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

Racial Prejudice, Preference, and Perceptions and Your Customer! A Deep Dive!

The CustoemrThis is, and will remain, an important topic.  No matter whether it is the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s or any decade in the 2000s.  Some things will get incrementally better, yet hope that they will change is still an interesting premise.


This post will reinforce the fact that the customer makes choices, and the sales professional must determine the way to interface  and find success.  This post will show clarification of my view on racial perceptions, racial preferences, and racial prejudices. I will also expand on some previous posts as to ways to change increase effectiveness when faced with preferences and prejudice from your prospect or buyer in some of my upcoming posts.   I have dealt with it in earlier posts; yet will impose a more striking angle in the upcoming posts.

The reality is that an understanding of these two items is essential in the day-to-day activities of the Black sales professional.

The 3Ps – Perceptions, Preferences, Prejudices

Racial Prejudice

Perceptions can slowly be changed.  They exist, and come from many sources.  A person’s life experiences, the media, parents, friends, and the knowledge and ignorance of interaction or lack of interaction formperceptions.  When these life experiences are negative, we have negative perceptions that fuel preferences and help substantiate prejudices.

Perceptions are normally wrong based on their application against a group of people based on some input which was either not factual, or was spread across a group of people without warrant. We will talk more about perceptions in an upcoming post, exposing activities that help to give credence to the negative perceptions.

Perceptions are prevalent in all racial and ethnic groups, and we should not criticize perceptions that we disagree with if we are going to carry perceptions of our own which are damaging to other races or ethnic groups.  We all need to fight against this activity.

Racial Preference

Preferences are a different and are powerful.  They are not always meant to be deleterious to a race or ethnic group, yet can have the same effect.   Your customer’s level desire of whom they want to work with is directly related to their relationship comfort.  That does not make it right.   Some of the preferences come from perceptions and some come from prejudice, yet preference is more substantial than those two inputs.  Comfort levels, familiarity, a lack of understanding, and some “lumping” of people into groups based on common elements manifest preference.

As an example, putting all Hispanics or African Americans into respective group on the basis that their ethnic background and “perceived” activities that are similar in nature is a perception which can be damning.  It is not often thought of that way, yet it is true.

Whether it is preference or it is prejudice, the effect is the same; lost opportunities, lack of diversity, locking out of good people of all races and ethnic backgrounds.

Racial Prejudice

Prejudice in life, and what we do from the standpoint of an occupation is wrong.  If we define prejudice as Webster does:

“an irrational attitude of hostility directed against, [in this situation] a group or race”.

It is insidious!

To discriminate because of race, ethnicity, or gender is at the base of everything we should never endorse.  When it comes to sales, it is no different.  It is not manufactured by anything substantive, but is fueled by narrow-mindedness.  I am sure you recognize that if it is wrong for one group, it is wrong for all.

Prejudice changes the landscape.  It cannot necessarily be changed, and any changes may well be short lived.  It robs the Black sales professional of opportunity and in some cases, based on your territory, success, yet exist, and will not be removed from the marketplace in my lifetime.

I will aver in an upcoming post that as sure as we are that prejudice exists, it is much less prevalent than the problems with preference.  This, we need to recognize.  We can change perceptions…we can overcome preference.  Should we spend time trying to solve or sell when prejudice is involved?

Blacks who discriminate against Hispanics or Whites in the sales arena are in the same “boat” as other ethnic groups that discriminate.  Whites who are in positions of power get more attention because of their roles.  The truth is that prejudice whether in a role of power or any role is wrong.

Why is this a Big Deal?

This is a big deal because recognition and tactics are so important for success.  There are tactics to defeat racial preference.  There are tactics to nullify and change negative racial perceptions.  Racial prejudice is different.  It is pervasive and even in situations where you are given the business, a positive relationship does not exist, so the business is potentially borrowed anyway.

There is no situation more gratifying than enjoying your occupation and getting a fair opportunity to perform it to your best ability.  Learning what you can change and what you cannot will conserve energy for redirection to positive tasks, as well as promote growth.

Your comments are welcome.  You can reach me at