Don’t Settle for Being Part of the 80%

Be part of the 20%
Why did you go into Sales?

I am fascinated by what people think sales is about.

  • Easy Money?
  • Easy Work? (Just play golf all day)
  • You were told you were a natural because you talk a lot
  • You can’t find a job so you go into sales
  • You take a job selling until a good job comes along

Easy Money?

It’s easy money. That’s what a lot of people think selling is. How many times have you talked to someone and that thinks that all salespeople do is drive around all day? If that were only true.

Selling is hard work. Prospecting, making phone calls, making appointments, having meetings, being told “we’re not interested”, building proposals, and more. A salesperson spends their day working to get in front of good prospects. Then they spend their evenings putting together proposals they hope will be excepted. Many days go from daylight to well past dark.

Easy Work?

Just talk and play golf. That’s all a salesperson does all day. Nothing to it. If only that were true.

Selling is hard work. Not only are the days long, but the cost to the salesperson can be large. All the selling jobs I’ve had required me to furnish my own car, my own phone, pay motel bills, gas, etc. If you drive 4000 miles per month, the expenses can add up fast. Sure, the expenses can be deducted from your taxes but you have to pay the money upfront. Thousands are spent only to wait a year to file your taxes.

You talk a lot. You’re a natural

Many people think that selling is just talking a lot. Lots of conversations get around to someone saying, “You know, Johnny would make a good salesman. He sure can talk a lot.” If only that were true

Selling is hard work. Selling is more about active listening, not talking. Listening is hard because listening requires paying attention and paying attention requires engagement, and engagement requires a desire to help, and a desire to help requires loving your work.

Yes, there are some “smooth-talking” salespeople but I found them to be short-lived in sales. It’s hard to have repeat customers if they feel short-changes or even cheated.

I’m looking for a position

Positions are few and far between and are hard to find. Especially ones that pay six or seven figures for little work. So you go into sales. It’s easy and with little work, you can make a killing. If only that were true.

Selling is hard work. I can’t count the number of people I’ve interviewed for sales jobs who couldn’t find a job in their degree of Underwater Basket Weaving, so they think to themselves, “I’ll go into sales because that is the only choice open to me.” My advise. Go back to school.

I’ll take a sales job until a good offer comes in

Very few have stumbled into sales and excelled in the profession.

Selling is hard work. And yes, sales is a profession and a good one at that. I’m proud to have been in sales most of my adult life. I met a lot of great people, served many wonderful customers that became friends, and was able to advance in the field many times.

If you go into sales looking for an out… well, let’s just say you might hold off on that. It is difficult to find success as a salesperson if your heart isn’t fully vested in the profession. It can be a wonderful career, so enjoy it.

Be a Part of the 20%

In selling, there is a definite division of the 80-20 rule. 80% of the sales are done by 20% of the people and the remaining 20% is provided by 80% of the salespeople. If you desire to be a salesperson, strive to be part of the 20% that produces the majority of a business’s sales.

I know there are other reasons people go into sales and the answer I have is the same. Selling is hard work but is very rewarding. If you go into it as a serious profession, you will enjoy life and find fulfillment.

The 80-20 rule

First Day of Sales?

first day of sales

My first days in sales were a mess and I did not achieve quick success but persisted in my pursuit. What could help me achieve success quicker? I wasn’t sure of the answer but knew it was available because of seeing other’s success. I was fresh, raw, and untrained.

On my first day on the job, the Sales Manager said, “Here’s your catalog, there’s your territory. Now go forth and sell.” That was the complete sales training program in a nutshell. I was lost and it took me several weeks to make the first sale. A kind woman took pity on me and bought one case of toilet paper. I thought to myself, “This is not working.”

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How Serious is Your Sales Training?

Corporate Sales Training

Can we all agree that sales is a profession? If you believe it is a hobby or part-time job, you can quit reading now because this is for professionals only.

I’ve been thinking and writing about sales training a lot lately. Two particular articles, Are you the person responsible for sales training, and How necessary is sales training to your corporate success, reflect some of my philosophy.

I know that training is essential to a company’s success, yet I see salespeople struggling to succeed. Why is this? I can only work from my own experience, and with only one exception, it was not a positive one.

I understand the cost factor in extensive training, but I also know it pays off in the long run. Well-trained salespeople tend to stay longer on the job and make more sales at better margins. That is a win/win to me.

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If the Customer is Bored, It’s Your Fault

The sales rep I was working with that day had started his PowerPoint presentation, plowing through the thirty-five slides with maniacal fervor.
I was watching the customer; she was beginning to roll her eyes. She looked at me as if to plead for relief. I bumped the sales rep’s foot to get his attention, but his focus was intense.
Then I reached into the sales rep’s computer bag and brought out a sales agreement. That finally diverted his attention from the computer screen.

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Are you the person responsible for sales training?

Are you responsible

When I started in outside sales, the Sales Manager handed me a 3-ring binder and walked over to a map on the wall. He raised his arm and, with an extended finger, pointed at the map, drawing a lazy circle around an area an hour from the office. He said, “We don’t have customers in this area, so you can call on anybody you like.” It was virgin territory with no list of customers or prospects. That was my training!

Time Passes

Decades later, I became the manager of a wholesale/retail business. In the beginning, I watched the operations to see how things ran. Quickly, I began to notice inefficiencies. 

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Are Great Questions a Skill You Want?

Red letters with Questions with a blue question mark

“After every difficulty, ask yourself two questions: “What did I do right?” and “What would I do differently?” -Brian Tracy

Asking the wrong question over and over again will never result in a good answer. Over the years, I have witnessed ill-prepared salespeople ask the wrong question, ask a bad question, and get frustrated when the prospect shuts them down.

The Importance of Questions

Well thought out questions are a salesperson’s best friend. They help uncover problems the prospect is experiencing. It can help them discover ‘who.’

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How Important is Sales Training to Your Company’s Success?

picture blocks spelling sales training

” I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”

Muhammad Ali

Do salespeople need training?

Every new sales job I’ve started required some type of training. Whether it was for a new CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software or product knowledge, training is an essential part of onboarding a new hire. So why do companies fear training new sales reps?

Consider other professions


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Is Persistence the Key to Success

“Patience, persistence, and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.” – Napoleon Hill

Persistence is touted as one of the most desired traits for a salesperson. Do you believe it is true? Even Napoleon Hill said it was unbeatable for success.

That got me to thinking about the word persistence. What does it actually mean?

The definition of persistence shows the following:

persistence (noun)
firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or >opposition.

This is straight from an online dictionary. I’m not sure I like the word obstinate. Does persistence have to be obstinate?

obstinate (adjective)
stubbornly refusing to change one’s opinion or chosen course of action, >despite attempts to persuade one to do so.

I don’t believe obstinate is a desired trait in a successful salesperson. This definition conjures up images of badgering, manipulating, and pushy salesman in my mind.

I like the word “firm” in the definition. When I see that word, I think about someone not giving up too soon. Not backing away needlessly. Having the ability to back up your case and truthfully answer their objections.

What are your thoughts? Maybe I’m off track here. Let me know.