How to manage and help ‘salesmen’

You might be taken aback by the sexist nature of the title of this article. However, if you take into account that this title comes from a book written in 1960 by Charles B. Roth you might be a bit more forgiving.

I was given this book by my late father a couple of years before he died in 2014. Given my profession and his career as a business owner and chief sales leader of his company he thought I would like to read it and see how much had changed, or not, from the days when he bought it and applied the various principles within its pages.

I am ever grateful to my father for many things and I am indeed grateful for him giving me this book.


Because much of what is written in this book is about honourable business practices, fair and decisive leadership, care for customers, effective coaching and support of teams, and above all, respect and dignity for salespeople and their livelihoods.

Here is a snippet of the titles of chapters and their sub-sections that give you an idea about the intent of the book.

Getting the most out of every man

a. Men eager to give their best
b. You can’t treat them alike
c. But they all need building
d. Treat them as you do your best customers
e. Encourage them to improve themselves
f. You can’t afford to be stingy
g. Teach the philosophy of kindness
h. See things as they see them
i. Fears cause failures also
j. etc.

Becoming a sales management leader

a. The sales manager is still the fall guy
b. Adequate sales force — first requirement
c. Human engineering always comes first
d. You have to know men
e. Link up with salesmen’s emotions
f. First rule: be human
g. Keep promises to your men
h. Give fair and impartial treatment
i. Don’t become a big shot
j. Be sure your attitude is right
k. You have to work with outsiders
l. Be better educated every day
m. Set up a thinking department
n. How to be your best
o. Pace yourself during the day
p. Test and classify yourself
q. Check your creativeness
r. etc.

Other chapters include:

1. Spotting and hiring the men
2. Finding enough time to do everything that needs doing
3. Keeping them in constant training
4. Firing them up
5. Planning and conducting profitable meetings
6. Giving your men cooperation — getting it from them
7. Setting tasks, quotas and compensation
8. Keeping men and sales under control
9. Gauging and conquering markets
10. Educating yourself for the job’s increasing demands

As you can see this is a valuable and insightful book. Even with all the new technology, there are many things mentioned here that are still relevant today. It is no surprise that I continue to write about these topics in a modern day form.

Being an accomplished sales leader takes effort, application and dedication. It is a constant job of action and reaction. It is not for the faint hearted but at the heart of being a great sales leader is caring for our teams, helping them get the best out of themselves and each other. It’s a role that leads from the front and creates the way forward. It requires vision, courage, fortitude and selflessness.  

However, I fear that with so many distractions and a myriad of things on our plate, many sales leaders and sales managers of today are at risk of losing sight of what makes great sales teams and great sales leaders. Distracted by the latest app or silver bullet promising to save the day, perhaps they should look back into the history journals to see that sometimes the old ways of doing things are what they need more than ever in today’s hectic and ever changing landscape.

Thanks Dad for giving me this book, it is a wonderful reminder of what works and what is true. It is also a wonderful reminder of you because you put this into action on a daily basis in both your personal and professional life and I was one of the beneficiaries of your leadership.

Remember everybody lives by selling something

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4 years ago

That’s right. Helping someone to want to buy your stuff is still the task, gizmos of today and tomorrow notwithstanding.

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