The Ultimate Sales Professional Part II – You Changed the Game!


Make your commitment to be the best!  Last week we talked about the skills and attributes of the very best sales professionals.  This week we take it a little further, and go even deeper!  You can actually change the game.  This post is access to a ton of information that will help you!


We continue to revisit this important topic on an in-depth basis.  This is where the differences are made!

In Part I we took an in-depth look at the traits of the Ultimate Sales Professional. If you missed it, you can access it by clicking here: Black Sales Journal 3/23, The Ultimate Sales Professional – Is it You?.

Part I looked at the traits that made this individual so highly desirable for sales managers and customers alike. Part II will look at the activities, which set this individual, apart. I am not saying that by doing these items you will be the ultimate sales professional, but it will be well on the way.

These activities exceed the norm for many sales professionals. Being Black and in sales means you have to always be on top of your game.   This group of actions is not over the top. These items represent what one must do to be the ‘best of breed’.  This is a chance to see how these items, applied well, can make an individual the crème de la crème of sales professionals.

Activities of Sourcing Prospects

Finding that next customer is something every sales professional has to think about on a daily basis.  This activity is the most important activity a sales professional will ever have. If you have this activity solved, you are well on the way to professional success.  This is the way the ultimate sales professionallooks at sourcing prospects:

  • Know Your Prospecting Formula and Ratios. This individual, the ultimate sales professional, knows how many prospects he or she really needs to be successful (Black Sales Journal 2/28, How Many Prospects Do You Really Need). This sales professional grades his or her prospects and recognizes how much time to spend on those with the highest grades while at the same time knows the ratios and law of large numbers.
  • Be accomplished at getting past the gatekeeper. This professional knows how to get past the gatekeeper and when that does not work as desired, knows how to get around the gatekeeper (Black Sales Journal 2/17, Getting Past the Gatekeeper).  Using these techniques on the phone and in person swells the prospect numbers creating a cache of potential proposals that his/her colleagues covet.
  • Be resourceful in the prospecting process. This individual knows how to get prospects in ways other than cold calling.  An example of it is that the ultimate sales professional finds prospects by conducting informational seminars not only for the benefit a customer/prospect, and also for his/her own benefit in finding ready-to-buy customers (See Black Sales Journal 3/24, Finding Prospects Through a Seminar).
  • Be an adept networker. This individual is solid in the art of networking. He or she knows that being at the right function with the right people can net leads beyond the normal cold-call.  This was explained in depth in Black Sales Journal 2/21, Networking for the Black Sales Professional.   The effective networking undertaken efficiently will pay dividends when the time is right.

Now that we know the rudiments of how this resourceful individual will find that necessary and continuing stream of prospects that turn to customers, lets take a look at how this individual works with customers.

The Customer Interface – Master It!

Once you have a valued customer, you must recognize that even though the customer can represent a lasting stream of income, almost an annuity, they also require “care and feeding”.  I know that this sounds somewhat abstract, yet think of it this way, and you will also be able to relate it to some things that you need to do on a continual basis.

The Ultimate Sales Professional does this extremely well.  Let’s look at a few of his tactics:

Don’t forget the customer relationship issues discussed in the last post, as these points beckon stronger, more durable, relationships that are founded on value.  (Black Sales Journal 7/15, The Ultimate Sales Professional Part I)

More To Come

Knowing the activities and customer interface techniques that the best would need to be accomplished, you can now rest assured that it does not stop here.  Black sales professionals should embody these traits as your quest for ‘preference’ in the eyes of a buyer is riddled with inequities, including the fact that you will need to be better than your peers.   In the next post Part III (which will post on Thursday 6/13, we will examine the other elements that pull it all together.  Join us as we discuss “where the differences are made!”

Let me know how you receive these and whether the picture is getting clear.

Your comments are welcome. You can reach me at

It’s 2017… And You Can Still Can Be The First!

Sales Professional and Manager

Amazingly enough, it is still not too late to be the first! Being the first is an important role in American society.  It is equally important in business.

I am going to use cite one iconic American company as an example. As a matter of fact, it is more than symbolic, because this organization took a leadership role.  This is a brief study in how an organization handles diversity.


Let’s revisit a true sales pioneer and trailblazer, Thomas J. Laster. His ability to deal with racial preference, racial discrimination, and acts of racial prejudice are legendary.  We cannot avoid giving kudos to International Business Machines (IBM) in their effort to promote diversity.


A Leader in More Ways than One

In 1946 International Business Machines, also known as IBM, hired its first black sales representative. It was an individual named Tom (T.J.) Laster. This was well before the Civil Rights Act of 1963.  This act was also well before the Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier inprofessional baseball.  This was not a beauty products company, or someone selling durable goods products to the Black community, this was a business products company that was on the technical leading edge, and selling their product to basic ‘white’ America’s businesses.

The audience that Laster was something to was decidedly in the majority. If we think we see racial prejudice and racial preference, we need to recognize that we see nothing like this gentleman was faced with during his tenure as a sales professional.  A couple of years later, Laster joined the 100% Club, an honor for reaching his sales quota.  This was affirmation to many that this individual was a qualified and accomplished sales professional.

The 40s, 50s, and 60s were decidedly difficult time even dream of being “the first” in B2B sales, but someone had to do it.  Soon after Laster, IBM hired their first Black marketing representative (Lionel Fultz) in 1951, their first Black engineer in 1952 (Harry Cochraine), and their first Black engineering manager, (Calvin Waite) in 1956.  Lionel Fultz also was named branch manager in 1964.

This made IBM a leader in both business machines as well as employment diversity.  It also made Tom Laster a pioneer in the sales diversity situation.  He was willing, and obviously began destroying the racial perceptions that Blacks, or Negros as we were referred to in that time, could not handle the technical nature and business relationship issues related to B2B sales to a white business populace.  I would believe that partially as a result, many others Black professionals followed through the doors that were opened.

There was no greater a threshold in business sales as this one!  This was certainly important.  Although you probably won’t read books about it there is no doubt as to the impact.

Following this, IBM, assuming the leadership role again, penned and enacted its Equal Opportunity Policy through the Thomas Watson’s (the president of IBM) letter to his organization termed as Policy Letter # Four.  This September 21, 1953 letter directed his managers to “…hire people regardless of race, color, or creed.”  We wish it was as easy this declaration, but this was a start.

This is Significant, But Why is it Important?

I hope you see the significance in the story of Laster. He is truly a pioneer, and really knows what it feels like to be the first.  What is equally important is that you still can be the first Black sales professional in many organizations.

By the same token, you still can be that individual the changes everyone’s ideas about the abilities and work ethic of black professionals.  It would be nice not to worry about that, but it is significant.

I was not the first Black sale professional in the organization that I came up in. I was actually the third. I was the first Black sales manager, and the first Black vice president, senior vice president, and executive vice president.  I had some interesting experiences, which I try to share in this ‘journal’, but I am certain that many of these assertions would have paled in comparison to the stories that Laster could tell.

Be the Best

There are many small and medium sized organizations that have avoided, for whatever reason, employment diversity.  They could have avoided it because of their small size, or because they purposely have not hired Black sales professionals.  They may have other Blacks and minorities working for the company.  It does not matter what the reason might be, embrace that opportunity to work for and to change those organizations.  Show your stuff!

Your only requirement is to do be best that you can be at what you do.  By being the best, you increase your opportunities for success, as well as destroy ridiculous and erroneous racial perceptions.  Your success will be rewarded with a high compensation rate, but also in the pride you have in being the first!

Be the Best!  Your comments are appreciated. Contact me at