The ABCs of Sales

Glengarry Glen Ross is still relevant in today’s economy

by Salmeh Fodor
April 27, 2009

For those of us who have been around for a little while, we remember the movie bible for all sales people – Glengarry Glen Ross. Although the economy has changed since the movie, the principals of selling are the same. There are no excuses for not closing the sale. We can’t say: “The economy is bad,” “People aren’t buying,” “The leads are weak,” etc…. Good sales people don’t have time for excuses.

If your sales people aren’t performing, cut them. Don’t listen to more excuses and don’t give them more time. Are the banks listening to your excuses? Not likely. Consider this: How much time do you have to wait for that million dollar client who always seems to be on the brink of signing, but never does? How much time can the receivables buy you before you’re out of business? If you don’t know the answers to those questions, you need to take a long hard look at your company and realistically design a budget and financial forecast.

Find the gems – but be wary of the landmines

The gems

In normal economic times, I would say that the lean, mean, sales machines are not likely to be pounding the streets looking for work. However, with the collapse of large and small companies alike, there are a few hard-working, money hungry sales people looking for work. You need to find them and structure an alluring compensation package. Keep in mind, you are not usually limited to sales people in your industry. A great salesperson can sell anything to anyone, anytime.

The landmines

In your search, be wary of résumés with titles such as “Vice President” or glowing memberships in “the Million Dollar Club.” I have yet to meet a stockbroker or banker who wasn’t a Vice President or a real estate agent who wasn’t part of the Million Dollar Club. You need to see hard numbers and longevity at a job. A person who has moved from sales position to sales position with one or two year stints at each place is not likely to be a good hire. Also, don’t skimp on checking references, and remember that the references should be from former employers, not fellow VPs.

Restrictive agreements with former employers

Be sure to check for restrictive covenants with previous employers. These kinds of agreements and provisions include, for example, the non-compete agreements, the non-solicitation of employees and customers, the non-disclosure of confidential information, the ownership of developments and assignment of inventions (work for hire). A small amount of time checking for restrictive covenants can save you a lot of time and money.

For example, say you find that gem of a salesperson who has worked in your industry for the same company for the last five years. He brings his own book of clients and starts selling immediately. You are in heaven, until you are served with a complaint filed in the county superior court. If your sales guru had a cleverly crafted non-compete and non-solicitation agreement in place, you may be unwittingly dragged into an expensive, time-consuming lawsuit. Now, in all fairness, non-competes are extremely difficult to enforce in Georgia. So, you are likely to be able to go forward with the new hire – just seek legal advice before doing so.

During the hiring process, it’s best to have the new hire complete and sign an application. The application should ask about the existence of any and all agreements with the former employer. Be specific. Restrictive covenants can be in tricky places, such as applications, equity agreements and bonus plans.

It’s best to obtain a copy of all agreements between the new hire and the former employer and then to review them carefully. Keep in mind, though, that the mere existence of such restrictions should not necessarily deter you from hiring the right person. Restrictive covenants are not always enforceable.

Whether you are trying to sell services or goods, every company should be selling all the time, even law firms.

Salmeh K. Fodor, Esq. is a Partner with Marchman, Kasraie & Fodor, LLC with 18 years of financial and legal experience. Her practice focuses on corporate, business and securities law, and her clients have ranged from start-ups and emerging growth companies to publicly held corporations. For a full résumé, see the firm’s site at

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