In the movie, "A League of Their Own," the baseball coach talked to his dispirited team, saying, "Of course it's hard. If it wasn't hard, everybody would do it!"

That’s the way it is with selling. It can be hard. But there are four, old-fashioned, sure-fire ways to achieve success at selling … even in the worst of times.

=> 1. Work hard.

There's no substitute for hard work. Simply put, there "ain't no free lunch."

When I look at highly successful salespeople, I think, “It's no wonder they’re doing so well. Look at everything they’re doing."

Could the same thing be said about you? If someone were to follow you around for a week and painstakingly recorded everything you did to advance your sales career, would that person walk away with a long list of all the things you’re doing to get ahead? Or would that person have a long list of the excuses you gave and the times you wasted?

Sometimes people fool themselves into thinking they’re putting out a 100% effort … when in reality, they’re not. For example, many salespeople aren’t doing too well these days, and I've often heard them say, "I sent out 100 flyers announcing our new product line, and I didn't get any response. I did everything I could."

One hundred percent effort means that you've exhausted every possible opportunity for reaching your goal. If you're looking for a sale, 100% effort would include researching individual companies that are a great fit for your product or service, sending these companies personalized letters, and calling to follow up with intelligent, company-specific questions … not to mention networking, referrals, and a host of other selling strategies.

If you were looking for a job, 100% effort means telling a potential boss, "I'm sure you've got a lot of applicants here. But I believe so strongly in my ability to meet your needs, I'll work for you for 30 days with no pay. Let me prove to you my ability. In 30 days, evaluate my performance. If it's not up to par, let me go. But when I prove myself to you, I expect to be given the job and paid for the 30 days of work."

Now that's putting in 100% effort! And that's what you need to do to succeed in sales or any other area of your life … because success is more often the result of hard work than the result of talent.

And then...

=> 2. Practice endurance.

To many salespeople, “endurance” is a nasty word. They would like to come by success the "easy" way. They want it to fall into their laps.

But that's an extremely rare occurrence. 99.99% of the time, success comes AFTER you "endure" awhile. And all the greats in every field of endeavor have learned how to "endure."

As professional tennis player Bjorn Borg noted, "My greatest point is my persistence. I never give up in a match. However down I am … I fight until the last ball. My list of matches shows that I have turned a great many so-called irretrievable defeats into victories."

Could the same be said of you? That you never give up? That you endure?

Or do people ... secretly behind your back ... say you bail out when things get a little tough? Do they say you give up way too easily or throw in the towel too quickly? Do they point out the fact that you seldom finish what you start?

If you answer "yes" to any of these latter questions, remember the words of John Quincy Adams. He noted, "Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish." In other words, there's power in perseverance.

Of course that’s easier said than done. So you’ve got to …

=> 3. Keep on believing.

Believe in yourself. Believe in the value of your sales profession. Believe in your product. Believe in your service. Believe in your customers. Believe in a power bigger than yourself. And believe you can be successful.

That’s what Mary Kay did, the founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics. She went through enormous challenges and came out a sales winner, because she learned, "One of the secrets of success is to refuse to let temporary setbacks defeat us." Just keep on believing that success is on the way.

The same goes for Lee Iacocca, the former chairman of the Chrysler Corporation. When the world told him to let his debt-ridden company die, Iacocca refused. He didn't wait for the economy to change or for a government bailout to rescue him.

Iacocca believed in himself, in his company, in his products, and in his workers. He pronounced, "So what do we do? Anything -- something. So long as we don't just sit there. If we screw it up, start over. Try something else. If we wait until we've satisfied all the uncertainties, it may be too late."

And finally...

=> 4. Stay committed.

Everything else being equal, commitment wins every time. So fight back any feelings of discouragement that might get in your way. Don’t allow yourself to hang it up when things get rough.

If you're going to be successful, you've got to remember the letters M.I.H. -- just like that one high school kid. He had a passion for his favorite sport of wrestling. And last year he won the second place trophy in the state championships.

Now he could have thought that was good enough. But the day after the state finals, he was back in the same old gym working out in the same old sweats with one small change. He had placed white tape on each of his three middle fingers, and on each piece of tape was a letter -- M.I.H.

He kept the letters on his fingers all year, and he trained harder than ever, until he again found himself at the state tournament. This time he was crowned state champion.

Of course people wanted to know how he did it. He created a tool that helped him focus, stay the course, and keep up his commitment. He knew that if he really wanted to be the best, it was up to him. He was determined to M.I.H. -- Make It Happen.

As you pursue your goals, as you strive towards greater sales success, follow these four points, and you will not only survive … but thrive. After all, most salespeople don’t fail. They just give up.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Alan Zimmerman is the CEO of Zimmerman Communi-Care Network, Inc. and the author of "The Payoff Principle: Discover the 3 Secrets for Getting What You Want out of Life and Work." As a member of the CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame, he is ranked among the top 1% of all speakers worldwide and is a recognized authority in the fields of attitude, communication, and leadership. For a free subscription to his weekly internet newsletter, go