Deconstructing “The Joy of A Salesman” Video

What is “The Joy of a Salesman”?
A couple of months ago I received a link to this video from two separate friends in the sales game. It was posted on YouTube by “mrsalesguy01” back on August 9th but it didn’t come to my attention until October. As of today it has accumulated a very respectable 1,508,203 views.

Note: I attempted to contact Mr. Sales Guy to do a telephone interview before posting this article but he has not responded to my email, possibly in an attempt to remain anonymous. As a result, all I can share with you are my opinions and observations regarding his motivation to create this video and exactly what he is trying to communicate.

NSFW
If you have not yet seen this video, let me warn you: It is NSFW (Not Safe For Work). There is a great deal gratuitous obscenity along with a number of very rude sexual references and threats of violence. If you are easily offended, don’t watch this video and don’t read the transcript below. But, being as you are in sales, I think it’s unlikely you will see, hear or read anything you haven’t before.

When I first watched it, this video struck me as very funny as well as clever: an intelligent yet biting look at all the crappiest parts of being a salesman – from the salesman’s perspective. It’s immediately obvious that Mr. Sales Guy is an experienced top-producer with a razor sharp wit and a huge axe to grind with management.

It then occurred to me that The Joy Of A Salesman is an excellent vehicle through which I can illustrate a number of my Theses to management from the perspective of the person on the front line. I also hope that Mr. Sales Guy and others of his ilk will gain some perspective into why management does some of the unwise things they do.

My Approach to This Deconstruction
Here is my approach: First I’m going to show you the video itself so you can come to your own conclusions about what it means and why it was created. Then I will present you with a complete transcript of what it said, broken down into sections, along with what I believe can be learned from it – by management and salespeople alike.

One last NSFW warning before you click play. Make sure there is no one within earshot who is likely to be offended.

Ready? Enjoy.

Complete Transcript:

The video starts out with a discussion of quotas; how they’re set and how they’re viewed by both salespeople and sales management. My comments will always be in italics.

Management
We need to discuss your numbers from last month.

Mr. Sales Guy
What is there to discuss? I am at quota every single month which is a miracle in itself considering quota is an unobtainable watermark.

Management
Quotas are set based upon realistic objectives. Back when I was selling we would blow out our numbers every month. And we didn’t have cell phones, email and the Twitter to help us.

Mr. Sales Guy
I don’t care what you did 100 years ago when you were riding dinosaurs and actually sold things. Now you just sit behind a desk all day languishing in middle management and come up with ways to complicate my job and ruin my life.

This last statement points up a basic dynamic between management and front-line people regarding the age, experience, productivity and usefulness of sales managers. The younger salesperson sees his older manager as a useless old codger who couldn’t sell something today if his life depended on it. The older manager sees the younger salespeople as coddled brats whose jobs are made much easier by technology.

Management
Since we are being honest here, then yes, quotas are actually designed to never be hit. This way we don’t have to pay you commission for all your had work. If you continue to meet quota every month then we are just going to be forced to change the compensation plan to an even more unrealistic level. However, we will spin it to the team as if we have just made the compensation plan even more lucrative for them.

Every time management decides to change the comp plan they are making a mistake. It takes a long time to figure out how to maximize your earnings based on a given compensation plan and changing it cannot appear as anything other than a ripoff to the folks in the field. Nonetheless, management always tries to “spin it to the team as if we have just made the compensation plan even more lucrative.”

Mr. Sales Guy
Satan must really miss not having his prized demon with him in hell right now.

This next section does an excellent job of pointing out why it’s so important that management’s objectives be in alignment with the compensation plan. Kudos to Mr. Sales Guy for making this point so dramatically.

Management
We need to discuss your closing rate. It is beneath the company’s performance expectations.

Mr. Sales Guy
But I closed 85% of my deals last month.

Management
But you could have hit 86% if you had closed the Botkin account. But you waited to sign the paperwork so it would count for this month instead. You are sandbagging.

Mr. Sales Guy
Of course I am. I would be an idiot not to considering all the traps you have set for me within the pay structure. How does the 1 extra percent matter when the company eventually gets the sandbag sale either way? What is the fucking problem here?

Management
We needed the extra 1% in order to hit our company revenue goal this quarter.

Mr. Sales Guy
Luckily your company goal doesn’t mean shit to me. I don’t get paid more if the company meets its goal or not because your because your compensation plan is total bullshit and designed to screw me at every turn. I make more money if I hold onto a deal and apply it to the next month. But maybe if I was properly incentivized, I’d make it a point to close every active deal each month.

Management
You should be a team player and look at the bigger picture. This company is your family and by sandbagging you are hurting your family.

Mr. Sales Guy
If this company is my family then I have been molested for years now, by being financially raped up the ass with no lube.

The phrase “You need to keep the bigger picture in mind” is another big red flag for salespeople. If stock options or some other type of equity participation is not included in their compensation, there is no picture larger than their next commission or bonus check. If management pays solely on production – which is inherently a short-term objective – then there is no long-term focus in the salesperson’s mind. Expecting me to take one for the team is unrealistic because I’m not really a member of the team. I’m a hired gun looking out for myself.

Management
Your attitude is concerning me. We value you here. You are our best salesman. We want you to succeed.

Mr. Sales Guy
All lies. Should I just bend over now or would you rather force me into the ass-rape position?

Do we have a trust issue here gentlemen?

Mr. Sales Guy
When are your going to start paying me?

The next section discusses non-cash incentives. To a certain, small extent, non-cash awards and recognition do generate some benefit for salespeople. The more emotionally-needy a person is, the more benefit will accrue to them. But, for most salespeople, it’s all about the money and oftentimes these types of recognition backfire because they are perceived as worthless, gratuitous and a lame attempt to compensate you without paying you. Again, kudos to Mr. Sales Guy.

Management
Why should we pay you more when we instead have given you worthless prizes to make you feel special?

Mr. Sales Guy
A Blu-Ray player is not a prize. An iPod is not a prize. These are cheap pieces of shit everyone already owns.

Management
What about the Starbucks gift cards? That was a nice prize.

Mr. Sales Guy
Are you fucking kidding me?

Management
But we rewarded you with a cheap but seemingly expensive trip to Mexico. And we called it Chairman’s Club to trick you into thinking it’s exclusive and important.

Mr. Sales Guy
A trip to Mexico I can do for cheap all by myself. And then I wouldn’t have to attend a meaningless awards ceremony and dinner with a bunch of people who are actually my mortal enemies. That trip was corporal punishment, not a reward.

Management
What about the company-wide email we sent congratulating you and recognizing you? Didn’t that make you feel special inside?

Mr. Sales Guy
I printed out that email and was able to deposit it at the bank for $5,000.

Management
Really?

Mr. Sales Guy
Of course not you douche. Because that email, just like your company recognition, isn’t worth shit.

Management
What about the gold star we put by your name on the sales board for everyone to see? That was very nice of us, wasn’t it?

Mr. Sales Guy
What? Are we in the first fucking grade? Not only did the gold star mean absolutely nothing to me, but the fact that you gave me that instead of a cash bonus almost drove me to the brink of insanity. I nearly came to the office with a sub-machine gun to mow everyone down in a bullet-fueled rage. The bloody carnage would have brought justice and peace to my soul.

Management
It is very concerning that you just threatened to murder myself and all of our employees. But we can’t fire you because you are our top salesperson. So we will continue to allow you to get away with things as long as that means we don’t actually have to increase your pay.

This is an incredibly true statement: top producers can (figuratively) get away with murder. It goes without saying but I’m glad he said it anyway.

Mr. Sales Guy
Fuck my life.

This next section, though it mentions Salesforce.com specifically, is an indictment of overbearing paperwork requirements of all kinds. While I certainly understand and support Management’s side on this one (it’s absolutely critical to track every prospect, process and piece of business systematically) we have all seen cases where a salesperson was unfairly penalized for not completing their paperwork correctly. Let’s face it, most successful salespeople are not terribly detail oriented. They went out there, chased down and killed a sale and got the check – BUT they didn’t fill out the proper forms and so lose their commission and/or bonus because “the same rules have to apply to everyone.” PUH-leeze.

Management
Oh, I just got an email for our operations department. It appears that you didn’t include your biggest sale last month into Salesforce.com. If it is not in Salesforce it doesn’t exist. You will not be paid commission on that sale.

Mr. Sales Guy
I will pray tonight that you get an inoperable brain tumor and that your children are left orphans by month’s end.

This section alludes to two important challenges: 1) separating the Sales and Customer Service function (thus freeing salespeople from that burden and giving them more time to sell); and 2) selling an offering that is either inferior or requires a great deal of support without building the cost of that support into the price.

Management
Your customer churn is too high. It’s sub by 2%. What is the problem here?

Mr. Sales Guy
I’m a salesman, not a customer service rep. That is another department altogether.

Management
But our clients like to deal with the person who sold them our service.

Mr. Sales Guy
Maybe if your service wasn’t designed by morons and didn’t suck balls so bad in the first place, the clients would not need so much customer support.

The next section speaks to me of a manager putting undue focus on a particular facet of the salesperson’s job even though he is producing at a very high level already. Sometimes this type of thing happens just so the manager can feel like he/she is doing something when actually nothing needs to be done.

Management
I just got an email from the assistant sales manager. You need new accounts in your pipeline. It looks like your funnel needs to be filled.

Mr. Sales Guy
Yes, and your ass-funnel needs to be filled as well.

Management
Now get out there and start cold calling.

Everyone enjoys and recognizes the benefits of cold calling – NOT! The last section points up the importance of listening in the sales management relationship.

Mr. Sales Guy
I am going to cold call your kids and tell them their dad was murder at work today by one of his employees. That means I am going to stab you in the neck with a letter opener and watch you bleed, then hide your lifeless body in the service closet while I escape to Panama with all of my American Express gift cards you awarded me.

You are truly an idiot of the highest order. You are not even listening to a word I say.

Management
Sounds great. Now get out there and hit the pavement. Let’s see those sales numbers improve. Remember; I don’t get paid unless you get paid. So kick butt and take names. Ciao.

Well, that’s my take. I hope you enjoyed the video and found some value in my analysis.

Now it’s your turn. Tell us all what you think about “The Joy of a Salesman.”

Ciao!

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: