How to Get Lucky in Sales

Lucky in Sales

Have you ever met one of those people who just seems to be lucky? No matter what, they always seem to land on their feet. When no one else is making sales they “luck” into a customer that wants to buy. But if luck is so random, how can it be so consistent for some?

On today’s show you’ll discover…

  • … if luck is a factor when it comes to sales success;
  • … why some salespeople seem to be luckier than others;
  • … and how you can provoke luck to increase your sales performance. 

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Luck by Definition

Good luckIf you google the word luck, you’ll find quite a few different definitions but one of my favorites is from the author Max Gunther who defines luck as “events that influence one’s life and are seemingly beyond one’s control” It’s an interesting definition, especially when you key in on the word “seemingly”. To me, it suggests that while luck may appear to be beyond your control you may have more influence over it than you think.

The Up System

When I worked in retail sales we used to use an UP system. Basically if there are four salespeople on the team one person is up, one is on deck, then third, and fourth. If you’re up, the next customer who comes in is yours.It’s a pretty fair system but if you study the results over time you notice patterns.

Shawn seems pretty lucky….most of the people who come in when he’s up purchase. Fran, on the other hand, is pretty unlucky most of the customers she talks to aren’t ready to buy.  Is it just that Shawn is lucky or is it possible to influence luck?

Provoke Luck

Joël Le Bon, a marketing professor at the University of Houston College of Business conducted research to determine whether or not it was possible to provoke luck in sales. What he found was pretty interesting….

In a Harvard Business Review article. he wrote

“Success derives not from effort alone but from a combination of effort and luck. An understanding of luck’s synergistic role in success can improve performance and increase salespeople’s confidence in the face of uncertainty and failure.”

Part of his research consisted of interviewing veteran salespeople and he found that many of them had experienced luck and talked about provoking luck. Le Bon found several instances where salespeople recalled unexpected events that came about because of strategic behavior which allowed them to maximize opportunities.

Here’s a great example from the article.

stand out and get lucky in salesThere was a salesperson (we’ll call him Joe)  who had a large account (we’ll say Dell Computers) but he lost it. Later, he got lucky, and won the account back. (or so it might seem)

What really happened was Joe went above and beyond for a customer (we’ll call him Frank), who just happened to be a customer of Dell Computers. Frank was so impressed with Joe he put in a good word for him with Dell and as a result Joe got the account back.

So it was lucky that Frank was a customer of Dell Computer but without strategic behavior on Joe’s part he never would have got the Dell account back.

Beginner’s Luck

Here’s another example of luck in sales, maybe you’ve heard of it?  It’s called beginner’s luck.

It happens quite frequently a brand new person, who is new to sales, out-sells  veterans within their first few weeks. When it happens people like to call it Beginner’s Luck….but is it luck? and If it is, why does it happen so consistently with new people?

Could it be that something else is happening? After working with and observing lot’s of new and veteran salespeople over the years I’ve come to identify something that I think influences beginners luck.

When someone is new they really don’t know much about the product. So they have to rely on getting the customer to talk. They have to ask questions and keep the customer involved in the conversation. Customers are engaged in the process and they buy.

Overtime new salespeople learn more about the product, as they do they want to share more of what they know with their customers.  What happens? They do more talking, their customers are less involved, and some may even “tune out”. Sales begin to drop off too.

As more time passes and our salesperson gains more experience they begin to understand the power of keeping a customer engaged in the process. They start talking less, asking more questions and involving their customers. Once again sales start to go up.


It seems like there are indeed events, that happen which are outside of your control, but when you’re doing the right things consistently you put yourself in a position to take advantage of those situations and in that way you’re provoking luck!

Another great definition of luck…. luck is when preparation meets opportunity.

Today’s one-two Punch

Always do the right thing and be lucky in sales

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