The little salesman that could

You are a salesperson for a large renewable energy corporation.

Your company produces solar panels, and it’s your job to sell them to homeowners and commercial property owners.

You’ve come to know the business intimately and your numbers for the past three quarters show it. You’ve already hit 130% of your yearly target.

The panels you sell are the best in the world – you always reassure your customers that they are getting the best panels out there.

Best in efficiency. Best in longevity. Best in safety. Best in class. No other product comes close.

You’re killin’ it.

But you hadn’t always…

There was a time when you were barely scraping by, back when you were still learning about the technology, the value-sells, the customers – you hadn’t quite figured out how to get the damn things sold.

You were lucky if you got one sale in per quarter.

You had come dangerously close to being let go – but you had a great relationship with your manager and she saw that you had it in you.

She stood up for you and bought you more time when upper management questioned your abilities.

Those times have passed.

Now, you can articulate the value propositions of your company’s panels so well that customers are simply drawn in by your passion and excitement for your product.

Your panels are the best in the world. You know it, and you make sure your customers know it.

You’re on a roll and nothing can stop you or those fat commission checks.


One day, you get an email from a recruiter from a competing company.

They are looking for a top-performer to join their sales team.

They think you’d be perfect – you’d fit right in and hit the ground running.

Salary and benefits are very competitive.

You’re not really looking to switch jobs, but what the heck. It feels nice to be pursued.

You set up a call and – after blowing it out of the water – an in-person interview.

They thank you for your time, and say that they will follow up soon after checking your references.

A week passes and nothing happens.

You think nothing of it after the second week.

You come in one morning and – They’ve made you an offer!

You feel great.

But you have to make a choice. Stay or move?

Of course, their offer is highly convincing:

  • Your skills are highly transferable. You would be selling essentially the same product to the same customers.
  • Your intimate knowledge of the of the business would make you successful right away.
  • Our compensation is very competitive. You’d enjoy a very nice bump from your current salary
  • Our sales team is expanding – within a year there will be a need for more managers. You’d be eligible if you were interested.
  • We take great pride in knowing that our solar panels are best in the world.

You thank them and say you’ll think about it.

They say: “Take your time, we want you to make the best decision.”

You let your manager know about your offer. She is happy for you but doesn’t want to lose you, top performer that you are.

The next day, she tells you with excitement that they can match the offer. It  wasn’t easy to convince upper management, but she was able to scrape together enough evidence to make a compelling enough argument to justify a raise.

Wonderful. You thank the other company for their time and turn down their offer – your company can match the offer, and you’d rather stay.

“We will raise our offer by 15%. We’re really excited for you to join our team.”

Your company can’t go any higher.

You thank your manager for everything.

Obviously, you wish you could stay, but this is an opportunity you can’t refuse.

You’re going to be making a lot more money if you accept.

You accept their offer.

You are now a salesperson for a different renewable energy corporation.

The panels that you sell are the best in the world – and you always make sure your customers know that they are getting the best panels out there.

Best in efficiency. Best in longevity. Best in safety. Best in class. No other product comes close.

It doesn’t matter at all that you previously worked for a competitor company and claimed their product to be the best.

That truth belongs to the past.

Your new job requires a new truth.

You have no problem saying that your old company’s panels are inferior to your current company’s panels.

You have to.

They pay your bills now.

Besides, you’re killin’ it.

  • Your interests always come first.


The bullet points of the last two stories may seem to contradict each other:

  • The interests of the organization always come first.
  • Your interests always come first.

How can both be true at the same time?

Consider this question: in each scenario, who had the power of choice?

It was in the organization’s best self-interest to replace the high-level executive with Melvyn. Their choice negatively affected the high-level executive.

It was in the salesperson’s best self-interest to take the new job. The company lost a great asset.

Of course, the company could have matched a second time and paid the salesperson a higher salary, thereby redefining the context such that the choice of staying would still be in the best interest of the salesperson.

Either way, whoever held the power of choice would choose the outcome that was in their own best interest. The other party felt the effects of that choice.

If you doubt this, ask yourself the next time you are making a choice,

Why am I making this choice? In whose best interest?

You might say that you’re making the choice not in your best interest, but in the best interest of someone else – family member, friend, business partner, your company.

Why would I make a choice that puts the interests of others ahead of mine?

Because you know that putting someone else’s interests ahead of yours is often also in your own best interest.

The most successful people in the world have made their success by focusing intensely on solving other people’s problems.

If you’re still having doubt, keep asking yourself ‘why?’ and you’ll soon discover the true intentions behind your choice.

If you’re not already in the habit doing so, try it. You will find that it will help you make better decisions.


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