Posts belonging to Category employment strategies for Black Sales Professionals

Continuous Improvement! Do It Or Lose Your Job!

Some athletes are amazing individuals.  Many develop a skill set, and let their skills take them to the top of their craft.  If they are fortunate enough, they get a chance in college, or even the professional ranks.

In this process they learn something during that journey that many other individuals don’t get the opportunity to experience.  From the time that you show some mastery of your craft, and even become accomplished, the coach is searching for your replacement!  Yes…someone to knock you off of your perch.


It is natural, and taken for granted.  For example, if you are a sophomore college athlete in basketball, you will be asked to show other athletes around campus in hopes that they will attend.  Any one of these athletes can be your competition for your position…Yes, your potential replacement!  You do it willingly and accept it, as that is how you initially became acquainted with the campus and met the players; that is just the way it is.

Be keen on this issue as in the light of competition, you will recognize the need to do something to get better or be concerned about being replaced, regardless of your color!

Let’s Be Systematic

The sales process for an individual is complicated but simple.  Simple from the standpoint of the components:

  • Territory Management/Situational Assessment
  • Prospecting/Prospect Management
  • Sales Skills/ Training/Development

Underlying each of these is the last portion of the professional process:

  • Continuous Improvement

Each of these has its particular role and we should examine them, as each professional needs to govern their own improvement.

Territory Management – Situational Assessments – Black sales professionals need to know and manage their territories just like any other professional.  Knowing the clientele, the buying habits, and the effects of external stimuli such as the economy.  Just as important is being strong at doing situational assessments, which is the ability to ‘read’ sales situations correctly.  Is this buyer ready to buy, and will he/she buy from me?  Am I being played and at what cost?  What proof sources or references do I need to increase my credibility?  What do I need to do to get the edge?  Assessing the situation and recognition of special circumstances are important.

Improving the activities around territory management and situational analysis makes a difference.  Some improvement comes with experience, and some with good analysis.

Prospecting/Prospect Management – Improvement here is one that some veterans might not feel is as important, but many others will see the need to get markedly better.  The act of prospecting, and pipeline management should never be neglected, and any attempts to improve are well worth it.  From knowing your formulas to the actual pitches that you use, prospect sourcing is that one area that demands continuous improvement, and continuous attention.  Get better at the act of prospecting, and know your numbers to a ‘fault’.  Regarding actual technique you might read Black Sales Journal 11/28/11 Tuning Up Your Cold Calling and Phone Etiquette or Black Sales Journal 3/22/12, Are You Playing Roulette or Working Smart?

Sales Skills/Training/Development – Have you ever thought about whether a sales training course or seminar will help you?  Have you ever pondered buying that paperback about sales but just did not want to pay the steep $16.00 price?  Well, at least you have thought about these items…now do it!  Courses and seminars are not for everyone, but you would be wrong to count them all out.  Whether it is for skills development or motivation, investigate them well and take the plunge.  The ‘morsel’ that you need to improve might be right there waiting.  Other sales professionals can help by making suggestions, but whether it is a good book or an informative seminar, try it, you may like it.

Continuous Improvement – Easier than You Think!

Continuous improvement includes activities from self-study course work to getting an advanced degree.  It can include anything from changing your sales methods to learning a new method of closing sales.  There are sales professionals working on all aspects of their skills with seminars, college coursework, professional sales skills coursework, and a multitude of other types of self-improvement.

Determine the areas that can use improvement, and just …do something!  I can’t think of one sales professional who would not benefit from a seriously good negotiation course.  If it is not new material, it can serve as a refreshing.

Remember, there is always someone who wants to take your place, no matter what you think of the rigors of your sales position, and they may be sharpening their skills.

Always be the best.

Your comments are welcome. You can reach me at

Prejudice Vs. Discrimination – Which One Matters?

A manager might be  prejudiced, but if this individual does not discriminate, legally it does not make any difference.   We don’t care what people think, we care what they do!   Know the difference between these two unfortunate situations and know what might be actionable if it affects you.  When it comes to prejudice, thicken your skin and when it comes to discrimination know the rules.  Above all…always be the professional!


If you have read Black Sales Journal before, you recognize that I frequently comment on racial prejudice, racial preference, and the effects of negative racial perceptions.  It is natural to provide comment on these topics as they represent the 8,000-pound elephant in the room and as a result are not discussed openly in most forums.

We spend time discussing how the Black sales professional can successfully use tactics to neutralize racial preference and how we all (all Black professionals) can nullify and improve negative racial perceptions.  We also face the fact that racial prejudice is a different and difficult beast and that we may never change it.   Psychiatrists often characterize prejudice as a deep-seated attitude.  We all are aware that something negative has been cast into someone’s personal life, it can have a permanent effect.

Importantly, we should recognize the relationship between racial prejudice and racial discrimination and how they manifest themselves in sales.

The Attitude versus the Action!

For the purpose of this explanation let’s define both of these:

Prejudice – Unreasonable feelings, opinions, or attitudes, especially of a hostile nature, regarding a racial, religious, or national group.

Discrimination – Treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit:  racial and religious intolerance and discrimination.

(Courtesy of definitions 3/5/2012)

So there you have it, racial prejudice is an attitude.  It can reach deep into ones fiber, but an individual will never be tried in a court based on this attitude, as it is not a crime.  If a customer has this attitude, they still remain a viable customer for someone, but possibly not for a Black sales professional.  If your employer has this attitude it is unfortunate yet as long as they make objective and meritorious decisions, they are not guilty.   In other words they can be prejudice but not discriminate strange as it may sound.

Racial discrimination is a different animal as it is action oriented.  A distinction made on the basis of race can potentially be afoul of the laws and regulations, and is almost always ethnically wrong.  It goes without saying that racial discrimination is unfair and although a customer is free to do anything they want, in the case of an employer it could be legally actionable.

The Vicious Circle

The relationship between prejudice and racial discrimination is suggested to be ‘circular’; meaning one leads to the other.  You document racial discrimination but you talk about prejudice as someones disposition or attitude.  Racial discrimination might mean that you get no ‘call-in’ prospects, bad territories, or no house (orphaned by another rep leaving) accounts.  Discrimination may be hard to prove, yet there is evidence, especially when you are able to compare the situation on a relative basis between all sales professionals at a location.  Know what extras you get and how well you performed when you get the chances and if you feel aggrieved read Black Sales Journal 3/9/2011 When You Feel Screwed  – Three Steps to Getting Help.

I make the suggestion that from the standpoint of professional sales that we realize that the most important activities that we can undertake are as follows:

  • Look for and expect fairness from the managers that we work for and be prepared to professionally point out inequities, in a professional manner, as they happen.
  • Document important milestones and activities correctly recognizing that it is “not what you know, it’s what you can prove!”
  • Master your company’s performance system (Black Sales Journal 1/10/2011 – Preparing for the Performance Review Discussion).  Always be pro-active and prepared.
  • Document every thing you get and what you don’t get.  Know the prospects, house accounts, and special benefits you get, and document them well.  Especially document the situation if you are not getting any.  You will need to know what others are getting to have a chance of success.  The facts count.
  • Be the expert on you! Know your sales totals, close ratios, and what percentage of your success came from the company giving you prospects or accounts.

When Bad Gets Worse – Racial Harassment

The unfairness of racial discrimination creates frustration and ill will.  Things are even worse when there is racial harassment.  Racial harassment normally comes from the employer and can emanate from management or coworkers.  A strong example of this is the Montrelle Reese vs. ThyssenKrupp (see Black Sales Journal February 13, 2012).

Racial harassment has a primary purpose of demeaning and driving an individual out of the particular work environment.  It is akin to racial bullying and has no place anywhere, especially in the work environment.  Making someone miserable is awful, and anyone who witnesses it and does nothing is full of fault as well.  It makes no difference as to the colors involved.

Know the facts and know your options.  Most importantly, recognize that acts of discrimination, harassment, and bullying may be actionable, but prejudice is not.  It is an attitude.

Additionally, always be the professional.

Your comments are welcome. You can reach me at