We recently sat down and had a few laughs with Ken Kupchik, founder of Sales Humor and author of The Sales Survival Handbook. During our chat, Ken talked about the most common types of sales managers and colleagues, shared his advice for staying positive in sales and more.
Q: What inspired you to create Sales Humor and how did it come about?
A: I’ve always worked in sales and done humor writing on the side. About three years ago I was working for an automotive startup in Boston, and I saw this humor page called Mechanic Memes. It had about 400k people following it, so I looked around for something similar for sales, but couldn’t find anything. I was blown away, so I decided to launch Sales Humor.
Q: Sales is definitely one of the most difficult jobs around, and reps are forced to deal with a ton of rejection on a daily basis. What’s your advice for staying optimistic and keeping a positive attitude?
A: My first bit of advice is to pick up a copy of The Sales Survival Handbook! My other piece of advice is to not take yourself too seriously. At the same time, it’s also important to find a company and management that supports you. That’s a huge game changer.
One of the toughest things about sales is that it’s not traditionally a sympathetic profession — but that might be shifting with the Silicon Valley’s emphasis on employee satisfaction and company culture. Don’t take yourself too seriously, but find a company that really supports you. If your management is only adding to your stress and not looking to alleviate it and make you a better employee, look for something else.
Q: Talk to me about some of the most common types of sales managers.
A: One of my favorites is The Coach. The Coach is perfect for former athletes, because he or she will bring back memories of playing sports in high school. They talk about everything in sports metaphors, saying things like, “We’ve gotta dominate the line of scrimmage!” Some of these things make no sense, but the coach doesn’t care. All this sales manager cares about if you stick to the game plan and make it to the playoffs.
My other favorite is The Lunatic. I’ve worked for two Lunatics in my career, and they probably had a lot to do with the creation of my book. The Lunatic is the quintessential hard-charging, take no prisoners, do whatever it takes, call you on your day off to scream at you sales manager. The Lunatic destroys your morale through a combination of impossible expectations and unforgivable insults, while also pushing you to succeed like never before. Working for the lunatic is a double-edged sword because you’re forced to make more sales than you ever thought possible, but you also have your self worth completely eradicated in the process.
Q: Talk to me about some of the most common types of colleagues.
A: These are a few of the types of people you will encounter on the sales floor. There’s the Green Pea, who is new to sales. They are usually very enthusiastic and haven’t had the weight of the world crush their spirit yet. And sometimes these people leave for lunch, and they never come back.
There’s the Young Maniac, who works hard and makes a lot of money, but spends it at the bar and on cars as quickly as possible. They survive on a diet of energy drinks, protein shakes and anti-acid medication. They usually only grow out of it after they’ve had a child or gotten arrested.
Then there’s the Big Talker. Every office has a Big Talker who brags about how many deals he’s going close. The Big Talker is almost always a male, and if he closes a deal or is doing well, you will hear about it for a month straight. Usually his performance is very inconsistent.
Q: If you could give one piece of advice to a fresh-faced sales rep straight out of college at his first day on the job, what would it be?
A: Run. No, but really, I would give two pieces . The first is to listen. It’s a lot more important than speaking in sales. Learn how to keep your mouth shut and let your prospect speak. The second is when things are going well, don’t get too high, and when they’re not going well, don’t get too low. Try to stay even keel and learn how to roll with the punches.
Q: What are some of your favorite sales memes that you’ve shared on Sales Humor?
For more information around how next-generation sales leaders like Ken are managing sales processes, pipelines and performance, check out The 2017 Guide for Next-Generation Sales Leaders.