First You Do the Work, and Then You Make the Money

First you make the investment, and then you get the results. This is as true for salespeople as it is for their managers. But sometimes there are mistakes in understanding what is an investment and what is a result.

First, Your Investment

Some people believe that they should first be paid, and then they will produce the results. This isn’t only true of those of us that carry the bag. It’s true for all kinds of people in all kinds of roles.

These people think: “As soon as they pay me what I am worth, then I will go and get them the result that they need.” In their minds, they incorrectly believe that the company should invest more money in them to get the result for which they are responsible. This is wrong-headed thinking.

Your company has made an investment in you by hiring you, training you, and paying you your base salary. That was their investment.

The investment that you need to make is an investment in time, effort, and energy in achieving the goals and outcomes for which you were hired. These investments include all of the sales activities that we know to generate results when religiously taken. These investments include targeting your dream clients, prospecting, making sales calls, discovering ways to create value, building consensus, presenting a vision of the future, and closing deals.

These are the investments that lead to results. Your results lead you to something else.

Second, Your Results

Your investment produces results. It is these results that are the key to your earning more money. First you make the investments, and then you generate the results that lead you to more money.

Getting this order wrong is problematic. It leads to a vicious cycle. You are waiting for your company to pay you more, believing that you are owed more money before you produce results. Your company is looking at your terrible lack of results and effort, wondering why they are investing any of their time, money, and effort in you in the first place.

By producing results, you eliminate this problem. You invest your best effort in making deals, and your results are positive and benefit your company. Your company, recognizing your positive results, shares the fruit of your joint labor in the way of increased earnings (maybe salary, maybe commissions, maybe bonuses, or some combination thereof).

If you collect a check, you owe your company your very best effort. There is nothing to be gained by taking a person or company’s money and not giving them the benefit of the their bargain. You would never treat a client that way, and you should never treat your company that way.

You have other choices.

If you desire more money, it’s easy enough to get. You go out and get it for your company, and you keep for yourself part of the value that you create. But if you don’t go out and get it, then you are entitled to nothing.


Why do results necessarily precede an increase in income?

Why do some people believe that they are entitled to a greater salary before they produce results?

What is the effect of a decision to not produce results until you are paid more money?

What other, more healthy, decisions are available to those who wish to earn more?



  • Robert

    More years ago than I’d like to remember, I heard Zig Ziglar say it this way: If you want heat, first you need to put some wood into the stove.

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      What Zig said then is as true today as it was when he said it! (I have my copy of Born to Win sitting right behind me as I write this). 

  • Bruce Sallan

    I just want to get the $$$$ – I don’t want to have to WORK for it! Isn’t that the European way? They strike over 34-hour work weeks!? That’s 3 days for me! And, I work EVERY day!

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      What? You work part-time, Bruce? Just kidding. The laws of the universe are not easily broken, are they?

      • Bruce Sallan

        You know, Anthony, when you’re doing something you love, you truly don’t pay attention to the time!

  • Anton Borromeo

    Anthony, I was pleased reading this article. There was a time however when I felt that it was the other way around in which if I was being paid better, I would produce more.

    However, during the summer of 2010, my plan was to study for the LSAT’s and work at the current company I am at in order to save money before continuing my final year at UCSB.

    There was a relatively low stipend, and I was scheduled to work from 10-4.. However, I enjoyed the grind and was motivated each day to exceed expectations. During the summer, I would be the first one in, and the last one out, working 8-10 hours just to hit the numbers I expected out of myself. It was actually quite enjoyable. I eventually started dreaming about work, waking up, then going to work which became very fulfilling.

    Throughout the two months, I never once asked for anything more rather than the comission based on my productivity. However, they did increase my stipend slightly which was not based on my request. I continued to increase my productivity.

    I eventually came in alignment with myself that sales is my true passion and I knew that a career in sales is what I ultimately enjoyed. Towards the end, I expressed this to my employers, in which we worked out a compensation plan that would be more than generous in which I started the following year after my graduation.

    The point being, it is important to put your passion into work and not think about the compensation. Think about producing the results you want to produce for yourself and your organization. Essentially, focus on being the top producer and don’t base it on compensation alone. Base it on working towards your best self and continually learning your craft. When this is being practiced, not only will your career life be more fulfilling, the money will eventually come along with it.

    Work ethic, drive, ambition will lead to the right compensation when you are directing those attributes to your passion. In addition, it is important to focus on the process, not just the outcome. Enjoy the process that leads to the desired outcome.

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Anton. Your recipe sounds just right to me. You embrace your passion (in this case, happily, sales) and your pour yourself into your work. The results come, and the money follows. But first, embrace your work!

  • Richard Ruff


    Alternative Decisions – Let’s just take the field of sales training.  If a sales person is working as a rep for a major firm and feels they should be making more money because they are so very good even before they produce more results, one option is go out on your own. 

    There are some folks who have good intellectual property but can not afford to “hire” a sales team that are looking for great reps with whom to have a 1099 relationship.  The rep actually becomes a business person and shares in the profit – sell alot and you make alot.  Risky – but if one is as good as they think they are, it could be worth it – plus you are running your own business.


    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      I agree, Dick. But the people that generally want the straight commission salespeople don’t have the right kind of sale. They have long sales cycle, slow paid deals and then they hire young kids. 

      You never have to worry about the real straight commission sales guys taking  care of themselves. They don’t take jobs where the sales can’t be made quickly. They find there way into company’s where they can make money and they make their sales. But, it’s a dying breed now, isn’t it?

  • Peter Fuller MBA

    All you have to do is provide value and value will come back to you.

    For sales reps, it is very easy to value them :)


    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      Some more than others. : )

  • Lauren Sheil

    I have this discussion with my wife alomst everyday.  I’m a commissioned salesman, she’s a teacher.  She expects to be paid what she feels she is worth and then she will perform up to that level.  I perform above what I am paid and thereby increase my worth. 

    When I first started out I told my boss that I was going to make myself indespensible to him and our clients and thereby make myself unfireable.  12 years later I’m in the driver’s seat and my wife is still complaining that no one appreciates her.

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      My wife is a school nurse. She is underpaid and under appreciated, too. She may still not be appreciated at a hospital, but she would paid. I love your story, Lauren. 

      He who own’s the clients owns the business! Driver’s seat, indeed!

  • Soul Dancer

    As the author of the only published book (2006) – Pay Me What I’m Worth – (found this article via a google ‘google alert of the term – pay me what I’m worth)  I’m wondering about a few things:

    – for those who DO all the extra “work” mentioned above (they DO prove their worth – many times over) and this “proven track record” is ignored time and time again by managers who seem to favor office politics over actual results – what then?

    – when it comes to cold hard cash – frankly – is there enough money in the world – in all currencies – to adequately “pay” for the sacred resource known as a life?  I’ve known a few 8 digit income earners – who have advanced terminal illnesses. They’d trade the money for their life – in a heart beat!  Thus, for those who believe they’re “worth more” – you’re worth well more than digits on paper . . .  (ask any child who wants to be in their mother’s or father’s lap more – but isn’t because overtime has precedence to pay for “more”.)

    – since publishing this book, leading countless online classes, in-person seminars, retreats (etc.) I come to learn the following from callers, students and participants:

      — worth is a word well worth diving into – the results offer insights that attract more of what we want, while at the same time – repel that which we rather not have

      —  as folks find the gold in ‘learning’ from every moment – a ‘paycheck’ happens in such moments.  Now – the question turns to – did you ‘get what you paid for?”

    SO  much more to share –

    Mahalo (thank you) for an interesting article as well as a forum to share thoughts ;)

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      Thanks, Souldancer. 

      As to your first question regarding what to do if you do the work and are not adequately compensated, there are a range of choices. Ask for more money. Play the office politics yourself. Or, fortunately, your ability to produce means you are attractive others who may be more willing to pay you for the value that you create. You can leave and go somewhere where the value you create will be compensated. 

      Now to your more important point. 

      I agree completely with your worth being more than money. But the principle here is exactly the same, first you do the work, and then you receive the increased reward. There aren’t any human relationships (perhaps the only real currency when it comes to estimating your real worth) that are made stronger through neglect and lack of investment (especially the most important investment of your scarcest resource: time). You can’t decide you are entitled to great human relationships and happiness without being willing to first do the work that this outcome requires. 



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