4 Reasons to Love Selling (And Why They’re Making You Less Effective)

Do you like your sales job for the wrong reasons?

“Pride cometh before a fall” – Biblical Proverb

Many of the stereotypes of salespeople are unfair. Not all of us are the money-hungry, hyper-competitive, egotists portrayed in movies like Boiler Room. Still, some grains of truth can be found in the way we act when times are good. Consider the following reasons why, as a salesperson, you might love your job:

You love the money and all it brings
The fit of a new suit. The sparkle of a new stone. The smell of a new car. Who doesn’t savor these things?

You enjoy the respect you receive from mangement and co-workers.
You just finshed a great sales year. Your name mentioned multiple times at the sales meeting. Co-workers are asking for your secrets. Life is good!

Your customers love you!
Obviously they do. They buy from you, don’t they? Being liked is much better than the alternative. No doubt, a salesperson can make the difference when choosing between two similar products.

You play to win. And, more often than not, you do.
You’ve never shied away from a fight. You take pride in how focused you are on achieving your goals. Other salespeople aren’t as effective because they’re less confident or they get distracted with customer concerns.

“Yes? So what’s the problem?”, might be the response of a typical salesman at this point. Read on, if you dare, and see how your love for sales may betray you.

Big Money, Bigger Problems
The joy of spending money is in all things new. Alas, like the sales contest you won last month, all things new become old. After a long day of enticing customers with new things, we often, ourselves fall victim to them. Sometimes we make them the very purpose of our work.

Do we expect physicians to work soley for the money? Of course not. They take an oath to put a patient’s welfare before themselves. Teachers consistently say they teach for the joy of teaching. Yes, there are others, perhaps a vast majority of people, for whom work is strictly a means to a paycheck. Sales is different. Salespeople are enticed with wealth.

“Glittering prizes and endless compromises, Shatter the illusion of integrity.”Neil Peart

In the place of taking serious oaths, salespeople jump and cheer at sales meetings for the new goodies that define next year’s success. Houses have house payments. Expensive jewelry needs to be insured. Luxury cars have luxury repair bills. As years tick by, a salesperson’s “success” accumulates until she wakes up to working for a company she hates, just to pay the bills.

The price of fame
One month after finishing on top of the salesforce you receive the new year’s sales goal. You now have to sell 30% more than you did last year! Within a span of weeks, the intense effort you put in last year becomes “not enough”. Following traditional (and de-motivating) sales management logic, you can never be allowed to feel too confident. Why? Because confident salespeople are lazy! Salespeople respond by working harder to regain that original feeling of confidence. There is another group of people who live in constant pursuit of an original good feeling. They’re called drug addicts.

When you work for the respect of your co-workers you give up something much more important. Respect for yourself.

Your customer is cheating on you
The result of basking in too much customer praise is, however, blindness. We get so wrapped up in being charming that we fail to realize our customers have jobs to do and lives of their own. Salespeople who believe they are loved are often not listening to their customers. Take away the product they sell and away goes the romance. Relationships are important. Still more important is the problem you solve for your customer. That’s why you’re getting their time and attention. If you’ve done your job correctly, your customer is in love with your product, not you.

Playing to an empty stadium
However effective in short-term scenarios, theres a problem with focusing on competition in sales. Customers don’t care. When buying a car, do you want to work with the Salesman of the Year to wait on you or someone who needs your business? Customers like what you and your company do to help them solve problems. The more difficult their problems, the more creativity is required. When we’re in competition mode, our brains can only focus on a few things. To customers, this makes you appear single-minded. This isn’t helpful when an innovative solution is required.

Should salespeople fear success instead?
No. Don’t fear success. Fear the all-consuming need for success. It’s easy to love something when it gives you immediate rewards. A new car never looks (or smells) better than the day you drive it off the lot. Romantic relationships feel great when we haven’t been with the other person long enough to have a disagreement. Being a salesperson feels great when you’re on top. What matters is this, do you have a reason to go to work when times aren’t good? Don’t let what feels good now set you up for disappointment in the future.


Four Reasons to Hate Sales (And Why They Make You Ideal for the Job)

Let’s start with an introduction. Person who hates sales and swears never to become a salesperson, meet salesperson who is frustrated and unhappy with her job. You have a lot in common!
Surprised? Take a look at the following reasons to hate selling and see if you agree. Then, consider how that belief (even if ill-conceived) makes you a better potential salesperson.

The job of a sales person, at its core, is to lie or exaggerate.

Toilet paper. However boring or unpleasant, can we all agree it’s a product that effectively fills a need? Successful salespeople find customers with needs they can fill. At times, ambition and greed drive salespeople and their companies to push use of their products on customers who don’t need them. So yes, some salespeople do lie or exaggerate.

Luckily, not all companies are that desperate. Greed, on a personal or corporate level, is a choice. Customers buy from people whom they trust and who go out of their way to be ethical.

Feeling the constant rejection of a sales job would be devastating.

We humans are naturally focused on ourselves. We evaluate products based on our own benefit first. Salespeople start their careers with the same self-centeredness. They think their job is to be liked. In reality, customers tend to reject products or selling situations*, not salespeople (unless they’re rude).

Turning our focus away from ourselves and onto the customer helps us see what rejection actually is: information about a customer’s opinion, not a personal judgement. Rest assured, it’s good to be want to be liked. You’d be a jerk if you never cared what others think of you. Just try not to take every part of your job personally.

The pressure of a quota is too much to bear.

Ok, this concern can be legitimate. Not every sales job is created equal. Some employers treat their salespeople like stocks. They buy them low and dump them quickly on bad news. Still, other companies take the time to train and support their salespeople.

Finding a sales job, in today’s market, without a performance target is difficult. Keep in mind, you probably don’t fear the outcome of falling short. You fear what it says about you. Does failing make you a failure? That’s your choice to make.

Anyone in, or considering a career in sales should weigh the level of support offered by a sales position compared to it’s performance expectations.

Customers are often ignorant and never happy. Why try to please them?

Some of us go to great lengths to avoid the people who actually create the need for our work. Customers. Ignore them long enough, and you risk mistaking knowledge of your own business for knowledge of your customer’s. Take the time to listen to customer complaints and you will learn valuable information about how to improve your product offering.

Therefore, it’s more than OK if you don’t want to be that lying, self-absorbed, and stressed salesperson. The profession has hit it’s quota of those people! Instead, Sales needs people who not only want to work hard, but also are sincere and want to help others. Sales needs YOU!


*A selling situation is anything referring to the circumstances surrounding the sales interraction. Some common selling situation mistakes are visiting a customer at the wrong time or day, attempting to sell to someone who is not a decision maker, or approaching a decision maker when they are negative state of mind. The customer rejects the situation, not the salesperson or even the product.

4 Ways Salespeople are Trained Like Puppies

Here’s a fun quiz! Below are three pieces of training advice. Read each and decide if it came from either: a popular book on training sales people, or a popular book on training puppies.

1. Invest a lot of time in the first 3 months to help your (sales rep/puppy) establish good habits.
2. Remain consistent when training your (sales rep/puppy).
3. Don’t reprimand your (sales rep/puppy) for mistakes made. Instead, quietly direct them to the proper behavior.
So, which advice is for puppies and which is for sales people? Answer: all three are for puppies!

Surprising? Not if you’re a salesperson. If you are, you’ve dealt with a mixture of treats and belt-lashings over the years. Here are 4 reasons to believe the training of sales people hasn’t progressed beyond that of puppies:

1. Like puppies, salespeople, regardless of experience, are often treated as if they know nothing. Years of selling experience can be negated by a simple change of industry. Hiring managers and trainers alike have little patience for learning the intracacies of selling anything other than their own product. Surely that information is irrelevant!

2. Because they all equally know nothing, salespeople and puppies are both given very rigid direction. Despite the recommendations popular management books like, “Leadership and The One Minute Manager“, sales training continues to use a one-size fits all approach. The problem is not that older reps can’t learn new tricks. It’s that they’re less likely to encounter anything that’s truly new to them.

3. When it comes to training, salespeople and puppies are given about an equal level of respect. Yes, humans are permitted to ask many more questions than dogs. But, no sales rep is permitted, realistically, to alter his own onboarding or training process before it’s done. Please don’t question me on this point until you’re done reading this article! (Get it?)

4. After initial training, salespeople face more negative consequences than dogs. Sure, no one is dropping their underperforming reps off at the pound. That would be expensive! Thankfully, the old tradition of negative reprimands are gone – if you’re a dog. Salespeople continue to face the pressure of quota attainment, despite the challenges of specific territories or customers. And, thanks to forced rankings, salespeople are compelled to sniff their own pile of mistakes on a regular basis.

So, what’s a lowly salesperson to do? The best response to being treated like an animal is to act like an intelligent human being. Your manager and trainer don’t want to see you fail. They may have perfect intentions, but no clue how to help you.

If possible, determine for yourself, what knowledge you need to be successful. If you’re not sure what that is, ask. Check first with other reps, then your manager, then you’re training staff. It’s important to talk to someone in the trenches first to learn how business is actually gets done. Only then should you move up the chain to learn the way things “should” work. Most importantly, you can reconcile the corporate and field points of view by asking informed questions in your training class.

Don’t be afraid to bark the loudest! When you get to the field, your leash may be long but your learning time will be limited.


Ps: The book I borrow from is, “A Member of the Family: The Ultimate Guide to Living With a Happy and Healthy Dog“, by Cesar Millan.

Salespeople: Don’t Hope for Luck, Look for Leverage

Coins clinking out of a slot machine. The crowd cheering the winner of a marathon. A Sales VP announcing this year’s #1 salesperson. What do they all have in common? Chances are, they’re the sound of good news for someone other than you. Oh well, better luck next time!

We all know we shouldn’t be jealous of winners. Some people just have the luck! When WE win, we remember all the hard work and persistence involved. Some salespeople are bold enough to claim they make their own luck. And the debate rages on. High performing salespeople dismiss the influence of luck while others blame it. In reality, both sides miss the point. Random chance does exist. But, predicting or measuring it’s role in sales is pointless. Now is the time to move beyond the luck debate.

Instead of ignoring or blaming luck, seek to clarify it. What we often label as luck is often really something else. Leverage.

The key is to understand what luck (presented as leverage) we have and act accordingly. The umbrella salesman in a rain storm has leverage. The snow plow driver in Phoenix has none, unless there’s a freak snowstorm. Any time your customer is forced to solve a problem you have leverage. Using the pricing of an existing product, with a current customer, to win the sale of new one? Leverage. Convince a customer to buy now to avoid next month’s price increase? Leverage.

“We’ll get back to you.”, is a phrase that experienced sales people learn to translate to mean “NO” or “Not right now.” Otherwise, days waiting for their decision can stretch out into months. In non-leveraged selling, your greatest enemy is the do nothing scenario. You’ve just spent hours of your time preparing for and conducting meetings with your prospect The result? You’ve delivered a free and comprehensive summary of how to solve a business problem. A problem that can wait.

What do I do when I don’t have leverage?

You have two choices: create it or look for it. Proponents of the Challenger Mindset will tell you your role is to create leverage. Go out and find a reason for your customer to act.

Shock them. Scare them. Do something to shake your customer out of complacency. When done well, the customer thanks you at the end of the sale for helping them avoid disaster. When executed poorly, you look like yet another pushy salesman using fear to make a buck.

The easier option is to look for leverage. Know your product and potential customer so well that you can find prospects with problems you can solve. This learning process involves talking to current customers and even sales people. Get to know your product and industry a level deeper. Learn the signs and symptoms of a customer in pain and look for them.

As for luck? If your job or territory came with obvious leverage, congratulations! You’ve won the sales lottery. The rest of us have to work to find it. Yes, top performers are sometimes just plain lucky. But, let’s be clear about what they’re lucky for. Having the leverage. That’s luck. Recognizing and using the leverage they possess, that’s where the skill and hard work make the difference.

One final note on leverage. Don’t overplay it. When circumstances force a customer to act, don’t be the salesperson waiting to exploit their needs. No leverage exists forever. New competitors. New technology. Something will come along to take it away from you. Your customers will remember how you treated them.

In short, don’t ask whether or not you are lucky. Instead, look for the leverage waiting within your own territory. As they say in poker, “Play the hand you’re dealt!”



Ps. No. The universe is not required to hand out leverage equally, to all salespeople. Do the best to find and use what leverage you have. It could be that you need to work harder than another sales person in order to achieve the same results. Sorry. Therefore, never turn a blind eye to leverage in other sales positions. Use it as a key way to evaluate new sales positions. You won’t regret it!