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.


What’s The Right Salary for You? Ask the Salary Happiness Calculator.

What’s The Right Salary for You? Ask the Salary Happiness Calculator.

You’re in sales and that means you’re money-motivated. You don’t shy away from challenges – you seek them out! After all, that’s where the big rewards are found! By rewards, I mean recognition, gifts, and most of all – money.
Given that you know yourself and what you want so well, I’m sure you wouldn’t hesitate to prove it by performing the following three-step excercise I call the Salary Happiness Calculator:

Step 1 – Beginning as early in your career as you like, add up your yearly salary up all the way up to today. Benefits? You can estimate their value or even leave them off if you like.
Step 2 – Ask yourself if you feel any lasting happiness as a result of all that money. Again, think about lasting happiness. You may remember how you felt the day you moved in your house or bought a nice car. I’m referring to how you feel today.
Step 3 – For Experienced Sales People: Are you surprised to see such a big number? Where did it all go? Kudos to you if you stashed a significant amount in savings. For most Americans, the lion’s share of the money in gone. Is it fair to say most of the things spent it on were intended to make you happy? Yet, they haven’t. Sure, you enjoyed them short period of time, but now you need more. In addition, your monthly bills have probably kept pace, limiting what jobs you can take in the future. Was it worth it? Consider letting go of your current lifestyle and pursuing something that you feel gives you a purpose.
Step 3 – For Newer Sales People: For you, this number may be no surprise. In fact, it may be an annoying reminder that you just aren’t where you want to be, yet. What may be a surprise is that even the older, more successful, sales people doing the same calculation aren’t any happier than you. Sure, they appear to be more confident. Inside, you’re both thinking the same thing: “If I could just make more…”. While you’re still young, consider replacing income goals with purpose goals. You will never have enough things or make enough money and you can find yourself feeling trapped by bills later on.

Should you be judged for wanting to have a comfortable lifestyle? Would being homeless make you happier? Of course not! The moral of the story: we blame our employers for not paying us more money while knowing, beyond basic comforts, the extra pay won’t make us any happier. We give our autonomy away by choosing the higher-paying, micro-managed sales job, over the interesting one.

But of course, none of this applies to you. A little more money is all you need. Feel free to lie to me, your friends, and even yourself. The number on your calculator tells the true story.


Ps. This post was inspired by the writings of Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus. They are authors of a book and documentary both entitled Minimalism. Learn more about the documentary by clicking on the following link:
Also, you can check out their website at theminimalists.com.

So You Want to be a Pharmaceutical Sales Rep? How Well Can You Prevaricate?

The pharmaceutical industry has taken much criticism, both just and unjust, over the years. You’ve seen the articles about dangerous side effects, insanely high prices, and bribery of doctors. These scandals make for good headlines. Fortunately for pharma sales reps, most of these issues are largely out of their control. Even the bribery, given current regulations, isn’t feasible any more to reps as a sales tool.

Many physicians don’t even accept rep-funded lunches anymore let let alone lavish trips or other freebies. No, the lie I speak of is internal to pharma companies. It doesn’t involve doctors or patients. Continue on and I will explain.

Not unlike other sales people, pharmaceutical reps are required to make records of their client visits using a customer relationship management (CRM) system. More unique to the industry is the practice of unscheduled visits to doctor’s offices. Medical professionals rarely schedule appointments in advance to talk to sales people other than lunches. Going back about 10-20 years ago, doctors used to allow reps to stop by during their office hours and allow them a conversation in between seeing patients.

Today, most offices either allow only rep access to the doctor at lunch time or prohibit it all together. Still, to this day, most pharma companies enforce strict requirements such as 10 physician calls per day.

Remember when I said this article was about lying? To make up the gap between “required” calls and actual face-to-face conversations, pharma sales often just put the required ten calls in their CRM system instead of the actual 1 or 2 (or none!). Often, because a rep may need to leave medication samples, they may need to wait in the office lobby while the doctor signs their computer screen.

Therefore, a REAL day in the life of a pharma rep consists of meeting with 1 or 2 physicians over lunch, visiting the waiting rooms of 8 or 9 others, and at the end of the day, recording all 10 visits as face-to-face calls.

Does all of this sound like lying? Of course it is! Right now, any non-salesperson reading this is asking, “What’s the big deal? All sales people lie don’t they?” Having been one for over 20 years working with hundreds others, I can say this is emphatically not true. Most of us do not lie – intentionally. So, what gives? Obviously, in this case, pharma reps know they are lying and are still doing it. Consider the following questions:

Who does this lie benefit?
The obvious benefit to the rep is staying employed. To this I ask, how many among us wouldn’t tell a white lie in order to keep their job? Is it believable that thousands of pharmaceutical sales managers accross the country are ignorant to the fact that doctors don’t see reps? More on this later.

In the absence of proof, I speculate that the management of pharma companies use this data for some reason other than evaluating sales people. One possibility is that the call data it is recorded in order to impress current and potential investors. Another is using call volume data to promote the sales force itself, as a partnering tool. In this scenario, I convince you that my sales force is so skilled and diligent (“Just look at how many sales calls they make!”) that you want to hire them to sell your products as well. A third possibility is that the FDA requires the reporting of sales call volume. I see no reason for any of these possilbilites to be mutually exclusive so any combination of them could exist.

Who does this lie hurt?
The quick answer would be anyone who relies on the information. If sales managers could truly claim ignorance they’d be a good candidate. But let’s be real. It’s never good to lie to investors or business partners. And, it’s REALLY never good to lie to the government! Still, I assert these are not the only possible victims of this lie. Most people want to feel proud of what they do for a living. Sales people are no different. Being forced to lie to keep your job is demoralizing and debilitating, especially over the long term. Consider the commonly used polygraph or lie detector test. It works by detecting the physical stress created when someone tells a lie. Stress, of course, has been proven over and over again to produce negative health consequences.

Who is really doing the lying?
Obviously the sales reps are doing the lying. Or, are they? It would be hard for any pharmaceutical sales manager to claim total ignorance. After all, they are going into offices with sale reps and getting the door slammed in their faces as well. It’s very hard to believe that knowledge of this reality doesn’t go far up the chain of command either. Repeatedly, I have seen fearful reluctance, on the part of reps, to bring this issue into the light for fear of repercussions. I assert, when you force someone to lie in order to keep their job, you yourself become the liar. Therefore, management, or whomever benefits from the lies are the true beneficiaries.

What can be done about this?
It’s about legitimacy and fear. If pharma sales people aren’t seeing all the doctors, are they really making all the sales? Doesn’t it then make sense to employ less reps who only visit doctors who allow them access? Finally, if less reps are needed, aren’t less managers needed as well? Selling to a doctor requires no less skill and effort than any other customer, but can we agree sitting in lobbies is not selling?

Nobody wants their job eliminated because we all want to pay the bills and feel fulfilled at the same time. Maybe the solution starts with us, the sales reps. When interviewing for a pharma sales job, ask specific questions about physician access and call requirements. Make the interviewer compare how many doctors you’ll need to see with how many are accessible. Perhaps if we all spend less time worrying about paying bills we gain a little more fulfillment in return!


For more info, check out this interesting article on the toll lying takes on all of us:
What Lying Does to Your Brain and Body Every Day

Don’t Take Another Breath Without READING THIS NOW!

The sky is falling! Just ask your favorite business blogger! Out of work? Need a better job? Here’s five things you MUST do before your next job interview. Not selling enough? Here’s the six things you SHOULD be saying to all of your customers. If you find yourself irritated with with the flood of fear-engendering advice on social media, you’re not alone. As you read this, another list of the 5 things you MUST do is waiting for you in one of your accounts. Go ahead, read it, and come back. I’ll wait…

Back so soon? The article didn’t change your life? Below, I’ve shared my pet peeves with the melodrama of the blog posts I call “must lists”. They would have us reading all day if they could. After all, the danger of not taking their advice is just too great! Rest assured, you will not lose a good job or a big sale if you choose not to read my concerns below. You may, however, relate to some of the absurdity I discuss. I welcome your comments at the end of this post.

When reading sensational, must-list posts, first consider the source.
I admit, articles with titles like, “The 5 Keys to Winning Your Dream Sales Job” seduced me for years. Often, they are written by job recruiters turned career experts. Heck, I still read them today for entertainment purposes!. While masquerading as experts with close ties to employers, most recruiters do what you already do – send resumes and hope for a response.

When you gain experience selling in a field, you quickly advance beyond the shallow level of industry knowledge the typical sales recruiter possesses. Their goal is to send as many qualified candidates as they can to raise the likelihood of earning a placement fee. Their advice tends to be very specific and certain, yet unproven. Never talk salary. Always close for the next interview. Emphasize your experience in blank. None of this ever guarantees success. If they really were interviewing experts, wouldn’t they be working a better job?

Authors use titles with words like “must” and “should” to scare you into reading their blog posts.
On the surface, using these two words seems just part of living in the real world. It’s reasonable to think that you MUST sell product to stay employed. Ask a therapist, and you will be told beliefs using these words are irrational.

Underneath your “must sell” belief is a deeper, “must keep my job” belief. This tells you that losing your job makes you a bad person. Using ‘must’ and ‘should’ when giving advice is an easy way to appear authoritative without having any real responsibility. Nothing happens to me, the author, if my advice turns out to be useless. Even worse, I’ve now encouraged you to incorporate a ‘must’ or ‘should’ into your belief system. In reality, there are no must-Do’s or Don’ts, only choices. If you’d like to delve further into freeing yourself from the musts and shoulds in your life, read “How To Stubbornly Refuse to Make Yourself Miserable About Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT).

Blog posts titles often want you to compare yourself to others and feel inferior in an effort to get you to get your attention.
The nine habits of top performing sales people imply that whatever you’re doing, it’s not good enough. Somewhere in the list provided are surely one or more habits you neglect. Shame on you! Ask yourself, does this feeling of inferiority actually help you? Worse yet, does following these habits guarantee success? No two customers, products, or industries are alike. Why would there ever be a universal list of keys to success that applied to all of us? Before you can seriously question this, a new must list appears in your Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter feed.

Bloggers (including your’s truly) can oversimplify complex problems.
Sometimes, the dilemmas we face simply need more time and consideration It’s like handing a widow a blog post entitled, “Six Quick and Easy Ways to Handle the Loss of a Loved One”, while she’s leaving the funeral. As blog writers, we want to gain your attention with quick, easy-to read articles that keep you coming back to our site. There’s no way to give you the same level of stunning and relevant insight in five minutes of reading versus an hour or longer. I reference books that dive a level deeper whenever possible not only to give proper credit, but also to provide a true return on the time spent.

The advice your given conflicts with other advice, even from the same blog.
Dress formally. Dress casual. Be aggressive. Be patient. Start a conversation with small talk. Never start a conversation with small talk. On and on it goes. Absorbing it all can be mind-numbing. As as misguided follower of must lists, you will easily find that whatever choice you make is wrong and worse, you should have known better. Inaction is often our response. Instead of feeling inspired, you’re left with a little less time in your day and a little more guilt.
Does chasing must lists sound like fun? Instead, here’s four things you can do to feel more fulfilled (just kidding!). As mentioned, I still read these kind of posts. No blogger or business writer wants to give bad advice and not all of their advice is bad. It’s often the packaging of their ideas that undermines them. And yes, most recruiters mean well too. I have friends who swear by them (instead of ‘at’ them like I do!). Just take what all bloggers say with a grain of salt. Look at all must posts with a healthy dose of skepticism. Finally, If faced with a serious problem, consider committing time to reading a book or speaking to an expert you trust and respect.



To find Dr. Ellis’ book on Amazon, click here.

4 Reasons To Treat Your Sales Force Like Management

How Does Your Company Treat It’s Salesforce? To Your Customer, It Means A Lot!

Company A employs a herd of undisciplined, self-entitled, complainers who call themselves sales people. It’s a continual struggle to teach and motivate them. Thankfully, a handful of good ones do what they’re told and manage to carry the rest of the group.

Company B leverages the knowledge, experience, and relationships of it’s sales people. They employee less sales people than Company A simply because their people are more fully engaged. The entire organization understands that, without customers, there are no sales and, without sales people, there are no customers.

As a sales person, which company do YOU want to work for? Today you can find everything from Facebook memes to college textbooks extolling the virtues of gratefulness and having a positive attitude – especially for sales people.

Shouldn’t these concepts also apply to a company’s attitude toward it’s own sales people? Instead, they are continually measured, questioned, and right-sized.

Here are four reasons companies should treat sales people like experts first and allow them to prove their worth second:

Reason 1: Sales people are the face of your company.

To your customers, your sales people ARE your company. They represent both the good and the bad of what your product or service delivers. If that crucial representative lacks the ability to serve the customer, the entire company suffers.

Reason 2: Customers are more inclined to trust people they know.

A sales rep that has proven her value will gain much more insight than any focus group facilitator. Why? Being paid to take part in surveys or focus groups skews the answers of participants. A well-trained, empowered, sales person can ask the right questions when the customer’s guard is down and get better information in return. Customers are often more willing to share their thoughts positive and negative about what the company offers.

Reason 3: Sales people are better able to gain competitive information.

In most of the companies I’ve worked for, Marketing and Sales Management are the last people to find out about what the competition is doing. Why? It’s the sales people who are in customer offices, seeing competitive literature, getting customer feedback on competitors, and even reading their proposals.

Reason 4: Customers buy from sales people.

Did I mention they are the face of the company? In today’s marketplace, customers lack the patience for vendor titles or org charts. Regardless if you are a service rep or CEO, customers want to know the same thing – what you can do for them. They are more likely to give their business to an entry level rep that can answer their questions quickly and throughly than waiting days for someone more important to come in from headquarters. “This person who deals with you on a regular basis has no valuable information or power to help you,” is not the message you want to send to your customers.

If you’re company was a world class athlete, your sales people would be the lungs. Revenue would be the oxygen the lungs take in. Does this make sense or even seem obvious? Instead of celebrating the people who bring life to our companies, we scorn them. We say they’re overpaid. They’re spoiled. They’re demanding. Finding and dealing with customers is never easy. Every sale is a customer choice – not a sales person’s. Taking the sales force for granted is taking the customer for granted. There is no greater example of entitlement than that.

The Solution
Support your sales people. Give them the information the customer needs and the power to get things done. Ask their opinion and listen. Respect what your sales people say about customer feedback instead of dismissing it as negativity. Turn your sales management function into sales enablement. Really, make the change. Make it abundantly clear to EVERYONE in your organization that customers, who fund their paychecks, need sales people!



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