Strictly for Sales
Small Wins Selling
Have you ever had a goal so big you weren’t sure how to get started? Salespeople experience this challenge whenever they pursue a large, complex
opportunity that could take years to realize. These large,
complex opportunities feel like a never-ending scavenger
hunt, where each clue leads to another clue, and another
and another. Salespeople meet a new contact, which
leads to another meeting, which leads to gaining another
level of approval, which leads to product testing, etc.
When salespeople pursue large, complex opportunities,
they feel like they are always chasing down the next clue.
All the while, salespeople experience multiple setbacks,
stalling their progress.
Some salespeople manage large, complex opportunities
well, while other salespeople get lost in the weeds.
Some salespeople push through setbacks, while other
salespeople get discouraged and quit. Successful
salespeople break down large, complex opportunities
into manageable small wins. They win big opportunities
by designing and pursuing success in small steps. Along
the path to success there are a series of small wins that
move the sale forward. These small wins keep salespeople
focused, motivated and engaged. Small wins give
salespeople a sense of control.
In the January 1984 American Psychologist (vol. 39),
Karl Weick wrote about redefining the scale of social
issues and how to create change. In his article “Small
Wins: Redefining the Scale of Social Problems,” he
argued that large-scale change doesn’t happen through
large, significant events. Instead, big change happens
through a series of small, moderately significant events.
On the surface, social problems like equal rights,
environmental regulation and unemployment are too
big to manage. Big problems must be broken down so
problem solvers can focus on overcoming the smaller,
more manageable challenges.
Weick defines a small win as a “concrete, completed
outcome of moderate importance. By itself, one small
win doesn’t mean all that much. But a combination of
small wins can attract allies, deter adversaries, generate
momentum and lower resistance to subsequent proposals.
A small win is a controllable opportunity that produces a
Although Weick is defining small wins in the context
of social change, the concept can be broadly applied to