Shoes, Best Sales Practices...and Sales

Posted by Jack Derby, Head Coach on Tue, Jul 16, 2013

SalespersonFind any salesperson, woman or man, and you'll find a person who cares about their shoes.

- Shoes for walking in a city to visit accounts
- Shoes for running to the airport or the train
- Shoes for dialing calls on a day in the office
- Shoes for walking to work


For years, I complained about my back problems, my feet and just lots of self-defined whining about how miserable I was feeling about my constant back pain.  Trust me, I'm miserable enough so that actually whining about my being miserable was more than the world wanted to hear such that one of my friends slapped me upside the head one day and suggested that I buy a decent pair of shoes. 

Up to that time, shoes to me were just a commodity.  The cheaper the better since I knew that both expensive and inexpensive shoes had a life expectancy of giving my back some relief for just about six to nine months but never a full year.

feet resized 600But then I learned from visiting Deer Ridge Footwear in the tiny village of Townsend, Vermont that the problem was really not my shoes, it was my feet.  Since "the toebone is connected to the footbone, is connected to the anklebone..." and so on, I then learned from the owner of Deer Ridge that the correction to everything was custom made shoes with orthotics.  Ten years later I've discovered that my two pair of Deer Ridge shoes last forever, and, most importantly, no more back pain. And the results...

  • Custom solution
  • No more pain
  • Happy customer
  • Repeat buyer
  • Unsolicited referrals

What could be better for any business?

During the last two weeks, as we've been on a constant customer travel schedule of reviewing sales results and sales best practices for the first half of the year, interestingly I've heard a couple of shoe pings....

  • "the pebble in my shoe right now is..."
  • "the gum on the bottom of my shoe that's slowing me down is..."
  • "a couple of my salespeople just aren't putting enough shoe leather into it..." 


July resized 600is the perfect time to correct the problem. 

Here we are with six more critical months to go through the year.  Whether we like it or not, the summer's going to slow down our sales abilities, Labor Day will then catapult us at 100 miles an hour into the busiest season of the year, and then the Christmas season slams us into a brick wall as everything stops completely or slows down big time due to distractions, budgeting for 2014 and every other made up excuse for delaying buying decisions.  It's just the rhythm of business, and, assuming that we're not going to bump into any major economic downturn in the next six months, this year's rhythm and probable outcome is pretty predictable.

So, why put up with a bad pair of shoes?

Right now, as a manager, you have enough things to think about, plan for and execute perfectly on in order to make the biggest impact that you can for the September through December period.  Why put up with "a pebble in the shoe"?

  • Get yourself a new pair of custom shoes

If a salesperson needs to be changed, if they've proven (once again) that they've been a mediocre contributor with B- or less performance, stop pretending that "things are going to get better".  Sit down with them and have The Big Boy/Big Girl Talk and provide them with an honest and transparent assessment, and move on.  Use the best practices learned from that experience, go out and recruit the salesperson who will give you the customized fit that you desperately need in order to relieve you from any further pain.

  • Custom shoes are expensive, but worth it

At our firm, we know exactly what superior, "A" level salespeople and managers are going to cost.  We know the percentages by quartile, the cash/commission/bonus mix, and every other possible compensation component by market, vertical and size of company.  The data is the data, so if you want the best solution, don't fall into the trap of trying to cheap out the best solution to your pain. Nothing wrong about being creative, but trying to jury rig some whacko comp plan that isn't going to solve your problem quickly, just brings you more pain...over an even longer period of time.

  • Custom shoes take time to make

When I make a decision to buy another pair of custom shoes, it takes four to six months to make them depending on the time of year and whether the Vermont season is huntin', hayin' or shearin'.  The same thing applies with changing salespeople...or any manager for that matter.   Make the tough decision now, clear your head and put all of your ideas and energy into recruiting and hiring the perfect solution.  The changes that you make now will only begin to impact in 2014, so you're already late.

Profile exactly what you are looking for (Skills-Experience-Attributes are our three favorite words). Use LinkedIn constantly, and, most importantly, go to all of your partners and really push them to network all of their resources for potential candidates.  Don't leave anything to chance in this process since the best salespeople-the "AA" level players-will bring you 10X their comp within 24 months. But that means you cannot settle, and you need to get started now.

Want recommendations for the best search firms in the Boston area? Just ping me since we see and use the we know of the not-so-best.

Now locked into the Deep Summer with baking heat this week, even though you might be going barefoot on the beach or taking out your hiking boots for the trek in the White Mountains this week, this is THE PERFECT TIME OF YEAR to solve your shoe problems.

Hope you had a great 4th. Now let's get out there and sell some stuff! Jack Derby 


Head Coach
Linked In and Sales

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