Seller’s Remorse

I had coffee recently with a fellow salesman that I hadn’t seen in a while. He had changed jobs a month ago and when I asked how it was going, I didn’t get a “Great!”. His face told me to probe, so I did.

Before I continue, let me point out that my friend is a great salesman. His sales quotient is 150-ish out of 175. This guy can sell a lot, sell clean, maintain margin, and do all the things that you would want a salesperson to do.

OK, so back to the story. Apparently, my friend expected to develop a pipeline and close business the way he always has. He was the first salesperson that his technical employer was hiring. My friend’s been selling for many years and is very well networked. He recognized that many of his existing contacts were going to be able to help his pipeline. I N S T E A D….his new boss is a micro-manager. He asks for news several times a day. When my friend identifies an opportunity, the boss (a techie who thinks he can sell) dictates a letter for my friend to send to the prospect. So, my friend is hoping he can last long enough in his new job to close a few deals, make his boss realize that he can do the job, then convince the boss that he should be allowed to work at home. (The boss is upset if any of his employees aren’t at their desk by 8:30.) Uh, friend, good luck with that!

Another friend, Dave Kurlan, would say that this boss made a hiring mistake, but I think that my friend made the hiring mistake. My friend’s product was a great salesman that could work independently, required little supervision, and would bring in business without much support. That’s not the solution that the boss wanted to buy. I blame my friend. My friend is a much stronger salesman than the boss and my attitude is that the stronger salesperson is always responsible to make sure that the sale is done properly. A job interview is a sales call. Your interviewer expects you to be strong and if they don’t, you probably don’t want the job.

As I thought about this post, I realized a similarity between job candidates, professionals that sell and entrepreneurs. My friend’s problem was that he was selling himself. His ability to sell. He was emotionally involved. Had happy ears. He didn’t want to disqualify himself because that might make him appear inadequate. Doesn’t that happen to lawyers, CPA’s, engineers, tradespeople, consultants every day. Don’t they take on projects during slow times hoping they can ‘figure it out? Don’t they take on difficult clients hoping they can work out their differences later? After all, they’re awesome! It’s their own abilities that they’re selling. Of course, their customer’s gonna like it when they’re done. Right?

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