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The Hardest Job in the World

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Years ago I attended a sales seminar that profoundly changed my view of salespeople. Prior to that I believed good salespeople were a mystery and quite a few were prima donnas. Did I mention they were a mystery? What I learned in that seminar completely changed my view of both the sales process and salespeople in general. I left with a new appreciation for the sales process and the professionals that master that process. Today, we’ll talk a bit on what it takes to be one of those professionals.


For us, it’s all about reading your prospects. Too many of us feel inferior to our Prospects and don’t believe in their heart that what you offer has just as much value as what the prospect’s business is worth. While people write entire books on various subsets of these subjects, let me talk about a couple of biggies:

The Report Card:

Keeping good metrics is an integral part of every salesperson’s life. These metrics vary by industry and type of sale, i.e. ongoing replacement sales, major project sale or even how you approach your prospects, for example, in person, on the phone or Internet marketing.

No report card means anything if not overlaid against either a goal or a standard. Management must set standards that achieve the goals required under the conditions that exist for individual salespeople. Goals are necessarily different for newbies vs. old timers, salaried vs. commission, territory, (mature or virgin) and to fit competitive situations among many variables. It is essential that goals be achievable and realistic. It is also essential that you achieve buy-in by the very salespeople you entrust with your success.

The top two metrics in any company ultimately boil down to conversion rates and projected profitability per sale. Both of these metrics are either completely or mostly influenced by the salesperson. Management focuses on profitability while salespeople frequently focus on the success of the deal. Make your salespeople partners in understanding that profitability is just as important (if not more so) than just bringing in deals. Make it financially rewarding to them if possible to do so. You can regiment the process until the cows come home but ultimately your sales pro is pivotal in this regard. Other metrics include obvious ones like numbers of contacts, deals pending, etc. But, your business is unique and track what makes sense for you without overburdening the salesperson with too many metrics that ultimately become hard to rank in importance. Never let process trump results.


We talked earlier about the importance of picking your prospects. That’s a multi-part process that includes several elements:

  • Prospects that meet the volume requirements of my company
  • Prospects that have a need in a reasonable time period or that otherwise constitute basic spade work for the future.
  • An entry point into a prospect’s company that leads to success. Talk to the right people. Know who the right people are.
  • What do I know about a prospect? Does the way they work, the way they pay and the attitude of people I can access make sense for me?
  • Can I rank my prospects in a meaningful way that focuses me on the most productive prospects first?

One person I spoke with called this measuring and ranking. Whatever you call it, make sure that you create a strategy that maximizes scarce time.

We can’t overestimate the importance of having a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system in place. It is our experience that a tremendous amount of business is lost by not following up with your prospects and customers on a regular basis driven by your CRM system. No one disputes the difficulty in making and keeping in contact with people today. Yet, that’s the way you are going to get that incremental business that moves you from the ranks of “good” salespeople to top of the class. A constant theme we talk about is keeping yourself “top-of-mind” with your prospect. It’s impossible to do so for a protracted period of time. You become a stalker instead of a salesperson. Pick your time to campaign individual prospects based on the good intelligence you’ve gleaned in the past and then go for it. I promise you that your competition is probably not working as hard as you!

Good Selling!

Allan J. Feifer

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Guest Wednesday, 23 January 2019


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