The Art of Salesmanship: How to be a Good Sport in the Selling Game

Kids’ sports are so pure: they are played for the fun of the game and everyone goes out of their way to cheer teammates and tell the opponents, “Good game.” It’s too bad some belligerent parents often get in the way.

Sales and career and business are arenas where there can often be “belligerent parents”: there’s jealousy and people are competing for promotions and raises and there are negative outcomes for people sometimes completely out of their control. Poor dynamics with managers or peers can add toxicity to the water. This is what makes it all the more important to control what you can: yourself. Be a good sport in the selling game.

1.) Conduct yourself professionally. Don’t be a distraction. Whether you’re not quite where you want to be on the selling report or you’re at the top, someone’s watching. There is something to be said for being on time to work, dressing appropriately or even with some acceptable flare, and going about your business professionally and efficiently. Don’t stand out for anything bad. Your managers and peers are also there to do a job; managers don’t want headaches or problem children and peers don’t want their feathers ruffled. Be respectful and mindful of everyone else and how you can best co-exist in this shared environment.

2.) Look for ways to better others and contribute to team success. Engage in activities which expand your influence. Yes, your results matter, but you are one piece of the puzzle. In sales, it rarely takes food off your plate to give others assistance and it certainly boosts your level of contribution and reputation. If you are looking to expand your influence or be promoted or get a raise, there’s no better way than adding to your value by doing more to help others win. Perhaps you contribute more in team meetings. Perhaps you offer to spend time with others who are struggling. Maybe you come to the table with ideas to improve the team or office. Whatever it is, salesmanship is embodied by your decision to share and better others rather than keeping your best practices to yourself.

3.) Rise above distractions and the things you cannot change. If you’re the top seller, people will make up rumors – unfounded or not – that you’re cheating. They want to create a reason why they are too lazy to beat you. Accept business policies and procedures you disagree with, specifically after you have expressed concerns and potential solutions in open forum. Remember that you are paid to be an ambassador to the business, so certainly contribute to the conversation but execute and carry out the plan which is passed down.

4.) Engage in friendly competition. No one likes an arrogant show-off, but wallflowers don’t thrive in a selling environment. Certainly, this does not mean you have to be friends with everyone or that you can’t leave your work at work when you depart. But if you bring your “A” game every day, talk it up and get the chatter going with your colleagues, and challenge them on activities and results that enhance the group, your salesmanship can really have an impact. You doing your best and having fun with it can be contagious and can get people who’ve stopped trying or have lost interest to re-engage. What a difference you can make!

5.) Be a part of the solution. Nobody – especially managers – likes the complainers. Absolutely provide diplomatic feedback about misses in process and ways that the team and office and business unit can improve. Consider the recipient of your feedback as well – don’t be known as that person who vents about the job to everyone because that’s a reputation you don’t want and even if the other person acts like they agree, you never know what they say about you afterward. That stigma can drastically impact your perception and prospects. You also don’t want to tell your manager the unfiltered thoughts you have on what’s not working. Take the positive route – state what you have identified could be improved and how it can be achieved. Not everything will be adopted but you can contribute to the overall team process and add positive value by doing so.

Salesmanship – being a good sport in sales – goes a long way to establish your value as not only a contributor but an important part of the bigger picture. Focusing on just your results impacts one result – adding to the collective can positively impact others and make you far more valuable.

Good game!


Carson V. Heady has written a book entitled “Birth of a Salesman” and sequels “The Salesman Against the World” and “A Salesman Forever” which take the unique approach of serving as sales/leadership books inside of novels showing proven sales principles designed to birth you into the top producer you were born to be. If you would like to strengthen your sales skills, go to

Heady posts for “Consult Carson” serving as the “Dear Abby” of sales and sales leadership. You may post any question that puzzles you regarding sales and sales leadership careers: interviewing, the sales process, advancing and achieving.

Question submissions can be made via LinkedIn to Carson V. Heady, this Facebook page: , Twitter via @cvheady007 or e-mail at or you may post an anonymous comment as a reply to my WordPress blog at the bottom of this page:

About cvheady007

I am a Christian, Husband, Dad, workaholic and author. Biography Carson Vincent Heady was born in Cape Girardeau, MO, graduated from Southeast Missouri State University and moved to St. Louis in 2001. He has served in sales and leadership across Microsoft, AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile. Carson is best-selling author of the Birth of a Salesman series, the first book of which was published by World Audience Inc. in 2010. He released The Salesman Against the World in 2014, A Salesman Forever in 2016 and Salesman on Fire in 2020. He is also featured in Scott Ingram’s B2B Sales Mentors: 20 Stories from 20 Top 1% Sales Professionals. Carson is a 7-time CEO/President’s Club winner across 5 roles at AT&T and Microsoft and National Verizon Rockstar winner. He has been recognized as a top social seller at Microsoft and is consistently ranked in the top 25 sales gurus in the world on Rise Global. He is included among the Top 50 sales authors on LinkedIn. With over 330K social followers, Carson has also been interviewed on over 30 sales and leadership podcasts, by such luminaries as Jeffrey & Jennifer Gitomer, Jeb Blount, Brandon Bornancin, Sam Dunning, Larry Levine, Darrell Amy, Scott Ingram, Thierry van Herwijnen, Jim Brown, Sam Jacobs, Luigi Prestinenzi, Donald Kelly, Marylou Tyler, George Leith, Pat Helmer, Eric Nelson, Ron Tunick, Jeff Arthur, Mary Ann Samedi, Jean Oursler, Andre Harrell, Marlene Chism, Bill Crespo, Matt Tanguay, Josh Wheeler and Chad Bostick. He has also co-hosted the Smart Biz Show on EG Marketing Radio. His articles have appeared in several noteworthy publications such as SalesGravy, Smash! Sales, Salesopedia and the Baylor Sports Department S3 Report. Carson lives in St. Louis, MO, with his wife Amy and daughters Madison, Sidonia and Charlotte.
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