The TACTIC: No pound of flesh.

Tactics Sales


I have no idea, thought Nick as he was reviewing his prospecting list, why I keep all this dead wood on here. I should blow them off just like that geezer, Cotter, blew me off. But then he grinned, remembering how that one had ended.

Nick had called wondering why Cotter hadn’t gotten back to him regarding the proposal. Cotter had finally gotten on the phone and had told Nick he had gone with another company. Nick remembered his parting shot, “You went with them? I could tell you about them, but what’s the point? Hey, good luck. When you get into a jam, feel free to call me.”

Might as well blacklist Cotter, thought Nick, about to blot out his name with a black permanent marker. Then it occurred to Nick that the sales manager wanted all the no-accounts to give to new salespeople. Cotter was perfect. Let him deal with a couple of green salespeople, and he’d really learn to appreciate my ability.

And there’s Hal Davis. He called in on my day off and left a message that he was interested in talking with me. If I had a nickel for everyone who wanted to talk to me… well, I’d have the Mercedes by now. If I remember it right, I called him back about a week later. The bum actually went and bought somewhere else. I got him, though. Told him I never got the message, too bad you already made a deal.

I know I could have gotten him a much better price.

The garbage you have to put up, he said to himself, like the time that woman, what’s her name, here it is, Beth Muller. Couldn’t make up her mind after six contacts. So I smoked her out for what she was. I told her that either she made up her mind right then or I had someone I was seeing that afternoon who was serious. She actually had the nerve to tell me to sell it to the “serious one.” Then she hung up on me. Definitely worth blowing off my list.

Here’s a whole stand of dead timber, thought Nick; man, it’s actually a whole-mountainside of trash trees—that entire division, eight offices scattered across two states. What a bomb that was. The head office went with the competition. The competition, I told them, had a good product, once, years ago… I guess you don’t care about what’s good today. The look I got for that. Guess I hit home. Another amputation.

Man, thought Nick, by the time I’m done, I’ll need to find some new blood. Can’t believe how fast I can blow through the chaff… and chaff doesn’t get you referrals. Not to worry Nicky boy, it’s the sign of a good salesperson. Find them, sell them, or dump them.

“Man, I’m good,” he said outloud.


Nick is burning his bridges and in the process, burning bridges he doesn’t even know about.


Taking a pound of flesh with you when the sale doesn’t go through might be self-satisfying, but it is definitely destructive to your sales career.

At the end of the story, Nick finally wonders why he needs “new blood.” He immediately chalks it up to his good sales ability. He is convinced that those who don’t buy could never provide a good referral. Why? Simply because they were too dumb, stupid, cheap, or whatever to see just what a great product Nick was selling. Any referral they could come up with would also be as dumb, stupid, cheap, or whatever.

Nick is destroying his future earnings, not to mention a referral base.

Outstanding sales people, ones who consistently are at the top, year after year, know that everyone they contact, while not all being buyers, can probably refer them to someone who might be. Further, the majority of non-buyers will at some point, need to reconsider their initial no-buy decision.

From whom will they accept a phone or seek to contact? The salesperson who took the pound of flesh in the last contact or the one who treated them with a polite and gracious manner?

As tempting and self-satisfying as it seems, taking the pound of flesh leaves only bitterness in the mouth of the prospect. Bitter prospects will go out of their way to make sure they get even. Do you really want all of them working against you?


Yes, there are some prospects who are complete pains. They will do their best to drive you right up the wall. Finally, when you think you have answered all of what seems to be their insane requests, they inform you that they just bought from someone else. The temptation to get even is overwhelming.

If you have daily goals and strive to reach them, one of them should be to always treat everyone with politeness and gracious manners. This is nothing more than simple good sense. If you need a monetary reason to motivate you to have this goal, ask yourself whether or not the last prospect you took the pound of flesh from would ever reconsider you or give you a referral.

Should you answer no, calculate how much money you just lost had that reconsideration occurred or the referral resulted in a sale. Do you like losing money?


A pound of flesh always tastes bad.

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