Most “sales advice” is just awful

Ted Bauer
4 min readAug 18, 2022

Let’s start here: I’ve never worked in sales. I’ve sold stuff, yes — I had a lemonade stand when I was eight, for example — and I’ve worked in roles that are essentially “sales” but don’t have the title of sales. So, for example, back in the day at ESPN, I used to be “a headline guy” for ESPN Insider. I’d take Insider content (which is gated) and I’d write headlines on the free pages (sport pages, front page, etc.) that encouraged people to click on, and ultimately buy, the gated content (the Insider subscription). I did some stupid shit while in that job — put a headline on Page 1 of ESPN about Andrew Bynum dating Rihanna, which has nothing to do with anything and got me about 49 e-mail reprimands — but I also did some cool headlines/content matches with Mel Kiper’s stuff that would often drive 550 subscriptions in a day. A subscription was about $24 at the time. In a very roundabout way, then, you can say I helped bring in about $13,200 some days. For ESPN that’s the equivalent of a penny stuck in some fat guy’s asshole under the couch, but still. I felt good about it.

Point being: I’ve never been “a sales guy,” but I’m smart enough to realize that everything in the world is ultimately a fucking sale, so I read a lot about it.

Here’s one I came across just now. This is from a VP at Gartner. You would assume she is a lot (a) smarter and (b) more successful than I am. You’d probably be right. Here’s a choice paragraph:

The sales force of the future will need to intimately understand the customers’ environment, industry and business pain points with a greater sense of the decision levers across both IT and the business units. Salespeople will need to be able to translate technology into industry solutions and value propositions and guide customers to use cases they may not have even considered possible previously.

** Shoves rifle in mouth **

WTF does this even mean? It’s all buzzwords. “Business pain points?” “Decision levers?” “IT and the business units?” (Wait, IT isn’t a business unit?) “Translate…

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Ted Bauer

Mostly write about work, leadership, friendship, masculinity, male infertility, and some other stuff along the way. It's a pleasure to be here.