Category Archives: Career

The 5 Star Five – Popular Misconceptions About Sales Reps

Over the years, I have realized that there are many misconceptions of what outside sales people do. I wanted to share 5 of the more memorable ones in the latest edition of “The 5 Star Five”.

I need help adding to this list, so if you would like to contribute, please email me at:

  1. Sales reps are entertaining customers all the time – lunches and golf especially
  2. You just need to be a people person to succeed
  3. Everyone in sales makes an above average income
  4. You have the freedom to do whatever you want, when you want
  5. The best sales people have the most experience

Reality Check – Has Work Become Your Life?

Do you work to live, or live to work? 

I will write it one more time…

Do you work to live, or live to work?

Every time I hear that somebody passed away shortly after they retired, I hope that they took time to really enjoy life along the way. When I am working, I am a loyal hard-working solider. But when I am not, I am enjoying free time with friends and family when possible.

I saw a report on CNN a few years ago, and it gave me a horrible feeling in my stomach. The corporate world has made us believe in many cases that taking holidays shows a sign of weakness. When I hear that an employee has not taken holiday in several years, I always cringe.

This issue continues to get a lot of press, and work life balance has become more important than ever. Work demands and commuting makes our personal time very valuable. I have seen several managers and reps work way too many hours on a regular basis during my career. The question that I always have is…

What steps are you taking to insure that their work does not become your life?

Should it be common to work late at night?

  • At what point do you admit that there are inefficiencies in your work habits, and you need to change how you do your job?
  • Maybe you have too many responsibilities in your current role, and need to sit down with your manager to discuss the toll it is taking on you

There are still managers who subscribe to the theory of “most hours worked wins”, but this line of thinking is slowly going by the wayside.

I hate the saying “they were the first one in the office in the morning, and the last to leave at night”. How do we know that they are working all of that time? With all the distractions online, they may just be goofing off on the internet all day, or having “text-a-thons”.

I sent a group email one night at 10 pm from my home office once, just to tidy up a few odds and ends. I received a complaint the next day from one of my accounts. He asked me not to send correspondence at that time of night. I was a bit confused, so I asked why? He said that his phone vibrated on the night stand, and it woke him up! I forgot that some people are on call 24-7, and sleep with a phone close by.

I met an outside sales rep earlier in my career who told me that her kids had moved out, and she was not in a relationship, so work had taken over her life. She sounded far from excited about it!

I have heard of several organizations where employees never leave the office before their managers, even when they have completed their work for the day. This is one of the dumbest things that I have heard during my career!

Are you guilty of sending late night emails trying to “impress the boss”?  Give your head a shake. This is just silly!

I know several reps and managers who work constantly during their holidays. A good friend of mind was got caught by his wife returning customer’s phone calls from his backyard shed when they were packing for vacation! I still bug him about that, but his wife did not think it was very funny!

I understand there may be the occasional need to communicate with the office when on holidays.  But what does it say about the group that you surround yourself with, when they cannot “survive” for a few days, or even a couple of weeks without you?

I heard of the best “holiday-work compromise” from a rep a few years ago. He and his wife were going on a holiday without their kids. Things were both incredibly busy at work at the time. They agreed to one hour of work each morning at the hotel. But for the rest of the day, they left their cell phones in the room, and enjoyed each other’s company. Another rep was not so fortunate to be able to curb his work to one hour. He and his wife agreed to put his phone in the hotel safe before they left in the morning. That completely reduced his temptation to check every time another email came in!

I reference several European countries for setting the bar high for excellent work life balance. They have much more holiday time on average than most other parts of the world. Most stores and services even close during the day for a bit while the employees rest! How great is that? This is an unrealistic goal in many places including Canada and  the United States, but I believe the message is very powerful. These people definitely work to live and not live to work.

We only live once, and you need to sit down and think about what is really important in your life if this has become an issue. Focus on enjoying your personal life now while still keeping up with work commitments. Obviously everyone’s personal situation is different, and many circumstances come in to play. I get that. I work odd hours to keep up with projects that I am working on via my blog and other forms of social media. But I make it all work.

Health issues, stress and strain on your family life can come in to play due to a heavy workload, among other issues. Don’t fall prey to the vicious cycle of work becoming your life.

  • Do you feel like you are living to work, and not working to live?
    • What changes can you make ASAP in your current role if other priorities are more important?
  • Do you find it challenging to shut down “work mode” and get in to “family mode” when you are on holidays?
    • What steps can you take to make a “holiday-work compromise” as a first step (then eventually phase out work altogether)?
  • If your current situation makes it impossible to work to live and you prefer that, perhaps it is time to make a change!
    • Promise yourself to take one action step today towards making a change, or it will never happen

Great message by Rupert! Short and sweet, and a quick reality check for success. Have a great Saturday…

Observations from a Business Insider

Oh Come on people!  I said this blog was about cutting through the crap in what people write about business not adding to it.  There aren’t just six or ten Top Tips to anything.  We’re all just lazy and wish that there were just a few simple things that we could do to ensure success.  

Well, please don’t shoot the messenger but the people who you see as successful have become that way through an infinite number of routes, through innumerable failures, through indecipherable nuances of established principles and there is no way for you to replicate it.  You can get to where they are at (or at least where you perceive them to be at) but you can’t get there in the same way that they got there.  The world has moved on and doors they were open to them are shut to you.  Look for your own…

View original post 70 more words

I stumbled across David Kanigan’s blog “Lead Learn Live” this morning and I really enjoyed it. I can’t wait to read more posts over the next few days. One caught my attention in particular – “Do What You Love”. It is a real eye opener for those trying to find their way with respect to their career. I strongly recommend that you take a few minutes this weekend to immerse yourself in the message. Thanks David!

Live & Learn

We’ve all either given or received the career advice: “Follow your dreams.”  “Do what you love.”  “Love what you do.”

Recently, there have been an increasing number of counterarguments making the case that if we were all going to “do what we love,” we’d starve doing it.

I came across a 2006 post by Paul Graham: “How To Do What You Love” that offers what may be the best thought-leadership on the subject that I have read.

Graham is an essayist, programmer, and investor. In 1995, he co-developed the first web-based application, Viaweb, which was acquired by Yahoo in 1998. He has an AB from Cornell and a PhD in Computer Science from Harvard, and studied painting at RISD and the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence.  Graham’s blog is one of the most followed in the blogosphere.

It is an essay (longish for those of us with…

View original post 957 more words

Career Highlights – It’s Been a Fun Ride So Far!

It would be silly of me to request that you follow my blog and connect with me if I had not achieved a few cool things during my career! There have certainly been some ups and downs along the way, but the ups were fantastic, and I will never forget them.

I have highlighted my biggest accomplishments below:

#1 Youngest Branch Manager (24 years old) in the region’s history of a car rental company

#2 Achieved the sales incentive trip for 6 consecutive years while working with one organization. I typically exceeded budget by 10-30% annually. The achievement that I am most proud of with this organization was coming home from Christmas holidays one year to see a fax that I had qualified for the trip, by beating my budget by less than 1%. That felt AWESOME!

  • Business in the territory doubled from $3.2 million to $6.4 million over the course of nearly 7 years
  • As mentioned in my first post, this was the role where I was offered my dream job at the time, to be the Sales Manager responsible for $40 million in sales and managing 10 associates. It was not meant to be though, as a management shuffle and new ownership steered my career in a different direction. I moved on

#3 Achieved 2nd highest sales volume and 4th highest percentage to budget (out of 20 reps) in the first year in the field for another role

  •  The highlight of nearly 2 years with this organization was being the top rep out of 100+ associates for a North American wide promotion. As a side note, I outsold the entire Canadian sales force!

#4 For my first new business acquisition focused role, I exceeded budget in 3 of my first 5 months on the road. I proceeded to achieve the quarterly bonus for the third quarter that year.

  • I was the number one rep on the team for the first five months of the fiscal year (months 4-8 during my employment)

Success in any role is critical, and I have certainly had my share during my career. I did not want this post to become a brag book, more of a summary to let you know that my systems, philosophies and processes have resulted in accomplishments that I am very proud of. The rollercoaster of emotions, and the always cliché “blood, sweat & tears” have made it all worthwhile!