Posts belonging to Category Black Professionals

The Dreaded Performance Review! You Can Prevail!

I will not attempt to convince you that the annual performance discussion is a guaranteed positive moment in your life. Everyone has a different situation. This is an important milestone in your employment, and you should be prepared for this discussion as it will memorialize the past year. This post and the post on January 19th deal with this annual ritual. Make sure you read both.


The Dreaded Performance Discussion

Whether it is called a performance review, a performance appraisal, or some other term, you will find this time useful in determining if your manager values you. You will be able to determine this based on the amount of preparation and forethought that the manager shows.

For some, this is a time of discovery.  You may be asked to gather baseline data that this session will be based on. In other words you will need to sift through the sales and operational statistics to determine what you have been doing for the past year. You might think that this is laziness on the part of your manager.  You might think that  you have been asked to gather the information to “hang yourself.” On the positive side it gives you the opportunity to determine your weak points, accentuate strong points, and in general fairly and cautiously spin the information in the best light, all while preserving the truth.

Scenarios–A Few Practical Examples

Here are a few examples of how you can use this activity in your favor:

Scenario 1 : You have not been successful in developing one or more portions of your territory. Your numbers show it, and you know it will be an issue.

In your self-review point out the territorial weaknesses, the reasons for the shortfall, and the objectives that you will undertake to solve the issues. Indicate interim check dates, final completion dates and intended results. In essence put together the plan for producing acceptable results. Advance the discussion toward constructive solutions that you have drafted.

Scenario 2: Your sales numbers indicate lower sales figures and close ratios than some of the other sales professionals.

If your activity generates lower production and close ratios than are the company norm, you need to consider “baking in” those lower ratios into your activity goals. It is not uncommon for Black sales professionals to have reduced close ratios yet still be effective and successful. Everyone is not your ideal customer. The reality is that you may have to work more prospective customers to get as many sales as others in your organization. You need to be prepared to point this out and have these additional numbers considered in your sales funnel or plan. Estimate your quote/proposal ratios and sales ratios in a realistic light then share these estimates in your plan if you have confidence in them.

Scenario 3: Your sales totals are lacking and your prospect base is light and lacking productivity.

Here’s where you need to consider some real changes. You need to have a plan that is aggressive, and puts in your own milestones for your goals. Take the opportunity to outline a plan (if possible) based on quarters (this is better than months) and what the numbers will be for the interim checkpoint dates. See the two examples above for examples of how you might structure this. Above all, you must have a stronger prospect base to succeed. Consider a niche for a specialty, maybe even more than one.  As you read here previously (Your Customer Needs An Expert, December 20– see Recent Posts), this can be in terms of industry, product, or maybe even geography. Check the potential of the niche in terms of availability and numbers of customers and go in with a plan to increase your prospect base. Be honest with yourself regarding the potential and do some preliminary research on the niche.

Remember: You Are the Expert On You!

Above all, as was stated in the last post,  “Be the expert on you!”.  If your sales funnel is weak you will continuously be subject to problems as you go forward. There is a “law of large numbers”. You cannot have the success that you need without some solid sourcing of perspective customers.

Remember, you cannot instill confidence in others regarding your activities if you don’t have confidence in what you are trying to accomplish.

There are Resources at Stake

Your access to resources like house accounts, call-in business, and accounts and prospects from terminated reps is all open territory for this annual discussion. All this is made much more easy by having a well-thought-out approach to any deficiencies in your performance. Be prepared with well documented facts and logic. As a manager of a production staff, if someone had a plan, I tended to let the plan play out if it made sense.

Let me know what you think on this issue. You can reach me at

The Content of Your Character!

The  date that we celebrate the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday is upon us.  Dr.  King talked of character, and I discuss a professional’s sales character  in this post.  Character is important, and it is what you will be judged by in your professional career.  It is the basis of a meaningful relationship.


Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King spoke eloquently regarding the future saying:

“…I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King 8/28/1963

This speech delivered by this iconic individual symbolizes that there will be a day when skin color and race are not used as determinants of a ‘man’, but strength of mind, morality, independence, individuality, and other qualitative factors would be the measure used for judgment.

Obviously we are not there yet, or there would be no need for Black Sales Journal.  Progress has been made no doubt, yet there is still significant work to do.

Black Sales professionals have a lot to offer, and I will quickly define what I will call “sales character” which makes a real difference in professionals.  When you examine you professional character, you are looking at some qualities that make a real difference in any sales professional.

The Attributes

I would describe these characteristics or attributes as those that greatly contribute to the content of one’s sales character:

  • Ethical
  • Mentally Tough
  • Persistent
  • Responsive
  • Innovative
  • Humility

There are probably more that qualify; yet these are high on the list.

Ethical – Solid ethics are important in everything, but extremely important in sales, where trust and honesty have high relative importance.  I went in depth on this subject in Black Sales Journal 12/1/2011- Are You Ethical?

Mentally Tough– Strength and toughness are qualities that make up the sales persona of any true professional.  It is so important in this ‘lonely’ profession that if you don’t have it, you should consider another professiona.  Rejection, most of which is not personal, abounds, and this requires a business stubbornness that is somewhat unique to this profession.  Visit Black Sales Journal 12/29 Mental Toughness – Asset For the Black Sales Professional for a review of this valuable topic.

Persistent – Persistence is a trait that makes the sales professional special.  Prospecting activities that bear no fruit are an obstacle to many.  The persistent sales professional who makes 24 calls knows that the 25th may result in an appointment, and also knows that the 26th may bear fruit as he knows his or her metrics and success ratio with making appointments.  I worked at a place once that had a monetary Persistency Bonus for those who kept pushing and pushing.

Responsive – You are responsive because you have customers and an employer who depend on you.  Customers have needs and expectations and deserve a sales professional who can make them a priority.  The employer counts on the sales professional for more than just sales, as service and territory coverage are important as well.  A great reference would be BSJ 6/16 Responsiveness – The Objective of the Sales Professional.

Innovative – The ability to come up with solutions that work in real time is what innovation gives.  Sales professionals also suggest changes in product and process that benefit the customers.

Humility – This one is tough for many sales professionals whose confidence level and sense of being the integral cog overshadows all else.  Being able to credit an associate or sales team is a must.  It is difficult for many professionals even though it should not be.  An associate who dances on the desk after a significant sale does not get it!  Spend that time crediting your associates and act like you have been in the end-zone before.

Real Life

Real life gives you things that you can’t even make up.  Truth be told, it can also give you characters could be on the silver screen.

I gave this example in Black Sales Journal, in Are you Ethical? The Question for All (12/1/2011).  This section was entitled “Even When No One Is Looking!”

I was once riding in a company vehicle with a sales rep and the customer to a business lunch in the Chicago area.  We were coming to a toll both and the rep reached into a bag and grabs a coin, which he deposited in the automatic toll basket and we were allowed to proceed.  At that time the toll was 25 cents.  On the way back from the successful lunch, he did the same.  As he did it, I looked at the bag, which must have had 200 or more coins and inquired as to how he got that many quarters.  He indicated that they were not quarters, but after a recent trip to Mexico he had a bag of centavos that were essentially worthless here.

Remember, this is in front of the customer.  Our customer heard him admit to using worthless foreign coins in the toll basket.  If you were the customer, how would you feel about this reps credibility?  What would you think about the organization that you were doing business with as you witnessed him doing it in front of his manager?

We had to terminate the rep (I refuse to call him a sales professional).  Let’s look at it from an employer’s view.  This unethical individual did the following:

  • Sullied his image and the organization’s image in front of the customer creating doubt as to our ethics and credibility
  • Engaged in a civil wrong which might have carried criminal penalties as well
  • Committed expense fraud as he also received reimbursement for fraudulent expenses

I contacted the customer as I introduced the new sales rep.  I apologized for the fact that our representative did what he did, and explained that I had someone who was solid who would take care of him.  The customer said the following to me, “I really wondered about what organization would allow an employee to cheat like that.  I liked [him] but realized that I did not know him well enough to trust him.”  The customer was watching my response as much as he was watching the actions of the rep.


I know there are other traits and characteristics, yet these are truly important.  I say we all will be judged by the “content of character” as sales professionals at some point.  Our customer’s and our employer’s notice our character.

Be the best!

Your comments are welcome.  Write me at