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.

The Untouchables

Author: Jon Horton | Category: Basic Laws of Selling

You know who they are. Every business has them. They are sellers but their titles often begin with “Senior”. Their tenure with their employer is typically longer than most and, owing in no small part to attrition, they have accumulated an impressive account list. As a result, their billing is at or near tops in the building every month.

At most companies, these senior sellers operate by a different set of rules than everyone else. They pay little more than lip service to management initiatives for new business development. Their unit pricing is below the company average and their activity reports are turned in late or incomplete. The ‘special’ rules that govern these elite account executives are unwritten but they are, nevertheless, very real. To management, they are “untouchables”.

What would happen to the revenue flow if a super seller decided to quit? The truth is that most managers just don’t know. And, understandably, they are unwilling to risk losing these ‘special’ account executives by holding them to the same standard of accountability as the rest of the staff. Management would prefer to accept the negatives that may result from their tolerance of the “untouchables”.

And there are many potential negatives. Examples include:

  • The atmosphere in the sales department suffers. Lower ranking sellers notice and resent the preferential treatment accorded senior account executives;
  • In spite of producing substantial revenue, “untouchables” often underperform, failing to deliver appropriate share of budget from major accounts. Tepid management can never be sure; and,
  • Because these senior sellers corral so many meaningful billing clients, managers often lack the flexibility to reward promising young account executives with additional active customers. After being well trained, new talent departs for the competition.

As an on-site consultant, I’ve often been given “hands off” instructions for these senior sellers. Since I don’t face that constraint in this forum, here are the top five thoughts I would share with “untouchables”:

  1. You ARE good but you could be better. If you aren’t moving forward, you are certain to be passed by;
  2. The best way to measure the quality of your work is through the eyes of your peers. Do other sellers frequently ask for your help? Are you a well-used resource for everyone in the sales department? If so, you should take pride in your role. If not, it’s time to get busy…again;
  3. Your work will suffer when you operate in a vacuum but to earn critical help from peers and support staff, there must be a “U” in “Team”;
  4. You won the approval of management by displaying passion and superior performance but that respect must be constantly renewed; and,
  5. Past performance earns you a place in history but it is today’s performance that keeps you from becoming history.

These Horton-isms have value for sellers of all stripes – managers might consider copying my remarks for their entire team. I would, however, suggest you do so without additional comment. Should one of your “untouchables” take offense, better to let me be the heavy.


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: Jun 29, 2014

The Classic Cliche’ Can Lead You Astray

Author: Jon Horton | Category: Basic Laws of Selling

When I finished writing my latest book, I was fairly satisfied that I had successfully enumerated the key rules (Laws) needed to guide winning salespeople. But now, after reviewing insightful and constructive feedback from my readers, I suspect I have more work to do.

Whether or not I find both the material and the motivation to write 22 MORE Unbreakable Laws of Selling is a question for another day. What isn’t in doubt is that my next collection would have to include The Law of Opposites.

Nearly every day, someone I know asserts a hackneyed cliché as an accurate characterization of a good seller. It’s surprising enough that these descriptions are virtually always wrong but, more remarkably, the truth is typically the polar opposite! You will likely recognize more than one of the following examples.

He has the gift of gab. Wrong! The best sellers are actually those who are the best listeners, not the best talkers. They have mastered the ability to get clients/prospects to talk more. Salespeople with the gift of gab simply talk too much. (See The Law of Ears.)

He could sell ice to Eskimos. Wrong! A talented salesperson will always begin the sales process with an in depth assessment of a client’s needs and will only propose products/services that provide appropriate solutions. Selling ice to an Eskimo eliminates the potential for a symbiotic business relationship. (See The Law of Needs.)

He always comes out on top. Wrong! The best salespeople are serious about finding win-win solutions to negotiations with their customers. These sellers purposely leave something on the table to insure that their clients leave as winners. They will pass on short-term gain that leads to long-term pain. (See The Law of Negotiation.)

He devotes most of his time to his biggest clients. Wrong! Buyers for major customers with large budgets are typically experts in their field. They make informed decisions, buy with confidence, clearly define the service they require and don’t appreciate needless interruptions from sellers. Smaller clients are often harder to close. They must be nurtured, guided, reassured and expect to be treated like V.I.P.’s when they finally say “Yes”. (See The Law of 80-20.)

The reason these “opposites” merit our consideration is that, on their faces, these clichés are incredibly seductive and the “truths” are, at best, counter intuitive. And this is the case for managers as well as sellers. It’s easy to imagine a manager being impressed by the snappy interview patter of a prospective new hire. And we can certainly understand the salesperson – being paid on commission – that fawns over a client dangling a big budget.

Avoiding these cliché traps requires discipline. Articles like this can help heighten awareness. Regular training and personal vigilance will do the rest.

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: Feb 15, 2014