us in spades. Yes, this mindset requires a definitive ‘leap of faith’, but for those that can organise their sales execution models around some of the above-mentioned Laws, then they will be the big winners in the customer-first economy.

By Graham Hawkins