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Selling Sharks: What it really takes to be great in sales


Months have gone since I last passed by the memory lane. Harking back seven months ago to the day I got hired here at iManila, I remember clearly the day I got the text message from our HR officer saying that I’m shortlisted for the Account Executive position I’ve applied for. Yup, I was supposed to be a salesperson then but got abruptly reassigned to the digital marketing department. NO REGRETS – it was an honor.

Questions have been asked. Answers were uttered. Then my nerves wracked even more when iManila’s CEO Mr. Bobet Deluria entered the interview room. More questions have been asked and more answers were uttered. He talked about iManila’s history; what it does, how it became a pioneer in its industry, and such. After that we talked about the ideas of being an Account Executive. And I cannot forget the lines he said seconds later, “Our sales team are like sharks. They are predators. Whenever they smell blood, they attack that bloody prospect.” Why sharks? Why not tigers or lions? Or flamingos? The questions ran through my mind.

By definition, sharks are carnivorous fishes in the class Chondrichthyes (that I have no idea of) that are active predators sometimes dangerous to humans. Briefly, it’s a slang for persons who are experts in a specific activity. The next question that popped into my head is, “how can one be a shark”? A great and successful shark? Upon searching and reading, here’s how:

Successful Salespeople are Both Born and Made

Great salespeople are born to be great at their craft — if this is your mindset, better stop selling. This thinking is just another reason that lazy salespeople who do not hit their quotas for a long time use. Okay, let’s set a scenario. Let’s say that Sam (obviously that’s me) hits her monthly quota and gets her commission consistently. Is that because she was born to sell? NO. It’s because Sam works hard. She calls each company on her list. She manages her accounts well. She doesn’t sit and wait for the inbound inquiries. She gets the job done before anyone else does. Being a great salesperson takes a lot of learning, strategy-making, and effort. If Sam was a true-blooded shark the second she entered this world, it’s her choice if she is going to be the lazy one or the great one. So, if you are not born to be a seller, then make yourself one.

Successful Salespeople Don’t Always Hit the Jugular

People say, be a shark, target the jugular! NO. Great salespeople attack opportunities but they don’t bring their prospects down just to acquire sale. Rather, great salespeople sniff the blood first. They listen to their clients well and ask questions to understand the problem. And then they attack. They propose solutions which are technically the services that great salespeople offer. If the client resists, great salespeople provide reasons why it’s worth investing to solve it. You see, sharks don’t always hit the jugular, they sometimes target the jugular veins – strategically but surely. If you know what I mean.


Sales is a cut-throat yet rewarding arena for any profession. It spares no one, hence the comparison to sharks. To be triumphant in this job requires one to step-up to its role as a salesperson. And stepping-up means improving day by day no matter how little the improvements are. Sharks or not, a salesperson is still defined by his or her last sale. And in order to exceed that last sale, a progress is necessary. After all, being successful (not just in becoming a great salesperson) requires hard work to be better and the will to become one.

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