Surviving & Prospering in Your Sales Career
Surviving & Prospering in
Your Sales Career
Field Manual for the Sales Professional
By Greg Hill
A GregMedia, Inc. Publication.
Copyright 2009 by Greg Hill
All Rights Reserved
For information please contact GregMedia, Inc.
Edited By Christian Glick
Dedicated to My Wife Joanna Hill who inspires me in everything I do. To my two daughters Tessa and
To Lenny Jackson the best sales person I have known who passed away while helping me with this
To my Mom for all her support and wisdom.
To all those I have worked with in the last 30 years.
NOTE TO THE READER
Please go to my website
http://www.worldsbestsalestrainer.com and tell me what you think about
this book, whether it be praise or criticism. Your feedback will make a difference in future editions
of this and other books I am writing. Other members will also benefit from your wisdom, so be
thoughtful and let us know what you think.
I also do sales training, both generic and specific to a company or industry, so your feedback will
have an effect on my presentations. The website is also designed to be a resource for the sales
professional, and includes my free "How to Sell" video series which is available to
all registered members.
Being a sales professional and surviving the dangerous and hostile environment of sales is
challenging and hopefully http://www.worldsbestsalestrainer.com is a place where the sales professional can come and get the information and resources needed to succeed.
Note To the Reader
1. Introduction: The Purpose of this book
2. Evolution of Sales
3. Pay Plans
Straight commission with a recoverable draw:
Straight commission with a non-recoverable draw:
Salary plus commission and Salary plus bonus:
Sales net, usually comes with a salary:
4. Types of Sales Jobs
Employee vs. Independent Contractor:
Intangible vs. Tangible Products and Services:
Client-centric vs. Company-centric:
Premise vs. Telephone Sales:
5. Types of Managers
Psycho/Sadist/Narcissist Sales Manager.
Angry Man Manager:
Hot Chick Manager:
Married Misogynist Pig Manager
The Newly Promoted:
The Old Pro/Lazy Guy:
The Company Hack:
Owner of the Company
6. Managing Your Manager
Psycho/Sadist/Narcissist Sales Manager.
Angry Man Manager:
Hot Chick Manager:
Married Misogynist Pig Manager
The Newly Promoted
The Old Pro/Lazy Guy
7. How To Interview
8. Types of Sales People
9. How to Act
10. Typical Salesperson
11. Sales Contests, Incentive Trips and Awards.
12. Getting Promoted and Office Politics
Human Resource Hacks
Artist and Production Hacks
14. Sales Training Vs Sales cults and the web
15. Save your Money and Have an exit Strategy
SALES PROCESS CONSULTING:
WEBSITE SALES AND ORDERING SOLUTIONS:
About the Author
1. INTRODUCTION: THE PURPOSE OF THIS BOOK
First, I would like to tell you what this book is not. It is not a sales book. That will be my second New
York Times Best Seller if all goes to plan. Also, this book is not for “self-help”. If you use what you
learn here in your personal life, I am not responsible for the results. Second, as a sales manager and
trainer it is not my job to kiss your butt and tell you how great you are. Most of the problems I have
created and bad decisions I have made in my life, have come from having a big ego and overestimating my own abilities, so no one really needs to be artificially pumped up. It is my experience
that salespeople are looking for validation anywhere they can get it. The only validation that counts
is what is up on the sales board. Sales managers and owners will always give their new sales people
well scripted impressions of what to expect, and what they need to do to succeed. I will explore the
reasons behind hiring practices, pay plans, and reveal the reality of what your job is in their eyes.
You will see an unabashed version of the love/hate relationship that companies have with sales
people. Most sales people think that there is only one financial reality they have to deal with, the
more they sell, the more important they are to the company. Unfortunately, this is not always the
case. Read the rest only if you want an honest and logical guide on how to survive in the sales
My first sales job was selling insulation in the home in Martinez, California in 1978 (if you don’t
count when I was selling kumquats door to door in my neighborhood at seven years old). I have
been in one form of sales or sales management ever since. I have succeeded at some jobs and failed at
many. It is my opinion that being a good sales person is the easy part. Being able to maneuver
through the hostile and competitive mine field that every sales person experiences when he is hired
is more difficult. If you believe, like most, that all you have to do is show up, work hard, and good
results will follow, then why is turnover so high in the sales departments of companies that
otherwise have a stable workforce? Unfortunately there is more to the average sales job than sales.
There are sales managers to deal with that have an array of agendas that, many times, do not
include your success. There are company structures that are fair and unfair. Lots of things will
affect your success in the sales field, not just how good a pitch person you are. Many a career has
been lost or a sought after promotion has been unattained because of factors other than sales
The chapter titled “On Stage and Off Stage Behavior” and the numerous references throughout the
book give you permission to be the person that you need to be to succeed. You are not hired to be
true to yourself and grow emotionally. Your job is to get results, live through the process and maybe
even be happy.
If you are not currently employed as a sales person, or if you are unsatisfied with the sales job you
have, you must first contend with finding a job. This is a huge challenge. It is my goal to reveal little
talked about insights that will help you with your decision and analyze your true potential once you
take a new sales job.
What are the characteristics of a successful and unsuccessful sales person? Why do some thrive
while others self-destruct? I have created four different profiles for salespeople. Which one are you?
All types can thrive. What are the emotional pitfalls you will be faced with and what is the best way
to handle them? How about your colleagues? I believe in what Simon Cowell said when he talked
about the so-called “tight relationship” between the contestants on American Idol, “They all act sad
when someone leaves the show, but truly they are happy that it was not them.” You have to live
with people with whom you are competing. What is the best way to handle this situation?
How to manage your manager? If your manager is giving you a hard time, it is probably your fault
because you are not managing your manager properly. There are several types of sales managers
from good to awful. I have categorized them in the chapter on “How to manage your sales
manager.” You will be surprised at my suggestions.
Here is the bottom line. Sales is as Darwinian an environment as any in the civilized world, if you
don’t count the Penitentiary, and the rules for survival are just as complex. I have seen reps come in
all hyped with success seminars pumping through their heads, ready to do great. Reality then kicks
them in the butt, or worse, they are promoted to your boss. Here is the deal. Success training does
work, and I will go over those things I experienced in that realm that are worthwhile. But the main
purpose of this book is to show you the unsavory realities that are present. That way, you will not
be like a little bunny running through the forest about to get snared by a trap.
Most sales people do not take the time to analyze the business model of the company for which they
are working. You will be extensively educated in why companies do what they do and what the
motivation is for that behavior. You will understand the purpose and history of pay plans and sales
department structures. This will make it easier for you to determine whether an organization
deserves your hard work and loyalty and, above all, if there is a future for you.
2. EVOLUTION OF SALES
The sales Industry has gone through a major evolution since this author landed his first sales job in
1978. At that point, judging from all the stories told by relatives and friends, sales had not changed
much since the 1930’s. We will call this the Old School method of sales. Anyone who was brought up
in the Old School will tell a person that it is not only the best way to sell, but the only way to sell.
However, sales has evolved away from the Old School method, and there is a good reason for this.
Those who write the checks began to realize that the methodology used was not keeping up with
the times. This trend started in Business to Business sales and then spread to Business to Consumer
The biggest change was the client. Starting in the late Seventies and early Eighties, a wave of
entrepreneurs entered the market. They were younger, smarter, better educated, more
sophisticated, and, unfortunately, much less patient. Before these baby boomers took over, people
were more polite and more respectful in general. A good salesperson could and would take
advantage of these characteristics. At this time, however, these entrepreneurs started to become
aware of the salesperson's tactics and tricks. This helped to render them useless. The Seventies
brought us what this book has coined as the “Herb Tarlek Effect”. Herb Tarlek was the sales
manager in the classic TV series WKRP in Cincinnati. Herb, played by Frank Bonner, did a great job
portraying every negative stereotype of an “Old School” salesperson. He exposed many of the tried
and trusted tricks a pitch person had used for decades. If it was only one show, the effects may not
have been so devastating, but it seemed that every TV show and movie from then on besmirched
the sales profession. WKRP was a favorite show among salespeople, mainly because of the Herb
Tarlek character and the funny clothes he wore, even though it started a trend that made it harder
for the sales professional to make a living.
There are certain realities of the Old School Salesman. Yes, it is sales
man because, for the most part,
those that made their money in sales were white men. Women and minorities were not encouraged
to participate in sales. Women were generally thought to be too vulnerable, and it was believed
with minorities that the client would not accept them. This obviously has changed for the better.
Today these two factors have no effect on a sales professional’s effectiveness.
Besides being male and white, these salesmen had other similar characteristics. For the most part
they were Type-A personalities, i.e. dominant and aggressive. They were given a lot of freedom by
their employers because what they did was considered magic. There was not much in the way of
sales training or books, and the reality of sales did not jive with the lifestyle or self image of the
average American. Owners and executives of companies would put up with a lot and afforded these
salesmen a ton of freedom, because they were afraid to negatively affect the outcome. Before Herb
Tarlek, the average salesman received a lot more respect. In many companies the top salesman was
the highest paid person in the company including the CEO. Many of the top brass were promoted
from the ranks of the sales department.
Old school sales promoted benefits over features. “Ain’t she a beauty?” was about as specific as
these guys wanted to get. It was about trust, control, and closing techniques. Much of today’s sales
training revolves around these techniques. They are just disguised so as not to be quite so obvious.
Also, before the Eighties, there was basically one pay plan for most sales positions, and that was
straight commission. There is also something else to keep in mind when an old friend or relative
starts opining on the good old days with an unending series of war stories about their sales
conquests. It was a lot easier to sell back then. People in general were more eager to listen and were
not as jaded and hardened as they are now.
When I started in sales I was lucky enough to be taught the old school ways. I was given a script that
I had to memorize and a flip book to make my presentations. This was a good way to start, but it
had obvious limitations. These methodologies are still prevalent in certain industries. In 2001 I was
in between jobs. I answered one of the ads that promised freedom, leads, and wealth by being an
independent rep for an established company. So I interviewed on the phone and got invited to their
training. This model had been around for decades even though this was the first time I had
experienced it in this form. We had to pay for our own flight, pay for the training material, buy in,
and establish an independent contractor status that even the IRS would respect. I was in Texas for
one week of classic training. The product was a directory and marketing program to sell to
businesses. The methodology was straight out of the Sixties, flip book and all, and the leads were
worthless. Interesting enough, this company ended up changing its model with the advent of the
Internet, which they got into late. I know this because I sold them online advertising while I was
national sales manager for an Internet marketing company. This was the only time I made any
money from that company.
In the economic dislocations of the late Seventies a lot of people lost their jobs, and those that had
sales jobs were hit pretty hard. The best sales jobs were corporate types at that time. When sales
declined, many commissioned sales people could not make a living, while those on salary were just
let go. This created a large reservoir of smart, educated people with a lot of time on their hands.
Then in the early Eighties, the economy started to heat back up. Many new industries and start-up
companies began to emerge. This was the beginning of the golden era for sales professionals.
Because the Herb Tarlek effect was in full swing, salespeople did everything they could, not to
appear as the aforementioned stereotype. They dressed better, acted more sophisticated, and called
themselves anything but a salesperson. This is when marketing rep, account executive, and sales
consultant all became synonymous with salesperson. Also in the early Eighties there was a huge
influx of women entering the profession. Many held top producer roles in many companies. With
the number of women now around that would rather kick a man's butt than be admired, the
industry as a whole cleaned up its act. Salespeople were told to buy expensive shoes and sunglasses
and to always have a nice manicure (For a while I was even getting highlights in my hair and wore
clear nail polish. My wife, who has her own manicure studio in Beverly Hills -
www.hautepedicure.com - laughs at that every time it is brought up).
As mentioned before, the new business owner was much more entrepreneurial, educated, and
sophisticated. They didn’t believe what the sales professional did really was “magic,” because many
of them were aware of sales techniques. As we got towards the 1991 recession, this became a
problem for sales professionals. The problem with smarter, more sophisticated bosses is that they
are not as easy to fool. By this time every company had a slew of business majors at its disposal, and
these people made it more difficult to sell. So, what ended up happening was this: sales
professionals were out there trying to make sales, and feeling that they were the most valuable
people in the company. Upper management, being generally more educated and believing that they
had higher IQ’s, felt that they should be the highest paid people in the organization. Upper
management also assumed that the best way to handle salespeople was to control them. So the
sales professional was deluged with paperwork and call reports that were daunting.
Traditionally salespeople were expected to find their own leads through cold calling and referrals.
Now, there were all these new marketing majors with a bunch of fancy new marketing techniques.
Salespeople were still required to get their own leads, but the marketing majors needed to justify
their existence. This caused major turf battles to occur between marketing and sales, the point of
contention being, “Which drove which?” I talk further about this in the “Sales Tools” chapter, since
it was a really big change in the way companies did business.
Marketing companies were not only trying to drive sales, but were also trying to influence entire
other industries, such as advertising. From a salesperson’s point of view, there is nothing worse
than being underpaid, while receiving useless marketing material from some kiss-ass marketing
hack. With that said, there has been a lot of good marketing done, however, it is always a mistake to
have marketing drive sales. It is also not a good idea to reverse the order. There should always be a
lot of communication and teamwork between both departments. Another problem is that being a
marketing person sounds better than a salesperson. So when salespeople all started calling
themselves marketing reps the whole situation became very confusing.
The next trend to influence the sales industry was the “consultative” sales process. This formula
reframed the sales process from one that was driven to obtain results, to one that emphasized the
process itself. Originally, sales professionals were evaluated first by their personal skills, and then
by their product knowledge. It was believed that salespeople first had to sell themselves, and then
sell the product. When consultative sales became the dominant methodology, the sales person’s
“people skills” became secondary to product and industry knowledge. Even crazier, the consultative
sales person was told by management to convey to the prospect that whether he or she bought was
not important, since really the salesperson was here merely to educate the customer. This sends
chills up my spine just talking about it.
Many believe that the consultative sales model was created because the client became more
sophisticated. This was a contributing factor but not the main one. In the Eighties, many changes
were happening, one of the most important change being a massive influx of technology into the
market place. In addition to many new products, old products become more complicated.
Companies therefore pushed this new sales model, thinking it would be easier to sell more
technologically advanced products. In some cases they were correct. There was also an emotional
component to this transformation. As previously stated, you had all these new business majors, and
these degreed professionals had not spent their parent’s life savings to become Herb Tarlek. So, a
salesperson is now called a consultant and not a salesperson, and his or her job is to educate, not to
get results - the perfect job for a marketer. I worked at one company that had its sales process go
from the 5 basic steps to the sale - which is similar to the one I will explore in my second New York
Times Best Seller - to a 13 step consultative sales process. It was a ludicrous and overwrought
In the opinion of this author, business majors of all types were in cahoots with the heads of Human
Resource departments, in order to promulgate this consultative sales theory. That way, everyone
could feel good about themselves. The self improvement craze was another element that added to
the popularity of this cult-like movement. Many authors and lecturers (I am not mentioning any
names but you know who you are), found huge audiences that wanted to learn how to sell. I ask
you, what is more attractive and easier to market? A bunch of ways to manipulate people in order
to close the sale, or a method in which everyone is a consultant and their job is to educate the
masses? Obviously, the latter is much more compelling and is more conducive to higher self-esteem,
the actual goal of this process. These sales experts made a lot of money preaching this consultative
sales model to willing individuals and companies, but let me just say that it is never a good idea to
tell salespeople that it is all right not to get the order. Sales is, and always will be, a results oriented
business. Any thinking salesperson or sales manager should be able to see the problem with a sales
process that is built on this premise of education instead of results.
Not everyone is a good sales person, nor should everyone try to be one. What is the real reason why
not everyone is a good salesperson? If one is afraid of personal conflict, sales is not a good field for
that person; in addition, good salespeople think that getting their way is more important than being
Many of the first players in the Internet boom thought that one of the major benefits of this new
industry was the elimination of salespeople. They did not understand salespeople. They did not buy
things from salespeople, and they certainly did not want to share their venture capital with
salespeople. It was all pretty amazing. For the first time in history, anyone could start a company for
a few hundred bucks, and create a new service or product. The prospect of being able to market a
company for free via the search engines, was something that every entrepreneur and wannabe
thought was their ticket to prosperity. The idea of the Internet was that people would choose to do
business with your company because of your net presence. There would be no need for
salespeople, they had become obsolete. In fact, many of the salespeople that were getting others to
invest in this new industry were saying just that.
Imagine this… you are in your forties; you have a ton of sales experience, and the hottest idea to
come down the line in years is being controlled by genius introverts in their twenties. Let’s just say
that no matter how far we had distanced ourselves from the Herb Tarlek image, the genius
introverts were not buying it. They did not want salespeople. I was living in New York in 2000. I had
left my job, and thought that I wanted to get in with an Internet company. I had been working in the
Yellow page industry and figured out that it was not going anywhere. So I answered every Internet
ad, followed every lead, and had the worst interviews in my life. Finally, I found a job as the
National Sales Manager of an online directory in Los Angeles that was run like an old time phone
room. Since I was getting involved just as the bubble was beginning to deflate, I saw the most
amazing thing. Companies would have websites with no phone numbers, pretty much saying, “Don’t
call us; send us an email.” This was amazing to a guy who had handed out tens of thousands of
business cards in his career, in the hope of getting a phone call. It is still incomprehensible to me
that you can have a successful business and limit communication with your clients. The MSN search
engine was the best example of this. In 2000, they had only a handful of sales people for their search
property, and their policy was only to talk to big players. It was easier to get the personal phone
number of a Hollywood starlet than it was to get through to an MSN account executive. The
company I worked for at the time had a relationship with MSN and sold their products to regular
advertisers. Having a relationship with an MSN rep at the time was like having Willy Wonka’s
golden ticket. It still seems to be this way today. Most Internet companies are using the marketing
model and are resisting the sales model, mostly because, despite being a less-expensive option to
set-up, it is a more expensive system to maintain.
The biggest problem for a web entrepreneur is that there are no barriers to competition. If someone
comes up with a good idea, there will be 100 competitors within 30 days. The old laws of market
share play heavily into the success of any Internet venture. Many of these companies were started
with huge amounts of venture capital by "twenty-somethings" that were book smart and very
technically savvy. The problem was that they were not experienced in business or life and were not
very mature. Those that did think to hire salespeople, hired people that were like they were, smart
yet inexperienced. After many of these companies ran out of seed money, and, in some cases, were
taken over by more traditional business people, the salesperson was reestablished. Some
businesses flourished while others waned. In some cases this occurred because of the product they
were selling, but, in many cases, it was due to a lack of sales management.
To really understand the need for salespeople, one has to understand the customer. People love to
be talked to and sold something. They want to be told they made the right decision. They want to
know that if anything goes wrong, they have a contact that cares inside the company, and that they
can get in touch with them. Even with online marketing, in order to be successful over the long haul,
a company must have a very strong customer service department to handle questions and
complaints. The personal touch must be made available to the customer, especially if that customer
is going to be a repeat customer. Every salesperson has had to deal with a client’s buyer’s remorse.
No website, no matter how interactive, can deal with this emotion. The Internet may one day
change the role of, but will never erase the need for, a talented salesperson.
3. PAY PLANS
One thing should be clear before dissecting the various pay plans that most companies offer. All
sales jobs are commission based. This is really important to understand. The only purpose for
hiring a salesperson is so the company can turn a profit. It is not to make sure the salesperson gets
a pay check. Some companies may have a model that will allow a ramp-up period, but, generally
speaking, the only reason a salesperson exists in that company is to make them money. Any other
position in the company is a matter of need. A company will hire people to do a job if they have the
money to pay for it, and if they believe that person will add to the company’s ability to succeed in its
mission. If a company is profitable and if the shipments to customers are not going out fast enough,
the management may decide to hire another warehouse person. This is not so in sales. The need
factor is not so important when hiring someone to sell your product. No matter what pay plan is
used, if the salesperson does not bring in more than what he or she is paid, that person will be let go
no matter how nice he or she is. The truth is that salespeople really are not that popular. (I cover
this in the chapter about “How to Manage Your Colleagues.”) The sales professional needs to think
that every day he or she goes to work is the first day, and, if that salesperson is not able to perform,
it maybe his or her last. As I said once in a moment of brilliance in a sales meeting, “You are all
temps, and if you don’t make some sales today, your services will no longer be needed”.
The basis of all pay plans for sales professionals is the distribution of risk. The question becomes,
who will bear the risk - the salesperson or the company; or will it be shared? The challenge with all
the pay plan models is that they can all be exploited by either the salesperson or the company.
Every salesperson that has been in the field for any length of time, can tell stories of how companies
have been dishonest and not kept their side of the deal. It is true that there are salesman mills out
there that are designed to take advantage of salespeople. These places plan on never keeping a
large percentage of those they hire. What you won’t hear from salespeople is how often they took
advantage of the company, using their freedom to have coffee with friends instead of selling.
Every company that hires a sales professional to sell products or services has a two pronged
challenge. When hiring anyone but a salesperson, the company has to deal with only one learning
curve. No matter how simple or complex the job, as long as the person has the required skill set and
desire, they should be able to do the job in a matter of time. With sales, there is not only a learning
curve that includes product knowledge and procedures, but there is also a production curve. The
production curve means that until the salesperson starts making sales and is bringing in enough
revenue to cover a paycheck, he or she is not viable. The Sales professional cannot just show up. He
or she needs to produce.
The following are typical sales pay plans:
Straight commission with a recoverable draw.
Straight commission with a non-recoverable draw.
Salary plus commission
Salary plus bonus.
Sales net, usually comes with a salary.
Multi Level Marketing.
: The sales professional's compensation is established by the amount of
revenue he or she brings into the company, or by a desired result he or she achieves within a set time
frame. A salesperson makes a sale, gets a lead, accomplishes a goal declared by the company, and that
salesperson gets paid a predetermined amount of money.
At one time, this was the best kind of job to have. Many industries still run on this model - realtors,
loan brokers, and car sales people just to name a few. Many start-up companies like this model
because it puts all of the risk on to the new hire. The promise is always that when the company
makes money, the salesperson will make money. The president or owner will make it sound as
though the new hire is a partner, and the amount of money that can be earned as a salesperson with
this company is unlimited. Of course this rarely comes to pass. Getting the new hire to work for
them for as little as possible is part of the plan. Once the product takes-off, whether or not the
salespeople are a part of it does not really affect the company. One should make sure there are set
goals with agreed-to compensation. If the person who does the hiring is not willing to take the time
to lay out a path of success, he or she is either not a very good business person (meaning the
company does not have a plan), or he or she just does not care. Either situation should make the
sales professional wary.
As already discussed, the learning curve and the time it takes to get up to speed in sales is usually
the most difficult part of a sales job. Just like anything else, it is easy not to appreciate what one gets
for free. Companies that hire commissioned salespeople sometimes make the mistake that they do
not have to put any resources into the sales team. Things like sales tools such as a CRM (Contact
Resource Management) program, marketing materials, and sending salespeople to trade shows,
often are not considered for someone the company is not paying any “real” salary. There is also an
emotional component to commissioned sales. It has to do with respect and appreciation. If the
salespeople are working hard for future rewards, it is important that the sales team is recognized
for loyalty and sacrifice (I have had to explain this principle to every superior I have had when
managing a sales force). When money is scarce and the team is investing in the future, they are
scrutinizing every word and action that is coming from the company leadership. Any sign of
contempt or minimizing the hard work of the sales team will be interpreted that promises of future
prosperity will not be kept. That is a morale killer.
On the other hand, the commissioned salesperson expects more support because of the fact that he
or she is essentially working for free. Commissioned salespeople can be defiant in their behavior
because they only get paid when they sell. Commissioned salespeople often think they can do
whatever they want or work only when it is convenient. Keeping regular hours, accounting for time
in the field, and other menial duties will often be ignored.
This sales model is fertile ground for abuse by the sales management team. Let me go over some of
the scenarios I have witnessed in my career, but please don’t think that my familiarity with these
schemes is an admission that I have perpetrated any of them on my sales crew.
The most popular abuse is what this book will call the salesman mill. Management knows that the
salesperson will be unable sell enough to make a living. The idea is that he or she gets a few clients
then leaves. These clients will become house accounts and will bring in future revenues. There are
always a few salespeople that are making a good living that are trotted out in front of the new
applicants to show how easy it is. Every product has a primary market either in a geographical
territory or in a category of business. If this is off limits to the new hire, history shows that it is
impossible to make a living. This is a scam. Also, the new hire needs to do a little homework. If the
business is 10 years old, has not recently changed its product or service, and is constantly hiring
new salespeople, the salesman mill may be part of the program.
Another popular ploy is to let the salespeople do all the “heavy lifting.” Once the product or service
gets established, the company fires the commissioned salespeople and hires less expensive order
takers. Salespeople are expensive, and it is legitimate to reevaluate the company’s method of
getting products and services to market. Salespeople are good at opening accounts and revisiting
them for the occasional up-sale or bump. If the salesperson is managing his or her accounts, that
salesperson will not be able to find the new clients that make salespeople worth the money they are
paid. So is it practical for client management and smaller orders to be handled by client-support.
The best way to succeed in a commission based sales model is to treat the job as though it is one’s
own business. The company the salesperson works for is the client, and the salesperson needs to
produce for them. Salespeople must take their duties as seriously as possible. If a salesperson
works harder and smarter than his or her colleagues, the results will prove or disprove the viability
of the situation.
STRAIGHT COMMISSION WITH A RECOVERABLE DRAW
: Same as a straight commission pay plan
except the sales professional receives a stated amount of compensation to be paid for an interval. This
amount must be paid back before the full commission is paid.
On the surface, this looks like a good compromise, and, in some cases it is. However, one should
keep the following in mind; the overriding reason for a company adopting this strategy is its
inability to acquire qualified applicants through a job posting. Most likely, the company’s offering of
a straight commission job did not work, and this is almost always the fallback position. When a
company chooses this pay plan first, it usually means they know from experience or knowledge of
the industry that the straight commission model will not work. One should not be fooled.
Management has a set amount they are willing to risk. If the new hire does not produce before that
amount is reached, they will be terminated.
Also realize that in most cases the company does not think of a draw as a salary. One should always
there are only two reasons to offer a draw. The first is to get applicants to come to the
interview and to accept the position. It is a loan against future sales. If a new hire is terminated,
there are no commissions to pay back the loan. The new hire may not be paid any money once the
company drops the axe. This is rarely discussed in the interview. The second reason is to make sure
the sales reps have enough money to get to work and to be able to function. The intention usually is
not to make the new hire comfortable or to make it so he or she does not need to hustle. It is in
everyone’s interest to have the new hire hungry and in need to sell in order to have the things he or
she desires. It is always funny to me when one of my sales people asks for a raise while they are still
on a draw. My response has been the same for decades, “You want a raise? Sell something.”
STRAIGHT COMMISSION WITH A NON
-RECOVERABLE DRAW: This plan is often referred to as a
guarantee. The company will pay the sales professional a salary until the amount of the earned
commissions exceeds the amount of the draw.
Straight commission with a non-recoverable draw is most prevalent in industries with mature
products and/or established markets. Another reason that a company would choose this type of
pay plan is because of the competition for sales talent in the industry. The best companies want to
attract the best people. If one company in the industry offers a guarantee, then others will follow. It
is also common in well funded start-ups. This was a very widespread practice during the dot com
boom. If you want a sales force that will look good to investors, this is the easiest way, especially if
money is not an issue.
SALARY PLUS COMMISSION AND
SALARY PLUS BONUS: The sales professional gets a steady pay
check and receives a commission or bonus for each sale, or a commission once a certain sales total is
Even though this is the most popular pay model with job applicants, it is in one way a rip-off, since
it reduces the opportunity for a big pay day. On the surface this pay plan sounds great because it
reduces the risk of working for free. But, the elimination of this risk will cost the sales professional
in the long run. This is how it works. The CEO tells the VP of sales that the most they will spend for
each sale is 15%. The average sale is $1000. So the commission on each sale would be $150.00 if we
were using the straight commission model. The average sales person makes two sales a day which
would mean that their total sales for the week would be $10,000. This would translate to a $1500
commission check at the end of the week. The VP of sales now has to come up with a structure using
the Salary plus commission model that insures that the commission never exceeds 15%. He or she
offers $750 per week salary and 5% on the first $10,000 of sales and 10% on anything above
$10,000 in sales for a week. So, a salesperson sells exactly $10,000.00. His or her pay for the week
would be $750 salary and $500.00 commission which would be a total of $1,250. The fear of risk
insurance just cost that salesperson $250 for the week. If that same salesperson had a great week
and sold $20,000, his or her total would be $2,250.00 instead of $3000.00. This is just one example,
but this will hold true in most cases. There are companies that are just starting a new product line
or that are start-ups, which will use this model before sales are coming through the door. They have
chosen this model to encourage hard work and new customers. One can bet that the minute the
salesperson starts hitting large numbers, the pay plan will be changed to something less lucrative.
The reason for the generous pay schedule is to keep the sales team motivated. Once the product is
established, the tone will change to being more pragmatic and less generous.
, USUALLY COMES WITH A SALARY: The sales professional is paid a commission on the
amount he increases a sale or his sales totals for a certain time period over the previous year.
This is a demonic pay plan that must have been inspired by Satan himself. It is the only pay plan I
know of that has actually caused someone to commit suicide. The reason why this commission
model usually comes with a salary is that it puts the onus of the growth of the company squarely on
the salesperson's shoulders. Most pay plans pay the sales representative on the amount of the sale.
This is not so with the sales net model. The salesperson only gets credit for the amount of the
increase of the sales from the year before. For example, the salesperson goes to see a client that is
spending $100.00 and that client renews the account for $120.00. That salesperson made $20 of
sales net that will count towards the commission program. Now this is where it gets evil. If that
same salesperson were to renew the account for less than the person spent, the negative difference
would be subtracted from the sales net he or she had accumulated that pay period.
Using a similar example, let’s say the client who spent $100 last year now cancels. The salesperson,
who had $20 in sales accumulated sales net, now has a negative $80. If one is going to take a loss, it
will probably be on Friday afternoon on the last day of the pay period (This will wreck your
weekend, trust me on that). Of course the salesperson can keep it in his or her briefcase for the next
pay period, a risky move but quite common. This is a very common pay plan in the yellow page
industry. Being under this plan will give one an incentive to become very proficient at saving the
deal. There is another thing one should be wary of, if one finds himself working under this plan. If
the salesperson is having an outstanding week or month, management may drop a couple of losers
in his or her lap, in order to reduce the salesperson's pay for that period. Of course, the salesperson
will not be told that the client is expected to cancel. He or she will make the call feeling happy that
they finally got something from management. It is not until one is in the middle of the call that one
realizes how this will negatively affect an otherwise great check. This is by far the most brutal plan I
have ever been under.
: The amount of money the sales professional is paid on a sale is determined by price point.
Some companies have a sliding price for their products and services. This means the more the
salesperson squeezes out of the prospect, the more commission that salesperson makes. This pay
plan is one of the reasons the public hates salespeople. The weaker and less knowledgeable the
prospect is, the better and more profitable the deal becomes. Clients are known as mooches, at least
that is what they were called in the 70’s. This format uses a lot of tricks to maximize the profit on
each sale. In most sales situations the salesperson is trying to convince the client that their product
or service is the right fit. In this model that is not sufficient. The “pitch person” is creating emotional
environments that will extract the highest price and thus a bigger commission.
My first real sales job in 1978 selling home insulation used this model. The key when the customer
complains about the rate or tells you they can get it for less somewhere else, is to have some phony
reason to lower the price “just for them.” Again, this model does not work everywhere.
Overage is more prevalent in certain industries. Tools, nuts and bolts, and chemicals are a few that
come to mind. Also, the salesperson's geographic area will play an important role in how much
money he or she will be able to make. The reason is competition. In rural areas, as opposed to a
large city, the customer will have a much smaller selection of where to do business. The biggest
danger a sales professional faces under this plan comes when it is time to ask the customer for
another order. If the salesperson does not give the customer the best price, he or she runs the risk
of someone coming by and undercutting that price. Many times the salesperson will have to make a
decision on the spot to go for a larger commission now, or delay that, in the hope that with a good
price, he or she will make another commission in the future. Due to the inherent greed factor in this
plan, many salespeople miss the repeat business altogether and spend their time looking for the
In order to get the higher rates, the salesperson will be asked to sell service and convenience. This
translates into the salesperson's time. He or she may be asked or have to offer to do inventory,
stocking, deliveries, or even clean-up of the bins and storage areas. These tasks are not worthy of
disdain, but one should be aware that every minute a salesperson spends doing menial labor at a
client’s place, is a minute that salesperson is not selling. One may have to do these jobs to keep a
client, but the salesperson's real job is to sell the product or service.
The Internet has all but wrecked this way of doing business. Any business person in a position of
making purchases has a computer at his or her fingertips. Very few will not be savvy enough to do a
little research before spending their company’s money. If one is selling to consumers, he or she may
get by for awhile, but one should expect complaints when someone finally figures out they could
have gotten the product or service for less online.
MULTILEVEL MARKETING: (Wikipedia, Wikipedia, Multi-level marketing) Multi-level marketing
(MLM), also known as Network Marketing, is a business-distribution model that allows a parent
company to market its products directly to consumers by means of relationship referrals and direct
Independent, non-salaried salespeople referred to as distributors (or associates, independent
business owners, dealers, franchise owners, sales consultants, consultants, independent agents,
etc.) represent the parent company and are awarded a commission based upon the volume of
product sold through each of their independent businesses (organizations). Independent
distributors develop their organizations by either building an active customer base who buy direct
from the parent company or by recruiting a down line of independent distributors who also build a
customer base, thereby expanding the overall organization. Additionally, distributors can also earn
a profit by retailing products they purchase from the parent company at wholesale price.
Distributors earn a commission based on the sales efforts of their organization which includes their
independent sale efforts as well as the leveraged sales efforts of their down line. This arrangement
is similar to franchise arrangements where royalties are paid from the sales of individual franchise
operations to the franchiser as well as to an area or region manager. Commissions are paid to multilevel marketing distributors according to the company’s compensation plan. There can be multiple
levels of people receiving royalties from one person's sales.
I choose to use the Wikipedia definition because I don’t know that much about this sales model.
Don’t get me wrong, I have wasted thousands of dollars on various products and strategies; the
problem being I have never succeeded at any of them. I am very cynical when it comes to these
programs. With that said I have met many that have succeeded at these. Here are just a few
observations. The successful people I have met do not consider themselves sales people in the
truest sense. For the most part they are friendly, outgoing and truly care about what they sell and
about those who are in their “down line”. What I am saying is that they do not consider themselves
sales professionals and they do not really act like ones. When I start talking about sales
methodology, they really are not that keen on listening, nor are they very knowledgeable about it,
except for the motivational component. It is a very interesting way to make a living, but, at the same
time, I have no idea on how they do it.
I can tell you a little about what I heard from two individuals. The first worked with a certain
weight loss product that was popular in the 1980’s. The company had developed a catchy slogan
and put it on buttons that all its representatives wore. It seemed the top producers were really
making a killing. Huge groups gathered to hear them speak. They were charismatic and gave
fantastic speeches. Some of what I heard would have been admired by the best motivational
speakers. Then it was reported in the news media that one of their products had a negative effect
on the user’s health. Sales plummeted. It was in the midst of this crisis in MLM heaven that I pulled
one of these speakers aside. What he told me, astonished me at the time, but made great sense after
I thought about it. He confessed that he would tell his audience that he made $60,000 in a month,
but what he failed to mention is that he paid $40,000 in advertising. He did not disclose to me if he
had any other overhead, but I made the assumption that he did.
The second individual was one of my first sales managers. He was working every evening after
work selling for one of the oldest MLM companies out there. For a year I watched him draw circles
at night. You know how that goes – you get three, then they get three, and so on down the page. No
one has to do any real selling. We just all buy from ourselves. As it turned out, no one he knew made
any real money either. After a year of drawing circles, he told me that he wished someone had told
him that this was a book and tape business at the beginning. It turned out that he spent more on
motivational books and tapes, sales materials, and so on than he ever came close to making drawing
circles. What was even more disturbing to me was that he was truly a very talented salesperson.
These two experiences early in my career shied me away from joining any of these organizations
These two examples are in this book in order to draw a few conclusions. The first is that any
network marketing endeavor must be run as if it is one’s own business. It comes complete with
advertising costs, inventory needs, personnel issues, and often times even physical overhead such
as office space, websites, and telephone lines. If one does the friends and family technique that a
recruiter may suggest, it will not be long before that person has no friends and is no longer invited
to family functions. If a person is unwilling or unable to invest, his or her chances of success
decrease dramatically. With the advent of the Internet, it has become easier to reach people who
are interested in this type of business, however, using the Internet introduces its own set of
problems. Many programs presented online as advertising or as online marketing plans such as
those with banner ads or facebook® and twitter® links, are nothing more than well dressed
schemes designed to separate people from their money. This is true not only when recruiting
people to join an organization but also when selling a product. Second is that someone, somewhere
in every organization has to actually sell the product. The notion that everyone buys from
themselves and no one sells is ludicrous. The main problem with this concept is that people have
buying habits. No matter how good the product, the organization just will not be able to get enough
people to change those habits for everyone to make money. Finally, much of one’s success will be
based on timing. If a person hits something hot or gets in early, he or she may end up at the top. The
obvious challenge is finding the right opportunity. A person may waste a lot of money looking for
one and never find it. Every MLM company is represented somewhere online. The Internet today is
filled with schemes, scams, and a few genuine opportunities. Every person should be careful where
they invest their time and money.
Most sales professionals believe that the only change to a pay plan should result in an increase in
their compensation; the main theme being that the only reason that a company exists is to pay the
salespeople. Commissions get higher the harder the sale is. Hence, when the product or service
achieves adequate market penetration the commissions will come down. The legend that
companies will pay their sales people more than the CEO may have been true back in the 30’s. Now,
most CEO's or CFO's have a ceiling on what they will pay a salesperson. The obvious questions is,
why not pay a salesperson as much as they can earn no matter how much that is? The answer is
that others contribute to the success of the company besides the person who signs the deal and
collects the check. If the salesperson is the only person who is well compensated, it will be difficult
to attract and keep talent. If one thinks he or she will be able to answer an ad on Craig’s List and
make a half a million the first year (which is ten times more than anyone else in the Company), that
person will most likely be disappointed. The truth is, if a person wants to make more money, that
person should work for a company that pays well in general.
When I worked for Runner's World Magazine back in the 80's, the publisher announced that his
salespeople would not make more than $40,000 per-year. I thought back then that this was
shortsighted and cheap. Now I look back and think at least he was honest.
4. TYPES OF SALES JOBS
The field of sales jobs is as varied as any field out there. There are many things to consider when
deciding which job to take. The next chapter will look at different facets and compare them.
EMPLOYEE VS. INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR:
The first thing to look at is employment status - whether the sales professional actually works for
the company as an employee, or is an independent contractor. When consulting, this author always
advises companies to separate its sales department from the people that have normal jobs. The
reason for this is that salespeople approach work differently than most. One way to separate
salespeople from the other members of the staff is to have them be independent contractors instead
of employees. Theoretically this would make the company the client of the contractor which may
motivate the contractor to be respectful and courteous to the company’s employees.
INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR: A non-employee who has been hired to complete a task outside of
With the Internet and the fact that many salespeople work in a different geographic than the home
office, this is a very good option in many situations. Usually, but not always, the independent
contractor is paid straight commission. The rules vary from state to state on what constitutes an
independent contractor, but in general, the company cannot control the independent contractor as
it can an employee. Rules exist that the company cannot supply the contractor with the tools of
their trade. In this scenario, there are some pretty substantial tax breaks for both the employee and
employer. State and Federal governments are apt to challenge the status of this relationship if there
is a reason to do so. It is important to note that if a sales professional earns money as a selfemployed person, he or she is responsible for both sides of the social security tax. This can add up,
and is why many independent contractors incorporate (Please talk to your tax professional
regarding the tax consequences of being an independent contractor). In many cases the
independent contractor pays a small fee for training and marketing materials to show that they are
not employees. Sometimes these expenses are offset with a first sale bonus or some other
apparatus to compensate for the money spent.
Most independent contractors believe that the company is only interested in results and not in
behavior. Anyone who has conceived and managed an independent contractor sales force will
confess that how much and how the independent contractor works is the subject of much scrutiny.
In the company’s mind, they see the independent status as a cost saving measure that should not
affect the behavior of the salespeople. If one talks to those who are hired under this pay plan, and
they will describe a series of benefits and privileges that will not be shared by the management. One
thing is true. The sales professional is not restricted to have one form of income. He or she can have
other clients. Also the sales professional should keep in mind that he or she is not protected by the
laws designed to protect the employee. There are a few exceptions, but, the rule is, the independent
contractor can be let go at anytime without any notice and with no severance pay. Many companies
use this model to open a territory or experiment with a new product or service. If all goes well the
company may bring all clients in house and change the model to something that costs less per sale.
The independent contractor would then not be eligible for unemployment benefits. If one does
become an independent contractor or is already one, he or she needs to pay their taxes. Many
applicants and new hires have had to confess in interviews that they have IRS leans. It is
uncomfortable and brings their character in to question.
Most readers are familiar with the employee status. The company that hires salespeople as
employees will usually impose more structure and have more rules to comply with especially if the
job includes a salary.
INTANGIBLE VS. TANGIBLE PRODUCTS AND SERVICES:
Products and services fall into one of two categories, intangible and tangible. An intangible sale is
defined as selling a service or product that does not exist until it has been delivered to the client.
Advertising is a perfect example of how something that does not exist can be sold. Any salesperson
selling yellow page advertising will express amazement about how much ownership the clients
assumed over their space in a big book. The reality is that without the ads, the book would not exist.
The salespeople are trained to show the customer the current version as though it had any bearing
on what the next book was going to look like. Another example is radio advertising. These people
are literally selling air. The ad only exists once it is aired. This may seem to be theoretical subject
matter but selling an intangible has some unique qualities not shared by its counterpart, the
tangible. Selling the intangible allows the sales professional to be much more creative in selling the
product or service. Because they are selling something that does not exist, the salesperson can
frame it to what the client needs. In most cases, the successful intangible sales professional will use
a proven sales process to get the prospect to the need to buy the product (What is the best sales
process to use? The generic version will be in my second New York Times best seller). With that
said, the intangible sales person needs to be able to tie the features of the product or service to real
I have been selling intangible products and services for most of my career. In the mid 90’s I was
pretty burned-out so I decided to open a cigar shop. This turned out to be a financial disaster. Being
a sales professional, I thought I would crush any employee I hired because of my superior sales skill
set. Twenty-one year old Alice came into my shop and kicked my butt. See, I had never sold a $9.00
item, especially one you could hold in your hand. After making a few adjustments to my mind set, I
was able to keep-up with those that I hired.
The best example of a tangible product is the car sell. Features rule in the tangible sale, however
this is not to say that the salesperson should never bring-up benefits when he or she can. The days
of selling a car by talking about the wind in ones hair on a summer day are in the past. Fuel mileage,
horse power, and the way it drives are much more important than any story a salesperson can tell.
One should keep in mind that intangibles usually have a larger profit margin than tangibles. Once a
tangible product becomes a mature product, there is the possibility it will become commoditized.
When a product becomes a commodity, it no longer needs someone to sell it. It is sold strictly on
price. As in all examples, it is a matter of degree. Companies do not have salespeople sell gold, but
there are gold jewelry sales people. Gold is a commodity and jewelry is not.
CLIENT-CENTRIC VS. COMPANY-CENTRIC:
Every company claims to be client-centric. Many companies are not. What I mean by this is that
management does not really care if the client is happy – not as long as there are not any
consequences for the company. For example, during the real estate boom, many mortgage
companies emerged and thrived. They were all selling loans from the same wholesale funding
sources. Some chose the long term approach and made sure the clients knew exactly what the
particulars of the loans were for which they were signing-up. They only made loans that would
likely be paid back. Other mortgage companies wrote loans to anyone that would sign. When the
real estate boom was over, which companies do you think made the most money, the client-centric
or the company-centric ones? Unfortunately for society, sometimes crime does pay. Even though it
is not politically correct to say so, often companies that focus on the clients are not the most
profitable, and thus are not able to pay the high commissions that the company-centric companies
Since advertising is what I have been selling for the last 30 years, I can tell you that certain types of
media are famous for hype and for maximizing profit. Radio salespeople are notorious for selling
radio spots at different rates to different clients. One time, I was buying some radio spots for a
client. I did an ROI or “Return on Investment,” analysis on what the salesperson was offering. I came
to the conclusion that the buy would not work for my client. Instead of getting a counter offer or
some other explanation, the salesperson told me, “I don’t sell that way.” What he really meant was
that it was of no interest to him if we made a profit or not. My response was, “Well, that’s the
way we buy media.” The fact that he admitted to being company-centric blew me away.
Sometimes salespeople know that the client is not getting the best deal, or that there are other
alternatives in the market place that would be a better fit. Whether or not to reveal this is an
individual choice that each sales professional will have to make. The experience of most salespeople
is that selling something that you know is not the best option for the client, is the biggest factor in
“Burn Out”. With that said, no matter what a salesperson sells even if one is as fair and ethical as
one can be, there will be times that the client will not be satisfied and call you a liar (OK, that may
just happen to me, but you get my point).
PREMISE VS. TELEPHONE SALES:
Conventional wisdom believes that anything sold exclusively on the phone is a rip-off, and that
phone sales people are unattractive. The main reason for this belief is that, for the most part, it is
true. Business to Consumer (B to C) sales has become a lot less prevalent since the advent of the no
call list. It has also diminished because most people understand they can probably find the same
service on the Internet for less. So, the only consumers left that a phone solicitor can call are those
that are too lazy to put themselves on the list, or too poor or ignorant to fire-up a computer.
Phones sales for Business to Business (B to B), are challenging because of the “gate keeper.”
Businesses will, as a rule, try to stop every phone solicitation. It will be terminated at the first call
with a not so polite, “No thank you.” By the way, if anyone who answers a phone in a business says
that they are on the no call list, the salesperson has permission to explain to them that there is no
such thing as a no-call list for business. I once called this guy by getting his number from his own
website. He told me he was on the no call list. I explained to him that I found his number on his
website. He told me that was for customers only. The arrogance of some people is astounding...
Premise sales are considered to be more prestigious than phone sales and they often pay more.
But, the advantage for a company to employ a phone solicitor is that he or she can cover more
ground than a premise salesperson. The downside is that it is easier for a premise sales person to
close larger deals. Lately, a tactic that I have been using with more frequency is to create teams of
phone and premise sales people. The phone person takes the sale as far as they can take it, and
then sets the appointment for the premise person.
As a telephone salesperson, the phone handset will sometimes seem to weigh 100 pounds. Their
premise counterparts will suffer from a similar dilemma which is commonly called “hot door
knobs”. What this means is that both telephone and premise salespeople experience resistance to
the sales call. The major difference between the two is that the phone sales position is highly
supervised and guidance can be quickly administered. The premise rep is not as well supervised
and can become a victim of this psychological problem. The best way to deal with resistance is to
power through it. Do just one more cold call on one more customer. Every sales person has felt this
heaviness at one time or another. Make no mistake about it - this is your subconscious telling your
conscious that it does not like being rejected, or that it does not like change. Selling has both of
these feelings as possible results. If the prospect is not receptive or is being unreasonable, you will
feel rejection. If you land the big deal you will experience change, so either way your subconscious
will not want to cooperate. To help in this situation, recall a recent success and focus on how it felt
to succeed. Another strategy is to summon up your competitive spirit and realize that your
associates are out there working and getting results. Getting outside of one’s self and looking at the
big picture is the key to fighting any kind of sales resistance.
Outside salespeople or premise sales are becoming less and less common, due to the cost to keep
them going, and the lack of results that come from a resistant population. It became so hard to cold
call B to B in the 70’s that I had to take a job selling door to door in the early 80’s. That is certainly
not going to happen in today’s neighborhoods. Another risk with outside salespeople is that they do
not always behave. A funny story is told by someone that used to work for a former major phone
company that provided cars to the premise sales reps. The rep once asked why they did not have
the name of the company on the car. He was not upset that they did not and was actually glad they
didn’t, but he was curious. It turns out that the reason was that the company became uncomfortable
explaining why their cars were being parked in front of strip clubs every day. This is just a cute
antidote, but it does illustrate a point. Outside sales can be fun, but to be successful you need to
push yourself every day, and this gets old.
Many outside sales professionals travel a lot. This seems romantic. It is for a while if one is single. It
can be quite fruitful, if you know what I mean. It is also very hard not to spend all ones money. Per
Diem's, the money the company gives you on a daily basis, does not go far. It is very easy to
By the way, if one of your buddies is cheating on their spouse, end the friendship immediately.
When that spouse becomes suspicious he or she is going to hone in on you like a laser beam and
grill you like Jack Bauer of 24. The only answer is, “Gee, I don’t really know. We don’t hang out
anymore.” Yes, it is a lie, but never tell the spouse anything. The couple will reunite and you will be
made to feel as though you are the devil. At least that is what I have heard. Of course, I don’t have
any firsthand experience.
Many sales models include a role for someone just to set appointments. This is a hard job that
usually does not pay very well. This is a good job to start ones sales career with, because you learn
the basic sales techniques. Many companies promote from these ranks because there is less rampup time. The appointment setter is usually very familiar with the product line.
There are three keys to being successful as an appointment setter.
1. He or she should be nice and smooth. It is important not to be pushy. The appointment
setter is a helper not a sales person. Aggressiveness from the person on the other end of
the phone is expected. The best way to counter their curtness is by being understanding
and nice. Expressing ones belief in the product as opposed to why they should buy, is
much more likely to lead to the preferred result.
2. It is a numbers game. The more people one calls, the more appointments one will set.
There have been mediocre appointment setters that have out-produced much more
talented colleagues just by being more diligent.
3. He or she needs to be a fast thinker. Prospects will come up with all kinds of reasons
why they cannot talk or why they are not interested in the product or service. Engaging
them and getting them to talk is the appointment setter’s primary goal. Critical thinking
and logic will go far in trying to set the first appointment.
Many premise sales positions require appointment setting. Usually the sales professional will not
have the luxury of having someone do it for him or her. Whether one is setting appointments for
someone else or doing his or her own phone work, one should not try to close the person over the
phone. On the phone, the salesperson is either trying to get the customer to come to the showroom
or the lot, or to try and let the salesperson come to the client's place of business at a set time.
Overselling on the phone is a crucial mistake. That is not to say that one may not have to go into
some features and benefits in order to get in the door, but the position on the phone is that all of
their questions will be answered when they are seen in person. If a person is setting appointments
for someone else, he or she needs to explain to the potential customer that the person they will be
meeting will be able to answer all their questions much better. One thing that works when setting
appointments is to tell the potential customer that there is something that must be shown to him or
that there is something he must see. In all sales, there is a close. Here the close is for an
appointment. Once an agreement has been reached, the person making the call should thank the
potential customer and reaffirm the appointment by saying that they look forward to meeting the
client at the agreed time and date. This portion of the job is then done…the caller needs to hang-up
The liner is used a lot in the car business. This person needs to have a lot of product experience. His
or her main job is to create interest and to sell the prospect on the idea of sitting down with the
closer. He is the first person to approach the client, and his or her job is to “line” the client up for the
closer, hence the moniker. Like the appointment setter, the liner is an entry position in many
companies. It is a great way to become familiar with an industry and a company.
Part of the liner’s job is to gather information for the closer that he or she may then use to close the
deal. The potential customer’s current income, how much can they afford in payments per month,
preferences in make, model, color, and desired extras, may all be expected from the liner when he
flips the customer to the closer. A good liner will keep his or her ear open for any information that
the customer gives that will help the closer. Even personal information such as where the potential
customer lives, whether they are single or married, how many children they have and their ages, all
will be useful to the closer. Needless to say, the ability to put the potential customer at ease, to
develop a rapport, and to get him or her to open-up are crucial qualities for a liner.
The Internet has changed the game of phone sales for the better. “So are you in front of a
computer? Well let me show you what I am talking about.” Now a salesperson can have a prospect
follow along on their computer to explain the product or service. This has made it a lot easier to
engage and close a prospect. Phone sales run the gambit of pay and responsibilities.
Phone sales can be broken up in to two categories - inbound and outbound. Inbound is when the
prospect calls into the company to inquire about a product or service. These calls are generated by
advertising or marketing campaigns and therefore cost money. That is why the company is very
concerned how the calls are handled. There is also a legal liability that a company assumes when
they solicit phone calls. To protect themselves from accusations that the sales people made false
promises is why they record the calls. Sales people making false promises to sell something? Why
that’s outrageous! Well, they record the calls anyway. Obviously being a sales person receiving calls
is easier than having to make them. There still is a range of expertise that is utilized for this position -
anywhere from a closer to an order taker.
There is something about an outbound phone solicitor that people inherently do not like, but
outbound phone calling is an integral part of many well paying jobs. For instance, investments such
as stocks and bonds, home mortgages, Internet advertising, some types of insurance, phone service,
and many types of home improvement are examples of industries that extensively use outbound
phone solicitation. Many of these jobs are not only well paying, but are also very prestigious. They
run the gamut from stockbroker to the guy that calls up on a Saturday morning to sell magazine
subscriptions. The job usually consists of calling down some sort of list, however this is not always
the case. These also vary from being qualified leads gathered in a number of different ways, to
complete cold calling and everything in between. Every type of pay plan discussed in the earlier
chapter can be found in the outbound phone solicitation business, however most will involve some
sort of commission structure whether it be straight commission or possibly a bonus program based
An example of an outbound phone solicitation job that does not involve any kind of list is Internet
advertising. When I worked as the National Sales Manager for an advertising agency in Los Angeles,
I would have my reps find a spot on one of the websites where we had an agreement to sell space.
The reps would then go to different search engines and search for websites that would work in that
available spot. After getting the phone number off of the website, they would call the business to
sell that spot. This process worked amazingly well.
Every sales professional thinks they are a great closer. Few really are. I just so happen to be one. I
sold high pressure chicken fryers for restaurants back in the late 70’s. It was really cool. I got to
drive around a really big motor home that had the fryers in it for demonstrations. I had probably
the best sales manager I ever had, let’s call him Jim. Jim really cared about me, but his company and
I totally self-destructed. We blew-up the whole opportunity. I learned a ton from this guy and
ended-up going back to college after this job. He told me that he had met very few natural closers. I
asked him what it was about me that made him say that I was one. He asked me,” Do you like
people?” My response was, “Besides you, not really.” He smiled knowingly.
Closers are used a lot in the car business with liners. “So how much is the car?” "I am going to have
to talk to my manager; he will make you a great deal." The closer position is where the art becomes
apparent. They all do it differently but the goal is the same. Many times the closer is also the boss.
This is because the more perceived power one has, the easier it is to close.
This is also very common in big phone rooms. Once the prospect is qualified, the liner will say,
“That is a great question. Let me have my manager answer that for you." This is known as a hand-off
or a T.O. (Turn Over). The closer's job is to get the deal and then hand it back over to the phone rep
to wrap up the ordering process. At least that is the way I always did it. This can be a very
exhausting role to do day after day.
There have been many books written on techniques of how to close a sale. I have just such a book
brewing in my head, but we will not go into any of those techniques here. One point should be made
though. A closer must be able to ask for the check, credit card, or signature. Many a salesperson has
done their job perfectly, and then failed because they would not or could not ask for the money.
Everything in sales leads up to this moment. Without the close, all the other positions, not to
mention any other work done with the potential customer, becomes meaningless. If one has a fear
or an aversion to asking the ultimate question, that person can never be a closer. He or she may
even need to consider another line of work.
5. TYPES OF MANAGERS
If a sales manager has a special relationship with the executives or ownership of the company and
would otherwise be working at some low paying job where no one would listen to him/her, then
the boss falls in to this category. Back when fathers-in-law would give their sons-in-law a job in
order to keep their daughter and grandchildren fed, the son-in-law would often be made Sales
Manager. Now the Dad just hires the daughter. If someone is qualified, competent, and related to
the company “brass” then they are not part of this group.
If a salesperson finds him or herself in this situation, he or she should understand that this manager
is there for a reason. Is it to motivate the sales team? No. Is it to inspire each salesperson to reach
their sales goals? No. Maybe he or she is there to create a positive emotional environment to
increase the salesperson's self-esteem? No. This unqualified appointee is there to protect the assets
of the company and be the jerk that does the bidding of the higher-ups. Upper management does
not want to be perceived as a bunch of self-serving donkeys. They hire dumb brother-in-law, who
has a monster size ego, to be the tough guy. For example, the bean counter sees that many of the
salespeople are making more money than he is, so he recommends a change in the compensation
plan to the brass. They like it, but none of these wimps are man enough to face a hoard of screaming
salespeople. The best solution is to have the dumb-ass relative take the heat. It is a very practical
One thing to look out for in this situation is favoritism. Since this person got his job through
favoritism, it only makes sense that he or she will manage the same way. Even though they will not
admit it, he or she is not as smart as the people that they supervise. After losing one argument after
another to subordinates and looking idiotic, they all go to the same tactic. They surround
themselves with rent-a-friends that they have paid-off with other people’s hard work. They do this
to reinforce their otherwise indefensible authority. One should keep in mind that, just as the sales
team shows its sales manager no respect, neither do his or her bosses. He or she is a fool, and
everybody knows it.
PSYCHO/SADIST/NARCISSIST SALES MANAGER.
This very disturbed individual is usually an incredibly talented closer, and can be quite
knowledgeable. He is an asset to the company. It is important to remember that this person has
nowhere else to go. His or her craziness would not be accepted by any other organization. The
current management team has decided that they will accept this person with all their faults,
however he may not be able to find another situation if this one does not work out. The first and
only priority of this manager is self preservation. Unlike the next two categories, this unfortunate
category has both men and women as members. These managers like to screw with those that work
for them. There is something inside of their dark and soulless being that needs to hurt those that
trust and rely on them. It is really hard to watch, and it makes one crazy when it happens to him or
It has happened to me on numerous occasions. I was working at my cigar shop and this customer
had an idea for a product to sell to other cigar shops. It turned out to be a massive violation of
trademark laws, but I am going off point. I was hurting for cash, so I told him I would set-up to sell
his product. We were going to share the profits. There was one big problem. He did not realize how
good at this I was. My team and I made several thousand dollars worth of sales in the first few
weeks. When I asked for my money, he bought me a pair of pants and told me that he was not going
to pay me because I needed the money. Huh, that makes no sense, right? It was baffling. See, in his
crazy mind this all happened because of his great idea and how dare I ask for half of his
profits. There was no room for someone like me in his crazy world. Other people’s success
threatens these types.
A common characteristic of the Psycho/Sadist/Narcissist sales manager is the need to be known as
the smartest person in the room, bar none. Their need to be right about everything knows no limit.
They will commonly argue about the stupidest detail. If by some chance they lose an argument, the
gloves will come-off, and the person with the correct point-of-view will be personally
savaged. Another common trait is a severely dominating personality. If a sales manager is
dominating the sales team to the point of being counterproductive, and is making sure everyone
knows that he or she is in charge, one can take it as a strong indicator that this sales manager falls
into this category. The best tactic at the salesperson's disposal is to do nothing, or to quietly find
another job. Chances are the Psycho/Sadist/Narcissist sales manager will eventually self-destruct.
I went to work as the national sales manager for an online advertising agency where I had as many
as 40 sales people. The VP did everything he could to make my life miserable. Every time I got to the
point where I was making livable money, he would change my pay plan. That was not the worst of
it. I surmised by the way he manipulated me and others, coupled with his outrageous outbursts,
that he may have been incarcerated. His level of skill to manipulate and dominate resembled those
whom I had met that had done serious time. I eventually left the company after he had hired
another person to manage the account executives, leaving me with only the low-end cold callers.
After my departure he went to the new investors to convince them to fire the founder and CEO, and
to make him the top dog. This coup d’état failed, and he ended-up out on his butt. Later I found out
though a friend of mine with whom he later went into business, that he had gotten thrown back in
jail for a parole violation. Sometimes I amaze myself with my insights. Despite the fact that he was
an immoral slime, I liked hanging out with him. He was very smart, and I am sorry to admit that
some of the wisdom contained in this book came from him.
ANGRY MAN MANAGER:
The reason the Angry Man Manager has his own category is that he or she - mostly he - is not
disturbed but just pissed-off. His attitude is that he works with a bunch of ingrates and connivers
that never listen to anything he says, and then blame everyone else when things go terribly wrong.
This can be quite trying on one’s patience. There is also just the garden variety alcoholic or
rageaholic. This person is just not happy unless he has someone at which to direct his anger. We
will deal with more on this subject in the chapter, “How to Manage Your Manager.”
Being angry all the time can cloud a superior's judgment. This results in stupid decisions that will
affect a salesperson’s ability to make a living. One example of this would be the manager that
suddenly demands more detailed call reports for no reason, or schedules additional sales meetings
to further berate the sales force when sales drop. Not only does this take the sales force out of the
field, giving the sales people less time to sell, but it further drops an already sagging morale. Instead
of encouraging the salespeople to stay out longer in an attempt to bolster sales, he brings them in so
he can vent. Venting might make him feel better, but it does not really solve any other problem, and
it certainly will not help a salesperson’s commission check. Of course, if a salesperson abuses his or
her freedom by having coffee with friends, going to the movies, or taking long walks on the beach
instead of selling, that salesperson might actually deserve to be yelled at by his or her manager.
Many times the anger is for effect, and is the only way the sales manager can get people to listen to
him. For effect or not, it can be very frustrating working for this type of individual. After a day in the
field dealing with customers, many of whom are unreceptive, a salesperson does not want to dread
returning to the office, because he or she does not know what they might face when they walk
through the door. This same feeling in the pit of the stomach can also be felt by the in-house,
premise salesperson who has been on the floor all day. He or she dreads seeing the manager’s office
door open, or hearing him walk across the showroom floor. This can get very tiring on a day-to-day
basis. If a company has a high turnover rate in its sales department, this could be one of the
contributing factors. The burn-out rate of working under these circumstances is usually very high.
It is difficult for companies to find sales managers that understand the industry and that are
effective. That is why this behavior is often overlooked in the sales department while it would not
be tolerated anywhere else in the company. Fear as a tactic only works for awhile however, and in
the end, fear as the only motivation will cause people to push back. Before that happens, everyone
hopes this person will find the carrot to go with the stick. If his threats are never carried-out,
despite all the bluster, the sales force will begin to ignore or give a cursory acknowledgement to
this man or woman and then go about their business. They will give as much heed to this person as
they would the boy that cried wolf. This may back this person into a corner forcing him to act, but
until he does act, the sales department will not take him seriously.
HOT CHICK MANAGER:
Everyone thinks she got her job because of her looks… including her. Usually a top producer while a
sales person, she was promoted to illustrate to everyone that women can also advance in the
company; that, and the old guys like to check-out her cleavage at manager meetings. Really, we do.
The downfall of the Hot Chick Manager happens in three areas. First, there is a lack of maturity in the
concept of her role in the company. As a salesperson it was pretty much about her everywhere and
all the time. She would walk into a client, and it was about her. In a one-on-one with her manager, it
was about her and her performance. At those pesky sales meetings she was able to steal more
attention than most of the other participants. Now that she is a manager, she still thinks it is about
her. The problem is that the salespeople she is supposed to be managing are not getting what they
I had a manager at a publishing company that I worked for who thought it was motivating for us to
know that she could leave work in the middle of the day to get her nails done. You can guess what
the talk around the office was when she left. You can also guess what this did to morale and the
work ethic of the average salesperson who had to report to her.
The second problem area is with subordinate men. This is very complex, so please try to follow
along. The Hot Chick Manager is single and wants to have a boyfriend, but she cannot date anyone
that works with her because it would compromise her position. She has to make the men on her
sales team undesirable. For a man to be constantly reminded that he is not in the pool of desirable
men, is a very un-motivating situation. Emotionally castrated men don’t sell very well. I am sure this
is not the only scenario that ends up with emasculation, but it is the most prevalent. To make
matters worse, women have been objectified in the sales room probably for their whole career, and
will often feel resentment to all men for this. So they bond with the women on their team to help
them succeed. The men see this as favoritism. This splits the team along gender lines, and creates a
horrible working atmosphere.
The third area again has to do with maturity. Salespeople don’t care if her daddy still calls her
princess; the members of the sales team are not her subjects. Salespeople don’t want to have to
show her admiration. Being promoted is not being crowned; besides it is not really a promotion as
much as it is a change in focus. The salespeople are not less important than the manager just
because they work for her. As a matter of fact, the salespeople should be more important now that
she is their leader. One is called a manager because one is supposed to manage.
This category of manager was created to illustrate what happens when someone immature, vain,
egocentric, shallow, inwardly unsure of herself and outwardly unaware of how her actions affect
those around her, gets into a position of authority. Physical beauty stereotypes this manager,
because it seems to be the overwhelming reason she got the promotion. Although these
characteristics can also be found in men, they seem to manifest themselves in a different manner.
To illustrate my point, let me share an experience I had a few years back. I had just closed a
business I had for 5 years and went to work for an independent yellow pages publisher. I was
broke. Since I had previously worked for a national yellow pages, I was pretty sure I could do the
job. I found myself in one of the worst situations I had ever been in. This woman easily humiliated
salespeople more than any other manager I had ever experienced. Before being transferred by “The
Princess” to another division (because I was scary), we were supposed to have a meaningless
meeting at 8:30 am. She did not show up until 11:30 and came in with one of the women reps. They
had met for breakfast. The reason why she was late was because she had to take a stray dog to the
vet to get a flea treatment. Not only was I less important than a dog, but I was also less important
than any random stray dog. If I had been younger and not as experienced, this would have scared
me for life. The point is that the job of sales manager means that the focus needs to be on the sales
reps - not that the sales reps are forced to focus on the manager.
MARRIED MISOGYNIST PIG MANAGER
If your married manager is more interested in trying to get some action with a co-worker than he
is in his sales numbers, he qualifies as a Married Misogynist Pig Manager. Just to be fair, it
should be pointed out that this category includes both men and women managers, but they are
predominantly male. The fact that he is addicted to inappropriate sexual behavior makes him a
bad boss. Why? Because if he is immoral enough to cheat on his wife and destroy his children’s
innocence, he will at some time in your career either ask you to be his alibi, or will throw you
under the bus in order to cover his sick behavior. The sad part of it is, many of these guys could
be really good managers. Many of them are very experienced and could do their job really well if
they were not always trying to target the next score. Being good sales persons themselves, as
well as having huge egos, they generally only look at what they want. If you help them achieve
their depraved goals, then you are their friend. If you do not, then you are a foe. The problem
here is that salespeople rely on the higher ups to help them reach their potential, and to make as
much money for themselves and the company as possible. It there is another agenda interjected
by the Married Misogynist Pig Manager, it upsets the balance and can ruin the career of good
sales people. It is most unfair to those of the opposite gender, for they have to deal constantly
with the testing and the attempts at an affair. These managers use a lot of coercion and promise
to get what they want. If you are a man managed by a man Misogynist Pig Manager he may
leave you alone, or even ignore you totally, so he can focus on making the big score.
The Married Misogynist Pig Manager also ruins it for other sales managers. Whenever a new
male sales manager is hired, he is looked at with suspicion. This, of course is the opposite of
what he needs to do a good job which is to be trusted. It is also unfair to the sales professionals
who need to stay atarm’s length in order not to get snared into a web of deception. By far the
worst part of having a Misogynist Pig Manager is that they never have time to do their job well,
because they are off on some forbidden rendezvous. This means that the people underneath them
will have to do more work, and this will affect their numbers. Fellow manager will also have to
pick up the slack in tasks that are assigned to the sales management team.
THE NEWLY PROMOTED:
Every new manager suffers from “manager-itis.” This is a disorder in which the new manager
convinces him or herself that they were the best sales pro ever, and that they work for a company
that does everything right. Many also seem to suffer from a similar malaise, which goes something
like this, “I will be a better manager than the current batch, because I am fresh from the field. I am
more relevant and current. My reps can relate to me.” The first error with this belief is that having
your Reps relate to you does not mean that they will produce… but I digress. Every new manager
says this, and yet it has never turned out that way.
The manager played the game as a salesperson, but now they act as if there is no game, and also as
if they had always played things by the book - just the way the company said it should be done.
Another problem they have is that the salespeople who worked with them remember differently
than the way they reminisce in sales meetings about their days in the field. “I was successful,
because I was always prepared and on time.” (You forgot about being hung-over, you pompous
jerk). This clash of realities gets in the way of the fantasy of being the perfect manager. It is also
annoying how these individuals were such jerks when they were salespeople, and, now that they
are a manager, they will run around with a phony smile. It is really more of a smirk, “Look at me. I
am a manager, and you are not.”
The reason they got promoted was because of their results, but don’t be fooled. In many cases it
was also because they were a big league butt-kisser. The problem is if you work for them, they will
expect the same from you.
Another issue is that being a good sales manager is a difficult job. Making sure a sales team has
what it needs to succeed versus what they want, is a difficult balance to achieve. It takes some
experience to know how to do this job. It is like this…just because one eats in a restaurant does not
mean that one can run the restaurant.
Working the new guy is really a challenge especially, if a salesperson knows more about the job
than the new manager does. A mature salesperson gives this manager a lot of space and room to
grow into his or her new position. The challenge comes when a problem arises with a tough client, a
crisis hits with the inner workings of the company, or the salesperson just plain needs something to
do his or her job. The more experienced salesperson may have to make suggestions on how to
handle these situations, but the suggestions need to be done in such a way as not to remind the new
manager of the fact that he or she is more stupid than the one making the suggestions.
THE OLD PRO/LAZY GUY:
If a rep is really good at his or her job, and does not need much supervision, this type of manager is
ideal. If a salesperson is still learning his or her trade or is not really that disciplined, this may not
be a good situation for that salesperson. Old pros know every trick of the trade, yet they do as little
as possible. Most of them really want to be retired but cannot afford it. They also live in fear that
they will have to go out to sell again. This does not mean merely accompanying a sales
representative on a sales call to help close a deal, or visiting an old client. The idea of being in one's
late 60’s or even in your 70’s and pulling around a case to go see clients, is not good for one ’s self
image. To me, it would prove that I was a failure and that I could not move on – this is probably one
of my biggest fears.
The bottom line is they have this position because they have to have it, and not because they want
to have it. With that said, these old pros bring a lot to the table. There is not a situation that will
come up which they have not been though a hundred times. One may not be able to use exactly
what they say, but the context of what they say will be right on the money. A salesperson should not
rely on them to play politics in the office. Their agenda will usually be one of appeasement so as not
to make waves (Where is the fun in that?). As far as handling objections and dealing with different
personalities, their wisdom is worth one's attention.
They will reminisce about their dragon slaying days a lot. One will be required to listen to the same
stories over and over again. By the time this relationship is over, a salesperson may be able to tell
these stories better than his or her manager, but, even if one cannot, he or she will be able to tell
them right along with the manager and oftentimes word-for-word. But that is the price a
salesperson has to pay. Remember, you will be the same way when you are their age.
The lazy person is included in this category because reporting to a lazy manager has the same
pitfalls. A salesperson will have to deal with many of the issues that come with being self-managed.
The salesperson will need to make sure he or she does their job completely because the manager
will always throw a salesperson under the bus if there is a problem. This type of manager will not
take even the smallest hit for anyone on the sales team, but once a salesperson works in this
environment, it is difficult to work with a more proactive manager.
THE COMPANY HACK:
This manager cares more about rules and procedures than results, and the reason for this is control.
A control freak will want to bring the conversation into his or her realm. The purpose of making
everything about the rules, and of having lots of meetings, is to keep control. This method props-up
the weaker members of the sales team, but also stunts the ability and potential of the more creative
top producers. Why would a manager do this? There are 2 reasons. First, if everyone is doing the
same, then the manager will not have to terminate anyone due to low performance, thereby
avoiding unwanted attention on the sales team. Second, top producers can be demanding and
difficult to control, characteristics that do not fit into the “Company Hack’s” diabolical plan. The
plan is control. No one should doubt it.
I knew of one manager that would give every rep only one pen. If you lost your pen, you would not
be given another one without a lecture. Of course your fellow reps would snag any pens that were
left on your desk. One repeat offender had to leave the office and go buy a box of pens which wasted
his whole morning. The reasoning behind this asinine exercise was that this manager wanted his
reps to be more organized. He did not last too long.
Another reason why a person would manage this way, is because they do not know the job well
enough to manage any other way. If someone is not promoted though the ranks and is put through
a sales manager training, then the company has decided that intelligence from the field is not
pertinent to success. Not having any real experience, the only choice is to manage from the book.
When a company hires managers from the outside, the newly hired managers will be resented by
those in the company, unless the sales managers are paid less than the top producers. This is a
model that has its advantages to the company because it can keep control of the message that goes
out to the sales force.
This is me. Well let’s just go on that premise for now. A pro can be young or old, attractive or not, a
man, or a woman; they can be newly promoted or hired from outside the company. There is no
stereotype for a real professional sales manager. They will have some of the traits that have been
described in the sections of less desirable sales manager types, but the core of their management
style is getting the best results for their direct reports and for the company. As a rule they tend to
be client-centric, because the reality is that the entire sales team works for the client. Importantly,
they have the pull and the will to get things done for the client.
His or her high standards make the statement that this is a real pro. These are not only high
standards for the sales team but also for themselves. A good sales manager knows that practicing
what one preaches always leads to better results, and the results are what really matters. A pro can
step into the salesperson role and do the job as well or better than anyone on their team. They
should be awesome closers because if a person wants to be a leader, it is the manager’s role to go
into the difficult sales situation and make it happen. The pro knows how to manage his or her
salespeople and his or her boss. He or she will protect a salesperson from the office politics, if that
salesperson listens to the advice given.
The job of a sales manager is to position the salespeople to succeed. This does not mean that he or
she will fulfill every request. A professional manager is not a secretary. On the contrary, most of the
time it is saying “no” which will get the salesperson back on track.
Managing a sales team is like teaching a class of 5 year-olds. One must treat the entire class equally,
while at the same time giving each individual the specific attention he or she needs. Some may be
cuter or more likable, but each student must have the teacher's guidance to live up to his or her
potential. It is the same with salespeople. They all have different needs but all deserve the same
chance to succeed. I have to say that the 5 year olds tend to listen more attentively…
The pro has a methodology to bring along to manage members of their sales team. They all do
things differently, but they do have a reason for what they do. The pro always focuses on results
and treats the members fairly. Finally, there is no question about who is in charge.
OWNER OF THE
The boss being the acting sales manager can be an interesting experience. Understand that in most
cases you will not be able to sell as much as your boss. Being able to make deals, and having the
pressure to keep the company profitable, he will always keep the clients for himself. If a
salesperson is being paid straight commission, this can cause some conflict. One should remember
every dollar a salesperson receives is his money. This situation happens mostly with start-up
6. MANAGING YOUR MANAGER
The easiest way for a sales professional to manage a sales manager is to do the job and do it well.
Usually with a few exceptions, the top producers will have the easiest time. If you hit your numbers,
it means the manager can focus on those with less production. People are motivated though self
interest. It is a lot easier to like someone when they are making the company money and not taking
up a lot of someone else’s time and effort.
When I first hire someone there is this bond. We mutually decide that together and with the rest of
our team, we will achieve great results and all have happy and productive lives. Then I wake up in a
cold sweat thinking to myself, “Not this self-indulgent nightmare again!” Inevitably, the new hire
does not live up to my expectations or to his or her promises. Of course, I do have an eye for talent,
but choosing the right people is the hardest part of my job.
Success is the execution of well informed pragmatism. It is not an attitude, it is not mental, and it
certainly has very little to do with feelings. It is about working hard, having the skill, and knowing
what one is doing. Having said that, I should point out that being liked will make a person act more
positive; being on one’s game and feeling good will happen naturally. This is what the pro manager
is looking for, and it is his or her job to keep a salesperson on track. What the reps are not looking
for is a bunch of feel good jargon that keeps them around the coffee machine and out of the field or
off the phone. There are things that a sales professional can do to optimize his or her skill set, and
these are covered in the chapter “What Pros Do to Win.”
Before analyzing sales managers, a salesperson needs to at look things from the manager's point of
view. Most sales managers were sales professionals, and chances are sales is all they know. Sales
managers all fear that they are going to have to go back to selling.
Going back to selling is the biggest fear I have, and I am sure I am not alone. I was hired by a
publishing company in New York, and they paid me a lot to relocate. That is where I met the
beautiful Polish girl who is now my wife and the mother of my Children. It was a great job
personally, but professionally it had its difficulties. I met one fellow salesperson that affected my
way of looking at the future. He had been a high level sales manager and owned his own company.
By his own admission, he had spent his money unwisely and made some bad decisions. Now in his
sixties, he was pulling a brief case alongside sales reps 30 years his junior. I do not want to be this
guy, and neither does your sales manager.
It is also important to realize that in front of his team a sales manager is in charge, but in reality,
this is not always the case. As a sales manager I have often felt as though I should introduce myself
to my bosses, to other sales managers, and especially to my salespeople as “Hi, my name is No One
Ever Listens To Me”.
Meeting with one’s superiors or with other department heads is always a daunting task. Most
executives that are not directly in sales think it is a lot easier than it is. Depending on the product,
other department heads may have unrealistic expectations of how the latest offer will be received
in the market place. This can be a big problem. Just because the CEO and his golf buddies like the
new roll out, does not mean it will put ink on the sales board or make money for the uninitiated.
Being in sales and sales management takes a particular skill set and a unique frame of mind and
experience. Those that run other departments may be more educated and have higher IQ's
(although we will never admit that), so sometimes the sales management's concerns and issues are
not taken seriously. They are rationalized away as whining. The sales department is often told just
to go out and sell. If a sales manager looks a little bewildered after a meeting, this may be why.
Jealousy is another factor that comes into play in many companies. These smarter, more educated
employees usually do not make as much as those in the sales department. There are many reasons
why people in the sales department rival or exceed other departments in pay. Whatever the
reasons, this makes the sales manager a target for individuals in other departments.
I was always amazed at the amount of testing and outward hostility I was supposed to endure from
those members on my team. It is my belief that this came from unresolved issues in the individual's
life. Many times I was offering an opportunity to this person to make their life much better, and my
reward was one headache after another.
What is meant by testing the sales manager? In most cases it exhibits itself as defiance in one form
or another. Not showing up to meetings, not turning in paperwork, or challenging the manager in
front of other teammates. Testing creates tension in an already tense situation, but it does not really
accomplish anything. Testing your manager is always bad; quietly evaluating him or her is much
smarter. Quietly evaluating is an acceptable practice; testing how far you can push your manager is
not. The difference is, while a salesperson is evaluating the manager's strengths in different areas,
that salesperson has the ability to change his or her perception. On the other hand, by testing the
manager, a salesperson has made his or her agenda obvious to everyone including the manager.
This is not smart strategically, and it is definitely not an effective way to pave a road to a successful
The first step in managing the sales manager is to evaluate what kind of manager he or she is. After
figuring out what kind of manager is in charge of the department, it is important to ask some
questions. The first question should be, what is this person's hidden agenda, if any?
For example, I was in a situation where the pay plan was based on the sales net model. The
manager would from time to time take a transferee from another unit and dump all the bad
territory on that sales rep, in order to make the manager’s favorite look better for promotion. It
seems cruel but it was very effective. As the transferee, you may want to figure this out before it
happens. There are literally hundreds of hidden agendas that can affect a salesperson.
I was the first sales rep to implement a laptop computer in a large publishing company. It cost
$6,500 and it came with the first version of windows. I was nationally recognized and was flown to
the national headquarters. Once I started to get some recognition, my Divisional Manager did
everything he could to torpedo my career, including having my largest sale ever reduced because of
“credit concerns”. To make sure I never received the top person sales award, competitive reps were
granted the ability to postpone their vacations. This was something I was never given the chance to
do, and it knocked me out of the running. This happened twice. When they demoted me from
account executive to account manager, the company “forgot” to publish the numbers that compared
the account executives. I found out through a secret source that I was ahead of everyone. Why did
this happen to me. Well, as far as I can tell it was because my manager was openly gay, and
someone had started a rumor that I was too. The rumor was that I was given favoritism based on
sexual orientation. This kind a thing happens all the time. So hopefully you can learn how to avoid
the problems I had.
Another question a salesperson should ask, is how his manager is positioned in the company
compared to other managers. One should not necessarily think that if his or her manager is on the
lower end of the scale that it is a bad thing. It may not be for two reasons. First, the manager may be
more willing to partner with a salesperson if he or she believes that you will increase the status of
their team. Second, the only constant in sales is change. Today’s zero will most likely be some other
day’s hero. Also, one needs to keep in mind that as the manager’s stock rises, the salesperson's
stock will also rise. If a sales professional is fortunate enough to be attached to the best sales unit,
that salesperson will be expected to do his or her part. If the manager is a real pro, the salespeople
that report to him will do everything to keep the unit in that position.
It is also important to evaluate a manager’s competence compared to the other managers. Maybe
the manager is one heck of a closer but is terrible with paperwork or vice versa. This knowledge
will influence what one may request of the manager in the future.
Is the manager dishonest? This is easy to figure out. If every meeting starts out with a story the
sales team is supposed to stick to, then the answer is obvious. A competent and honest manager
will not put his team members' reputation in jeopardy by making them lie for him; the occasional
Friday afternoon fun excursion or such being a possible exception.
In the previous chapter we described the various types of manager you may experience while
working in a sales organization. The following hints of how to manage a manager is by no means
all-inclusive, however you will probably find the traits described in your situation. It should go
without saying that your manager may have the characteristics of one or more of the types
described. So feel free to create your own scenarios using the following information.
Recap: If the sales manager has a special relationship with the executives or ownership of the company
and would otherwise be working at some low paying job where no one would listen to him/her, then
the boss falls in to this category.
I would be very cautious about getting into this situation again. It almost never works out for
anyone concerned, except maybe the boss. The brother-in-law manager has a tendency to create an
inner circle, usually with the intent of letting them do his or her job. The manager is not that smart
or qualified, and hence needs help from any available source. So volunteering to do things off the
clock to make the manager and his cronies look better will endear that salesperson to them. Also, it
is important for a salesperson not to go over the heads of anyone already in the inner circle to get
credit for a “great idea”. One should feed it to them and let them take the credit. Going to the CEO to
talk bad about this manager will not work. His or her shortcomings are already common
knowledge. A salesperson will become vulnerable by bad mouthing a manager in this category to
the "brass". In fact, one needs to show loyalty to the manager while in the presence of others in the
company. You are helped in this by the fact that he or she is probably a sucker for good old fashion
butt-kissing. A good salesperson will attempt to get the boss to grant extra privileges or a special
lead that will end in a sale. If they do agree to help beyond what they do for others, it means that
salesperson is approaching or is in the inner circle. A good salesperson should be able to
manipulate this manager pretty easily. Promotion in the company may not be an option because the
ownership wants to keep the power within “their people”. Creating an exit strategy should be a high
priority for the smart sales professional.
PSYCHO/SADIST/NARCISSIST SALES MANAGER.
Recap: This very disturbed individual is usually a very talented closer and can be quite knowledgeable.
He is an asset to the company.
Working for a Psycho/Sadist/Narcissist Sales Manager should be thought of as a learning
experience at best. These types of managers are usually very talented - just by observing them one
will become a better sales professional. A salesperson will also learn how to survive in any sales
environment. The salesperson who is reporting to this type of manager should consider this a trial
by fire; he or she need take nothing this manager says personally. It is all said for some dark
psychotic reason. One should never try to be a friend to this type of boss as this manager will look
at any attempt to be close as a sign of weakness. The best way to act is the same way one would if
one were in prison, and in my experience some of my managers have been there. The less one
engages with the boss, the better. It is also interesting to see how they are in front of a prospect. I
have often thought that if this person would act like this all the time, I could really enjoy this job.
This manager can really turn on the charm when he or she wants something. With a client, this type
of manager is usually a great closer. The problem for the sales professional comes when this
manager decides that he or she no longer wants anything from an individual that reports to him or
her. He may even be eyeing the accounts to turn them into house accounts, or to turn them over to a
new hire who can be paid less on them. Sometimes one can see no rationale as to why this person
would stick a knife into the back of someone on his team. But they are psycho, and that is what
ANGRY MAN MANAGER:
Recap: The reason the Angry Man Manager has his own category is that he or she, but mostly he, is not
disturbed but just pissed-off.
Managing this category of boss is easy. One should never piss them off and when they are mad, a
salesperson should not disconcert them further. It is almost that easy. Salespeople can be difficult,
causing the boss to become agitated. Because of the “wimpification” of society, such displays of
anger by the boss can appear exaggerated and dangerous, instead of being the honest displays of
frustration they actually are. This is not to condone actual abuse, but a salesperson needs to give a
manager a break and forgive him or her for the predictable outburst. Being understanding in this
situation will endear the team member, because the outburst is an obvious weakness of which the
manager is aware. What most salespeople do not understand is he or she may be shielding the team
from the wrath of the higher-ups. His or her fit may be enough to divert the fury of some of the
more powerful executives, ones who intend to do more permanent harm to members of the sales
HOT CHICK MANAGER:
Recap: Everyone, including herself, thinks she got her job because of her looks. Usually a top producer
while a sales person, she was promoted to illustrate to everyone that women can also advance in the
The same rules apply for dealing with Hot Chick Manager, as with Psycho/Sadist/Narcissist
Manager, since she is a sub set of that type. Many of the bosses that suffer from this syndrome of
hatred do recover. A portion of these women will eventually get more even-handed once they feel a
little more secure and as they understand that all members on their team need occasional guidance.
Some men can successfully navigate this mind field (even though I have never been able to do it
myself). It is usually the touchy-feely, emotionally sensitive, metrosexual, the one who is also a good
butt-kisser. Red meat for this genus of boss is the Alpha male, the one who has to be right all the
time. In reality he is an emotional wuss and cannot deal with the thought that no one understands
or cares about him. These two will butt heads from the start. In the worst case scenario a game of
one-upsmanship may begin. The new woman manager will single him out in sales meetings by
trying to deflate his over-inflated ego. In return, the typical Alpha male will begin to plot ways to get
even. He will voice his opinions louder, and point out the mistakes the manager is making. Already
insecure, the woman in this game will point to her position and attempt to use her authority to beat
the male into submission.
For the average salesperson who has to report to the Hot Chick boss, the best course of action is to
do his or her job to the best of their ability. The women on the team can try to bond with her by
offering her their support. This should be done in private in a "woman-to-woman" talk. Men should
try not to ask for too much until this manager finds her feet and stabilizes. A good male sales
professional will realize that she is inwardly shaky in her new position. Since she and everyone else
think that she got her promotion because of her looks, she will try to prove to everyone that this
notion is wrong. In doing so, she will make mistakes. Any male that may have to be on the team for
any length of time must not embarrass the new manager by pointing out these mistakes in front of
co-workers. If one chooses to do so, one must be ready to incur her wrath. It is best to sit back to
see if the new manager is able to grow into her position. If she cannot, one should begin to explore
ways to get transferred to another manager. If that is not possible, a good exit strategy is in order.
Males on the team must be careful not to take any reference to sex personally. She cannot sleep
with anyone on her team. This would be considered sexual harassment and would open the
floodgates of litigation, as well as jeopardize her new position. As a defense mechanism against
unwanted approaches, she may begin to tell the men that report to her that they are not in her
league. She may even emphasize this idea to the more desirable men under her. A good sales
professional must be able to see this for what it is, and should not let it affect his performance. The
worst thing a male can do is to retaliate with a smart-ass comment when told that he is inadequate.
"You are a little big in the butt yourself," or "I heard you only sleep with customers," is probably not
a good thing to say to one's new manager. Trust me on this - I happen to know this one for a
fact. Maybe that is a clue as to why I did so poorly in this type of environment, and why this neverbefore-mentioned type of sales manager was included.
MARRIED MISOGYNIST PIG MANAGER
The Married Misogynist Pig Manager, or MMPM. If the Sales Manager, is more interested in trying to
get some action with a fellow worker than in his sales numbers - and he is married - then he qualifies
as a Married Misogynist Pig Manager. The fact that these people are addicted to inappropriate
sexual behavior makes them bad bosses. Why? It is because if they are immoral enough to cheat on
their wife and destroy their children’s innocence, they will at some time in your career either ask
you to be their alibi or throw you under the bus in order to cover their sick behavior. The sad part
of it is, many of these guys could be really good managers. Many of them are very experienced and
could do their job really well, if they were not always trying to target their next score. Being good
sales persons themselves, and having huge egos, they only look at what they want. If you help them
achieve their depraved goals, then you are their friend; if you do not help, you are a foe. The
problem is that salespeople rely on the higher ups to help them reach their potential and make as
much money for themselves and the company as possible. It there is another agenda interjected by
the MMPM, it upsets the balance and ruins the career of good sales people. It is more unfair to the
woman sales professionals who have to deal with the constant attempts at trying to have an affair.
These guys use a lot of coercion and false promises to get what they want. If you are a man
managed by an MMPM, he may leave you alone, or even ignore you so he can focus on making a big
Married Misogynist Pig Managers also ruin it for sales managers. Whenever a new male sales
manager is hired, he is looked at with suspicion by the MMPM. This is directly opposite to what the
new manager needs to do a good job - he needs to be trusted. It is also unfair to the sales
professionals who need to stay at arm’s length, in order not to get snared into a web of deception.
By far the worst part of having an MMPM is that they never have time to do their job well, because
they are always off on some forbidden rendezvous. This means that the people underneath them
will have to do more work, and that will affect their numbers. Fellow managers will also have to
pick up the slack in tasks that are assigned to the sales management team.
A word of warning - don’t ever become friends with the MMPM's wife. This is very important. If she
asks you if he is cheating, you are really screwed. There is only one answer that might get you out of
this jam and that is “How am I supposed to know? He is my boss I avoid him as much as I can.” This
is the exact tactic you should employ. Your job is to sell, and having a boss that has other agendas
means that you are now among the "self-managed.” You will be put in a situation where he will
want you to cover for him. Sometimes it is the only way not to get fired, but it will also keep you
from getting promoted. Once a superior thinks you are lying to him or her the chances that they will
promote you are not very good.
It is really important that you keep your social life separate from your work life. This will help you
not to become one for his wife’s friends. Also, do not introduce him to your friends. He will end up
hooking up with someone you know, and she will start talking about him. You will then be in the
awkward position of knowing that your friend is dating your married boss. If you are a male you
may want to resist becoming part of the inner clique. There are advantages to being buddies with
the boss, but remember the Married Misogynist Pig Manager has an agenda and could put you into a
As a woman, you should know that this type of boss is most likely going to try and figure out a
strategy to hit on you. One example is “I will help you with your accounts why don’t I come over
tonight after work.” “You're hitting on me,” says the cute female sales professional. “No I am not,”
say the MMPM,” I just did the same thing with Ralph a couple of weeks ago.” What you will find out
by looking at the TV Guide, is that he was there on the night of the seventh game of the NBA
championships, along with a dozen or so others, drinking beer, smoking cigars and watching the
game. If this is not their first Rodeo they always have a back up story.
Make it clear from the beginning that you are only there to work. If the boss wants to talk about
subjects other than work, try to ignore him and move along. Small talk is the bait that he will use to
engage his next victim. These guys are smooth. Many women sales professionals believe that they
can be friends with their manager, and will not be affected by his bad habit if she introduces the
MMPM to her own, extremely handsome and nice, boy friend. “He won’t hit on me because he and
my boyfriend are buds.” These are seasoned sales pros - a handsome little boy toy does not stand a
chance. A true MMPM will try and split you two up, so he can be there to pick up the pieces. The
methods will range from pushing the boy toy's buttons so he over reacts in public, to getting him
drunk at a strip bar and then "accidently" letting the attractive sales pro see the cell phone pics.
Don’t try and out manipulate the Married Misogynist Pig Manager. Even if you are good at
manipulation, chances are he is better.
There might be a few that think having a MMPM as a boss is a great advantage, and may decide to
give the boss what he really wants. This will work for the short run, up until the point that some
other sales pro finds out or notices that "the girlfriend" is getting all the good accounts. The one
thing about sales people, if they believe someone is getting special treatment, they have no problem
letting the world know all the little details. What the women who chooses this doesn’t understand is
that if she makes this choice, she is now the problem. She is a problem for their manager’s wife, for
the manager and for the manager’s boss. Chances are, the woman that decides to please the Married
Misogynist Pig Manager, will be out the door instead of enjoying that juicy promotion.
THE NEWLY PROMOTED
Recap: Every new manager suffers from “manager-itis.” They convince themselves they were the best
sales pro ever, and they work for a company that does everything right.
The first question a sales professional should ask themselves when introduced to their newly
promoted sales manager is, will this boss last? If the professional concludes the boss will not last, it
would still behoove them not to put themselves in a position of having an enemy for the rest of the
boss’ tenure with the company, no matter how short. In many companies newly hired sales
managers have the life expectancy of a helicopter machine gunner in Vietnam. As soon as they get
promoted, it may be time to start planning the farewell party.
If a salesperson makes the assessment that the new manager will survive, the best thing to do is
kiss his or her butt and support them. When he or she starts to bluster, ignore it. It is just that basic
insecurity coming to the surface. The new manager will have doubts because, as a salesperson, he
or she really did not realize what a management position entailed. Another factor is the
salesperson's teammates. Chances are they will detect weakness, which means they will start
testing. As much fun as it is to see the boss squirm, one should never participate. It will also be
tempting to come to the rescue. The best tactic is to implement what I like to call “Hockey Fighting
Rules.” The referees will always let the players fight until one or both hit the ice. This means that a
good sales professional will let the manager handle his or her team. The only time one should step
in, is when it becomes obvious that real conflict has ended. Coming to the rescue too soon will make
the manager look weak. Just like a hockey fight, a meddling salesperson will probably end up taking
a verbal shot to the eye. Remember, the manager should have the upper hand in these skirmishes. It
is important to let them become battle tested. The new manager is going to be challenged a lot, not
only by the salespeople, but also by upper-management and fellow sales managers. The sales
professional should always keep in mind a manager needs team players and allies but not friends.
Unless the salesperson and the manager were close before the promotion, it is advisable not to
Living in Los Angeles I have met a few celebrities. The friends that they have, the ones that are truly
close and get invited to the cool parties, are the ones they knew before they became famous. This
may seem unfair, but think about it from their position. It is really hard to trust someone when you
think they want something, or in this case are dependent on them to make a living.
Because the newly promoted feel insecure, it is always a good idea to praise them in front of their
superiors. Just be careful since, in other situations this gesture may not be appreciated as much as it
THE OLD PRO/LAZY GUY
Recap: Old Pros know every trick of the trade, yet they do as little as possible. Most of them really want
to be retired but cannot afford it.
The Old Pro’s management style is usually a hands-off approach. As long as a salesperson is hitting
his or her numbers, this manager will leave a salesperson alone. If the salesperson gets in trouble,
this manager may throw him or her under the bus. Just like the newly promoted, the old pro and
lazy guy manager will get his or her share of challenges, but instead of fighting back, this manager
will just smile and let it pass. A smart sales professional will never underestimate an old pro. He or
she knows how to survive, otherwise this person would not be in the position of management. So,
just let the other teammates talk too much, for the sales professional needs just to focus on the job
A smart sales professional can learn a lot from these individuals. An old pro is there for a reason,
the reason being that they are well seasoned. The old pro knows the product and how to sell. A
salesperson should learn what he or she can from them, and should not be a threat to the manager's
Recap: A pro can be old or young, attractive or not, a man, or a woman; they can be newly promoted
or hired from outside the company. There is no stereotype for a real professional sales manager.
I think I can speak in the first person on this one. Do your job and communicate with me. I do not
like surprises. I know how to get out of any predicament we might find ourselves in, however I need
the opportunity to work my magic. I am all about the numbers, so don’t be counterproductive. I
don’t like distractions. Because of my competitive nature, I always want to be on top, and anything
that may prevent me from remaining there will be dealt with instantly, and possibly harshly. I will
be friendly, but I am not all that interested in friends. That is not to say that I have never been
friends with my reps - I have - but the relationship is usually on my terms.
The Pro almost always has a plan to succeed. It is a good idea to listen and follow their suggestions.
The salesperson may not understand the plan, but if one plays along he or she will see it come to
fruition. Also, the pro is a great resource for all aspects of the job. A salesperson should never be
afraid to take a pro manager on a call to see a difficult client, or to use the boss to help save a deal
that is headed for the tank. A pro manager will also invest in the salesperson's success. This is not
just being benevolent, but is done because the Pro is secure. This manager knows that the more
people he or she can help get promoted, will elevate his or her position in the company.
If a pro manager helps others to get promoted, that pro will have more friends in high places. This
can be only good for that manager. Asking a favor from someone who owes you is good leverage.
Guilt is a wonderful tool.
A sales manager is getting it from both sides, from the people that work under him, as well as from
those over him. It is much easier and sometimes more profitable to be a salesperson rather than a
sales manager. The sales professional will keep that in mind the next time he or she is bored and is
considering the fun of harassing the boss.
The following needs to be discussed, but might make some people uncomfortable. What if the
manager is so evil, so incompetent, or so crazy that life is unbearable? What if the salesperson knows
that his or her days are numbered? In other words, is there ever a case when a salesperson should
try to get the manager to quit or be terminated?
Once I got transferred into the worst sales unit in the company. This team did not have one
revolving door, it had two. Except for one butt-kissing favorite of the boss, no one lasted. This unit
always placed last, and the manager wore her hair in the shape of an asparagus spear. She was
crazy and a liar, but, most of all, she was really annoying. She would wait until I was out on a sales
call and then she would page me with a "come to the office now" message. Instead of answering her
phone call from me, she would make me drive in to address some stupid paperwork issue that was
not really an issue. Then she told everyone that I was bad at my job. It was hell, and it became war.
One time I left my pager hidden on her desk so that when she paged me with some meaningless
question, it would ring, but she would see that I had escaped for the day. I did it on a day I was going
to turn in big numbers, thereby making it more difficult for her to produce one of her emasculating
Unfortunately there are times when it becomes logical to undermine the manager; to try to get him
or her fired. A salesperson should never make this decision lightly. Chances are, even if the
salesperson is successful, he or she will end up losing the job eventually anyway. If one thinks that
he or she is the first in succession for the management job, and that once the evil one is destroyed,
the sales person will automatically have the management job bestowed on them, they might want
to think again. This scheme rarely works. First of all, a salesperson needs to understand that this is
not the first time a rep has thought up a diabolical plot to overthrow the evil ruler. As a matter of
fact, upper management has seen this scenario on numerous occasions, so please do not try this,
even if you are one of the superstars, and especially if you are new to the company. Not being
familiar with the terrain and personalities makes it much more difficult. The wisest tactic is to try to
get a transfer, or to abandon the mission and find another job. If one insists on plotting a coup,
there are some things that person should consider.
In the “real” world, a salesperson is considered a master manipulator, however in the normal sales
department, one may be just an average manipulator. This is what happens to high school athletes
that go to a major college and for the first time need to compete for their position. In this case, the
ability to pressure and intimidate or whatever tactic is in the salesperson's arsenal may not be as
effective, because the audience has the same qualities as the salesperson.
When one is concocting a plot, the plotter must tell no one, not even his or her mother, wife or
husband, boyfriend or girlfriend, and especially not anyone with whom they work. As a matter of
fact, if an associate is stupid enough to try to create an alliance, that associate should march right in
to the manager’s office and tell him that he or she cannot succeed in this negative environment.
Beyond that, if one is earnest in the quest to overthrow the manager, that person should say that he
or she does not understand what the manager’s problem is. If a salesperson wants to have any
chance of being considered for the manager's position, and wants to suffer as little collateral
damage as possible, he or she must not have any statement or action that can link him or her back
to this plot. Also if the situation were to change suddenly, say the manager gets transferred, drops
dead, or whatever, a smart salesperson wants to be able to abandon the scheme without acquiring
the reputation as a job wrecker. In order to have the best chance of pulling this off, one should
appear to have completely bought into the corporate line, and be the one who always wants things
to be positive. At least that is the public image a sales professional wants in the company.
A salesperson must realistically evaluate the manager’s situation in the company and manager's
talent. I have always been underestimated in both stature and intelligence. I have never been at a
company that someone has not tried to "take me out." It has not worked yet. I have been on both
sides of this equation.
By figuring the weakness, one can create a scenario that can get the salesperson what he or she
wants. Here is an example. The manager is always complaining about the company, maybe always
saying that they are not appreciated. This is an easy one. The salesperson should see if he can get
the manager to admit that the manager would look for another job if there were one out there that
they liked. Once it becomes clear that the boss has gone out on an interview, the salesperson simply
walks into the manager's boss to ask for a transfer off of the team. The reason? The salesperson is a
company person who thrives in a positive environment, and cannot see how the manager
interviewing with the competition will help anyone achieve the goal of a successful sales career.
This above scenario brings up another part of this process. A salesperson needs a device which is
usually either an accusation or a provable fact, which can be levied at the target. It is really
important that the salesperson never states his or her context. In the previous scenario, the
salesperson could have gone in and said the manager is trying to work for the competition. He or
she could have asked the manager's boss, "Doesn't that make you mad?" This may work, but it is a
weaker case and would have made the salesperson look like a tattletale. That is why the
salesperson needs to make it about the salesperson. They should look humbly at the manager’s
boss, and say with a combination of non-verbal cues and words something like this, "The only
reason I am here, is because I want to make this company my career, and to have everyone succeed.
This situation is so bad, that it is going stop that from happening." When reps bust into the CEO's
office and start talking about how incompetent their manager is, they are given a pat on the head
and told to take the rest of the day off; to come back tomorrow, not knowing that it is to pick up
their final check. This happens because there is no plausible reason for this meeting, except selfinterest. A smart salesperson must always let whoever he or she is dealing with know that there is a
viable reason for doing what he or she is doing, besides self-interest. One should deny that selfinterest was the motivation until his or her last dying breath.
There are other devices besides disloyalty that can cause ruin to a career. Dishonesty or stealing
from the company is pretty effective.
There was this district VP at a publishing company whom was not very well liked. One day it was
discovered that he had used the company account to put tires on his wife’s car. Hum… I wonder
how they found that out. Dishonesty is usually a great charge to levy at someone. Lying is not. We
are salespeople, and even though no one will admit it, we could all be caught in a "technical
interpretation of the truth." Also, the lies that the salesperson caught the manager telling probably
originated from the CEO, the same CEO with whom the meeting must be held. Many times sales
managers are given directives by their bosses to lie to the sales team. Complaining to the CEO about
lying is not usually a good idea.
Sometimes the device is other people. A salesperson can whip others into frenzy and actually get
them to do the dirty work, while that salesperson sits back and waits patiently for the correct heads
to roll. This is very effective, but most of one's fellow workers will usually not fall for this. The
salesperson will be thought of as a trouble maker.
My favorite method is to overthrow by proxy. In the example of the lady with the asparagus hairdo,
I had let everyone know at the headquarters that I was unhappy. I did not let any of her direct
bosses know I was unhappy, but everyone above them did. The pressure and accusations came
down on her bosses. She never saw it coming. This is an example of termination by proxy, because I
had outside forces that applied the pressure. This can also work with large clients, but one needs to
be careful. A client's only motivation is too pay less for things. The salesperson could become an
unintentional casualty in a negotiation process.
No matter what method one uses, he or she needs some tricks to help them succeed. A salesperson
can create paranoia within the manager’s mind, by letting him or her know there are threats about.
The salesperson should assure the manager of his or her loyalty and even go as far as to say that he
or she will keep the manager informed. Of course you will not ever bring up the subject again, and if
asked about it, you will say that you will look into it. The only time you should ever reveal what
someone said, is after you have left the company. The purpose of this tactic is to provide cover, as
well as to acquire information about how the scheme is working. Also, one should get to know the
manager's personal friends. They will reveal things about your manager that may be help.
My main point is that you need to be very careful about trying to oust someone. Think about it - you
may end up with a worse boss than you already have. The biggest mistake I see is that salespeople
often have healthy egos, and can't stand to be told what to do. They also usually dislike the person
who is telling them what to do, but this is not a reason to employ any of these tactics. Also, if you are
going to do this, make sure that it is well thought out and effective. You do not want your manager
to survive your plot, just so he or she can make you a target. One last thing, please do not try this
unless you are very smart. It will backfire on you. Unfortunately, someone who thinks that they are
smart will take this information and try to use it. The worst part about not being smart is that you
probably do not realize it
7. HOW TO INTERVIEW
There are two types of sales jobs an interviewee will apply for - one in which the company is trying
to fill a specific vacancy, and one where the company will hire as many suitable applicants as
possible. The higher the base salary, the more established the product, and the less risk assumed
by the salesperson, the more likely it is that the job will fit in to what can be called a premium sales
Most positions that are being advertised place the risk on to the new hire. The companies with
these positions are often referred to as mills or HTS, “high turnover sales”. The philosophy for this
is simple - The company seeks to spend as little as possible on each new hire, in the hope that even
if they abruptly leave they will have at least produced enough to offset any costs that have been
incurred. Formulas are labored over by management to construct a position that will be attractive
enough to entice candidates, but will be designed for minimal risk for the company. Theoretically, a
certain percentage of the sales professionals will perform well enough to stay, either through talent,
or luck of the draw such as getting a better territory or superior lead source. These performers will
be paraded out in from of the new interviewees, as proof that a good living can be obtained by
working for this company.
Don’t believe that these veterans will be eager to invest in your success. In most cases they will be
very protective of their position, since they have seen hordes of sales people come and go; besides,
most of the easy clients will already be spoken for. An example of this is radio advertising, which in
many markets is a straight commission pay plan. The senior account executives have all the
established clients, and therefore make the most money. Unless a new hire stumbles on to an
emerging company or cracks a new category of advertisers, it will take a long time to amass a
clientele that will create a sustainable paycheck for the rep.
The hiring manager plays the most important role in the mill scenario. If he or she is any good at the
job, they will do what they can to create the impression that this is a premium job. This may include
multiple interviews or having the applicant take tests. This is all meaningless because, if you are at
all reasonably qualified, you will be hired no matter the result of this process. At the other end of
the spectrum, many companies do not hide the fact that they run though a lot of sales people.
Instead, they ask the question, "Are you good enough to succeed here?" It is the practice of some
companies to have mass interviews, interviewing a large group of applicants at the same time.
Understand that in either situation the reality is that they are trying to sell you on coming to work
for them. This is the antithesis of the traditional hiring process.
Don’t be surprised if the manager is not waiting for you when you arrive for your interview, or if
there are multiple applicants scheduled for the same time. The reality of today’s business is that
about half of those who agree to an interview actually show up. So if you arrive, you are half way
So what are some of the clues that a job is of the “sales mill variety” or is an HTS? One clue is that
the company sells a product or service that has a residual income stream. The math explains it. Say
for example that a company offers a $3000 a month draw. A new sales person works for only one
month before quitting, after having sold only $1000 worth of product. Upon the rep quitting, the
company will likely turn the account into a house account, will keep collecting the money that
would have gone to the rep, and will eventually turn a profit. If this happens enough times the
company can generate significant sums for itself. Another way to discover that this company knows
there is going to be a high turnover, is to observe their hiring practices. If they have ads running
constantly on internet job boards and local newspapers, it is logical that they are willing to pay to
fill up their sales room. Also, look at the hiring systems in place - if the process for hiring sales
people is streamlined, it is because they have done it a lot. One thing to note, however, is that just
because a company practices these types of behaviors, it does not mean that this job should be
avoided. This could be the perfect fit for you. If the timing is right and your skill set matches what
the job calls for, you may be one of the sales people that is used later in their career to lure the
masses of new sales people into the company.
It is your responsibility to determine what kind of company you are applying to, and then to act
accordingly. If you feel that this company is going to hire you and let you succeed and fail on your
own, you should try to get every concession you can. Find out how those who have been with the
company for a while succeed. Look for every edge you can. Remember, in this situation you are
hiring them. Negotiate up front for what you want, because once you hit the sales floor, the time for
negotiating is done and the time to produce has started.
How should you interview for a HTS job? Understand that the hiring manager knows what it takes
to succeed, so listen and ask questions, especially about how a sales professional succeeds where
others do not. Act as though you plan on taking their offer, and you will have a chance to try and
sweeten the deal before you agree to the terms. Be enthusiastic about the product or service and
pay attention to the sales strategy. Why would someone want this product? Ask about the
competition and listen carefully. If their strategy is that they get to the client before that individual
can make a better choice, you might want to consider other opportunities. Since your success relies
on the product or service your new employer wants you to sell, you need to evaluate what you are
selling and make the decision whether you see yourself being able to tell a believable story to
prospects. The most important aspect of considering an HTS or Mill job is who do you sell to? Make
sure you have a viable path to the prospect. If you are a skilled sales person and you have the right
attitude, it is possible to succeed, but keep in mind that it is solely up to you. Do not rely on others
to motivate you or invest in your success.
After reading this you may want only to consider “Corporate” or “Premium” sales jobs.
Unfortunately, this is everyone’s first choice, and the worse the economy becomes, the rarer these
positions are. If you have experience in a particular field, or have specialized knowledge or
education, this will increase your chances to get one of these premium positions. Tech sales and
pharmaceutical companies are two examples of these desirable jobs. The problem is that the
“typical" sales person usually does not have the background needed to start his or her sales career
with one of these more desirable sales positions. Most sales people land that “premium" sales job
by succeeding at less desirable jobs first. One thing to remember is that, no matter what the sales
position or the company, when sales results do not meet expectations, the sales position will
become less lucrative. Many positions today that are considered high turnover positions were once
coveted premium positions.
There are several aspects of interviewing for sales jobs that are common to premium as well as the
other types. With the advent of the internet job boards you will apply for several positions at one
time. It has become common that when called to set up an appointment, the applicant is not sure
which job the interviewer is from. The following 5 steps to the successful interview will help you no
matter what. These steps are very similar to the 5 steps of the sales call that form the bases of my
generic sales training. An interview is nothing more than a formalized sales presentation. In the
sales industry it is sometimes the employee who is interviewing the employer.
The first step is preparation. Once you agree to come to an interview, you need to take the time to
look up the company and understand the industry. Make sure you get the website address.
Companies sometimes have different product lines, and you want to make sure you are researching
the correct information. The following was posted on a sales blog by Bea Kazemi , Sales Manager at
FastnetIT, Melbourne Area, Australia, Industry Staffing and Recruiting. (Kazemi, 2009)
Research the company.
Print relevant information off website and highlight key areas.
Request a company brochure, and/or phone company as a potential buyer pre
Compile sales achievements and relevant documents into a handout (sales targets,
list of accounts won, list of achievements, and summation of client database) - this is
Identify direct competitors, target market both industries and decision makers to
whom they sell.
Prepare for behavioral questions - have examples of different customers, major
accounts, and your pipeline management.
Map and directions of meeting.
Plan a Personal presentation about yourself and what makes you a better candidate
that the rest.
The Second Step is to introduce yourself. In this step there are 3 objectives to accomplish - you
should say something that will induce a positive response, you must say something that will
validate the company you are interviewing with, and you should establish your credibility. It is
important that you show them that you can be nice. You need to accomplish all three objectives in
just a few sentences. Here is an example:
“I have been talking to quite a few companies. I must say that our phone conversation got me
interested in meeting you to find out more about your sales position“. In this example it has been
established that the interviewee is desirable by other companies, plus, they are validating the hiring
manager on doing a good phone pitch. Having a planned introduction that takes into account the
previous interaction helps in creating a good first impression.
The third step is q and a. It is ok to inquire about compensation for a sales job more so than jobs in
other departments. Because the applicant is not getting a steady pay check, he or she needs to know
what is required to make money. The one mistake that many applicants make is that they are
accusatory in the questioning of the hiring manager. Let’s be real, the manager is exaggerating how
much money the average rep makes. Of course they are leaving out vital information, like the
territory you are going into is terrible or has been worked to death. You can evaluate these things in
your head, but there is no need to make sure that the interviewer knows that you know that he or
she is full of it. This is not going to be a good strategy, so just play along - you can always turn down
the job later. It is important that you try and keep control of the interview. The best way to do this
is ask questions that the interviewer wants to answer. Always ask about how to succeed, and what
do the top producers do that is different than those who don’t do as well. It is also critical to figure
whether the interviewer is an alpha sales person or a businessperson that wants to hire people to
do what he or she can’t do. Generally speaking, the alpha sales person wants to see how tough you
are, while the business person wants to know about sales technique. The Alpha salesperson knows
how to show his team how to sell and can spot talent. What he or she doesn’t know is whether or
not you are willing to take your bumps and not quit before you succeed. The business person who is
not a salesperson is more interested in the technology and your personality because, to the nonsales person, that is what makes a good salesperson.
Once you have gotten enough info to get this person hire you, you need to inquire about the hiring
process. This will naturally lead you into the fourth step, which is where you talk about you. Now is
the time to let go of control and let them ask you questions. By now you should have a good rapport
and know what their hot buttons are. You should always be able to talk numbers about your past
sales performance. Be as honest as you can, since most sales managers are pretty good at detecting
exaggeration. Interviewers will sometimes ask you questions to see how well you think on your
feet, and to measure your critical thinking skills, so be ready. When you sense the questioning is
coming to a close, ask them when they plan on hiring someone.
The final point - now is the time you need to close. Not to get the deal, but to demonstrate that you
are a closer. Don’t be afraid to push through their reasons for not hiring you on the spot. “You are
going to end up hiring me anyway, so let’s be efficient and I will see you tomorrow to fill out my
paper work.” This is a dance, and if you do not try, the applicant that did push hard will probably
get the job.
8. TYPES OF SALES PEOPLE
The objects of sales can be divided in to two major classifications - tangibles and intangibles. When
looking at a career in sales, this is a crucial distinction to consider. It is not to say that once you have
sold tangibles you cannot sell intangibles or vice versa, but it is my experience that there are people
better suited for one or the other. There are some that can do both just as easily, but these are the
minority, even though most sales pros believe they can sell anything. I whole-heartedly believe in
my ability to sell both, though I have spent most all of my career as an intangible sales person. As
discussed in the “Types of Sales Jobs” chapter, it was not as easy as I thought it would be when I
opened my cigar shop. I have always been more comfortable selling something that doesn't really
The tangible sales pro has a good memory and can remember many different details. The
archetypal tangible sales person is the guy who sells auto parts. These people are amazing; they
have memorized literally thousands of part numbers. As a group they do not have to have a lot of
sales skills, because if you need an alternator, there really are not a lot of options besides a new or a
rebuilt one. Across the car lot are the car sales people. They too are tangible sales types, with the
focus being features and benefits. The tangible sales person’s inclination is to talk features.
As a sales trainer, much of the training focus for companies with tangible products, is on how to tie
benefits to features. In many cases, the sole purpose of the training is to make the guy who is paying
for the training feel like, “This guy is good - that is what I keep telling my sales force.”
A good sales person for a tangible product is proficient at needs assessment and should be
"consultative" in their sales approach. This is because the client requires a product to fulfill a
specific need, therefore accuracy and critical thinking are important.
The intangible sales pro is more creative, and does not get bogged down by pesky facts and
features. They are problem solvers with ideas. They need to create a story that talks to the
individual client, and creates a picture so that the prospect will believe the product will fulfill the
perceived need. In other words, intangible sales people are good bull-shitters. Sorry for the blunt
language, but that is the truth. When you sell something that does not exist until it is delivered, you
can make it what you need it to be. The typical advertising sales person and the industrial nuts and
bolts person are both in sales, but that is where the similarity ends. The intangible sales person
talks more about theory than specifics, uses more “sales techniques” to move the prospect towards
the close, and focuses much more on benefits than features. You will not hear a person that sells
industrial locks say “Just imagine how good it will feel if you buy these cam locks.”
So, if you are starting out in sales, how do you know if you are an intangible or a tangible sales
person? Ask yourself what motivates you to buy something. Is it how it looks, or is it how it makes
you feel? Do you do a lot of research and make sure that the specifics will fulfill your needs? The
best way to figure out what kind of sales person you are, is to examine what kind of consumer you
are. Do you focus on the features or the benefits? When it comes to tangible versus intangible sales,
it has more to do with who you are as a person and less about the product or service you are selling.
There is plenty of opportunity in both forms of sales.
There are basically four kinds of sales professionals. First, let’s talk about the
technical sales person.
Usually this kind of sales person has a degree or several degrees in some specialized field;
certifications may replace the need for this formal education. This qualification goes beyond
product knowledge, and these sales guys can speak to the tech hacks in the company. They will be
listened to more than a non-technical sales person, since they speak the technical jargon. Being a
sales person in the same field for a long time can make one feel that he or she speaks the language
and can talk the talk. They may learn a lot about a certain subject, but will always come from a
business or sales perspective. The tech sales people who are “Techies” themselves, also understand
the perspective and agenda of the techie, which is why they are taken more seriously. This is very
important. In many smaller tech companies, one of the officers may be the only sales person. If the
ticket is big enough and the company can survive on only a few sales per year the owner/officer
may be the only sales person.
The clients of these companies rely on their vendors to come up with real solutions, not just
products and services. These solutions are usually expensive, therefore liability is just as important
to management as the actual sale. An example would be high-end medical equipment or
telecommunications equipment. To be a true technical sales pro, you should be able to do much of
the support yourself. Being on the top of the food chain, these tech sales professionals can make a
ton of cash. Clients may rely on the sales person as much or more than they do on the company that
the sales person works for. This relationship makes them as close to indispensable to their
companies as a sales person can be. In general they are very smart, a little egotistical and might be a
little lazy. But what do you expect from a smart rich person?
Some people fall into a sales job by accident. They were looking for a job and a sales position
became available and they took it. The applicant had good people skills and a skill set that was
attractive to the interviewer. The main attraction was that they were trainable. People that never
intended to be in sales can do well. They are usually in sales jobs that do not have a lot of rejection
or a lot of pressure to produce. This is because “normal people” do not have the ability to sustain
the emotional pain that a sales person goes through on a daily basis. Eventually a position becomes
available that suits them better, and they move on, being the better and stronger for it.
The second type is the climber. They are usually one of those smart guys with a business degree.
They apply for the sales job for a couple of reasons. First, they like the money they can make. Let’s
face it, when kids get out of college, they usually do not have a high paying job waiting for them.
Sales is a good way for some to make good money when they graduate. The second reason is that in
many companies, sales is one of the best ways to climb the corporate ladder, especially if you have a
degree in finance or management. This way you can get out of the sales department once you have
the stature to be promoted.
As we know, sales people need to sport a pretty big ego. Because of the “self-esteem enhancement
training” most have gotten instead of an “old school “education, the ego is not an issue. What is at
issue is a sense of entitlement. These recruits do not think of themselves as salespeople for the long
term - they believe they are more valuable than “just a sales person.” This creates a tendency to be a
little too aggressive in wanting the high paying position without really earning it.
Another aspect of the climber is that he or she may have a tendency to be the teacher’s pet. Many of
those in higher positions see themselves in the climber. The climber has no issue with kissing a
little butt on his or her way up. So many climbers feel that the other salespeople are not very
accommodating in their inevitable ascension to the top. Their team members are not honorable,
have a negative attitude, they sabotage, and are generally doing everything they can to knock them
down a rung or two. The climber would be correct in this assessment because, to a regular sales
person, the climber is someone who has entitlement issues, is a butt kisser and thinks they are
better than the other reps on the team.
The next type is the entrepreneur - a person who has a vision and is starting a business. They need
money to fund their dream, so they sell. The good ones can sell pretty well, but not because they
have good sales technology or they are slick sales people. They succeed because they are able
through intellect and enthusiasm coupled with the ability to manipulate the product or service, to
get customers. It is surprising to many that start businesses, how good a salesperson they are. This
is because it is a matter of pride that their customers are satisfied. It is also a matter of survival,
since most of the time the entrepreneur has put every resource into their new venture. If it fails he
or she will lose everything so to say that the entrepreneur is motivated is obvious. Motivation to
succeed and the ability to keep pushing is vital in sales, and the entrepreneur has that. This is why
people who have never sold before can sometimes do really well.
Unfortunately this frame work has its limitations. First, the entrepreneur has a tendency to do
everything himself, so after the first round of sales they become too busy to get new customers.
However, they do not usually have enough money to hire people to do the jobs they do themselves.
The entrepreneur has also become an expert in doing the tasks that are needed. To train someone is
a daunting task at best and seems impossible at worst. This is really true when it comes to hiring
sales people. They have been overwhelming their prospects with product and industry knowledge,
yet when they hire a sales person of necessity they often hire someone for as little money as
possible. It was easy for them to sell, so anyone should be able to do it. This is not usually the case,
because the new sales person does not have the survival motivation or the tools to do as well as the
entrepreneur. In many cases there is also an issue of control. The entrepreneur wants to control
everything the sales person does, which inevitably slows everything down - a difficult place for the
Many years ago I applied for a sales job and after an extensive interview with the entrepreneur I
got the all commission job and was given a sales script. I read the script, and then did what I always
do, I started engaging the customer in small talk, asking questions and employing the sales process
as I thought I was hired to do. The phone was pulled out of my hand and the “sales manager”
started to recite from the script to the client, who at that point wanted to get off the phone as
quickly as he could. “I could have gotten that guy,” I exclaimed. The entrepreneur came in the room
and said it was his company and he had worked very hard on the script, and as I was working for
him, I was going to do it his way. I had two points to make in response. First, if I am working on
straight commission, I am really working for myself. Second, with a face like mine, if I could read a
script and not sound like an idiot, I would be making a million dollars a picture. As I said, it was a
long time ago; a million per picture is not a lot in today’s world. So, whether selling or transitioning
to an independent sales department, the entrepreneur needs to be in charge but not in control.
Even though many want to categorize themselves as tech, climber, or entrepreneur, most really fall
into the sales professional category, our fourth type. Those that are in the sales professional
category are exactly where they should be. A true salesperson should not really do anything else. It
is what they are suited for and what they do best, and whenever they wander from sales they are
not as happy or productive. The Peter Principle is very obviously at work in this case. How many
times has the top sales person gone out on their own or been promoted to a non-sales position, only
to fall on their face or at best have very difficult transition period?
There is a whole chapter on the characteristics of a sales person, but it should be said that the true
sales professional is in sales because there really is not anywhere else for them to go. “We are here
because we have to be, we have nowhere else to go.”
The industry can effect what kind of person should work as a professional. For example, an
insurance sales person may not make a good “closer” for an auto dealership. Salespeople that work
in certain industries should be similar to those that they sell to. For example a slick urban type
would not do well selling to NASCAR race teams. But this same person may do well selling network
and hosting services. The type of sales person needed depends on the maturity of the product or
service, and the specificity and expertise it takes to produce the product or service. This determines
whether the sales person should be like those he or she sells to. This is important because if you are
not excelling at your job, it may not be because you are not a good sales person. It may be you trying
to be like the people that you sell to, while they are looking for someone that is not like them and
more in the world from which the product comes. I am not going to buy flowers for a wedding from
a sales person like me. So the persona a sales person creates for themselves is important.
Sometimes you should be like those you sell to, such as in the early days of the internet - everyone
wore black and was not well groomed. For a while this really worked.
Let’s examine some of the industries that hire sales people and look at the characteristics that seem
to be common to them.
Many people make a living at residential real estate sales. The most successful are good at need
assessment and are good listeners. Trust and being comfortable is more important than being
persistent and aggressive. That is why this form of sales is one of the most popular jobs in the
country. The freedom of an unstructured job, without the “Herb Tarlek” negative stereotype which
turns many off, makes this a good choice for a lot of people. Real Estate agents and brokers must
have good social skills and be good networkers.
Insurance sales people have a similar skill set to Real Estate sales people, but have additional
requirements. They need to be good networkers, but also have a lot of rules and regulations they
need to deal with. Since insurance is a regulated industry, ethics and compliance is essential. More
Insurance sales people have wound up in front of a judge than you would think. Life insurance sales
people are more typical of what others consider to be a “typical” sales person, than someone who
sells home and car insurance. When the focus of your pitch is, "What is going to happen when you
die," you need some skills to get through that conversation.
Advertising sales professionals are usually pretty hardcore. This is true from the person that sells
ads in the weekly direct mail piece to those that sell radio time. For a long time, the Yellow Pages is
where many made a good living. Ad sales people are some of the best closers and most versatile of
sales people. This is because many types of people own businesses, and they need to buy
advertising. The other little secret about advertising is that the more effective it is, the more it costs.
So it could be said that advertising is always too expensive. If an advertising company has a lot of
happy, satisfied customers, well then it is time to raise the prices. Ad sales is about selling as much
advertising to as many people as you can, in the shortest amount of time possible. Nothing is less
valuable than a minute of air time that was not sold, or unsold ad space in yesterday’s paper. So
being able to camouflage the fact that you are persistent and aggressive is important if you are in
this line of work. You need to close a lot, so being a nice person who is a good networker is not
going to fly. This person also has to be tough, because they will get a lot of rejection.
Industrial sales, also known as widget sales people, usually have a fairly well marked out territory.
The client really needs the product in order to do business. Price and sometimes quality and service
- but mainly price - determine who gets the sale. The industrial sales person has been most affected
by the internet. These reps have to have a good mind for remembering their product line and also
need to be amenable. They can only push so much because the client has a defined need. If the
company makes office chairs they only need 4 casters for each chair. Trying to sell them five for
each chair is not going to work. So the industrial sales person needs to be perceived as reliable and
honest. They also have to have a good work ethic and be well disciplined, especially if they travel a
lot. It is real easy to work on the golf game instead of making sure you hit your numbers.
Retail wholesalers are those that sell to retail stores. They are a diverse group. Obviously the
person that distributes cigars to a cigar shop is going to be different than the apparel rep, who is
different than the person that stuffs racks with baseball cards at Target®. These have a few things
in common. First they know how to act in front of the client, because that is where they spend their
time. Also they know what the trends are. But other that, these sales people can range from
someone who is a major closer, to one who is merely an order taker.
Retail sales people come in two categories, those that want to be there and those that don’t.
Unfortunately for most shoppers, a huge majority are in the latter category. This is because the only
way a retailer can get people who want to be there is to pay more than their competitors. This
would mean their price will be higher, and then the consumer would not patronize that store. Some
retail sales are commission sales, like high end clothing, appliances and furniture. There are some
real pros in this line of work. They can read people like a popup book. They will do a quick
hardware check and they can probably tell you your net worth. Patience, good people skills and the
ability to create the “compulsive sale” are common attributes. These people are closers.
There are obviously many more industries or kinds of businesses that hire sales people than the
above mentioned. It is important to realize that every company has its own culture and knowing a
little more about what is out there, may make it easier to navigate any situation you encounter.
9. HOW TO ACT
A Company hires a new employee in a department other than sales. This Employee will go to the
office on his or her first day, will ask where to go, and will do everything he or she can to keep a low
profile and fit in. Under the same circumstances, a salesperson will walk into the new office, greet
everyone enthusiastically, and gaze at all the people that have been put there to help them do their
job. The customer is the income source of a company, so if a company uses the sales model,
everyone really is there to help a sales person with their job. This is, of course, not really true, but
the point is clear that a sales professional for a company does have a more important role than
some others. Once a sales person has established a customer base, they are not as easy to replace as
a customer service rep or someone in the accounting department. If the position is an outside sales
rep, they are also afforded a lot more freedom. Because of this, coupled with the fact that sales
people have a tendency to have highly developed social skills, a sales rep will consider themselves
to be part of the most important department of the company. This is an opinion that only they hold.
So how should a sales rep act? The following proper behaviors stem from my observations of
others - the improper ones are from my own mistakes, which are unfortunately many. As a sales
manager I am always telling reps how to act and I marvel how things appear from a different
prospective. The things I did as a sales rep without any hesitation, I now condemn in those that
work for me.
Salespeople as a rule do not have a realistic view of how their behavior affects others, or of how
they are perceived by others. The best way to comport as a sales person is to use the example of a
Broadway actor working on a play. This theoretical actor has three parts to his daily routine. First,
he wakes up and has time to do what he chooses. Second, he goes to the theater and interacts with
the director, the other actors, make up is applied, and he anticipates the performance. Finally, after
all the preparations have been made and the audience is seated, he goes on stage to perform. This is
exactly how a sales professional should approach his work day. Using this formula and being
mentally prepared for every aspect of the work day will help to make decision making easy
Behavior while not at work is easy - do what you want to do, and even though it is a cliché, be
yourself when you are not at work. In sales you are subject to a lot of scrutiny. How much you sell,
your actions, even what kind of shape your desk is in. As salespeople you never want to show any
weakness or vulnerability, because you are swimming with sharks, and even a single drop of blood
will create a feeding frenzy with you as the main course. Therefore, in your off time, surround
yourself with people that are not in sales, and will accept you without getting any benefit from the
relationship, except that of being with you. More importantly, don't feel that you have to win every
argument and control every conversation you have with family and friends. It is really important
that you guard your personal life and your family from the hostile environment of sales. You need
to have a place without conflict where you feel safe. You are tougher than most, but this is an easy
point for a sales person to ignore. If you do not give your subconscious mind a place where it does
not have to be in survival mode, it will eventually rebel and sabotage the source of the discomfort.
Unfortunately, in this case that is your job. The subconscious does not have the same priorities as
the conscious mind - it is primal by nature. I believe that this is one of the reasons why sales people
have a tendency to be self destructive. The more money I made in sales, the more I would feel the
pressure to perform and would be jealous of others. One of the best remedies that I found was to
have a plan that got me away from the sales environment and allowed my subconscious to rest
from the rigors of the job. When I did not do this, my job became more daunting and I was not able
to be the creative problem solver that I needed to be.
The second portion - the back stage behavior - is how you act in front of management and your
fellow sales professionals. In order to avoid the drama that usually occurs between sales reps, it
advisable to have slowly evolving relationships with those people with whom you work. Don’t BBF
with other reps right away, even though it is tempting. Many new hires treat their arrival like the
first day in the college dorm. In reality, the situation is more like the first day on the yard at a
penitentiary. These people are out to exploit any vulnerability you show. Many salespeople exploit
the emotional weakness of another rep to boost their standings. These people are your competitors
not your friends. Simon Cowell brings this up in every season of American Idol. Sure everyone is a
little sad when someone gets voted off, but there will never be a show where one contestant will
volunteer to leave to spare another’s feelings
Many years ago I got a job at a very large company. At the 5 week sales training prison, I was told
that everyone would invest in my success. When I got back to the office where I was to work, I was
seated next to an old pro who had been in the company for over a decade. I would ask how much
something was and he always answered $100. So I asked him, "I thought we were all friends? Why
are you not helping me?" He snarled back at me, "I am not your friend. Figure things out yourself!"
Being a little put off I told him that he could be a little friendlier, to which he replied that he didn't
want to be my friend because I would probably not last six months and that would make him suffer
separation anxiety. A couple of years later we did become friends, but I have used what he did with
me many times since.
Properly done, back stage behavior creates a barrier between your personal time and the hostile
environment of sales. Actors are always trying to bond with the people they work with as much as
they do to those seeing the performance. This is because how they are perceived by those they
work with, will determine the roles they get in the future. We forget that this is not good behavior
in sales, and we allow our work life to get mixed up with our personal life. This will eventually affect
our ability to thrive in our career
Finally, there is the on stage behavior, or how you should act in front of the customer. If you do a
good job of managing your behavior while not at work, and your back stage behavior, being in front
of the customer will be easy. Great actors play many roles. Every play calls for them to be a different
character. The same is true with the sales professional. Every time you are in front of a customer, it
is just like an actor in a different play. The great actor is able to inject themselves into the role they
are playing. Be the person you are that bests fits the situation. You are on stage just like the actor.
The only difference is the actor will get paid for his or her performance no matter the outcome,
whereas you will only get paid if the performance gets the desired result
It is important to remember three things in front of the client or prospect. First, it is your job to
make the biggest sale in the shortest amount of time possible. This is the truth, despite all the new
technology that has shifted the focus away from the primary mission. Prospects know this, so when
a rep acts as if the sale is not his primary concern, it can look phony. Without saying anything, your
creditability has gone down and the prospect will trust you less. So you need to assume that the
prospect knows why you are there and will accept your mission as long as you meet their
objectives. One way to distract the client from your main mission is to find something else not really
related to your mission but something that will help their business. Show them the latest
application on the web or anything that shows that you care about their business, while at the same
time showing that you are smart. Even though it is easy to get caught up in small talk, you have a
very limited amount of time to get your business done so stay on track. That is unless your prospect
wants something different. Some prospects want to engage in conversations or they have an agenda
that they want to bring in to the sales call. The point is, do not lose your way during a sales call, it is
easy to get distracted and you should always keep your focus on the stated mission, which is to get
the client to agree with your proposal.
Secondly, it is your job to fit in to his environment not the other way around. Fitting in does not
always mean being similar. It means that you find a way to have a relationship with this person. It
could be both being the same age, or finding something interesting about their business, even if you
know nothing about it. Creating a rapport with the prospect is important but so is the environment.
Observe how formal the interactions are between the prospect and those with whom they work.
You can get a lot of clues on how to be comfortable in an unfamiliar environment just my mimicking
I was on a call with a brand new rep. She was very attractive and usually got what she wanted just
by her out going personality and her looks. Because of her innate talent, she never really worked on
her sales fundamentals. One time we were in a lawyer’s office who we were pitching, and she says,
"Wow this is a great office." A valid approach so far. Then she says, "I want an office like this. Can I
have yours?" She was kidding of course, but asking a lawyer for anything is not really fitting in with
that world. We lost the sale.
What can you do as a sales professional to fit in? The main task is to try. Many sales people don’t
choose to fit in because they think that people should accept them for who they are. It is human
nature and logical to believe that the less someone is like you the less you can trust them. So if you
appear to have nothing in common with those that you are selling, then it will be more difficult for
you to get them to trust you. I was recently on a sales call with a prospect that made custom
motorcycles. He had no technology knowledge and I am not into motorcycles. In fact I have told my
daughter that she cannot ever be on the back of one. Even though this was not my usual work
environment, I took it upon myself to find a way to fit in. I have always enjoyed motorboats, so I
used that as a starting point of common ground. In a matter of ten minutes we had established a
rapport sufficient enough for me to get the sale.
Any sales professional has the skill to fit into any environment they want to. If you make it part of
your sales routine to first observe and then assimilate into the prospects surroundings, you will
find that it takes less time and sales calls to close a deal. But keep in mind that in order to be
convincing you must be convincible. If you try to win every point, and never concede anything, you
will only be able to sell a certain percent of those you present to. Now the fact is you are probably
very well armed, and no prospect or client should be able to logically dismiss you and your product.
With that said, let them try. Listen to what they say and if you are good, you can use what they say
to lead them to the sale. Many reps do not have the confidence to be pragmatic, so they repeat what
they have heard without even listening to prospects or client challenges. You want them to engage
in a debate. Always be open to what the prospect is saying, and then convince them to buy anyway.
To be convincing you must be convincible or at least appear that way.
Lastly, one huge mistake that many sales people make, is that they forget that they are employees.
It is easy not to treat the company's property with respect, and it is easy to think that the supply
closet is your own personal Office Depot. The fact is, many people around you will take things and
misuse company property. There is usually an attitude of entitlement that pervades the sales
department. For the most part you will probably get away with it. The problem is that these deeds
never seem to go away. There may be a time when one of these indiscretions will come back to
haunt you. Once I was working for a large telecommunications company when there was a major
political power shift. A few weeks later a very bright and successful VP lost his job because he had
used the company account to buy his wife a set of tires for the family car. He was not the only
manager to do this. If he had been totally clean he may have survived, however the problem was
that his major rival had just gotten promoted to the top spot. The point is, no matter what is going
on, always be a professional and buy your own office supplies.
10. TYPICAL SALESPERSON
Most salespeople will tell you that they are not treated very well by their company, and that they
should be appreciated since they are the ones that bring in all the money. Additionally, if you ask
the average person what they think of sales people in general, you may not get a positive answer especially if you ask those who work alongside them. “They have huge egos and you can pretty
much bet that they are going to over-react to any situation they are involved in" or "Immature, selfcentered, loud and not usually very good at paper work” are typical reactions. These will be
included in just about any description of salespeople. Unfortunately some generalizations are true by nature sales people have a tendency to be dysfunctional and self-destructive.
That fact is, if sales people were not different anyone could do the job, and consequently it would
pay less. We must realize that sales people are viewed as a necessary evil in many businesses, for
without sales people the company would not exist. I believe that the rise of the marketing model
has as much to do with a distaste for sales people as it does with profit motivation.
It has been said that sales people are their company’s ambassadors to the public. Why then do most
companies treat their sales people like a fancy hotel treats the hookers in their lounge? Sure,
management wants them there since it increases business, but when a salesperson tries to pick up a
commission check they are treated as if they stole something. There is another something puzzling everyone who knows that a sales person is on commission acts as if that person really did not earn
the money, and is therefore obligated to share it with everyone. It is presented as a team effort; but
when was the last time you saw someone go up to the CEO of a company and ask to share his
A quick case in point: It was the late seventies or early eighties a part of my life which is a blur. I
was talking to a guy in a bar who owned a men’s clothing store. He hired sales people and was
wondering why his best sales people drank too much. I replied that maybe they are your best sales
people because they drink too much. Later on, I amended that thought after I worked in a few phone
rooms with practicing heroin addicts. Junkies know how to close. The following is a list in order of
the best sales people:
Crystal Meth Addicts
I do practice what I preach; I have hired many a phone rep from a rehab or sober living facility,
since many people in recovery do very well in sales. They have the attributes of an addict have
kicked the destructive habit. As an addict, they needed to concentrate on getting their next fix,
which translates in the sales realm into a supreme ability to focus on the end result of clinching the
sale. They are also good at creating their own alternate reality, and getting people to buy into it;
again, a excellent sales trait.
The first reality a salesperson has to deal with is, that for the most part, the people who work with
them don’t like them as much as the salesperson thinks they do. Sales people have strong
personalities – it’s basically a prerequisite for the job. Most of those with whom salespeople work,
don’t have this quality. In addition, most people are conflict averse - they will do what they can to
avoid confrontation. Salespeople are good at verbal conflict because that is what they do for a living.
In order to avoid conflict many of those with non-sales positions, will just nod and smile knowingly.
The salesperson takes this as agreement and believes he or she has just won over another friend.
Sales people also take a lot of rejection, which has gotten worse over the years. So being tough
means being tougher than everyone else. The average salesperson takes more rejection and has
been subjected to more rude and abusive behavior in a month, than most people are in a lifetime. As
a coping mechanism, salespeople learn to become dominant, controlling, manipulative, pushy or a
combination thereof. In addition, most sales people have worked out a multitude of strategies for
getting their own way and capitalizing on the attention. This makes being around salespeople,
especially in a work environment, very daunting. It is like a regular guy being around professional
football players - it is uncomfortable and a little intimidating. No matter how non-threatening the
salespeople are, there are those who will feel more comfortable once the salespeople leave the
building. Salespeople are competitive and sometimes do not realize how competitive they are. This
makes everything a chore, from participating in department meetings to figuring out where to go to
lunch. Salespeople always know the best place to eat.
So if this is true why do salespeople typically have a lot of friends? It is because they have superior
people skills, and they are a lot of fun to hang around with outside of work. Salespeople are usually
the funniest people at the party. This does not however, always translate to an easy working
relationship. Salespeople will also hang out with other sales people. This is like policemen having
only policemen friends; it is easier if your friends have been where you have been.
Salespeople believe that if only their ideas were taken more seriously, the whole company would
run much better. Salespeople have great business ideas, unfortunately 90% of them are about sales
people working less and making more money without really profiting the company. They are great
ideas…for sales people. When they do have a great idea for another area, much of the time it was
someone else’s first. Every salesperson who becomes a sales manager sees and talks about this. As a
salesperson it is so easy to be critical of management, but once you are in management, the job is so
much more difficult than it looks. Once the new manager starts dealing with the realities of the
company and the demands put on the sales team, it becomes obvious that much of what the
salespeople talk about is really not practical.
Many salespeople believe that they do not need a sales manager, and would say things like, "Look I
don’t need to go to these weekly meetings. I can do just fine on my own. I am self-manageable.” Of
course everyone else in the room is thinking, "More like unmanageable.” Salespeople are
independent and want to be left alone; unfortunately being left alone means less production. Even
the most disciplined, self-motivated, mature sales person needs to be held to some level of
accountability. This job is emotionally painful, and the idea that someone is keeping track of your
results makes it easier to work that summer Friday afternoon or to make that last appointment on a
Anyone who has managed sales people has seen their propensity for self-destructive behavior. It is
predictable that after a long struggle to make a sale, as soon as the rep has a good pay period, you
may not see them for a while. Salespeople get used to struggling and when prosperity strikes - or
even the possibility of prosperity - something inside will sabotage their success. A salesperson's
worst enemy is often themselves. The examples of this are startling. When a sales person who
probably has a pretty good ego, has a series of successes, he or she will start to believe that they
really are smarter than everyone else. The hard reality is that just because someone is a better
salesperson than everyone else, does not mean they are smarter than everyone else. To do well at
the sales game you need to have the ability to use critical thinking and to come to a preconceived
conclusion. In other words, a sales professional wants to discuss all the options while always
coming to the same end result - the customer makes a purchase. Unfortunately, this preconceived
conclusion process does not work well in real life. For example, sales people think they can always
run a business better than management. Running a business takes a lot of sophistication, planning,
a grasp of the big picture, and the ability to objectively analyze a situation. Also, as a sales person,
the role is to deal with only one part of the business model - getting the prospect or client to agree
to the purchase. Even though the sales pro is exposed to many aspects of the business, they are not
experts in anything but sales. Sometimes this exposure gives the sales professional a false sense of
security as it relates to being well rounded or being an expert in the industry. The fact is that street
smarts and smooth talking are not always enough. Just because sales people can out talk most
people, does not mean that they can out think them. This is why many businesses started by
successful sales professionals struggle.
There is another pressure that is unexpected. Once a salesperson starts to do better than everyone
else, they are treated differently. Initially, everyone congratulates you, but then the emotional beatdown starts. This is most disheartening when it comes from those with whom you palled around.
Logic would dictate that if one person could succeed everyone could. But instead, everyone makes
excuses why the success is not real. It can also make one feel used. Those who were not previously
friendly, are now your best buddies especially at corporate events when higher ups want to talk to
you. It can be uncomfortable being on top.
Most sales books do not talk about the problems associated with being a sales professional.
Keeping things positive sometimes means living in a fantasy world. If you read the blogs or sales
books they all state that working in sales is the same as any job, except that you get more when you
do well. The self-inflicted pressure to perform and the mental stress that is created from the
enormous amount of rejection would affect anyone; not to mention the fact that every company
thinks it has an obligation to play head games with its sales staff, thinking this will motivate them to
sell more. Never has the CEO of a company come into a sales meeting and said, "Well sales are down
because we saw changes in the market." Or, "We know you are not selling well because we never
deliver our products on time." It would be a free ice skating day in hell if that ever happened. Who
wouldn’t be a little controlling or over-reactive if the environment they worked in was always
making everything their fault?
So what is the best coping mechanism? Many use the drugs and alcohol which were discussed at the
beginning of the chapter. This, of course, is not the best answer. It is like not paying your parking
tickets - someday your car will be towed away. I have found that using the “3 Stage Behaviors” in
the “How To Act” chapters do a lot to manage stress. The best coping mechanism is to succeed and
make lots of money. This has its own set of problems of course, but if you live within your means,
and do not overspend, you will have less stress. Why is it that sales people, especially those on
1099, don’t think they have to pay their taxes? It is amazing how many new hires will be called into
their manager’s office and be told that their wages are being garnished. It happens a lot and
sometime to those you would least suspect.
People will say that salespeople always have to be right. Well, if we are wrong, no one will buy
anything from us. There is no better proof to a salesperson that they are right than to get someone
to say yes. This is a hard job emotionally, but you chose it for a reason. Probably it is because you
like the fight. There is something in you that wants to prove yourself. After being rejected several
times, nothing can give a salesperson a bigger rush than making a nice-sized sale. We also
understand people and what motivates them better than anyone. Many psychiatrists have marveled
at the psychological acumen of sales professionals. Many have written about it. We can evaluate
people, change perceptions and, yes, even manipulate others. We just are not objective about
ourselves. Then again neither are therapists.
There is great freedom in owning up to who you are and what you do for a living. Don’t deny who
you are. Realize that others in your company do not have to cope with the amount of pressure you
do. When things do go wrong in the company, chances are the sales team is going to be blamed,
even if it is obvious that it is not their fault. Make sure you do what you can to reduce stress in your
non-working hours. Most of all, remember you were looking for a job when you found this one.
11. SALES CONTESTS, INCENTIVE TRIPS AND AWARDS.
I think that most sales contests, incentives trips, sales awards and anything resembling any of
these, should be illegal. That, and the creators of these poorly planned and ill-conceived contests
should be punished. Nothing shows lack of respect to our profession more than treating us like a
bunch of trained seals that get a fish after we do a trick for the management team. The worst part is
the sales reps are all supposed to get excited, enthusiastic and thankful for being manipulated.
Sometimes these challenges are fixed, most especially when they are hastily conceived. Don’t act
shocked – a sales manager will even have a contest when he knows his team is going to have an
increase in sales for some other reason, such as a seasonal upswing. The worst part of sales
contests is that many times they are not well thought out or planned very well. It is my experience
that, when you take into effect the tax consequences, it is not a practical idea unless the prize is cash
or it is something that the winner was going to purchase anyway.
I worked for a smaller publishing company when the VW beetle was reintroduced back in the late
90’s, so the company had a yearlong contest where the winner would receive a brand new VW bug.
The competition was brutal, friendships were lost, people stole sales from each other - it was
bloody. At the end of the year one woman emerged as the winner by only a few dollars. She was
handed a symbolic key chain to show everyone she had emerged victorious. Why did they not
give her the car? Well, first they were not actually giving a car away, but only leasing it for the
winner for one year. The lease was limited to only 10,000 miles of driving a year, and had a penalty
for every mile after that. In this job we drove a minimum of 30,000 miles a year. She would have
had to insure the car, maintain it and would pay a third of the total lease payments in income taxes.
So management had sold this as the best sales contest ever, and had presented their top sales rep
with a car she could not drive and that cost her more money than the car she already had. So you
see the problem with sales contests that are run by former sales people who do not worry about
delivering on their promise, but instead want to show how smart they are by getting everyone to
sell more. They whole thing was a sham. The woman ended up taking a cash payout which was less
than $2000, everyone was angry at management, and morale sunk to an all time low - so much so
that I used to joke that everyone’s home page was www.monster.com. For the next few months,
new sales were at an all time low which wiped out any gains made by the contest
Here's another example: A really large company I worked for had a contest for a color TV. The
person who won was not very well liked by management. They kept putting off giving him his TV,
until the boss was finally exiled to Seattle. This was fine with me and everyone else, because this
guy was a real jerk, but my buddy eventually quit without ever getting his TV. He ended up suing
the company for the TV and won more money than any TV would have cost.
Contests never seem to achieve their stated goal, which is to have a significant rise in total sales.
There is usually an increase followed by a dip in sales. This is because the sales people burn
through every lead to make the sale for the contest. Sales professionals should at all times be
cultivating some prospects that might need nurturing for a future sale. During the contest
these prospects are ignored since the rep will be out for the easy kill.
This means that once the contest is over the participants will not have any warm leads.
Please don’t think this antipathy for sales contests is because I never have finished first in one.
Well, as a matter of fact, in my 30 years of sales I never did finish first...so what!?! The problem with
sales contests and things of that nature is twofold. One, it shows that management could be paying
their sales teams more. Instead of paying what is budgeted to hold these events, why not instead
raise everyone’s commission rate. Anytime management says that they have to readjust
the commission structure because they need to lower costs, but they keep sales contests, they are
either lying or stupid, or both. It makes no sense to lower a compensation plan, while at the same
time keeping a contest or incentive trip. If you are experiencing this, it is most likely because some
hack in the accounting department, or some VP, decided that the average sales person is making too
much over the market rate. This means making more than the hack and the hack's buddies, so they
create the lowered compensation plan. Logic dictates that if company profits are down you cut the
frills first, and a contest would certainly count as a frill. Another point brought up in support of
contests, is the one that, we are making more money, so we thought we would hold a contest. If this
is the case, then why not just give the sales team a raise?
Secondly, the whole idea of sales contests proves that management believes that you need to be
coerced to do your best. Again, treating the sales staff differently than other employees will
cause nothing but trouble. The others resent the fact that there are no contests where they can win
a TV. The sales people resent them for getting a pay check without having to produce anything. The
whole idea that management can get the sales reps to sell more by offering them a TV, means that
they are thought less of than the employees in other departments. Manipulating a sales pro is like
trying to physically intimidate a professional wrestler. You better plan on doing a pretty good job of
it. That raises a great question: Why do the sales managers insist on these contests? One answer is
that they need to impress the non-sales brass in the company. Think about it, what do sales
managers do? Typically, they are the eyes and ears of what is going on in the field. With the
emergence of marketing research and large marketing departments they have been charged only
with making the numbers grow over last year or even last month. This short sightedness has lead to
doing anything to make the numbers increase. It is also a lot easier to be in charge of sales people
than to be one. A case could be made that contests are one of the vehicles sales management use to
justify their existence.
So, is there ever a case for a well run and well thought out sales challenge? Yes. Competition can be
good for morale, and can provide a break from the monotony of the sales routine. The most
important aspect of running a successful contest is that the contest must be secondary to the overall
sales plan. If the contest becomes the sole focus of the sales department, there will be blow
back. This is why many contest prizes are not races to which the winner gets the spoils. One good
example of this is one in which all those reps that hit budget or quota get a chance to win a prize.
Another example is one in which everyone that sells a certain amount or improves a certain
percentage gets a prize
Another good use for the contest is to introduce a new product. Salespeople do not like change, and
are very skeptical of new rollouts. There is good reason for this skepticism, for many new
products are brought to market with a lack of thought, or are just someone’s pet project. Therefore,
many sales professionals will take a wait and see posture before taking the time and effort to pitch
something new. A contest that is winnable will increase the skeptic’s sales of the new product or
To avoid disaster a contest should be fair and winnable. There have been many contests that no one
wins because none of the salespeople have met the minimum requirement. Instead of increasing
morale, this situation sends the undesirable message that "You all suck.” Not a good morale booster.
Also, do not try and be crafty about the prize. Avoid the VW bug scenario which made everyone
want to look for a new job. It is also important to make sure that the results are not predetermined.
Office politics in sales contests is the worst politics of all. It will create an atmosphere of mistrust
and resentment in the whole department. Everyone will hear about it, since salespeople are not
known for their discretion.
The best contests are the ones that were planned the best. The more thought that goes into a
contest, the better the chances are that it will be successful. Surprisingly, the creators of a contest
often focus more on the prize, than on setting goals and an over all context to the contest. This is
counterproductive, since the contest can be a vehicle to institute a change in the direction of the
sales team. For example, many sales departments become focused on existing customers since they
are easier to get a hold of and more comfortable to pitch. A contest on new customers is a good way
to refocus on the life blood of any company, which is new accounts. However, this needs to be done
while making sure to keep the status quo.
Sales Person of the Year - this MVP status is something that every sales professional wants to have,
but it can come with unintended consequences. Personally I have had nothing but bad experiences
with year long contests. I have finished 2nd several times, usually because of the ineffectiveness of
my manager, or because of an actual plot to over throw my number one status. One year, while I
was on vacation, the manager in charge of the office made new rules so someone else could beat me
by a few dollars. I had been number one all year long. This really funny joke was so demoralizing I
eventually stopped trying.
Sales departments can become so dysfunctional and competitive that upper management will make
political decisions that will destroy an individual’s career. This sends a poisonous message
to the entire sales staff. The inherent problem is that the amount you sell compared to others, is not
always about how hard you work or what a great sales person you are. There are outside forces
that will influence how much a salesperson sells. These are too many to name completely, but the
big ones are territory, client list and position in the company. Obviously, a sales manager having the
ability to make deals where others cannot, would be a big advantage to accumulating numbers. It is
unspoken, but no one above the rank of salesperson cares if things are fair. It is only how much
profit each sales person creates that matters. Unless management is willing to put effort into
creating a level playing field, one on which a rookie has the same chance of success as a veteran,
these year end awards are more demoralizing than uplifting. Management really doesn’t care about
the individual salesperson, and does not want to take the time and effort to respond to the endless
complaining that comes from the sales floor. Most in management do not have good vision - they do
not really try to figure out the unintended consequences of having an inequitable system. Sure
everyone gets to dress up and get drunk on the company's dime, but all this really is just for the
brass to have a place where underlings can kiss management's butt, rather than to really appreciate
the sales person.
So if you want to win one of these contests, find the people who have won in the past and ask them
what they did. Try and find out what their mind set was, and how they achieved their big numbers.
Don’t be discouraged when you find out that luck had a lot to do with it - it usually does. The funny
thing about luck, the more time someone is out in front of the client the better the luck. The
successful sales person always does one more cold call and is constantly pushing for any
opportunity to make another sale; they are always looking for the next prospect and realizing that
every no just means that a yes is getting closer. The best way to win sales person of the year, is to
be consistent and stay focused. Also it is important to be liked by the company brass. Fairness is not
always what determines who wins the salesperson of the year.
The incentive trip does not really make sense anymore, due to the amount of taxes the individual
needs to pay at the end of the year. Because of the internet and discount travel sites, the individual
can plan a vacation for much less than a company can plan a corporate event. Getting a group
discount does not apply to planning an incentive trip. First of all, when you plan your own vacation
one does not usually have to prepare gift baskets with a logo printed on everything. Also, group
events like tours need to be paid for by adding the cost to every person’s tally. The problem is that,
by the time you get the “income” of the trip added to your yearly gross income, the amount of taxes
can be more than if you just went to the same destination with your family. Besides the only reason
you want to be around your bosses is to kiss some ass so you can be promoted sometime in the
future. Wow, how fun is that?
I have a better idea. Instead of having an incentive trip, the company should have a disincentive
trip. You want your sales people to be motivated to sell? You want to see the biggest increase in
sales in the history of the company? Pick the most boring place within a 6 hour drive of where your
company is located and hire me, Greg Hill of www.worldsbestsalestrainer.com to have a one week intensive “retraining” camp. The lowest 20% selling salespeople will “get to go”. They will be
updated on the products and services that are sold by the company. They will brush up on
their sales skills, (this is my role); they will also be evaluated by management. Just for fun there will
be daily exercise. The weekends at the office prior to the end of the contest will look like a week
day. This will cost much less, since it is 100% work and no play, and the “winners” will not have to
pay any more taxes. Most of all, everyone will do what they can not to go on the “disincentive trip.”
12. GETTING PROMOTED AND OFFICE POLITICS
Why are Office Politics and Getting Promoted covered in the same chapter? The obvious answer is
that in sales, being a top producer is often not enough. If you are not liked, respected or one of the
gang, you most likely will not be invited to join the company elite.
We will first address office politics - what is this? It is judging people by things other than numbers
and productivity. This leads to unfair advantages being given to sales people who have found favor
with those who are in charge. Office politics on the sales floor is not just unfriendly but a blood
sport. It is hardcore, and increases the stress of doing an already stressful job. Many have quit
positions because the stress of the job and the infighting had become unbearable.
I have been on both the winning and losing sides of office political fights, and have regretted every
outcome. It always starts off as innocent fun, but somewhere along the line it turns into a brawl. It is
just like when two men start wrestling at a party. It is fun in the beginning until one guy starts to
lose. Instead of giving up he turns it up a notch, the escalation begins, and someone ends up getting
hurt. This dynamic is especially true if you are in your late 30’ and early 40’s, but of course I am not
talking from personal experience. Ok, I am, but the point is made that at some time in one’s
evolution as a sales professional, one must learn that he is there to sell, and not to dominate those
he works with.
Political infighting and rivalries are not productive. There may be a temporary rise in numbers but
at what cost? Managers of competing sales teams will pit their top producers against each other to
create a competition. This does work to increase productivity. However, what starts off as an
effective motivating strategy, ends up being dysfunctional. Managers have a propensity to take the
rivalry on as though it is they themselves who are competing. They pull every tactic to make their
person win. This includes cheating. This scenario always ends up with undesirable results. Once a
sense of unfairness taints an individual’s performance, morale will suffer.
What is the cause of office politics? The simple answer is bad parenting. Sales people are like
children in this respect. If you leave them to their own devices they will do things to each other that
will cause chaos. Sales people have a different agenda than the company they work for. The
company wants to be as profitable as it can. The sales person wants to have the best
numbers compared to those they work with. As a sales person, it makes perfect sense to get into
your rivals head and sabotage his or her success. Companies and management seem to be blind to
this and will actually encourage this behavior.
I observed growing up that many parents would use the age old strategy of divide and conquer. The
idea is to have all the children pledge their loyalty to the parent instead of to each other.
It is much easier to control things this way, than to actually parent the children and evaluate each
situation individually. The natural evolution of this dynamic is that you will have the good kids and
the bad kids. So parents divide and conquer to keep control, and sales managers do the same. It is
much easier to pit different sales people against each other than to actually manage them. This
creates a dysfunctional atmosphere which at best distracts the sales people from doing their job.
The most surprising aspect of this dynamic is that those who use this tactic get a real thrill out of it.
They really believe they are being very clever, which of course they are not, they are merely being
We are a family, is what many will tell new hires. They are right, it is like a family… a dysfunctional
family, one in which the parents should be jailed for child abuse. It is amazing that with all the
opportunity that is in the country and all the examples of wealth and success, how many sales
rooms are run like a street gang. Everyone trying to run their own little scam and there is no
importance placed in the long term vision.
So how should a company deal with the sales department office politics? First thing is to isolate the
sales department from the other departments as much as possible. A separate address is best.
Secondly the only way someone is judged publicly is by his or her numbers. Managers should
respect other manager's team members just as much as they do their own. The focus should only be
on the objective of making sales - all other conversations or remarks should be looked upon as
distractions. The more that managers and sales professionals focus on their respective jobs, the
higher the morale and the better the results.
As a sales professional, if you are in a situation that is mired in politics, what should you do? Well,
you have 2 choices. I strongly recommend that you do not participate in the politics at all. As
alluring as it is to be in the “cool clique,” you really should just go to work, do your job and not listen
or buy into what anyone says about you or anyone else. If it is not about work, just ignore them and
walk away. Only talk to your boss about business. Don’t hang out with co-workers outside of work,
and be as private as possible. You will be the one management comes to when they want the job
There are good players and there are evil players in the hostile world of sales. The good are those
who want an even playing field and an equal opportunity for everyone to succeed. The evil are
those who want to “fix” the outcome and secure supremacy through manipulation and special
privileges. They must be dealt with. Unfortunately any attempt by a sales professional to try to
impose an atmosphere of fairness in this environment will be met with severe resistance. Evil in the
sales department only exists with the complicity and the knowledge of upper management. Even
though the company line is that the company is fair to its employees, be aware that this is only a
If you choose to participate in the harsh world of office politics, you are on your own. Take no
prisoners and play to win. Here is what happens if you don’t:
I once worked for a company in New York. It appeared to be a perfect situation. I had known the
owners of this new publishing company from 15 years before. They had been one of my biggest
clients. They were starting a new company. I came into what I thought was going to be my last job.
I saw myself working for them forever. I was there 2 weeks and met this beautiful Polish girl named
Aska who I fell madly in love with, and a year and half later we got married. We now have two
beautiful daughters, Tessa and Nichol. So at that time I was on my game, and was ready to succeed.
It turned out to be the most dysfunctional sales atmosphere I have ever been in.
My rival had a phone solicitor who would call into everyone else’s territory, stealing business to
increase his numbers. The inside deals were unbelievable. There was an ongoing contest that the
rep that had the best results of the month got to have lunch with the boss. My rival had won several
months in a row. Finally, I won a month even though my rival was still cheating. The boss stood me
up twice for our lunch and on the third try he is more than an hour late. He comes to the table and
says, I don’t have time to eat. I am late for another meeting. I had an entire litany of subjects I
wanted to address. He would have none of it. I knew my dream of retiring with that company was in
jeopardy. So I launched a political smear campaign on my rival with precision and elegance. By the
time I was done, I had turned every rep against him. We had a meeting and he was blindsided. It
was perfect. He had no idea it was coming. His once unstoppable dominance and manipulation had
After the meeting I was pulled into my VP’s office, a man I still admire. I was told to knock it off and
play nice. I had made my point and I should let upper management sort it out. However, showing
weakness at that point would only make me a marked man, but he insisted. I told him that I
would play it his way, but that as a result I would be out in 6 months. Later I found that most of the
deals my rival had gotten were poorly written and incomplete and had no chance of the bill being
paid. I was let go exactly 6 months later, and the VP that yelled at me was soon to follow. Years later
I told him that if I had kept up my strategy of torment I would probably still be there. My rival
is still there as far as I know. So here is my point, if you choose to play the political game, play it as
hard as you can and don’t back down, while keeping your eyes open for another job. It is my
experience that even if you are on the side of good, you may not win.
Evil does not exist in a vacuum and is there because it is part of the design of the company and of
management. Another reason why evil people prevail, is because they have nowhere else to go.
Good people just want to be happy and have no issue finding another way to make money.
Getting promoted is also political, and for a very good reason. Others that have already reached that
higher level need to be able to work with you. If you are seeking a sales management job, the fact
that you can sell is a prerequisite, but there is a lot more that is needed. You need to do your job
well and be someone who can fit into the management team. But be careful, since all sides have a lot
to lose if the wrong promotion is granted. This is why Babe Ruth was never made the manager of a
Major League Baseball team. Many have witnessed the star sales person get promoted, and then
totally fail. Not only do they lose the new job, but they lose the job they had worked many years to
build while the company loses a top producer and the sales pro has to start all over. Management is
looking to promote someone they can trust and who can take the pressure.
If you want to be promoted out of the sales ranks and you work for a functional company, you need
to know a few things. First, keep your numbers up. You do not have to be number one, just show
that you are an exceptional sales professional. You also need to show that you sell the way they
want you to. Most companies have a certain methodology on how to sell. Few sales people
actually follow it. The company has sales material that they have provided, and they want that used
in a presentation. In the old days, salespeople were given flip books. If you wanted to be one of
those that were to be promoted you had your “presentation” book updated - it was never covered
with dust. Also become an expert on the non-sales tasks that are required for your job, such as
documentation of daily activities, travel and expense reports, etc. - all the things that sales people
ignore and do only when they are pressed.
You need to buy into the company mission and the message that management is expressing, no
matter how wrong you think it is. When you are promoted, you will have the ability to change how
things are done and how people are treated. You will probably not get promoted if your main focus
in meetings is how much things have to be changed. Those that are charged with making the
promotion decisions think they are doing a good job whether or not that is the reality. So if you are
constantly implying that things suck, you will probably not be their first choice
Most importantly, you need to be respected by your team mates. Not necessarily liked, but admired
and trusted as someone that they believe does a good job. This is why office politics and getting
promoted is related. If you have a lot of enemies and you are considered evil by many, this may
slow down your climb up the corporate ladder. Unless of course you are working for
a dysfunctional company, then you are in.
I know it seems unfair to refer to everyone that is not a sales professional as a hack. I have met
many people that are really good at their job that are not in sales. With this said, they still do not
appreciate or really understand what it takes to do a sales job. The only people that can relate to
sales people are those that have succeeded at sales. So that is why I call them hacks. If this book
was about how to survive the dangerous and hostile world of accounting this chapter would include
In the company they work for, sales professionals will sometimes have to interact with those that
serve roles other than sales. These non-sales professionals seem to have difficulty understanding
the point of view of the sales professional. We have discussed those reasons in the chapter entitled
"The Typical Sales Person”. In some cases there is even a palpable hostility shown towards those in
the sales department.
One of the reasons for this friction is that sales people will do whatever it takes to get the sale, or for
that matter to get their way. If this means dominating the art department for a whole day to get
their project done, what is the big deal? Sales people believe that the company has these resources
so that the sales department can get its job done. Sales people for the most part do not care if one of
their colleagues is in front of them in the queue for the other skills. They are competitors, and if
getting this deal helps the numbers, then it comes under the umbrella of my job is to get results.
This is always justifiable.
Since the sales professional’s job is to go out into the world and convince prospects to buy into the
reps vision, why shouldn’t they be able to do the same to those with whom they work? First of all
those that work for other departments do not report to the sales person. They have their own boss
to whom they are accountable. These bosses often have different agendas and priorities than those
held by the sales team. So the reason why a non-sales person may have a look of terror on his or her
face every time they are approached by a sales person, is because of the impending conflict between
what the salesperson’s request is and what their boss has asked them to do. Another factor - what a
sales person thinks is a reasonable request maybe impractical if not impossible.
This is not sales related but illustrates my point. I was on a road trip with several other sales people at
a hotel that used cards for the room keys. One of my buddies had the hardest time getting what was
then new technology to work, so he told the hotel manager just to put a key lock on his door. He
thought this was a reasonable request, even though the hotel had this new system which not only
monitored who went in and out of their room, but was tied into the reservation system. It had also cost
a ton of money to install. Despite the inability to do the request, my co-worker felt it was perfectly
reasonable to make his room have a key lock.
Many times sales people will make these types of demands without considering the consequences.
Sales people are very convincing by nature, and can get people to things that don’t have the results
the rep intended.
Accountants and those in the accounting department, often have to interact with sales people.
Mostly this concerns matters of the sales professional’s compensation and determining how much
to charge a customer. As far as the compensation, how many times does a sales person open his or
her pay check, and then walk into the accounting office and exclaim to everyone in the room, “This
is not right?” This happens a lot. The salesperson is usually angry, rude, accusatory and almost
always wrong. Any explanation given by someone in the accounting department is met with
unbelief and the always irrelevant, "I can’t live off this!”
Next is the matter of collecting the money for what is sold. Sales professionals can be very creative
when putting together an order. Paperwork is not the strength of a lot of those who sell. Many
times the client is surprised by the bill, and the accounting departments personal has the task of
dealing with them. So the accountant rightly feels annoyed that he has to clean up the mess created
by the sales department.
If the sales department travels or needs to be reimbursed for expenses, the accounting department
is often in charge of denying unreasonable expenses, and then having to listen to the explanation of
why the sales person needs to be paid, even though it is not company policy. From the point of view
of the accounting department, generally staffed with people who do not like conflict, it is the sales
department that causes them the most headaches. It is easy to see why they may devalue what the
sales department does accomplish. From the accountant’s point of view, accountants are
smarter, better educated, and trusted with more sensitive information. It really bothers them when
sales people make more money than they do. They give no credence to the fact that the salesperson
is taking on some of the risk in making sure the company is profitable. The fact that sales people
take a lot of rejection and are abused by the public, is not considered. So in other departments, the
sales department is often thought of only as a necessary evil
Higher level accounting hacks often are those that help set compensation for the company. Even
thought the sales team is often forging new relationships while maintaining the old ones that keep
the company afloat, these money people think the sales professionals are expendable. While they
actually are expendable, they are also costly to replace. Losing a sales person may also be costly in
the form of lost revenue from loyal clients that were with the company because they liked the sales
person. Accounting hacks will always say, “We can’t afford to pay the salespeople that much." What
they fail to realize, is that the sales professional will not put out the enormous amount of effort it
takes to sell, if he or she is not incentivized well. Big payouts only happen with big sales.
Sometimes the accounting hacks will misinterpret the compensation plan, or may manipulate it to
reduce the commission paid. This is always met head on and with lots of drama by the sales person
it effects. What is the definition of a sales person making too much? Usually it is when they make
more than the head of accounting.
If the sales professional is properly trained and implements the following tactics, much of this
hostility can be avoided. The following are good principals to follow because, after all, it is the
accounting department that writes the pay checks. First, open your pay check after you have left the
building, since nothing is going to be done about any errors at 5:50 on a Friday afternoon. If you
believe there is an error, do your research before you bring it to the attention of the accounting
department. Next, check it over with your direct report, and ask his or her advice. Be nice, put your
concerns in the form of politely phrased questions and listen to the explanations. Always stay on
top of your paper work and make sure you do it right. Remember that your work product will be
examined by many and your reputation will be affected by what they see. Do not have the mindset,
“That’s close enough, let them figure it out.” Take your time and make sure that you cause as little
extra work as you can. When communicating with those in the accounting department, you should
consider their mentality. They actually chose to do this kind of work. All these numbers have to add
up. They studied for years to be able to do this. Do not tell a lot of stories and exaggerate to make
your point. In general you have to be a black and white thinker to do this job. So be accurate with
your figures and realize when you are talking numbers that you have entered their world. They also
have seen what the reality of your job is, by seeing who you have sold to and the amount you have
made the company. Inflating your value to the bottom line will not be productive. To use a high
school stereotype - you were the one that was trying to cheat off their test.
Techies are even more analytical than accountant types. Their knowledge of their field can be quite
extensive. Many of them were the smartest person in their class, are highly educated or amazingly
self-taught. They have a tendency not to be a people person, so when they are approached by a
person who relies on persuasion skills and wants special favors, they resist. Sales professionals use
the excuse that they know nothing about technology, and therefore they should put no effort into
anything that has to do with technology. They constantly blame "the computer” for not working
right, when it is the sales person who is not working right. The highly trained often over-worked
tech specialist is treated more like a technology maid having to clean up the messes created by
salespeople. When a tech shows a salesperson how to do something, the sales person often doesn't
listen, merely figuring that the problem is solved. When the same problem occurs again, the
salesperson calls the tech claiming things are broken again, ignoring what they should have learned
the last time. “I don’t have time for this,” says the rep implying that, somehow, the tech does
Many Techies do not understand how smart they really are when it comes to math and deductive
reasoning. It baffles them that people who think of themselves as really smart and who sound
smart, cannot do the simplest thing when it comes to technology. Remember that sales people have
a tendency to be extroverts, which simply stated means that they process their thoughts outside of
their heads or they talk things out. Techies are the opposite. They process internally. So what seems
to be unresponsive behavior by the introvert is really their way of processing what the extrovert is
saying. This can create tension because the sales person often wants an answer so he or she can
move on. The Techie does not want to get caught up in an ill-conceived plan that will take time
away from their other duties. When this situation becomes untenable for the tech hack, he will not
likely confront the sales rep head on. He will feel out-matched in verbal skills, and will use
passive/aggressive tactics to defend himself. An example of this is not responding to phone calls or
This behavior usually infuriates the sales professional, who will then just turn up the pressure.
Eventually this will turn into a nightmare that management will have to get involved in. Having
management solve a problem is the same as the government; it will only get worse for both parties.
How then, as a sales person, should you interact with the techies in your company? The tactic of
buddying up to them and becoming their friend does not usually work. Being smart, they can figure
out that this ploy is only to get them to do things they do not want to. The answer is to do things on
their terms. Have your management team do as much of the interaction as possible. Don’t assume
that it is ok to make requests, without first finding out what the policy is - even if you see others
doing it. Always play by the rules.
Marketing hacks are the natural born enemies of the sales department. They think they are sales
people only sexier and with no accountability. As covered in the “Evolutions of Sales” chapter, being
in sales is not sexy - it is much classier to say you are in marketing. This is why recruiters and sales
people will often use the term “Marketing Rep,” when sales rep is really more accurate. If the sales
revenue increases significantly, these marketing hacks will be in front of the company brass with
amazing speed, trying to take all the credit from the sales team. If the sales figures are down, they
are the first ones to blame it all on the sales team. Since marketers have a tendency to be creative
they are really good at being vicious.
Sales and marketing departments always seem to be fighting for supremacy because they both
have the same goal - to increase sales. Marketing hacks believe that it is better to create an
atmosphere where prospects make inquires to the company regarding their products or the
public buys them retail in a retail environment. Sales people are order takers, or at best are those
that benefit from the genius of the sexy marketing hack.
Sales executives and those that report to them believe that marketing sets the table and sales
brings the food. Sales people are often asked to find their own prospects. What works better for the
sales professional is when prospects are supplied. The sales person can then use their time closing
the deal, instead of hunting for potential customers. This is where a “tail waging the dog”
scenario can develop. Once this process of lead creation is successful, it is natural for an ambitious
head of marketing to overreach and start to tell those in sales how to sell. They want more control
and more credit. Remember they are the architects and the sales people are just the dumb
construction guys hammering boards together. The problem is that sales takes a lot of creativity
and flexibility. No one can really predict how a prospect is going to act, or what it is going to take to
close the deal. Not even a sexy smart marketing hack. Remember these battles are over control and
budget dollars. Whenever someone uses the word “branding” you can kiss the budget for salesoriented marketing dollars good bye. The situation that works best for the sales professional is
when the company is sales driven instead of marketing driven. This means that the executive that is
in charge of both departments is the VP of Sales, therefore numbers, not marketing theory, will
drive the needed decisions.
So... you are in a meeting with a member of the marketing team. How should you act? Make sure
that the focus of your conversation is what you need from them. Number of leads, quality of leads
and the type of collateral material you require. Do not let them dictate the type of sales material you
should have. This is because, in many instances, the context of this material will be what makes
their boss feel good. Many times it will be created to feed the ego of upper management, and glorify
the PR genius. It will be virtually ineffective. Most importantly, keep them out of the sales process.
They do not know how to sell. You do! Gang up on them. This will happen naturally with a little
encouragement from you. Finally, keep the marketing hack focused on his mission - to make it
easier for you to sell, not to make his department look better.
HUMAN RESOURCE HACKS
The Human Resources Department always wants to have as much influence in hiring sales people
as possible. Sales managers usually want to control who works for them. Human resources would
like to have all applicants take an aptitude test. For a sales manager, having an applicant take a test
is a great idea, but they would prefer just to put the results in with the other info to evaluate and
help to determine who to hire. Tests work well as additional information, but whether a person is
theoretically going to be a good salesperson is only part of the equation, since sales managers run
their teams like sports franchise - certain players are better fits. This is something a test cannot
Human Resource folks are usually very enthusiastic about the company they work for. Even though
much of their job is clerical, they want to be part of the game. Unfortunately, sales people have a
tendency to need their help more than others because of the sales person's "fluid" life style. So
listen to the Human Resource hack - he or she just might give you good advice on the inner
workings of the company. Always remember though, that the only person that really matters is
Artist and production people need to be handled very carefully. Many of them would rather be
using their talent for things other than creating art for corporate America. This is just what they do
to make a living. They spent years doing art in an academic environment where their creativity was
praised. Now, all they hear is “So when is this going to be done?" Most creative people live in a
world of colors and design where pressure is not the focus. They also have a tendency to be the
most conflict averse department in any company. When they do go the extra mile to get someone
out of a jam, many times they go unappreciated or find out later that the need was overstated. Yes,
sales people have been known to exaggerate the importance of a project in order to control the
situation. The problem is, if you play by the rules while your comrades do not, your project will
always be in the back of the line. Therefore, the best strategy is always to support the structure in
place, and to advocate that everyone play by the rules, even the bosses. This is the best way to get
the edge you are looking for. When others say something is a high priority, remind them that their
poor planning is not the art department's emergency.
The main theme is that people have different agendas than you do. Everyone wants the company to
do well, but not everyone cares if you succeed individually. So be on the lookout for other people's
agendas; be positive, and remember that you are “backstage” and working, even if you are not in
front of your boss or a client.
14. SALES TRAINING VS SALES CULTS AND THE WEB
There are a lot of diet plans in the market place. They all promise the same thing, and each one of
them has success stories. Yet no diet works for everyone or even for a majority of people. One diet
will work for some while not for others. A diet will become trendy and then fade back into the pack.
The main reason is that all diets work on the same principal - eat differently, change your activity
level and you will lose weight. The reasoning and methodology vary, but diets all have the same
It is the same with sales training. Each sales trainer has his or her own way of organizing the
information and emphasizing what they use. The fact that sales training is similar is why it all
works. Your mind will only grasp what you think you need to succeed; if you do not expose yourself
to ideas you are eliminating the ability to be inspired. When something you hear resonates with
you, it is because you have already had that thought - you were just not applying it. So, no matter
what training you are taking or books you are reading, it should help.
When is the best time to go on a diet? It is when you are fat, not when you are in great
shape. Nobody in this industry will acknowledge the burden sales training puts on a stressed out
sales professional. Sales people have to deal with the pressure of the job, money and the stress that
is caused by not having a steady income. Training takes time and costs money, and should be done
only when it needs to be done. If you are slumping while others are thriving, you should look into a
training course that makes sense for you. If the sales numbers throughout your company are in
decline then it makes sense for the company you work for to sponsor a seminar or training for
everyone. If the higher ups are not willing to make the investment, it may be something you should
do on your own.
If you are the number one sales person, you should take a reasonable amount of time in gathering
information about your industry. Reading trade magazines and websites to improve your industry
knowledge is always important - more important than having some sales trainer speak
endlessly about theories that might or might not work. That is not the best use of your
time. Obviously if you want to listen to something in the car or do something on a continuous basis,
that is fine, as long as it does not take away from your sales time and does not create stress.
On the other hand, if what you are presently doing is not working, it is ok to take a day or two off to
go to a seminar or workshop and get your game on. The one question that everyone should ask
themselves is, “Am I working hard enough?” Are you disciplined enough, are you pushing yourself
every day to make that extra sales presentation or that extra cold call? Are you planning your day
and taking the time to figure out where that next sale is? If you are not doing these, try them for one
pay period before you go and put out a bunch of money for a training course on your credit card.
What kind of training should you choose or not choose? Sales training that is generic is only going
to be able to help so much. That is why it is free at www.worldsbestsalestrainer.com. If a company
or an industry really wants to train sales professionals, the teaching needs to be specific. That of
course costs money, since it takes time to create a curriculum that will do some good. Also, there is
a certain level of expertise needed to be credible. That is why much of this type of training is done
in-house. The problem with in-house training is that it is rife with non-sales agendas that are
stuffed in by non-sales professionals. Legal will want the sales people to play it real safe, so as not to
ruin the lawyer's tee time with some call from a client’s lawyer. Accounting will not want to extend
credit to clients, unless the client fills out a credit application that would take over an hour to do.
The manager who developed a new product will push it as the best product for the customer, before
it is has even been sold. Marketing may want to install new sales materials that focus on how great
the company is, just to kiss up to the company executives. Not one of these agendas is of interest to
the client or prospect. This is why when a two day in-house training seminar is announced,
everyone does not jump up from their desk and shout hurray.
There is also a psychologically-based issue relating to this - if a sales professional hears something
from a stranger, he is much more likely to believe it than if he heard it from his sales manager.
I have had this one client for several years, and have created and managed their sales team. One of
my salespeople, we will call her “Sunshine” went to a nationally known sales training course. She
could not understand why every time she suggested I go, I looked at her with contempt. Finally I
told her, "You know I am a sales trainer, right?" After the course, she came back to tell me all the
great ideas for getting more sales. After a few minutes, she realized that I had already told her to do
everything she had just learned in the course. Sunshine had paid several hundred dollars to learn
what we had already shown her. Because the people giving the course were not her bosses, she had
listened. Because I was her boss she didn’t believe me. That is why prior to giving sales training for
a company, I interview the sales managers and ask them what specifically they teach their sales
people. I then teach the same principals to reinforce what they have previously learned. The sales
people always nod in agreement but very rarely say, “Our boss told us the same thing.”
Another category of training is based on interpersonal communication - how with words and nonverbal cues or “body language,” you can help establish rapport, affect someone’s state of mind,
and influence outcomes. The first book on this subject of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Frogs into
Princes, was published in 1979, and was a little overwhelming for the average sales person. Later,
this information started showing up in easier to understand packages such as seminars, workshops,
audio sets and trainings. (Wikipedia)It was initially developed in the 1970’s in Santa Cruz,
California by Richard Bandler and linguist John Grinder. It was very popular at the time, because it
combined self-help with the ability to influence others. A lot of people jumped on the trend since it
was new technology, and did not resemble any of the standard sales training. Much of what Tony
Robbins did with his fire walks and books is said to be based on NLP.
This training is insightful and makes sense out of a lot of behavior that sales professionals see in
the course of their day. There is good information on establishing rapport and understanding
“states of mind” of those we communicate with. This study of NLP should not be discouraged, but
understand that it is not sales training and needs to be used with good sales practices - it
does not replace them. Top producers may not always be privy to NLP and it is not necessary to
be a successful and certified NLP technician (if there is such a thing) to be a great salesperson. This
training has a cultish feel to it - the theory can get almost mystical. This has been around for over 30
years and has not really ever been considered a main stream methodology for sales. It is like many
other thought processes, it has some good components but does not replace hard work and good
Much of sales training focuses on a winning attitude and being positive, a sort of “fake it till you
make it” attitude, which can be important to doing well. However, forcing this on a sales team often
has the opposite effect. This kind of training works best when it is voluntary. Good sales
managers should create an atmosphere where the team believes in itself. It is really quite ironic
when a management team is really hard on the sales people, and then brings in a “positive thinking”
speaker to pump them back up after they have been tearing them down. There are, however, a
couple of issues with the positive thinking model. The most obvious is when really bad things
happen. Walking around with a fake smile when you are in the middle of crisis, really does not help
the situation. Sometimes it is ok to be angry at things. The best way to be positive is when you are
selling well and making good money. Positive attitude is simply imitating the way you would feel
when things are going the way you want. Many managers use positive thinking to protect
themselves from being accountable for their own actions. “Why did you give my client to another
sales person right before I was going to close him?” asks the sales person. “Well, that is not having a
positive attitude!” says the jerk manager. This is more common than you would want to believe.
Another message included in many of these types of training, is how to overcome the fears that are
common to every sales job. The idea that everyone has these fears, and of teaching ways to triumph
over them, is very productive. This has been very effective in helping sales professionals thrive. As
for this attitude training, it is a personal choice; there may be times in your career when this makes
sense, while at other times, it is just a waste of time and money.
From a business prospective, sales training is somewhat limited in its appeal, because it only really
applies to the sales professional. The natural evolution is what is known as success training.
Everyone should listen to a tape series or read a book on success training, and that is about it. There
are plenty of examples of success for you to model in your own life. The only way to achieve success
is to succeed, so keep working hard and never give up. Oddly enough, this is not included in most
success training. Success is an outward activity. This means you will be rewarded by what you
achieve or create or sell. Contemplating ones navel will not get anyone to the private jet club.
Success training can become a club where you see the same faces year after year - which means that
it is not working. The most successful people are usually those that everyone is paying to teach
others how to be successful.
There seems to be a lot of self-glorification in this industry. The person becomes more important
than the message. The most important person is you, and those that are teaching only exist to help
you achieve what you want. So when the person becomes bigger than the message, you may want to
reconsider your involvement. If the focus is on you and your success, then it is considered training.
If you are asked to sacrifice for the movement or the group, then it is a cult.
The web has made finding sales training so much easier. It has opened the field to new generations
of solid sales trainers who take their role very seriously, and who have helped many others learn
how to sell. It wasn’t too long ago that there was only a handful that could make a living at
doing what they love. It was expensive - several hundreds of dollars for audio sets, workshops and
seminars. Now there are scores of online courses that you can start any time, and are much more
reasonable, including free video training on the 5 steps to the sales call at www.worldsbestsalestrainer.com. This would not have been possible just a few years
ago. Everyone has something to offer, whether the training is highly produced or just one guy in
front of a camcorder. This has been important to the sales community. For reasons expounded in
other chapters, the sales model has been taken over by marketing driven campaigns. But this
author thinks it will not go away, for when the economy slows down, as it always does, the sales
model becomes more popular. In hard times it takes a lot more effort to get a sale. Even though the
ultimate expense of a sales model is higher, the costs of opening a sales model are a lot less than
those of starting a marketing campaign, so the sales model enjoys a resurgence in a down economy.
It is also important to consider that many of those who interview ask about what training you
completed, because they know that those who put effort into their craft, are more likely to succeed.
15. SAVE YOUR MONEY AND HAVE AN EXIT STRATEGY
The title of this chapter says it all. Most sales people are in a very fluid situation. Markets change.
Businesses get sold. Bosses get fired. Unless you work for yourself, you never know what is going to
happen. There is also no guarantee that you will always make a certain amount. Instead of being
mired in debt like many in the sales community, it is important that you have a rainy day fund. It is
baffling how many sales professionals want to be on a 1099 as an independent contractor, and then
never pay their taxes. Every sales manager and PR manager has had the conversation with a new
sales person about how the IRS has contacted the company, and now a percentage of their pay
check will be garnished. It is always awkward. The tax man will always find you.
Brian Tracy, the famous lecturer and author who revolutionized sales training and success training,
talks volumes about how and why you should save your money. He suggests that you write
everything down, so you know how much you spend. The biggest reason sales people spend too
much is stress. Buying things and going places reduces stress temporarily, but will increase it in the
long run. Mr. Tracy also talks about the virtues of being frugal, like not buying a new car when you
can buy a perfectly good used car and save on the deprecation. He does a good job making the point
that you need to keep what you earn and that your employment situation can change at any time.
He is right, but the problem is that sales people do not get into debt just because they spend
too much. It is often because they don’t make enough to do the job. Being a sales professional is an
expensive job to have, especially if you are working a premises position. Some expenses are
covered by the company but many are not. It is like running a business with overhead - once your
sales go down even a little bit, the amount of spendable income drops drastically. This is really
dramatic if you are on straight commission. There are parking, lunches and dry cleaning bills and a
seemingly endless stream of other ways you can spend money when selling. It can be a little
unrealistic when people say not to use your credit card ever. The Sales Person will then think, “Well
I guess I will not be going to work today, or “I hope it's ok to wear jeans and a t-shirt because all my
work clothes are dirty and I have no money for cleaning.” Use the card, but use it wisely. There are
so many conflicting messages - you need to dress the part, it takes money to make money, and on
and on. It is very confusing, especially since there is always that big sale right around the corner
that will solve everything.
Being frugal is one thing, but being really cheap or overly tight sends a message to those to whom
you are selling which can be counterproductive or incongruous. If a salesperson is driving an old
car and wearing a cheap suit, he is telling his prospects that he either is not very successful in
selling the proposed product or service, or that, if the roles were reversed, he would not buy what
he is selling either. You can’t be a cheapskate, and then ask someone to buy a product or service
from you. Even if the product or service is meant to save money, to appear cheap seems as though
you only care about your own interests and not those of the client. The other extreme does not
work either. If you pull up in a $150,000 car sporting a $6000.00 suit, the average business owner
or buyer is going to be quite wary of doing business with you.
So how should you handle your money? The key is to make enough money to do the job. If you are
expected to look a certain way when you meet with or visit clients, make sure that your pay will
enable you to do this. Bosses and business owners sometimes look at their salespeople as an
expense, and not as an income source, so there is an effort to grind you down and pay you as little
as possible. It is really important that you have a minimum that you will work for. If it is not met,
start looking for another job. Make it very clear to your management that this is the minimum
amount you need to stay with this company. If they ask you, “Since you are not making your
minimum requirement, are you looking for another job?” tell them yes. You need to remember that
no matter how much you have invested in a company in time and effort, it is not a good idea to stay
if your needs are not being met. If it is not important for them to keep you, you probably don’t want
to work there anyway
Many sales positions require that you fill up your pipeline. There might also be a long sales cycle
that creates a delay from when you start, to when a reasonable amount of money comes in. Many
companies compensate for this, but many don’t. Be realistic if you take this kind of job. This is when
it is really easy to run up those credit cards. In this situation, figure out how much you think you
will be going into debt, and then double it. This will give a much more realistic idea of the hole you
are digging for yourself.
So what is the best way to handle your money? The first thing is to make a lot, but then be realistic.
Sales people need to keep up appearances, but only to a certain point. There is no reason to
pretend that you are a really rich person when you are not. But you will also miss out on a lot of
opportunities if you act like a poor person when you are not. Plan your money out the best you can,
and save something every week, unless you are in crisis mode. Remember, that you are in a very
fluid industry and things can change for the better or for the worse very quickly.
You also need an exit strategy, and should save up your money for it. The sales profession, for the
most part, is a young person’s game. The older you are, the more things change and the faster your
expertise can become obsolete. Also, sales is hard work, and there is a period in everyone’s life
when it is time not to be stressed out and pushing for the next sale. Have a dream - one that
includes some way out of sales - whether it is to go into another type of business or to retire or to
be promoted off the sales floor and into an executive position. Whatever it is and whether or not it
happens, you will most likely be leaving the job you have today, so have a plan.
www.gregmedia.com or www.worldsbestsalestrainer.com
SALES PROCESS CONSULTING: Are your sales lagging? Do you need a proven problem
solver to help streamline your sales department? Greg Hill has been in sales for over 30 years, and
through his company GregMedia, Inc. will provide any level of support that your company needs to
succeed. Here are some examples for what we have done for our clients:
Sales script creation and development
Market penetration and market share analysis
Training of in-house sales force
New product development and marketing
Online and conventional advertising consultation
SALES TRAINING: Most sales training is about product knowledge and sales techniques. Greg
Hill, with over 30 years of hardcore sales experience, is an expert on both. He also adds something
not seen in other sales training - an honest and logical assessment on how to survive in the sales
environment. This includes how to deal with management and with fellow sales associates, as well
as how a sales professional should manage their day. This training alone will make your sales team
more productive and easier to manage.
How about sales techniques? Greg will take the time to evaluate your product or service and will
come up with the right way to approach, present and close your customers. He will then train your
team with his fun and easy to learn style. He is an expert and will not waste your time with untested
sales theory that few people can understand and that no one under pressure to make a sales quota
would do anyway.
Greg uses the old school “5 steps to a sales call” method, to which he has added his own unique
twists. Even the savviest veteran on your sales team will be interested in listening to these new
spins on a traditional method. Greg will customize a training and consulting package to fit your
needs and budget. He will also train on any of the solutions his company has provided. “I teach
people about the job of Sales as well as teach on how to sell,” says Greg, who also runs the website
SALES COACHING: Our sales coaching will increase your sales numbers, can end a slump and
will get you excited about your job again. Having individual time to be personally coached will help
you realize that there is a way out of your current situation and that you can produce at your fullest
potential. Having observed sales for over 30 years, has shown me that there are not any new
problems. The answers are there - you just need some guidance to get them. There are no contracts
just an hourly rate. You use what you need and quit when you feel the time is right.
We cover everything from helping you structure your sales day, the sales process and handling
objections to closing the deal. Sales coaching works - you will see results. Call us today for a free
evaluation and let’s get started. Just call us at 877 820-4734 or come to www.worldsbestsalestrainer.com
WEBSITE SALES AND ORDERING SOLUTIONS: Why buy a website just because you like
the way it looks? How about a great looking site that does what you need to do to make you money?
GregMedia specializes in websites that can be used as an ordering system by your sales
professionals. Our websites have a powerful CRM which allow management and the sales
professional to be in complete control of all leads and accounts. Send out proposals, close sales and
collect funds all in the same place. Each sales professional can log in and check his or her proposals
and orders. We have been doing this for our clients for several years, and use the DotNetNuke™
content management system, which allows the users to update the content of their site with no
programming, saving you both money and time.
Let GregMedia be your complete sales department. You know your services and products; we know
how to increase your sales revenue. We do not use gimmicks or untested methods; instead our
team will structure your sales department to be efficient and successful. For a free evaluation call us
at 877 820-4734 or come to www.worldsbestsalestrainer.com.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Greg Hill took his first sales job in 1978. He has been involved in sales or sales management ever
since. He has held positions as an employee, a consultant, a sales manager, an independent
contractor, a small business owner, and the owner and president of his own consulting firm. He has
worked both on a national level and a local level, and has sold to consumers, local business owners,
national and multinational corporations. Besides being a salesperson himself, he has hired, trained,
motivated, and fired salespeople for thirty years. Greg has been on every level of the management
team from low-level management to Vice President of Sales. He knows salespeople and the world of
Greg’s resume includes being an account executive for Weider Enterprises’ Muscle & Fitness, Shape
and Flex magazines from 1982 – 1983. He was also the Western Sales Manager for FIT Magazine
Runner’s World and Strength Training for Beauty magazines from 1983 – 1984. In November of
1984, he founded The Gregory Hill Company. His clients and positions in their organizations
included being a Direct Response Consultant, Vice President of Win Management, a consultant for
Buy By Video (a Sub-division of TBC Corporation), and President of Palmer Associates, a magazine
rep firm created with Woman’s Sports & Fitness to sell advertising on the West Coast. From 1988 to
1994 he worked in the Yellow Page industry where he was the top representative for GTE
Corporation. From 1994 to 2000, Greg became the owner of a small business, Politically Incorrect
Tobacco & Gifts. After closing his shop, Greg then went to work as the National Sales Manager for
411Web until 2003. In 2003 he again went into business for himself by founding the corporation
and consulting firm GregMedia, Inc.
Today Greg is both a consultant and Vice President of Sales for his major client Planet Online. His
responsibilities include market penetration for all of Planet Online’s products. These products
include web hosting, website creation and development, Internet service provider, a cost
comparative search engine, and both VOIP and Competitive Local Exchange Carrier phone service.
He is also in charge of hiring and training of salespeople, acquisition and maintenance of key
accounts, advertising, and marketing strategies. As part of the senior staff at Planet Online, he has
been involved in or asked to consult on all the major decisions made by the company since 2006,
and has been part of the day-to-day decision making that is necessary to keep the company running.
Greg is also doing sales and marketing consulting for numerous other corporations. His team
analyzes the current sales effort, helps train the existing sales force, and suggests new marketing
strategies. He has assisted many organizations in reaching their true potential and sales goals.
16. WORKS CITED
Kazemi, B. (2009, March 24).
Retrieved March 24, 2009, from http://www.worldsbestsalestrainer.com:
Wikipedia, t. f. (n.d.). Wikipedia, Multi-level marketing. Retrieved August 04, 2009, from Wikipedia,
the free encyclopedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multi-level_marketing
Wikipedia, t. f. (n.d.). Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved 4 2009, August, from Wikipedia,
the free encyclopedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuro-linguistic_programming