Jon E Horton - 22 laws of selling

Jon E. Horton has worked in sales, marketing and consulting for more than four decades. Through his extensive experience in the field of telecommunications he has been able to apply his sales expertise to form strong partnerships with executives from a wide variety of industries. He has distilled his years of work in the rules and vignettes found in The 22 Unbreakable Laws of Selling.

Put Some Lipstick On That Pig

Author: Jon Horton | Category: Basic Laws of Selling

The myriad of challenges which confront sales managers runs the gamut and is as varied as the cities where they work and the industries in which they compete. But there is one consistent refrain I hear from virtually all of them. “It’s increasingly difficult to find good people to hire,” managers tell me. And they are correct.

The business landscape has changed dramatically over the last 20 years or so. The explosion of technology, in particular, has created new employment categories, many in sales, which easily trump the sex appeal of the more common options for new job seekers. What is the likely outcome, for instance, when a recent college graduate can choose between selling traditional media (radio, television or, God forbid, newspaper) or Google Ad Words (with free Google Glass for all new hires)? Yes, the competition to attract tomorrow’s bright sales stars is fierce!

There are many practices which will improve results from the hiring process. Interviewing every week regardless of need, using professional testing to screen applicants and turning your existing team into active recruiters are good examples. These and many other ideas deserve serious consideration.

But lest I turn this article into a book, I want to use this space to propose a single concept that will dramatically improve the pool of candidates from which managers may select. Put some lipstick on that pig! I’m suggesting, of course, that you dress up your job opening to make it more attractive. Implement the following steps to separate the perception of your opportunity from that of the competition.


  • A 3-line ad in the newspaper classifieds doesn’t count. Consider slick, glossy, over-sized ads placed where they will be seen by the candidates you wish to attract. Well placed, year-round billboards are impressive. Ad words and pay-per-click should be part of your mix. A web site dedicated to your recruitment is a must.
  • Be creative with your creative. “Join the most successful team of sales executives.” Graphics should use models that represent your prototypical candidate. If your company employs an ad agency for consumer marketing, get that same agency involved in your recruitment.
  • The approach I have outlined will require a serious budget. If you believe (as you should) that a marketing campaign will give you the opportunity to build a stronger sales team, you will convince your manager that this investment will pay real dividends.



  • There was a time when “Account Executive” had more cachet than “Sales Representative” but both are passé today. The ‘lipstick’ version is “Manager of Key Accounts”. Dress it up!
  • Because they can, job seekers now demand a clear vision of upward mobility. Bringing them in as “managers” addresses some of that concern. Laying out a well-defined path to a “Senior” title could clinch the deal.



  • Offering a relatively low draw while painting a rosy picture of lofty commission upside used to be efficient but that approach will no longer attract top talent. If you doubt me, do the research – find out what your competition is paying. And remember, you’re now trying to hire a “manager”.
  • You get what you pay for. If you want to hire a person who should easily earn $50,000 annually working for you, then you should be prepared to pay them $50,000 – NOW! Consider the quality of candidate who will respond when your ad includes, “$50,000 starting salary.”
  • Biting this entry compensation bullet will likely require another adjustment to your department’s budget. But both you and your boss must recognize the long-term economic benefit of upgrading your talent pool.


Notice that all of the ‘lipstick’ elements I have described take place before you have administered a single predictive assessment test or conducted the first interview. It’s all about shaping the perception of what your company has to offer. If you’re serious about attracting the best talent, you (your company) must look your best. So get out your makeup kit and put out the welcome mat. Oink-oink!

Jon E. Horton is the author of The 22 Unbreakable Laws of Selling available in both paperback and Kindle versions from For more of his blogs, please visit Comments to

Last updated: Jul 22, 2014