10 Ways To Become an Utter Failure at Work

Hi guys,

I have been thinking of doing this piece for quite a while.

This is based on my collective observation over the past 20 years of my experience across India, Africa and the US.

Here is a list of what I believe are the 10 reasons why managers, leaders and all manner of people at work fail at their assignments and thus ruin their careers!

  •                                                       Demoralize

Always make sure that the first thing you say when entering in the morning and the leaving the office in the evening brings everybody down. Examples could be “I see the economy has taken another turn for the worse”, “The CEO is planning another round of head cuts according to Sue in HR” and “I knew I shouldn’t have come to work with this bug the kids gave me, 3 people have died from it already in our neighborhood.

·         Horde
If you have any ideas that will help all your colleagues perform more efficiently or be more successful, pretend you’re a squirrel and keep them to yourself. They’re your ideas; you earned, plagiarized or stole them. We’re not living in Russia or China or some other Commie country you know, nobody gives you hands out of cash. Let your motto be” “To have and to hold”.

·         Undermine
If one of your colleagues has a great idea in a meeting, never forget to ridicule it. Point out every way it can and will fail. Tell everybody how a similar suggestion failed in your last company and everybody lost their jobs, homes and ended up in jail. If it’s a really good idea, don’t be discouraged, just treat it as a challenge and undermine even harder.

If all else fails, tell them about how when you worked at Enron they had that very same idea. The gold standard is not just to get the idea thrown out, but the have the person that suggested it ridiculed and hopefully fired.

·         Gossip
Tell Ian and Bob that Jay thinks they’re both jerks. Then tell Amanda that Lucy fancies her boyfriend and has been making eyes at him. Then tell Jay that Ian slept with the boss’s wife at the Christmas party but told her his name was Jay. Send a letter to Bob swearing undying love and sign it Ian and so on and so forth. This stuff doesn’t have to be technically true, as long as you have a hunch, that makes it all perfectly legal and above board.

·         Brown Nose
Always leave the office 30 seconds after you manager and get there 30 seconds before he arrives. Everybody in the office will cotton on to what you’re doing, but the manager will be in blissful ignorance and think you’re committed to the company cause. Roll your eyes at the boss whilst shaking your head every time somebody leaves early or arrives late.

·         Undermine
Spend hours on Facebook, MySpace and dating sites looking for dirt on colleagues. When you find something, accidentally send an e-mail with the link to the entire company. If that’s too risky borrow somebody else’s computer or just print pictures off at home and surreptitiously stick them all over the office when it’s empty. Blame Colin from dispatch.

·         Porn
When surfing for porn, always make sure you’re logged in under somebody else’s username and password and preferably on their computer too.

·         Drinks
If you have a communal fresh coffee machine and you notice it’s getting low, make sure you top yours up quickly otherwise you may be the one to have to fill it up. If you have a fresh cup, simply pour that away and then finish off the good stuff. The same goes for the water bottle. It’s not your job to change it if it runs dry. Just make sure you fill 4 or 5 cups to take back to your desk when it gets very low.

·         Cell Phones
Never ever turn you phone off at a meeting even when requested to do so. If it rings, simply hold up your hand condescendingly indicating everybody needs to be quiet and nod sagely as your mum tells you that Aunt Enid has lost her reading glasses down the toilet again. If anybody else’s phone should ring, roll your eyes; sigh heavily and then say in a low but perfectly audible whisper “disgraceful”.                                                               Deny

Admission is a sign of weakness. If you screw up blame somebody else, anybody else, everybody else. Good people to blame are anybody that no longer works in your office, the timid office mouse that never fights his or her corner or anybody that has been within 100 feet of your desk within the last 6 months.

Please do write back with your comments, observations and own stories..and requests for subjects on which you would want me to write on my blog.

read my blogs on https://ashishtandon.wordpress.com

and connect with me on LinkedIn on http://in.linkedin.com/pub/ashish-tandon/4/427/188/

and on my FB page…http://www.facebook.com/the.ashishtandon

How To Cope with Sales Rejection

Hi guys,

I have been wanting to take on the subject of rejection in selling professions for quite some time , BUT its not a very easy topic to write about.

I think homo sapiens are not attuned to accept rejection easily and therefore this becomes a very prickly issue in our lives.

BUT its an issues that needs attention especially for those of us in Sales who are front ending our corporate brands and bringing in the moolah.

I think that in order to be successful at sales, you need to be able to cope with rejection — an even to turn it into a goad that creates more success.

Once you understand this, rejection loses is power over you, and your ability to sell.

Your experience of rejection depends entirely upon three qualitative, subjective measurements:

  1. Frequency. Everyone can deal with some rejection, but how much rejection can you experience before you start taking the negative feedback to heart?  How many times can you contact a qualified prospect and get a negative response before you begin to take it personally?  Increase your tolerance, and rejection loses its hold over your future performance.
  2. Emotional Involvement. How emotionally involved can you become with somebody before you feel that the other person might know you so well that criticism hurts?  For example, you might be reluctant to close because you’re afraid that your customer might feel “buyer’s remorse” and stop liking you — a form of rejection.
  3. Perceived Importance.  As a sales rep, you’re likely to feel most comfortable contacting people who are of a similar (or lower) social class or educational background.  However, you might find yourself avoiding people whom you feel are more important than yourself, because their rejection of you might seem to carry more weight or authority.

Each elements is easily changed, fortunately.  Here’s how:

  1. Frequency. To make yourself less vulnerable in this area, you must differentiate between valid and invalid rejection. If the rejection is based upon something valid (like your basic approach), then you blame your approach and then change it.  If the rejection is invalid — as when a prospect “dumps” frustration — it has nothing to do with you, so you can easily ignore it.
  2. Emotional involvement. The cure for this subjective ailment is to believe in yourself and in your product.  If you truly believe in both, then there is absolutely NO reason why you shouldn’t want your true friends to be your customers.  If it turns out that your friend doesn’t want or need your offering, it’s not a rejection of you, but of the product and firm.  So it should have no power over you.
  3. Perceived importance. My mother always recommended imagining that you’re talking to the bigwig while he’s sitting on the toilet.  That doesn’t really help me, but I know what she’s talking about.  Look: most bigwigs are exceedingly average people who’ve stumbled into their success.  Their opinion means nothing in the long run, so don’t let it have any power over you.

I think the key skills that a mature sales professional needs to imbibe in himself/herself, is that of EQ (Emotional quotient)….a strong EQ will best equip you with the balance and poise to manage rejection when you go out there to get your business!!

I have extensively covered numerous aspects of selling skills and sales management in my blogs on wordpress….https://ashishtandon.wordpress.com

Please check out my blogs and feel free to ideate and provide me with your insights and suggestions…happy to learn from my peers and thought leaders.

Do connect with me on my professional FB page http://www.facebook.com/the.ashishtandon

You could also connect with me on LinkedIn http://in.linkedin.com/pub/ashish-tandon/4/427/188/

Don’t Let Your Brain Screw Up Your Sale

Hi readers,

I have often been asked by my mentees after a f_ck_d up sale on ….”where did we go wrong!!!???”

I did EVERYTHING that you taught me…EVERYTHING to the “T”, and yet the sale went to my competitor !!


When it comes to success in selling, your brain can be your own worst enemy.

If you’re like most sales stars, your brain has a tendency to chatter away about the future, when having a conversation with a customer.  Even though you’re trying to listen, your brain is sending out all sorts of subliminal messages to your subconscious like:

  • “If I don’t make my quota for the month, my boss is gonna kill me…( Really…ask yourself this…are your KRAs all about numbers??? tch tch numbers are only 50% of your KRA my sales pro!!)
  • “If I don’t make this sale, I won’t be able to buy that Versace dress from my girlfriend…” (Man, get your priorities right, and then understand that those who love you will love you whether you got them that dress or NOT!!)
  • “I hope this guy doesn’t tell a boring story, because I’ve got a flight in two hours…” (Patience is a virtue in Good salesmanship my friend!! didnt you know this..)
  • “What should say say next, in response to what he’s saying now…” (Being presumptuous are we …)
  • Etc. Etc. Etc.

This mental chatter frantically pulls your attention away from the customer and towards your own priorities and goals.  That can be fatal to actually making the sale because you’ll miss cues and clues about what the CUSTOMER wants.

In short, the CUSTOMER will cease to be king in your subconscious and you will inevitable wander AWAY from a sale that YOU THOUGHT was in your bag!!

The solution is to treat selling more as a process and less as an achievement.  Here’s how:

  • STEP #1: Open your posture. Body language and engaged listening are inter-related. When the customer is talking, you’ll be more interested, and seem more interested, if your expression and posture indicates that you are interested.  This is not trickery; it’s everyday human behavior.
  • STEP #2: Look AT the customer. When you’re thinking of the future, or something that you’re going to say, your eyes will lose focus or drift slightly upwards.  Keeping your eyes FOCUSED on the customer (without staring through the customer) forces your mind into the moment.
  • STEP #3: Be aware of your breathing. Because you’re human, it’s nearly impossible to keep all of your thoughts away from yourself.  Rather than listen to your internal chatter, become aware of the sound and flow of your breathing, which won’t distract from your focus on the customer.
  • STEP #4: Stop to take notes. When the customer says something that you’re sure is important, rather than breaking your focus by glancing down and making a note, ask for a moment’s pause, and then make a note.  Segmenting the two activities ensures that you’re present during the conversation.
  • STEP #5: Trust your instincts. You may believe you need to analyze everything that’s going on in the conversation in order to come up with the “right” response.  However, you’re more likely to say the “right” thing if you’re actively listening and then responding in a way that “feels” right.
  • STEP #6: Be patient with yourself. Selling is the study of a lifetime, so you can’t expect to grasp every concept or master every technique immediately.  Fortunately, what’s most important in sales is the combination of intention and attention.  Make the sale about the customer.  It’s really that simple.

To know more about sales acumen read




Connect with me on LinkedIn http://in.linkedin.com/pub/ashish-tandon/4/427/188/

The Cattle markets of Ilela

This blog recounts my trip to the remote outpost in the North of Nigeria, a small town called Ilela.


The barter economy is well and truly entrenched and provides sustenance to a business eco-system that goes back some 1000 years at the very least.

More on my travels in Nigeria over the coming weeks.

Do connect with me on 


Twitter @taurus13 OR @ashishtandon


The cattle market of Ilela

It was 2009, during my trip to Sokoto that one of my interpreters told me about the little known town of Ilela, North of Sokoto city.

The conversation started with my inquiry on the many truck trailers carrying heads of cattle through the city during my field visits, and thats when he revealed that these cattle were being transported from a town called Ilela.

I was interested and requested for a trip down there….Mohammed‘s reaction was a mix of nervousness and surprise. I got that, and when I asked him, he simply said…”master, its dangerous for you….”

I was not one to give up so easily, so I insisted and he relented.

Next day we were off, myself, my driver, the security detail and Mohammed. It took us all of 4 hours to get to this dusty town called Ilela, and on the way we must have passed some 3-5 truck loads of lean cattle.

The scene was ripped off a Hollywood western ; only difference, there we have cowboys, here we had a motley bunch of Nigerians of all sizes, wearing the traditional “Buba” and cap, some in not -so-traditional T’s, shirts, pants, jeans….

Mohammed made the initial inquiries about the Ilela cattle market and in a short while we were there….

there were no vehicles, only loads of cattle head bobbing about in separate pens, goat, Cows (no pigs mind you, this is a strict Muslim land, where Sharia is the law!!)

Mohammed again made the inquiries, and came back to me to let me know that the guy incharge of the operations , Alhaji (one who has been to the Haj in Mecca), Mudasir was in and that he would be more than happy to welcome me to his office.

I stepped off the car gingerly , and as I did, a slow gasp went off in the group, who were probably not expecting a white foreigner to come all to the way to their little known town!!


I smiled to them, and without an exchange of glances, wished them all good morning in Hausa, the local language, and that seemed to ease these guys a whole lot….

I walked with Mohammed , my driver and the security detail in tow towards the Alhaji’s “office” ,which was nothing but a desk and chair on a carpet inside a tent!


As I entered , I was introduced in Hausa by Mohamed, I kept my eyes on the Alhaji at all times, smiling at him, as Mohamed continued speaking, and when he stopped and looked at me, I greeted the Alhaji in Hausa, which perhaps shocked him, and he immediately started beaming, and asking me in Hausa, if I was a muslim. I smiled and politely said I was not.

It was alright….and the Alhaji bid me sit on a chair brought into his tent by one of the errand boys ( I guess).


Mohamed became our interpreter as the Alhaji and I were engrossed in animated conversation, about the place, its history, the economics etc

After sometime, the Alhaji offered to give me a guided tour of the operations and I took him up on his offer…with my detail in tow, we stepped out of the tent and strolled into the pens…

it was there that I first encountered an ethnic group that I had only read about..the Tuareg.

The tuareg have been portrayed in history and marauding bandits of the Sahara, hardy people’s uniquely adapted to the harsh reality of their land. They are associated with the indigo died cloth that they wear and with the ornate jewelry and traditional arms that they bear- it should be mentioned here, that nowadays they carry the Kalashnikov.


The tuareg come down to this town with heads of cattle to barter for grain and millets.

It was amusing and enlightening to see the Tuareg negotiating endlessly with the “manager” over cups of black sweet tea, over how many sacks of maize would be take for his cow.

When I inquired about the source of the cow that was being bartered by the Tuareg, the sense that I got was this; the Tuareg are not pastoral people and therefore the cow could have been “acquired” from any known source in “any manner”

Bemused I walked with the Alhaji and my detail to the part of the market where they were loading these cows on to large 19 wheel cattle truck trains…

Where Passion Comes From

Pure unadulterated passion is the critical ingredient that separates the leaders from simple managers.

Passion gives the leaders courage of conviction, the ability to drive through with their innovative thinking and ideas, and surf through turbulent times with immaculate ease and Succeed in the end!!

Leadership Freak

Fire breathing

Passion is longing to be what you could be, but aren’t.

Passion for leadership is the combination of falling below your imagined leadership potential and longing for exceptional leadership – at the same time.

The gap between longing and attainment is passion.


ABC’s of finding your passion:

  1. Accept disappointing performance. You read leadership books, blogs, and articles because you long to be better. You aren’t there yet. Pain gives birth of passion.
  2. Believe improvement is possible and worthwhile. Hope makes you bold.
  3. Create a Picture of the preferred future. Think about ultimate goals not the process. You aren’t sure how to get there. But, when you close your eyes and dream, you see the end.
  4. Deliberate steps – action. The whole path is never clear but a step is always possible.


People fuel our passion when they make us feel we matter.

Recently, people fueled my passion, again. It…

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How to Cope with a Sales Disaster

Hi Readers,

Many of us in sales roles have faced our fair share of failures and some of them can definitely be qualified as disasters!

We seem to have everything right, till we come to the final meeting and everything goes south and we get that God awful sinking feeling in the pit of our stomach..isnt it !

Well in order to address this event, I have figured out the salient 5 rules to follow…hope this helps 

RULE #1: Don’t Fall Apart. We’ve all been in situations where we are looking at the prospect or client and saying to ourselves,  “This is bad.  I am going down the tubes so quickly I can’t believe it.”  You have a choice of losing it completely, getting rattled, or keeping your composure. You have a choice of either attempting to recoup from the problem or disengaging gracefully.

RULE #2: Don’t Predict the Future. An ugle sales call ugly, doesn’t mean that every contact in the future will be the same or the relationship is damaged forever.  A horrible sales call resulting from a fouled up product delivery may be uncomfortable but your product may still be required, a better value than that of your competitor, and well positioned for increasing orders in the future.  Your pain or embarrassment might well be only temporary.

RULE #3. Don’t Dig A Deeper Hole. Sometimes we say silly, stupid or unprofessional things.  Or we make a mistake or blunder.  We are late, or come unprepared.  Sometimes it is best to just take a humble approach, acknowledge your shortcoming and apologize.  The ones who think that they are so smooth that they can talk their way out of anything will most often make the situation worse.

RULE #4. If You’re The Reason, Solicit Empathy. Suppose you took a big order from the customer, handled it yourself and they ended up with a large shipment of the wrong merchandise.  You and you alone fouled this up.  While you can immediately calm down the buyer, you might as well try to soften the blows and pave the way for future calls by “owning up.”  You might be surprised how often it happens that once you acknowledge what an “unforgivable” error you made and how badly you feel, the customer will move on after he or she has had a chance to vent.

RULE #5: Learn From the Situation. Examine why the call was a disaster.   Was it because of lack of preparation, not listening properly, making assumptions before or during the call, or not adjusting to the style or personality of the customer?  

While you reading this, you may also want to check my other interesting blog https://ashishtandon.wordpress.com/2013/01/15/sales-101-top-ten-sales-skills/

Please connect with me on http://in.linkedin.com/pub/ashish-tandon/4/427/188/


Better Questions = Faster Selling

Hi readers,

This blog is a natural fit after my blog on https://ashishtandon.wordpress.com/2013/05/04/the-10-best-questions-to-warm-up-a-cold-prospect/

After you have suitably warmed a suspect to a prospect, what sort of smart questions do you need to ask such that your sales cycle is reduced and you are able to close a deal at the earliest, at the same time, creating client delight.

I figured that an appropriate example would be just the right thing to explain a suitable line of action that could get you your desired result.

Questions serve three functions in a sales conversation. First, they elicit more information about the prospect, thereby allowing you to learn more about how (and if) you can help. Second, they move the conversation forward, so that you can continue to ask more questions, and learn even more. Third, they help build rapport with the prospect so that you can more easily move the entire sale forward.

With that in mind, the absolute worst kind of questions to ask are those that have a one word , monosyllabic answer. Example:

Sales Rep: What CRM vendor are you currently using?

Prospect: Oracle.

While the above question does elicit information, it does not move the conversation forward. Making the question open-ended does both. Example:

Sales Rep: What was your decision-making process when you selected a CRM vendor?

Prospect: We put together a cross-functional team which looked at different vendors. We decided that Oracle would be the best choice for us.

Sales Rep: What were the most important criteria for the decision-making?

While the above question both elicits information and keeps the conversation moving forward, it would be even more effective if it also helped build rapport with the prospect. The easiest way to do this is to assume that the prospect has something uniquely interesting to say. Example:

Sales Rep: The economy is tough but I’ve read that your company plans to use sales technology to help weather the tough times. How did your team come up with that plan?

Prospect: Well, we’ve been through some similar situations in the past and, when we got early warning that sales might drop…

In the above question, the prospect has essentially been given the permission to brag about his firm and his participation in helping his firm be successful. Since people like talking about themselves and their achievements, the prospect will probably warm to the subject, and the entire conversation will be more productive. And that, in turn, will make the sales cycle faster.

Personally , an eclectic mix of open ended and close ended questions worked best for me during my roles as a solutions sales specialist.

Based on the vertical that you are engaged in and the product or service that you sell, ideally a set of 10 , a mix of open ended as well as close ended questions work best to help you close your sale with your client, and leaving the client feeling that in you he has a friend and consultant for life!!

Happy selling!!