My Dad was a salesperson, bless his soul. He sold large construction compaction equipment for a major company across North America. He was a charismatic guy, quick with a story, all in all a good salesman. I was proud of him and inevitably drawn to the profession myself.
While we enjoyed a solid middle class lifestyle, I have very clear memories of my dad coming home and locking himself away fuming and perseverating over the day’s rejections. We knew to steer clear when he had one of those days. In fact, he had the following cartoon framed and on his desk.
The cartoon shows an indignant King quickly dismissing a lowly salesperson because he has bigger battles to fight. The irony of course is that if he paused for just a brief time he could see that what the salesperson was selling would give him a significant ‘competitive advantage’ in his latest conflict.
Now in sales myself I have a deeper understanding of my dad’s frustration at people not giving you the time of day regardless of what you have to offer. It was not the ‘no’ he encountered, that is an occupational hazard, it was the dismissiveness that hurt him the most. It was usually his encounter with the lower levels of the company that caused him the most stress. I don’t care how self-actualized you are, nobody likes to feel disrespected.
Usually when I encounter this personally it is from someone who has ZERO understanding of what the sales function is all about and just how vital it is to the overall health of ANY company or organization.
After such encounters I always ask myself “can you just take a moment and tell me how you expect the salespeople from your company to be treated?”
I remember reading the story of Mary Kay cosmetics, how after her bad experiences in the traditional workplace, Mary Kathlyn Wagner set out to create her own business at the age of 45. She started with an initial investment of $5,000 in 1963 – not necessarily the best time to be a female entrepreneur. She purchased the formulas for skin lotions from the family of a tanner who created the products while he worked on hides. With her son, Richard Rogers, she opened a small store in Dallas and had nine salespeople working for her. Today there are more than 1.6 million salespeople working for Mary Kay Inc. around the world and sales of $2.2 Billion USD. Not a bad business model.
I also remember reading that Mary Kay’s corporate mantra was built around a single principle:
“Everyone has an invisible sign hanging from their neck saying, ‘Make me feel important.’ Never forget this message when working with people.”
– Mary Kay Ash –
Now that I run a sales company I make sure it is part of our culture that all people – not just sales people are respected. That doesn’t mean I am a pushover for every salesperson that gets through, but I take great personal pride in treating them like a human being and being upfront if I am not interested in further discussion.
Think that would never be the case in your company? Well how often do you test the process of being an outside salesperson trying to penetrate your organization? In running a lead generation firm I can tell you the horror stories our reps encounter all the time from organizations of all sizes.
Is treating people with respect good Karma? Will it improve your sales? Hard to say, but you will feel better about your organization, and most importantly the company attitude will filter to your sales team that salespeople are respected and appreciated.
And that can only be a good thing.