Overhaul the Sales Profession and Fix the Economy! An Open Letter to President Obama


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Dear President Obama:

Buyers and sellers are not getting along, at great cost to our economy. Our selling model is broken, and the sales profession cannot sustain itself. We’ve tried everything we can to fix the problems, but nothing has worked. We need government intervention, and we need it now. We’re not asking for a bailout—just an overhaul.

The truth that nothing happens until someone sells something underpins our great financial system. Yet, trillions of dollars are wasted annually on ineffective sales strategies and processes. Day in, and day out, buyers and salespeople across the US fail to achieve the right outcomes. Buyers are miserably disappointed. Many salespeople don’t make quota. Companies fail to achieve their revenue objectives, GDP declines, and opportunities to build lasting wealth are lost—a vicious, seemingly unstoppable chain reaction.

Symptoms of this crisis pervade our daily conversations. Pejorative sales stereotypes infect social media and popular discourse, and they ripple into other areas of commerce. The Occupy Wall Street movement is but one artifact of consumer disdain for how our economic system and its institutions operate.

In the past, the Federal government has stepped in to stem the rancor. We have the Do Not Call Registry, and recently the Federal Communications Commission approved spending $4.5 billion per year for the Universal Service Fund so that people living in rural areas can have more information power with which to make purchases.

It’s not enough. The problems in our economy are caused by systemic frictions between buyers and sellers. Leaving it to the “free market” to lessen the discord hasn’t worked in the past, and it won’t in the future. If anything, we need more government, not less.

I have a solution that will improve the economy, create jobs, and ensure the preservation of at least three Federal agencies—the Departments of Commerce, Education, and the . . . uh . . . : make every American salesperson a Federal Department of Commerce employee, and give them the title Federal Trusted Advisor.

Overnight, two million Federal jobs will be created, offsetting the two million that will be eliminated in the private sector. Fear not, because an additional 500,000 new senior Federal managers will be needed to staff the agency, creating a net job gain, ensuring Federal Trusted Advisors a secure retirement, and injecting a new stream of disposable income into our economy.

A nationwide force of Federal Trusted Advisors will correct everything that plagues buyer-seller interactions by:

1. mandating Trusted Advisor Process Step #1 as DEFINE THE BUSINESS PROBLEM. Under today’s selling model, vendors first bring solutions to customers, then ask what the problem is—if they ask at all. In the absence of government control over buyer-seller collaborations, sellers always have an agenda. This broken model creates the winner’s curse, and endless buyer complaints.

2. creating strong governance. Today, sales professionals do not have to conform to universal ethical standards. Rather, it’s left up to each company to establish guidelines—or not. There’s a wide strike zone between right and wrong, and government control would make it a requirement for every Federal Trusted Advisor to sing from the same ethical hymnal. As you know, without sales ethics, trust cannot flourish. And without trust, no economy on this planet will work.

3. standardizing professional credentialing and staff development. Today, there are no standards of competency for sales professionals. All Federal Trusted Advisors will be required to meet the same standards for business knowledge, social skills, and problem-solving capabilities. We should implement this by hiring all private-sector professional sales trainers to work as government employees within the Department of Education. Making it the responsibility of the Department of Education to train 2 million Federal Trusted Advisors and their managers would thwart any attempt to eliminate the department.

4. implementing a single salary model, and eliminating variable compensation. All Federal Trusted Advisors will receive the same salary, without regard to what customers purchase. Federal Trusted Advisors would not be trusted if they had a vested interest in “closing the deal,” or “upselling,” as they do with the current model. And no customer would feel pressured or shunned because their planned purchase wasn’t sufficiently large, or was outside of a specific timeframe.

5. providing customers warmth, empathy, and understanding. Let’s face it: a root cause of buyer-seller friction today isn’t that products fail, or that they’re “oversold,”—it’s that buyers feel unloved. By institutionalizing love, we can eliminate passionless terms like Customer Relationship Management, and buyer loyalty programs, that aren’t serving customers in ways that are valuable to them.

I couldn’t propose adding 2.5 million new Federal workers without acknowledging the counterpoint arguments:

1. “It’s Big Government.” True, but like the GM and banking bailouts, there’s no time like the right time.

2. “We can’t afford it.” Understood. But the department will be self-funding because every customer will pay a 9% flat fee to the US Government on every purchase.

How much value would this initiative bring to US taxpayers? Before you answer, consider this: by outsourcing all sales and business development to the Federal government, the private sector could reallocate billions of dollars to fund R&D for product innovation. The positive impact on America’s global competitiveness cannot be overstated.

There are no simple answers and no silver-bullet solutions for securing America’s position as the world’s leading economy. But we must begin by overhauling the sales profession, and by establishing—and enforcing—harmony between buyers and sellers. I urge you to enact this initiative right away.


Andrew Rudin
November 10, 2011

Republished with author's permission from original post.


  1. Andy,

    I think these are excellent ideas and add my hearty endorsement to the mix. However, there is one thing missing: all salespeople should be required to buy a copy of Bottom-Line Selling. Since it will be a government purchase, the cost will be only $1,500 per copy. In addition to adding to the nation’s stock of knowledge, it will help to stimulate the economy because I pledge to put every penny of the proceeds back into circulation–my wife will see to that.

  2. Good point, Jack. Everyone in the country stands to benefit. If the Government Printing Office takes over printing your book, we’ll utilize some idle machine capacity. Copies could be stored in under-utilized post offices around the country. If it’s distributed electronically, data centers will reap the rewards . . .


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