8 Rules of Engagement for the Entitled Sales Representative


Let me say this right up front: The enemy of the salesperson is not a bad economy, an ineffective manager, or a less-than-optimal product. Although none of these are good things per se, the mortal enemy of the salesperson is having a sense of entitlement.

Unofficially defined as an inflated and unrealistic sense of self worth, a sense of entitlement is most apparent when a sales representative says “You owe me” or “I deserve” without any actual facts to support the claim.

A sense of entitlement causes problems two ways for sales professionals. First, it makes it harder for them to engage their clients and customers in the sales process — and so close the order!

Second, for sales team leaders, a sense of entitlement makes compensation discussions with your sales professionals more difficult. Let me talk about both.

The #1 Rule for Engagement in Sales — Don’t Feel Entitled!

The best and finest sales professionals I’ve ever worked with – who have attained the highest degree of success – are thankful, humble, and hard working. They know that their success is an equal partnership of the company working hard and them working hard. No partnership is perfect.

Success becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, and they don’t feel entitled – they feel fortunate. These sales professionals add a tremendous amount of positive energy to the team, which motivates everyone! Being the top rep means that they’re the top rep, not that they’re entitled to anything.

And the real payoff?  When the entitled sales representative interacts with clients and prospects, that sense of entitlement comes seeping out and affects the sale!

Positive sales reps, however, know who they are, get rewarded fairly for their value, and ultimately close more deals and make more money because clients see and feel their energy, their confidence, and their commitment to doing right by them.

8 Rules for Engaging the Entitled Sales Professional

Now before you think I’m getting preachy or climbing on a soapbox of some sort, allow me to elaborate. I’m fine with successful and humble salespeople knowing and understanding the value they bring to a job. I respect them seeking the right balance of compensation and position that reflects both their quantitative and qualitative contributions.

What counts is how they go about it. The sales reps who have a distorted or an uneven idea of their own value proposition and what they contribute create challenges and headaches for both themselves and their managers.

Here are my rules of engagement for handling the “entitled rep” who comes to you with unrealistic demands:

  1. Listen aggressively and keep emotion out of the discussion. As I tell the many sales managers I coach – the moment you get irritated or annoyed, you lose. So maintain your cool.
  2. Set the ground rules and ask the rep to also keep emotion out of the discussion.
  3. Hold the rep accountable for demonstrating the facts and figures that support the assertion that he or she is worth more! My best friend has an expression that has stayed with me for many years: “Facts don’t lie.”
  4. Hold the rep accountable for being part of the solution. Stop wasting energy on feeling angry, offended, or slighted. Get in the game and be positive.
  5. Provide the counsel that the privilege of having work is a two-way street. In other words, no one “owes” anyone anything except an honest day of work and to mutually fulfill the work contract. You provide a safe and productive place to work and, in return, the sales rep is expected to give everything that he or she has every day to make and exceed plan.
  6. Reinforce the fact that getting more comes from earning it. You want a raise? Sell more. A promotion? You promote yourself through results and behaviors.
  7. Be an excellent coach and mentor and you’ll find entitlement issues can be mitigated. As I’ve said many times, “obsessive communication” is a key to a healthy employee base.
  8. Know that this engagement does not have to be a battle. Most people are reasonable and in the face of facts, compromises are always possible.


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2 thoughts on “8 Rules of Engagement for the Entitled Sales Representative”

  1. It is important that the sales rep understand that the relationship between them and the client be based on mutual respect and that neither party is above the other.

  2. The hardest part for management once the tools are in place is holding the rep accountable. You are right, the metrics don’t lie. So if the metrics are not achieved, don’t be afraid to take the next step. Remember, the line of sight is the bottom line which we are ALL accountable for. As Todd would say, Happy Selling! Nice article as it is a good reminder as to the daily things we should be doing!

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