I love salespeople. BDR’s, Sales Consultants, Account Managers, Inside Sales, Outside Sales. I love them all. It takes an unbelievable amount of courage to ask people to give you money for a living. At least once a week I’ll take a cold call or reply to a cold email because I want to give someone a shot or maybe just a boost of confidence in the event they’ve been on a bad run. Last month, one guy had the best elevator pitch I had ever heard, and the next week we signed his company on as a vendor. Are cold calls worth the time investment? I don’t know, but this one sure worked!

The best thing about sales is that with clear performance expectations it is absolutely impossible to hide. If you are not meeting your quota you are on the hot seat, period. Especially if you have some kind of base plus commission set up. In one way or another I’ve been in sales my entire career. Mostly as a business owner, but also strictly as a Sales Consultant for a national home builder. I spent a year selling new homes in one of the hottest markets in the country. It was, mostly, a blast. During my first month on the job, I sold seven homes in one weekend. I remember the rush of adrenaline I felt driving home that Sunday evening. Hard to beat.

In my work, I have a front-row seat to a good bit of carnage. It is a reality that I have come to appreciate, a gravity I feel with acute awareness, and a welcome reminder that not long ago I was the primary driver of my fair share of dysfunction. Most weeks I speak with someone desperate to find a new employment opportunity. Usually, they have lost their job or are worn down from years in a toxic environment. Just as often I sit across the table from a leader of a business who is fraying at the seams. Either overwhelmed by inordinate business challenges, or strained personal relationships, or both. In their voices, I can hear the hope fading.

Inevitably, and without prompting, they will offer some glimmer of optimism. If we could just get rid of so and so. If we can land this one client. Sometimes these scenarios aren’t too far-fetched, but more often than not, they are a pipe dream. Usually, it is self-talk, a hope of speaking into existence a future that is unlikely to come to fruition. For the individual looking for a new opportunity, they know deep down inside that their manager isn’t changing and work will continue to be the darkest part of their life until they find something new. For the business leader, they know that increasing the sales and marketing budget, rolling out a new business unit or product line, or overhauling their middle management layer probably isn’t going to move the needle. They are not quite at the end of their rope but are pretty dang close.