Here are the best and astonishly worst sales stories that have wafted over my desk this year.

They are all verified, true and names are only withheld to protect the guilty.

The 1.1 Million Dollar Silence


A BDM had forecast $78,000 for an upgrade of their client’s system which if won, would still have only taken him to 62% of budget for the quarter, well below the minimum level required for commission.

He had just mortgaged his house to help elderly parents and his daughter’s private school had sent their final demand for payment.

Desperation is often the last thing a client wants to see in professional B2B sales and he felt stuck with his current list of clients that he thought were never going to get him there.

His boss allowed him to spend some time with me to work on his last remaining opportunities to see what we could do.

We decided that the $78,000, as interesting as it was, wouldn’t actually give the client the big bang they needed. But how to get the client to see the bigger picture, budget for it and say yes in one quarter, especially given they had pigeon holed that company as a provider of one service only?

The only saving grace was that the client was a C Level Executive who was a real decision maker.

The meeting took place in the client’s office as usual and after some chit chat, the client said

‘Well, aren’t you going to tell me about this $80k upgrade?’

The BDM said ‘ No….’ and paused longer than Obama in a State of the Nation speech.

Intrigued, the client said ‘Why not, you’ve been emailing me about this thing for 3 months?’

The BDM said ‘ Because having looked at your business more closely and having recently met with three of your other senior executives, it won’t do what you really need’

He then went on to detail that the client’s business was actually at material risk, potentially exposed to governance breaches and legal proceedings.

‘But I can fix it ….quickly …for $1.1M’ he said….and remained silent again.

You know the rest of the story. Instead of focusing on his forecast, he cut to the core of the business impact of his solution and talked about nothing else.

His daughter’s going into Year 12 next year. She’s very happy.

If there were Darwin Awards for Selling these absolutely true stories would top the list.

You Idiot 1

A State Sales Manager was an incumbent for a $500K account and received the unfortunate ‘Dear John’ phone call from procurement telling them politely and in detail why they’d lost the account.

The British accented client was then abused for not supporting his new home, Australia by overthrowing a good Aussie company for a US based firm.

The Sales Manager then proceeded to call the client’s senior colleague to explain that he was a knob, f…g POMs are all the same, how hard it must be working with him and if you rip up the contract when he’s not looking a $50K kickback would be on its way.

The colleague then immediately relayed all of this to his procurement buddy. Following a ‘pleasant’ chat with that company’s GM, a generous donation was made to the procurement manager’s favourite charity and CentreLink has a newly minted member of the unemployed on its books.

You Idiot 2

How to lose a $1M p.a account you’ve held for three years.

1. In three years, never have anyone above ‘Sales’ visit the client

2. Leave the client uncontracted

3. When a new procurement manager starts, don’t return his calls to see what he wants.

4. When told the client is going to tender say ‘Thank you, we look forward to receiving it’

5. When responding to the tender, submit pricing above what you are currently charging

for the same services

6. Send a BDM and Admin person only to the presentation

7. When asked what improvements could be made, answer ‘None’

We sincerely hope Darwin’s theory takes care of these geniuses.

Happy holidays !

CEO of Salient Communication, Elliot is a sought after keynote speaker and corporate trainer who has coached and trained high profile corporates globally in presenting, selling, negotiating and pitching. He has spoken at over 1500 conferences and workshops for leading companies such as HP, SEEK, Avaya, Hitachi , Computershare and CUB.


He is internationally renowned for ensuring sessions are engaging, interactive and relevant to winning business in competitive markets.


Elliot is based in Melbourne where he lives with his wife and two expensive children.