Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at

After 6 years of employment, I am being forced to sign a non-compete agreement . Is that legal? And how can I be an independent contractor working under a non-compete? Sherry
It’s totally legal. Just not moral or ethical. IF your boss is so paranoid that he/she is making you sign a non-compete, he/she is afraid they will lose you to a competitor or worse, they think you are in the process of job hopping. Most courts will uphold non-competes if the restrictions are low. The higher the restrictions (the more it prevents you from doing work and earning money) the less likely the court will find in favor of the employer. HOWEVER, future employers tend to stay away from potential litigation of non-compete. If it were me, I would tell the employer to “stuff it,” but that is only what I would do. You may not be in a financial position to take that risk or you may love your job and want to stay. Jeffrey

I am a partner of safety supply business. With only two of us, how can I reach more prospects. Is telemarketing a way. I can do the calling and inside sales while my partner can see the ones I contact. How does that sound to you?
Telemarketing is a way but not the best way. The best way is to schedule short talks at local civic groups about safety in the workplace. And tell people if they want additional info to give you their business card. The second best way is to create a networking plan where you are in front of potential customers, i.e, chamber of commerce, business after hours events and the like. The third best way is to get referrals from present customers. The fourth best way is to hand out band aids on the street corner with your name and phone number on the back of them and after that comes telemarketing. Jeffrey

How should I set my goals in order to best achieve them? Jennifer
Set goals about who you want to become, not what you want to own when you get there. Set personal goals (be the best at… gain superior knowledge in… take a course in… read for 15 minutes a day about…) — rather than material goals (big house… new car…). If you set material goals, you may take shortcuts to get there — BUT — there are no shortcuts to being the best. AND when you achieve personal power, when you become “best” at anything, the big house and the new car just show up. Jeffrey

How do I respond to this? I sell advertising space. A prospect says “Art, I like your magazine but your competitor successfully generates me leads and costs less. I only have the $$ to go with one magazine. Why should I risk it all and go with you?”
Answer with this “Great Mr. Jones — anyone can get you leads, but how many end up in sales? — What is your cost-per-lead is not as important as what is your cost per sale. You may actually be paying a higher price per lead-to-sale, even though your cash outlay is less initially. We deliver cost effective sales – not just leads. I recommend we track your real costs, not just the price and the activity. Then we can get down to a trial that matches our quality leads and lower conversion rate against a bunch of low priced leads.” Jeffrey

I’ve considered bringing my laptop in and doing a powerpoint slide show for potential clients, however I wonder if that structured a meeting without opportunity for the buyer to ask questions or me to change directions according to signals is a good idea. Have you ever used powerpoint or step by step visual aids… what’s your thoughts? Dano
Forget it, Dano. Laptop screens are too small. At minimum you’ll need a projector. If it’s just to sell your product or service, and you can do a better job verbally. Use your mouth to ask questions and your laptop to write down the prospect’s answers. EXCEPTION — if the laptop presentation is an integral part (and i mean integral part) of the presentation, and you have a projector that’s no hassle to hook up, by all means use it — but it should only be 20% of the presentation or less. Jeffrey

How can I make that message clear without infringing on a buyers time by making a standard cold call? Jennifer
Send them (letter, fax, e-mail) information that helps the prospect build their business, increase their productivity, prolong employee retention, or boost their profits — if you do that, they will want to know what you do. Create the tie-in and presto — an interested prospect who gets your message and is ready to listen. Jeffrey

What would you say to the sales person who is experiencing a “block” of sorts. This is a person who normally has no trouble communicating but now is experiencing trouble with the most simple of sales communications. How would you advise that person to overcome the problem? Diane
A few more facts would be helpful — but here’s a ‘gut’ response
One or more of these seven things are at the root of the problem:

  • lack of confidence in self
  • lack of belief in product or company
  • fear of rejection
  • lack of preparation (dreading a question you can’t answer)
  • money pressure
  • home pressure or wrong home environment
  • physical pain or medical disorder
    Inability to communicate is not a problem — it’s a symptom for deeper problems. Something is in the way of communication — remove it (or them) and the communication ability will re-appear as suddenly as it left. Hope that helps, Jeffrey

    Being an avid fan of yours – I’ve found myself in a situation where I’m unsure how to proceed – and would like your advice. I’m in the recruiting industry and in the past year we have found ourselves stuck in the gatekeeper rut. What this means is that we are not allowed to talk to managers to get feedback on our candidates. I currently have a client/gatekeeper that I’ve been working with for the past several months. My problem is she does not call me back, does not give me feedback on candidates and open positions, and I feel at this point I am having a one-sided relationship with her. I know that if I could get to the managers, I could make the sale but unfortunately if I go around the gatekeeper I risk losing the business altogether. What would you do in my situation?Cheri
    Ever have a man chase you that you knew was wasting his time — but he kept on trying to win you over? It almost became pest-like — Cheri, better find a way to make them chase you. Start thinking about a value proposition that creates response (like i do with my column) — perhaps your own ezine. Start thinking about how you can avoid gatekeepers completely and realize that sometimes other people are just jerks. Once you get a “hire”, get to the manager and eliminate the gatekeeper. Jeffrey

    I am in the process of hiring new telesales staff. What type of person do you consider ideal for telesales? Stephen
    Smart and happy – you teach the rest. Jeffrey

    I know that networking events are supposed to be great leads and contact generators, but the “Chamber” and business after hours events that I attend are merely populated with sales people like me. Your comments and suggestions please. Thanks, Bill
    Get to know the other salespeople and find out who their bosses are. Best Regards, Jeffrey

    I have been in radio sales for about 8 years. I have started with nothing and have built quite a client base. My problem is that I work in a male dominated company. My General Sales Manager seems to hand feed all call ins and leads to the men in the office. What can I do to be consider a valuable employee? I am one of three woman in the office that is making it, and we have had to scrath to get anywhere. Thanks, Diane
    Keep scratching. In a male dominated office it has been my experience that the woman has to try harder to gain equality but the end result is that she ends up as a top performer. The best way to communicate with your boss is up front. Tell him that you would appreciate an equal opportunity to get leads and convert them into sales in the same manner as the men. If you can do it without whining your end result will be a superior position to the men and a happy boss. Jeffrey

    How do I overcome the objection “I am not interested in telesales.” When I try to ask the prospect why they are not interested, they just hang up. Please help me. Tikam

    The problem is not that they are not interested, they problem is that you are not interesting. Instead of your traditional opening line of puke about who you are and what you do and how you’d like to speak to the person in charge of whatever, why don’t you start out with a thought provoking question that makes you appear to be both intelligent and interesting? The object of the “I’m not interested” objection is to prevent it, not overcome it. Jeffrey

    One of the biggest problems I face in selling my product (telephone systems), is getting to the decision maker. 90% of the time I am talking to someone who can’t make a decision. Can you recommend some different ways to get past the receptionist, office manager, MIS manager, controller or whoever and get to the one person I need to talk to. James

    Major decision makers don’t want to talk to salespeople. That’s why they put in layers of underlings. If you had an ezine like I do, you might get a CEO to read it and call you. Here’s a real world answer. Partner with the underlings and create a meeting with the big boss where everyone is present. Do this by showing them how they profit from use of your equipment, not by selling it on the lowest price. Jeffrey

    I am having a hard time finding sales people that will work on commission only. Our company is new and we don’t have the capital to pay a salary yet. We have a great products but we need the help of some pro salesman, can you make any suggestions? Mike
    Find capital. Sales people will be reluctant to work for a company that can’t afford to pay them as opposed to a company that can afford it but chooses not to. If I were you, I would offer some low base and create a solid training program that would include you as a hands on trainer to actually go out and make sales with the salesperson. This will not only get you a good salesperson, it will help you make the immediate sales you need. Jeffrey

    I enjoy your articles very much. I have been in sales for 20+ years. How would you recommend getting referrals for other companies to join the Better Business Bureau? Jack
    Form a networking group of BBB members and have weekly after hours meetings. Invite them to “bring a friend” and make the meeting topic something that will build their business; hiring, customer service, morale, etc. Your referrals will show up if the meetings are good. Jeffrey

    I am currently working on closing a large account. My boss has four tickets to a baseball game and I would like to offer them to this account decision maker. Would this be in bad taste? Jessica
    The key is to be excited. Tell him you have the tickets, and ask him if he needs all four or if you could be in the foursome. If you go WITH the client, the sale is yours. Jeffrey

    We have had a discussion about business cards being issued to employees who do not have a lot of need for them. One example is an administrative assistant. The question becomes if we let one have them how many more would want them and where and with whom would it stop? Can you share your opinion and any insights you may have regarding this subject? Gerry
    Give EVERYONE a business card with a cool title. People like to give cards when they are introduced (like you do). It creates personal pride, starts conversation, makes people smile, makes people remember you, creates word of mouth advertising, and builds business awareness (people always see the bridge but they never know who painted it). Jeffrey

    I am having trouble asking for referrals from my current customers. I know I provide them good service and good products, I just lack technique. What are 1 or 2 ways you suggest that I ask for referrals? Nathan
    Method 1: The best way to ask for a referral and not be obnoxious is the indirect method, “Mr. Jones, if my product proves to be everything I say it is and more, who else would you insist also have it?” Method 2: This is the reverse of asking, it is earning. If you are not getting referrals, then your customers don’t think you are as good as you think you are. You’re real report card is unsolicited referrals. Method 2.5: The best way to get a referral is to give a referral. Maybe if you changed your thought process to how do I give from how do I get, your basket will be fuller. Jeffrey

    I would love some ideas for Sales Contests to motivate my salespeople. I am responsible for the local marketing in the branch of a national mortgage company. We don’t want anything related to volume/#s – just calls & referrals – building relationships with them! P.S. – Your articles are to the point & inspiring! Thanks! Brenda
    Brenda, How’s this for a contest… If you don’t make 5 sales by Friday, you’re fired! That’s called the incentive of lighting a candle under the butt. I have found that contests that don’t measure finite results (sales dollars), end up in not achieving your objective. While relationships are clearly the most important aspect of selling, it doesn’t hurt to have a few signed contracts to go with it. My recommendation is to combine relationship activities with sales activities. “Most new contacts made” is one thing, but “most new contacts made that result in sales” is quite another. Here’s another idea. Divide up all the customers that you have LOST over the last 5 years, and give them out equally among your salespeople. The most sales “resurrections” gets to go to a spa for a day. That’s a contest where everyone wins. Jeffrey

    How do you go from average salesperson to sales master? Eric
    Dedicate yourself to becoming the BEST in your field — and study sales, personal development and presentation skills — no shortcuts – for five years straight. Jeffrey

    I work with a lot of different businesses and one is a major hospital. I am constantly in and out trying to get their business, but it is difficult for me to know each department and what they do without asking, “stupid” questions to find out how every department is run. The departments are hard enough for me to find without getting lost much less know what they do and how they do it before I walk in the door. Janelle
    Ask all the stupid questions you need to get to the decision maker. Then ask the smart ones. Jeffrey

    In a slow economy like we have today, do you find that sales via the Internet is effective in filling in the slow sales months? I sell marketing and advertising services (ad agency). Robert
    The only thing that will help in a slow economy is a fast sales person. They key word is more? More networking, more Internet, more personal branding, more sales calls, more relationships, more hours. Net result: the more, the more. If you are looking for an easy answer there is none. Your success is dependant on a combination of efforts not a concentration in one area. Jeffrey

  • Jeffrey Gitomer, author of The Sales Bible and The Little Red Book of Selling. President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts Internet training programs on selling and customer service at He can be reached at 704/333-1112 or e-mail to

    r 2006 All Rights Reserved. Don’t even think of reproducing this document without written permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer 704/333-1112