What It Feels Like to Be a Sales Manager

by Jacques Werth

On most days there are times when you feel terrified.  One of those times is when you are scheduled to have a closed meeting with your boss.  You even dread the possibility of accidentally meeting him in a hallway.  Another is when you read things like “ERS Research says the average tenure of sales manages is now less than two years.”  You also feel terrified when you realize that you are trying to do too much and very little is actually working.

You feel frustrated because your job is to have your sales force increase sales well over quota and it is not happening.  Too few of your district managers and salespeople seem willing to be led by you.  More frustration is created when you learn that your best salespeople are not using the new CRM system, which you bought at great expense.  You can’t make them use it, because if you do they might quit and go to work for a competitor.  Even worse, their defiance may spread to the rest of the sales force and threaten your effectiveness.

You question your own competence because a higher percentage of good salespeople are leaving the company than last year.  Furthermore, your new hires are taking too long to train and too many of them seem certain to fail.

You feel thwarted when you try to get more cooperation from the marketing, production, customer service, and accounting managers.  They seem to be too busy with their own problems to care about yours.

You are starting to have doubts about your sales abilities.  You are spending a lot of time trying to close a few very big sales opportunities, and now they do not look very promising.  You feel indecisive about continuing on that course.

Your primary job function is to know what is going on in your department and manage for optimum results.  You feel negligent because you haven’t made the time to analyze the sales activities of your sales force or even read their sales forecasts.

You feel guilty because you are working too long and too hard without much in the way of tangible results.  And, your spouse is insisting that you spend more time with your family.

Through all that, you are doing your best to act competent and be competent while trying to hide your doubts and fears.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

What It Feels Like to Be a Sales Manager

An Introduction to High Probability Selling

This Introduction is taken from the book “High Probability Selling” by Jacques Werth and Nicholas E. Ruben.


Why doesn’t sales training work?

Why is it that most people who attend sales training courses and seminars show very little sustained improvement? Why doesen’t modern sales training consistently produce successful salespeople?

Why is it that most sales training courses and seminars contain large doses of motivational psychology? Why is it that the sales profession is the largest user of motivational training? Is it coincidental that the next largest user is the armed forces? What is it that the armed forces and salespeople have in common that requires them to be the largest users of motivational training? How many carpenters, mechanics, CPA’s, claims adjusters or veterinarians need to attend motivational seminars in order to do their jobs?

How many professions come with a built-in fear of rejection and a reluctance to do the job? Why do approximately eighty percent of the people who enter the selling profession leave within the first few years? Why do so many who remain feel trapped or burned out in their jobs?

Why do most people try to avoid salespeople?

Is this all endemic to selling or is there something fundamentally wrong with the way we sell that causes these problems? Could it be that “Selling as the Art of Persuasion” is a concept whose time has come and gone? Could it be that it’s no longer profitable to persuade and convince prospects to buy what they don’t already want?

We maintain that persuading and convincing is no longer a viable selling strategy. Even worse, the attempt to do so causes too much tension, stress, and frustration. Therefore, we re-invented the selling process.

Everything’s changed. All the rules are different. Fear of rejection is no longer an issue. Resistance disappears. Relationships of mutual trust and respect develop naturally.

Self-esteem is a natural result of the process. Salespeople have standards. Who they are as people and who they are when they’re selling no longer have to be different.

High Probability Selling trains salespeople how to discover whether there is a mutally acceptable basis for doing business – without using manipulative techniques. High Probability Selling is not an improvement on, or a variation of, any sales technique you know. It’s a new paradigm that requires salespeople to sell with integrity in order to achieve outstanding results.

High Probability Selling takes salespeople off their knees and puts them back on their feet, with dignity, where they belong.

If you want to continue reading, you can find this Introduction plus the first 4 chapters of the book at www.HighProbSell.com/html/selling.html

An Introduction to High Probability Selling

I Don’t Do Business With People Who Talk to Me Like That

by Carl Ingalls

I’m sure you’ve had a salesperson try to push you into a sale by asking something like, “You do want to make money, don’t you?”  How does that make you feel?

A few weeks ago I got a call from a salesman representing a major telephone service provider that wanted my business back.  He was eager to send me a quote so he could prove to me that he could save me money.

The next time he called, I thanked him for the quote.  I told him I had decided to stay with my current provider, which was a small local telephone service reseller.  He asked me who that was, and I told him.

And then, in a slightly derogatory tone, he asked, “Why would you want to stay with them?”

That stopped me cold.  It felt so disrespectful.  I thought about it a bit.  Then I remembered a very important principle.

I said, “I don’t do business with people who talk to me like that.  Goodbye.”

Only do business when there is mutual trust and respect.

I Don’t Do Business With People Who Talk to Me Like That

Don’t Tell Me How To Sell

by Jacques Werth

I was doing research on how top salespeople sell and I read about Bill in a contractor’s equipment magazine.  He was the top salesman with the leading manufacturer of several lines of contractors’ equipment.  So, I called him up and arranged to go out on a few sales calls to observe his sales process.

When we were driving to his first sales call, I asked him, “What is it you do that’s different from what other salespeople do?”

“I don’t know, because I don’t pay attention to anyone else,” he replied.

I asked, “How did you decide to become a salesman?”

“I didn’t actually decide to be a salesman until after I realized I was one.  It started when I got a job as a clerk in a paint store chain where most of the customers were painting contractors.  So, I did everything I could to learn about paint.  After a few months, the manager quit and the district manager said that I was now the manager and he would hire someone else to be the clerk.”

“Then what?” I asked.

“Well, I got along real well with the contractors and our sales doubled.  The District Manager kept dropping in to see what I was doing.  He kept telling me that I should be friendlier and more accommodating to the customers.  When he realized that I wasn’t doing it his way, he started giving me poor ratings, in spite of my sales success.

“Finally, the Regional Manager stopped by.  He asked me if there was anything he could do to help me with my progress.  I told him it would really be good if he kept the district manager out of my store.  He said that he would not do that.  I did not argue about it, but I was not happy.”

“And then?” I said.

“Some of the contractors were telling me that I could make a lot more money selling other stuff to them at their offices and job sites.  Then, one of them told me he knew of an opening for a salesman at a contractor’s equipment supplier.  He named a few other contractors that came into the store who also bought from them.  So, I called those guys and asked them to call the manager at the equipment supplier and tell him that he should hire me.  Soon afterward, the manager called me and offered me the job.”

“And you accepted over the phone?”

“No.  I told him I wanted to meet him later that day.  When we met, I told him that I don’t sell like anyone else he’s ever met and if that was a problem to tell me right then and we could part ways.  He said, as long as I sold honestly, he was not going to tell me how to sell.  And that’s how I became a salesman.”

Don’t Tell Me How To Sell

Difficulty of Selling a New Idea

by Carl Ingalls

I once read an article (by Seth Godin I think) about the difficulty of selling something that requires prospects to give up long-held or cherished beliefs.  The author had only two solutions for this problem.

  • Try to overwhelm them with logic and evidence that proves your idea is better.
  • Try to make your product or idea seem like a less radical departure from what they believe.

There is a third approach that he did not mention, and this is to find people who are already beginning to question their beliefs.

Of course, this is the problem of High Probability Selling.  It is based upon several very radical ideas that contradict very strongly held beliefs.

We already know that persuasion is counterproductive when applied in the prospecting or selling process.  It also appears to be ineffective in the marketing process.  People react negatively to being pushed.  The harder you try to convince someone to change their mind, the less they trust you.

So how do we find people who are already questioning the belief that persuasion is a good way to get people to buy from you?

Post Script:  The article by Seth Godin mentioned in this blog post is “Gravity is just a theory” and was posted on his blog in December 2008.  I have deviated from his original words substantially.

Difficulty of Selling a New Idea