Monday, January 5, 2009

Clothes May Make The Man But Debt Makes The Salesman

Writen by Dr. Gary S. Goodman

Thank your lucky stars that you live in an era in which it is taken for granted that you'll have a lot of jobs in your career.

I say this because you'll get a chance to be influenced by a number of managers and business owners, and each one has lessons to give. One of my early bosses was a graduate of the University of Chicago, a philosophy major, no less, and his insights, especially into human behavior, were a treat.

One day, we were chatting and he said, "Gary, do you know how to make an average salesman good, and a good one, great?"

Of course, I was clueless. "No, Jim, how?"

"You put him into debt."

Naturally, he supported this stark and unexpected notion with logic.

"Salesmen earn what they HAVE to earn, Gary. So, if they have a big monthly nut to crack, lots of payments, they'll sell up to their level of debt."

Maybe I hadn't been paying my own bills long enough to appreciate the magnitude of what he was saying. Also, I was beholden to Abraham Maslow's psychology. It presumes we are creatures of "positive" motivation—we achieve because we want to.

"Nonsense," Jim retorted, after I offered this view. Then, he broke into a Disney chant that played off of the song, "High, ho, high ho, it's off to work we go," originally sung by the seven dwarves.

"That's the way the movie sings it," he said. But the real lyrics are, "I owe, I owe, so it's off to work I go!"

I still didn't buy the idea, but through the years, I've come to see its validity.

Generally speaking, I've earned, minimally, what I had to earn, what my lifestyle required. Knowing this, I would occasionally stretch to buy a better car or house, figuring somehow, I'll find a way to pay for it.

Granted, it's a backwards way of raising one's aspiration level, but it works.

Jim left me that day with this to ponder:

"Gary, maybe your monthly payments aren't high enough!"

Dr. Gary S. Goodman, President of, is a popular keynote speaker, management consultant, and seminar leader and the best-selling author of 12 books, including Reach Out & Sell Someone® and Monitoring, Measuring & Managing Customer Service. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, worldwide. A Ph.D. from USC's Annenberg School, Gary offers programs through UCLA Extension and numerous universities, trade associations, and other organizations in the United States and abroad. He is headquartered in Glendale, California, and he can be reached at (818) 243-7338 or at:

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