Posts belonging to Category Solving Racial Preference

In the Face of Prejudice…Will Your Employer Stand Behind You?

Sales will continue to be a difficult, but rewarding position.  We have had an opportunity to cover issues regarding the Black sales professional, the customer, and the employer, and their interactions in the course of business.  This is a complex relationship.

The effects of the 3Ps often have a role in the relationship.  For a refresher, the 3Ps play into the relationship in varying degrees; sometimes just below the surface, and sometimes playing a much more prominent role.  Today we will cover the reaction of the employer when prejudice rears its ugly head in the customer relationship, and how you might be affected.

The 3Ps Revisited

The 3Ps represent the untold in the workplace, beliefs, attitudes, and practices that can make it more difficult to succeed.  I will draw from the Inaugural Post of Black Sales Journal 11/2010, when they were first discussed.  Specifically, I termed it the “X” factor.

The 3Ps are:

  • Perceptions
  • Preferences
  • Prejudices

Perceptions are hard to change, yet they are based on ones background, mindset, and their seat in the arena of life.

Preferences, quite simply, are what a person leans toward in their relationships, where their comfort level lies.

Prejudices are deep, often fueled by perceptions and one’s past, are deep enough to be actionable and problematic.

We went on to talk about the effect of these on your customer in Black Sales Journal – Preference, Prejudice, Perceptions and Your Customer) .  This post covered how you can work with your customer when one or all of the 3Ps are evident.

The most striking statement in the post was that of the elements of the 3Ps, the most insidious is Prejudice. It is the most problematic of the 3Ps, mainly because there is little that can be done about it. Take a moment to review The Inaugural Post of Black Sales Journal and you will see that when it comes to the customer and the 3Ps, prejudice has little or no solutions.

When Prejudice Rears Its Ugly Head

There is always a possibility that a new sales relationship can go south because of Prejudice and its effects.  When and if things go wrong, you will be faced with being in a ‘sandwich’ between an employer who wants to satisfy a customer, continue to reap revenue, and hopefully, wants to support their sales professional.

Your employer’s reactions will obviously be affected by his or her own 3Ps, and you should expect that will be a factor (Black Sales Journal 12/30/2011 Preference, Perceptions, Prejudice, and Your Employer).  As a matter of fact, Prejudice sometimes is unmasked when customers and prospects are handed out to a Black sales professional.  No one has an idea of how receptive the customer will be to the new relationship unless the customer has made statements or taken actions that reveal it.  I would rather see this distribution of business to the Black sales representative than have the employer avoid giving them the best prospects to others in anticipation of a negative response.

When the customer reacts unfavorably, you will get an education, as you will get an opportunity to see whether your employer stands behind you.

An Real Example

I was a Black sales representative in B2B sales who was assigned an account to service and hopefully sell additional business.  I was more than willing to accept, and take a chance on, any reassigned account, as it was a way to increase sales revenue.  I needed the account badly.

The account was medium in size, and although complicated, well within my capabilities as a sales representative.  After much preparation I made my first visit to the account to make my introduction and discuss a change in pricing on the account.  My sales manager accompanied me on the call as making changing pricing at that time was a touchy issue.

After the introduction it was obvious that the call was not going to be warm and fuzzy.  The customer, who was an older individual, sat motionless with a foul expression even before the increase in price was discussed. Once pricing was discussed, the customer slammed his hand down on the desk “This is bull _ _ _ _ , you are trying to put me out of business!”.  “I will not accept this!  Get the hell out of my office!” he ranted.  We made a feeble attempt to explain the pricing but were told again to “Get out now!”

We gathered our materials and made a hasty retreat.  The buyer followed us through the open office, full of his employees, ranting at us.

On our drive back to the office, my manager and I discussed the call and it was obvious that neither of us expected the reaction, price increases were happening everywhere and ours was modest compared to others.

Upon arriving at the office the Regional Sales Manager (my sales managers boss) called me to discuss.  The customer had called him and advised that he was ticked  and that they were going to move their business if a change was not made.   I told the Regional Sales Manager that I had done everything possible on the pricing.  He said to me “It is not the pricing that he wants to change, he wants you off of the account.  He advised that he was not going to work with you based on your race.”  I knew from the conversation that he was sparing me the actual comments made.

Then came a statement that changed my life.  He indicated that he told the account that if that is the way you feel, “He is our sales representative, and if you work with us, you will work with Michael.  If not, we will, at your suggestion, terminate your account.”  The account ‘fired us’ later that day he indicated that he was moving his business and never would return.

It was a modest loss of business for my company but a huge boost in my confidence.  My company had stood behind me!  Quite frankly, I appreciate what the sales manager did and I will never forget it.  There is no greater endorsement of a professional than to have the support of their employer.


I know that this example is unlike others, yet in backing a business resource, a devoted employee, I tend to think that the employer made out well.

Every situation and every company are different.  When I managed sales professionals, my actions had a sympathy to the sales professional involved as well as the customer.

Lesson learned:  Customers are always important, but the customer is not always right!

We appreciate your responses. You can reach me at

Networking: 4 Minutes to Turn Around Your Future!


Networking is a form of prospect “sourcing” that allows you access and exposure to a number of prospects through some arranged medium. This could be an association meeting, a trade show, or otherwise.  It is a true exposure, meaning you are face-to-face with an influencer or potential buyer as opposed to trying to get past a gatekeeper. Networking is also using your contacts, and theirs to meet potential clients. Let’s talk about what networking is and what it can do.


Networking – The Skill

Networking is also a skill set that can yield strong results efficiently.  Quick reads as to whether someone is receptive during the personal contact will help you determine who is an immediate prospect, and whom you need to work on.

That means that although you do not get benefit of racial anonymity, as a Black sales professional you get a chance to impress and inform. If you are solid and you are armed with some of the items below, the networking introduction might be all you need to secure an appointment.

This document is short and to the point and discusses how to prepare for a networking event.  It gives some great guidance about the process, objectives, and preparations.

Networking – The Activity

Networking is an activity that is casual and non-threatening and takes place in many settings. The forums (associations, chambers, etc.) are designed to make these comfortable and easy places to have relevant business discussions.  I would make the statement that if one does not want to be involved with entrepreneurs and sales representatives, they would never attend such  events.

Here are some examples of networking opportunities that are available to sales representatives:

Local Chamber of Commerce Meetings – There is one for each significant municipality.

Trade Association Meetings – Retailers, construction companies, wholesalers, transportation firms, etc. all have some group they are involved with.

Trade Shows – These are great sources of leads with many designed put a particular trade or industry group in the room with those particular organizations that supply and vend to them.

General Networking Events – Usually pre-arranged ‘Meet and Greets’, business cocktail hours, etc.  Usually sponsored by some organization that stands to benefit from getting local organizations together, these allow for easy face-to-face contact with others and can be profitable, yet are not as focused as the others above.

Your event or forum should be thoroughly investigated to avoid wasting your time.  You might ask a couple of relevant questions:

  • How many of your current key clients will be there? They can introduce you to many others, and that is a great way to get credibility and get the immediate referral. Do not be afraid to ask a client to introduce you to some of their peers.
  • Does the group have your type of prospect/customer there? Research the group well for your specific target prospect.

Three Minutes of Fame

You only need that brief opportunity, 3 minutes, to be successful if you consider a few very important points:

  • Have a solid easy to follow introduction that serves you and your company well.  Practice it!
  • Know your ‘elevator speech’, which is your value statement. This is called an ‘elevator speech’ because you have just enough time to tell it between floors to a prospect.
  • Have a closing line prepared. This is the one, which gets you further contact or the appointment.
  • Have your informational/promotional material to hand out “prepackaged” if possible.
  • Keep solid notes and data records.  This is extremely important.

Proper Follow-Up Is the Key

You must do timely and effective follow up to have the whole event be meaningful.  Follow-up with a note or e-mail as soon as is practical.  I prefer a note if possible as I covered in Black Sales Journal 2/3, “Make Yourself Memorable”.

Also follow-up on any promise you have made regarding information or referrals within, or outside, your organization.  Strike while the iron is hot!

Attempt to do these events on a monthly schedule, or try to do one a quarter to increase your scope and prospect base.

Remember as we have said before, be personable and tactical, and you could find yourself sourcing more prospects than you know what to do with.

Give it a try.  Please let us know how it works. You can reach me at