Actions Speak Louder Than Words29

There is a great discussion taking place over at S. Anthony Iannarino’s The Sales Blog, examining the nature and impact of competitiveness in sales.  In a piece titled In Defense of Competitiveness in Salespeople , Anthony discusses the topic along with input from Dave Brock.  As you will see from the comment I left, I would have to back Anthony.  For a couple of specific reasons; one was that sales professionals need to be judged by their actions, not their words.  Second was that it is the job of the sales person to drive revenue for their companies, while at the same time delivering value to their customers.
One of the threads was around the words and language some of us in sales use to describe our craft and actions in the process of executing our work.  Much of the language came from forums and sites dedicated to sales professionals, written by and for sales professionals, as a result there is descriptive language that is graphic for effect, and as one would suspect, containing more than a sprinkle of bravado.  The concern by some, and valid it is, is that the words we use to describe ourselves and works against us and our reputation.  Maybe so, but I am not convinced.  Main reason being that ultimately, people need to judge sales people or anyone by their actions.  I may sit around and talk mucho with my friends and colleagues, but in the most professional way with my clients, and I would expect that my clients will judge their interactions by what I do, how I treat them, the resources I bring to bear to meet their requirements, and the over all value/ROI I work to deliver for them, their companies, and investment.
The reality is that words do have a great impact, and the real professionals understand that while they may kibitz around their craft with their friends, when they are selling, when they are working with a buyer, the mucho talk needs to be replaced with action.  And while some sales people do have a bad reputation for all the right reasons, the same can be said for any profession, and I have enough faith in buyers not to confuse me and other professionals with those who deserve the reputation.
My contribution to the whole issue was to refer to sales as a predatory sport, and I will stand by that.  In most instances, I am competing with one or more competitors, (in addition to the status quo).  As a result, it becomes a “predatory” affair between me and the other potential providers, it is not a predatory approach to the client.  The blood sport aspect of it stems from the very survival nature of the game.  If I win a deal, a sales rep from another company loses, goes home with no food (kill) for the tribe that day. The tribe, the company, depends on the sales reps, the warriors, to go out every day, and bring back sustenance for the organization to survive, grow and thrive.  If I win, my tribe eats, his doesn’t.  As long as we don’t rip the customer apart in the process, I think the term is fitting. 
But in the process of the sales, the planning, the strategy, the execution, it is very much like a hunt, i.e. hunter, but we are not hunting customers, and we are very much in an all or none game vis-à-vis our competitors.
One comment I would make, is working with a number of sales teams in different verticals, it is often the sales professional who finds himself in the role of “prey”, feeling hunted, abused and injured by clients.  Rather than looking for that balance of a fair price and value, many are taking way too much advantage of the current economy, and are bleeding their providers dry, squeezing the last unnecessary penny out of every deal.  Yes, everybody needs to economize, everyone needs to take a buck further, but looking at the way some clients treat their reps and suppliers, it is only a question of time before some great companies, with some great reps, who have great families, are bled dry.  When this happens everyone loses, including the clients who are left with a low cost no value providers, which is bound to impact their ability to meet the expectation of their clients.  And all this is done the while using the most genteel words to describe what they do.
What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto


  1. Leanne Hoagland Smith

    Actions are what are seen; words that evolve from beliefs (sum of all total experiences) are the unseen drivers for those actions. This is truly not an either or.

    Talk and walk must be united so there is authentic congruency. What I know to be true is the majority of sales pros do not have a written values statement specific to their own sales role. These written values are the guard rails that keep you walking the correct path.

    When people experience positive core actions, this suggests strong personal core values that may become so ingrained in the sales person they are seen with every step (action) that is taken.

    • admin

      I don’t know, sales is my profession not my core belief system. I guess if you need that guard rail, what you say is as good as any. But if you continue to hone your craft, selling, then actions rule. If not you may find that the written values will just be your rationale or crutch for failing to deliver a sale.


  2. Leanne Hoagland Smith

    Agree with the incredible impact of words and hence what I truly dislike with every bone in my body these: close the deal or sale, closing the sale or closed the client. What I prefer are these words: earn the deal or sale,earning the sales or earning the client. When you change how you look at things the things you look at will change. Marcel Proust said it even better: The true voyage of discovery is not seeking new landscapes, but seeing with new eyes.

    • admin

      Call it what you like, it does not change the underlying action, so if the label make it easier for you, cool. But your client and company will judge the actions and results.



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