A Few Good (Sales) Men

Quite a few courtroom based movies have lessons for sales people.  The way lawyers ask questions is always fertile ground for learning.  In this case, the movie sees Jack Nicholson’s old school military leader duped by Tom Cruise’s young gun lawyer into admitting wrong-doing.  Based on a stage play, the dialogue at times is electric, as anyone remembering the final scene will attest.  Thanks to pals of mine in sales at British Telecom, here’s that very ending, as it could play out between a salesman, and one particular flavour of the sales-prevention department, Finance, when discussing the murky world of expense accounts…

Sales: “You want answers?”

Finance: “I think we are entitled to them!”

Sales: “You want answers?!”

Finance: “I want the truth!”

Sales: “You can’t handle the truth!!!”

Sales (continuing): “Son, we live in a world that requires revenue.  And that revenue must be brought in by people with elite skills.  Who’s going to find it?  You?  You, Mr. Operations?  We have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom.

You scoff at sales division and you curse our lucrative incentives.  You have that luxury.  You have the luxury of not knowing what we know: that while the cost of business results are excessive, it drives in revenue.
And my very existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, drives REVENUE!  You don’t want to know the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at staff meetings … you want me on that call.  You NEED me on that call!

We use words like comps, migration, discounts, flex licensing, global purchase agreements, butt-fusion.  We use these words as the backbone of a life spent negotiating something.  You use them as a punch line!

I have neither the time nor inclination to explain myself to people who rise and sleep under the very blanket of revenue I provide and then question the manner in which I provide it.  I would rather you just said “thank you” and went on your way.  Otherwise I suggest you pick up a phone and make some sales calls.  Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you’re entitled to!”

Finance: “Did you expense the lap dances?”

Sales: “I did the job I was hired to do.”

Finance: “Did you expense the lap dances?”

Sales: “You’re goddamn right I did!”


Subscribe to Salespodder

Don’t miss out on the latest issues. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.