Thursday, June 11, 2009

On the Value Added by Excellent Salesmen

A conversation elsewhere about sales reminded me of this essay written a couple of years ago by Thomas Lifson of American Thinker. Below is the relevant excerpt.

When I entered the business world and actually got to know not only some really excellent salesmen (and women) and developed an appreciation for the ways they contribute not just to the bottom line but to their customers' operations, my respect for the sales profession grew and grew. The best sales professionals have a bit of nobility to them, doing what's right for the customer, even if it costs them or their employers in the short run. They build trust and personal bonds and actively help their customers succeed, bringing far more than a shoeshine and a smile. The best sales professionals are all problem-solvers and dedicated to their customers. They deserve the big bucks they earn.

I will never forget a conversation with a former colleague of mine at Columbia University who left teaching to take a job in business, where he was in charge of marketing certain big ticket products for a major company whose name you would instantly recognize. He spoke movingly of his deep admiration for the dealers of his company's products, many of whom were self-made millionaires. "They created entire businesses out of nothing," he said with awe in his voice, selling and servicing important tools that made life better for millions. We commiserated over the deeply flawed views of business and entrepreneurs (and life itself) so common in the academic world he left and from which I was departing. Both of us quite voluntarily, I might add.


Tom Hopkins said...

Sales is truly 'the oldest profession' although some would argue otherwise.

Actually, prostitution is really just a division of sales, lol.

Selling is the one profession where age, sex, or background can be ignored. You get paid exactly commensurately with your value to the company.

What could be fairer?

JK said...

I also have the highest respect for a great (honest) salesman. It is a tiring, stressful job, and it really takes a strong, vibrant person to succeed in sales year in and year out. As the above commenter noted, sales departments are usually true meritocracies, I've seen more people come from nothing to make a very good income for themselves in sales than any other profession. If one of my ventures gets big enough, I'll remember to reward my salespeople generously.
The only downside to hiring a great salesperson is that they are more likely to go into business against you if they can, so expansive non-compete agreements are mandatory. I've seen it happen several times.

DaveinHackensack said...


Have you launched the ventures yet? If so, and you're ready to write about them, I'd be happy to give you a plug here.

JK said...

Not quite yet. Thanks much for the offer though. For my main idea, the one I discussed with you, I am now working on finding reliable and affordable manufacturers for the various components I need made for the product. I expect to have to do revisions as well, from initial customer feedback, etc. Hopefully this will be done by eoy. A lot else going on in life -kids, job, going back to school etc - all eating up time and/or money, so its hard to have a definitave timetable for anything.