I’m currently employed in the sales group of a large corporation. Today, in a very unorthodox way, I got to learn the stories of two veteran salesman, Dave and Jim (names have been modified to protect my identity). Facts will also be slightly modified for privacy protection.
Dave is a top performing salesman at XYZ corp. He sells software subscriptions to enterprise accounts, and he’s damn good at his job.
Dave’s mindset day in and day out is “How can I hit my quota this quarter?” (Self-focus). Because of this mindset, combined with his ambition and drive, he has never missed quota for his 5 years of employment at XYZ. Because he’s never missed quota, he is consistently ranked in the top 5-10% of salesmen at XYZ. Dave approaches clients with an extremely positive attitude. “We can do X for you!”, “You’ll be extremely pleased with Y”, “I strongly recommend you use Z”. He doesn’t take no for an answer, and has an extremely charismatic attitude to back it up.
Some weeks, Dave finds himself working 70-80 hours to close deals (especially during the end of quarters). He spends alot of time prospecting and burning through new leads, always looking for the next big account. He is akin to a hunter, seeking out prey, and going for the kill, consequently eating what he kills. He finds himself shuffling through new clients on a regular basis. Stress can get high, but a person of his ability consistently delivers.
Dave will be taking home about 250-300k this year, working 60-70 hours a week on average, and will have a very strong reputation at his company.
Enter Jim. Jim is NOT a top performing salesman at XYZ corp. He also sells software subscriptions to enterprise accounts, and on paper it would seem as if he’s decent at his job.
Jim’s mindset day in and day out is “How can I deliver value to my clients?” (Client-focus). Because of this mindset, combined with his ambition and drive, he has missed quotas for some quarters during his 5 years of employment at XYZ. If his software package doesn’t adequately address the client’s needs, he will turn them away. No sense selling them something that won’t address their needs – that’s bad business. Because he misses quotas occasionally, he’s consistently ranked in the top 10-25% of salesmen at XYZ.
Some weeks, Jim finds himself working 20-30 hours to close deals. The reason for this is that he’s built a reputation of himself as someone who can be trusted – not a salesman, but rather a ally who helps his clients navigate the murky depths of enterprise software. When he was first starting out, he would miss many quotas, but be able to build relationships and pipelines to sales that would lead to future profitability. Nowadays, most of Jim’s business opportunities come to him – he doesn’t hunt for them.
Jim will be taking home about 200k this year, working 40 hours a week on average (40-60 starting out, 20-30 now), and he will have an average reputation at his company. However, Jim’s integrity and dedication to his clients will earn him a strong reputation at client companies, all of which are always eager to recruit people in revenue-generating roles.
On a very basic level, Dave makes more money, and Jim works less. Dave has a STRONG reputation at his company, and Jim has a DECENT reputation at his company, but is viewed POSITIVELY at other companies.
There are alot of Daves in the world of sales. It’s a very type-A job, and I can see most sales professionals gravitating towards the position that will make them the most money. However, someone in Jim’s position has freed up alot of time for themselves – time is a very valuable resource. A Jim, although taking home less money, could use that time to start a side business, learn a new language, or begin a hobby!
Learning about these two gentlemen has given me alot to think about in terms of how I want to:
A) Politically position myself at the company
B) Focus on my sales tactics
C) Use time in an efficient manner in line with my desires