“Just what makes that little old ant

Think he’ll move that rubber tree plant?

Anyone knows an ant


Move a rubber tree plant!

But he has high hopes,

he has high hopes . . . .”

Anyone who remembers telephone tables, Mouseketeers (the original ones), and a Solar System with nine planets may remember this cute little song with a big message. The message? Keep trying, even if everyone around you thinks the task is impossible. That’s tenacity. The DiSC assessment calls it Drive. It’s the ability to keep plugging away, even when the situation may seem hopeless.

Tenacity is another element in the formula of what makes a good salesman. A salesman needs tenacity when he’s faced with rejection, when he needs to find new leads, perhaps by cold calling, or just when he needs to get out of bed an hour early to research a new product. Tenacity is the ability to force optimism—to truly believe that, even when everything seems to be going wrong, something great is waiting just around the corner.

Another indication of what makes a good salesman is the habit of goal setting. Actually, goal setting is a corollary of tenacity. If a person sets goals for himself by the day, week, month, and year, he always has something to keep him moving forward. There will be obstacles; there always are. Market conditions will take a nosedive, popular trends will peter out, new technology will make a product obsolete, decision makers will be no more than just a voice on a recording (sometimes not even their own voice), the list of possible calamities could go on and on.

A good salesman, however, will greet obstacles and challenges with gusto, and keep his focus on his goals. Ultimately, the unreachable decision maker becomes a connection. Or networking pays off and referrals from contacts start to pour in. Or a brilliant idea redefines and regenerates the market. Because of tenacity, calamities become opportunities, the salesman turns the corner, and there it is—something great!

If you have an employee who meets most of the requirements for what makes a good salesman, he understands that his success comes from within himself. He doesn’t make excuses or beg for help; he just reaches within for the resources to solve problems and stay focused on his goals. He also realizes that, for the most part, making a sale is not an instantaneous event. It requires nurturing—building relationships, understanding the customer and the customer’s needs—and it involves a careful process that must be followed from initiating the contact to closing the deal. It’s the same as the AHS sales hiring process: every step is crucial to achieve success.

Whatever you want to call it—tenacity, persistence, drive, determination—it’s crucial in the formula for what makes a good salesman. With tenacity, calamity becomes opportunity, adversity becomes advantage, and mountain becomes ant hill.