The Life of a Salesperson

Salespeople are a pin on a map to management, a quota to the factory, an overloaded expense account to the auditor, a bookkeeping item called a “cost-of-selling” to the CFO, a smile and a wisecrack to the receptionist, and a purveyor of flattery to the buyer.

Salespeople need the endurance of Hercules, the brass of Barnum, the craft of Machiavelli, the tact of a diplomat, the tongue of an orator, the charm of a playboy, and the brain of a computer.

They must be impervious to insult, indifference, anger, scorn, complaint, and be razor-sharp, even after drinking until dawn with a customer.

They must have the stamina to sell all day, entertain all evening, drive all night to the next town, and be on the job fresh at 9:00 am.

They must be good at storytelling and willing to lose at golf (easy for most of us) and cards.

They wish the merchandise was better, the prices lower, the commissions higher, the territory smaller, the competition more ethical, the goods more promptly delivered, the boss more sympathetic, the advertising more effective and the customer more human.

They are realists that accept the fact that none of this will ever be, but they are optimists, so they make the sale anyway.

They live or die by the daily report.

They roll the days away in tedium of planes, trains, and cars.

They sleep the nights away in cheerless hotel rooms.


Each morning they hoist onto their back the dead weight of last year’s sales record and this year’s quota and go forth to do it all over again.

Yet, for all that, they are absolutely certain that tomorrow will be better and there is nothing they would rather do, or anybody they would rather be—than a salesperson.