The Gum Ball Theorem

The gum ball theorem is the premise that you should stick to your guns. In sales it is easy to get discouraged when you’re having a bad day. It’s easy to point the blame finger on dozens of things to which you can attribute your lack of success. Before you know it, your just harping on the negatives and they consume you. Harping on negatives affects your attitude which can put you in an irrecoverable downward spiral.

For example, a door to door sales person has to canvass a territory to weed out his/her “No’s” This is a basic process of elimination. As Einstein said “The only way to arrive at the correct answer is to eliminate ALL the wrong answers.” The same holds true in sales, a yes is inevitable when you have gotten all your “No’s” out of the way. If your closing ratio is 1 out of 10 then you must get 9 “No’s” before you get your first yes. It takes discipline and thick skin but most of all it requires perseverance. You see it’s very hard to come across a “textbook” day in sales. Some days you have 20 or 30 “No’s” and then you get 2-3 “Yes’s” back to back. Or some-days you get a few sales right in the beginning and then get your “No’s” back to back for the rest of the day. The cycle is unpredictable but one fact always holds true… You’ll never get a “Yes” if you quit because of a “No”. That’s where the gum balls come in.

Picture two gum ball machines side by side each have 99 white gum balls and 1 red gum ball. Your mission is to get the red gum ball. The catch is you only have 50 pennies. How should you divide your money between the machines to give you the best chance of getting the red gum ball before you run out of pennies? The answer is not to divide your money at all. Keep putting penny after penny into the same machine. Switching machines when you get discouraged only resets your law of averages causing you to start all over. If you are working a sales territory and getting “No” after “No” the worst thing you could do is cave in and switch territories. Hang in there, the red gum ball is coming. Stick to your guns. It will pay off.

To your success,


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