Isaac Newton’s Laws of ‘Sales’: They Apply to You!

Sir Isaac Newton was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist, and theologian, who has been “considered by many to be the greatest and most influential scientist who ever lived.”


You may recognize the name, and you will also recognize his principles – and yes, they do relate to sales.  Yes, it may seem unlikely, but his principles relate to the occupation of sales in a less than scientific way.   These are actually Newton’s Laws of Motion, and they are universally accepted.  Physics is physics and math is math, yet some things are naturally transferrable to what we do, and these fit that bill.

We will quickly examine two of Newton’s more famous laws and how they relate to sales and the sales process.

Law – Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.

This is the law of inertia.  It relates to us that nothing changes until someone does something to change it.

Example I - A sales professional sits in the office contemplating the future, and trying to figure out how he or she is going to make their quarterly goals.  The sales manager calls the rep in and advises that in the last two quarters the quarterly goal was not met.  The manager advised, “Something has got to change quickly and we will be sitting down and discussing it two weeks from now.”

Object – The Sales Rep

State of Motion – Inaction, lethargy, sitting on one’s rear end

External Force – The manager’s promise that action will be taken and the admonition that it would be discussed two weeks from now.


Example II – A highly performing regional sales unit, the best in the country for this Fortune 500 organization, was doing everything correctly.  The sales unit recently was noted as 21st out of the 22 regional sales operations for the company.  Sinking so low has been difficult, but it was suggested that it was because of the numerous defections from the sales unit.  They had lost their best sales professionals, and the results showed it.

Object – The sales unit

State of Motion – High performance

External Force – Personnel losses, recruitment of the unit’s sales professionals, depletion of talent

Law - For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

The strength of this law is that you must anticipate the reaction when you take the action.  This is the best known, and one that is particularly relatable to sales and the sales process.  If you ever step off of a skateboard onto a platform, you feel the skateboard move opposite the way you are attempting to advance.  The movement of the skateboard is considered the reaction.  If you are not careful, you will fall flat on your face.  It is only logical in physics, and in other activities.

Example – A notable employer plans a lucrative sales ‘sprint’ contest to attempt to spur the sale of widgets as it is the most profitable product in the portfolio.  In the process, the sales of the company’s flagship product, ‘gizmos’, suffers and the organization, long considered to be number one in sales of gizmos falls to the number 2 in the sale of that product and thus loses its leadership position and notoriety.

Action – Imposing a sprint campaign to sell widgets

Equal and Opposite Reaction – Sales markedly decreased in the sales of another important product to the point of losing market leadership; activity and presumably sales increase on widgets.

Law – What goes up…must come down!

We cannot forget the most well known of Newton’s Laws: The Law of Gravity. This one is well known, and very simple.  It is the saying that you heard from y0ur mother, your father, or even your coach.  Don’t act like a jerk when you are on the top or on the way to the top, because very few sales professionals get to the top and never come down.   Success is not necessarily fleeting, but it is obvious that many sales professionals forget that over the long haul it is not promised.

We all know sales professionals that have had problems with that issue.

The Balancing Act!

Everything that is done to the sales force by an employer has a reaction, and everything that you do as a sales professional has some ‘physics’ attached to it well.

Be calculated and careful in your moves and anticipate how those moves will be received, as well as whether they get the intended results.

One of the best manager’s I had the pleasure of working for (J.G.), continuously stressed to me that many actions could have unintended consequences, and we should think things out carefully and be prepared for all consequences.  Sometimes you can do everything right, but affect other variables in a way that will one day manifest themselves as ‘a problem’ as a result of your actions.

I have always said that you should “Do the Right Thing!” (Excuse me Spike Lee!), but in many cases, there is a possibility that there is more than one, “Right Thing”.  Have business confidants (people you trust that have good judgement) that can help you with decision making and always make your decisions in light of the advice you get as well as your best judgment.  Businesses have the same problem that individuals do.  Manager’s who run sales operations need to take the same course as individuals, using proper judgment and analysis.  The difference is that managers who make mistakes usually affect more than one person, and usually several in fact.

Newton’s Laws of Motion (these three) are important as when applied to the sales area they can speak to making decisions and the effect on you, your company, and your customers.  It would not hurt to know them as the concepts are universal.

You don’t have to be a scientist to think about these theories.

Be the Best.

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