Career Limiting Decisions: Justifying Your Existence


In the work world, one way or another, everyone has to eat what they kill.

Strip away the hunting metaphor, and what that really means is that you have to be productive in order to be valued.

There’s a saying in self-help that “if you want to be liked, you have to be likeable.”

The corollary to that which I’ve used in sales training for years is, “If you want your work to be appreciated, get results that are worth appreciating.”

Put more simply, and I’ve said this many times to salespeople, “If you want more money, sell more.”

Some years ago I had a tough conversation with someone who didn’t understand that.

They felt that their annual income of $45,000 (approximately) wasn’t fair.

When I asked them to expand on why they felt that way, they responded that in the past year they had brought in $300,000 in new business to the company.

That’s where I said “I have to stop you right there.”

In business channels that deal directly with end-users, the demarcation line between being a decent salesman and a poor one is sales of a million dollars a year.

In most B2B channels that demarcation starts at multiples of a million, or even tens of millions.

Let’s assume that the business the person I was speaking with runs at a margin of 25%. 25% of $300,000 is $75,000. Let’s further assume that the commission paid on that is 20% of gross margin. 20% of $75,000 is $15,000.

Now let’s be extra-charitable and assume that instead of being commissioned on gross profit pay was based on total sales. A 5% commission would still be $15,000. And a business with 25% margins is certainly not going to pay any more than that.

I’m sorry, but unless your business is selling gumballs door to door, one gumball at a time, an individual sales total of $300,000 in one year is simply unacceptable.

It doesn’t matter if you’re selling furniture, appliances, electronics, cars, or whole-home AV systems. No spin in the world will make tnat look great.

I said all that, more or less, and I had to point out that, contrary to their beliefs, they were in fact grossly overpaid.

The lesson for professionals is simple: set higher standards for yourself, and go out and achieve them.