Screen Shot 2012-01-02 at 7.33.00 PM

Why You Need a Sincere Belief in Your Company

I sometimes cringe when I hear salespeople say things like: “I carry the flag for my company,” or “I support everything we are doing. If you tell me to do it, I am going to march.” Statements like these are passive-aggressive, and the salesperson mistakenly believes that it conceals how they really feel about what they are being asked to do and what they believe in their hearts. Sadly, it doesn’t.

What lies beneath?

Beneath a salesperson’s protestations that they are loyal and that they are going to do the work their company needs them to do, is their unyielding resistance. They mistakenly believe that carefully chosen words are enough to prove their loyalty. They aren’t.

They are also mistaken in their belief that saying that they are loyal is enough to prove their loyalty. It isn’t.

Their words betray them. Your loyalty isn’t measured by words pledging your undying allegiance to your company. And words can’t disguise your insincerity, your cynicism, or your resistance to doing what your company needs you to do.

If you resist your management’s initiatives, especially with the kind of passive-aggressive resistance that damages you, your company, and your peers, pledges of loyalty mean nothing. You are a force for negativity.

If you don’t sell what your company needs you to sell because you don’t believe in it, there are no words that can prove your loyalty. Your lack of a sincere belief in your company will destroy your ability to produce sales results because you will pull your punches.

You need to believe to sell. Sincerely.

Your loyalty is measure by your actions

A loyal employee, that includes salespeople, doesn’t have to tell anyone that they are loyal to their company or that they sincerely believe in the company. Instead, they march.

Loyal salespeople do their job. They aren’t passive-aggressive. They don’t try to wait management out on their current initiatives. They don’t stir up resistance, and they aren’t rabble-rousers. When they really disagree with their company or their management, they stand and fight for change within their company. They advocate for their clients without believing that their company is less than it really is. They know that business isn’t easy and some decisions are difficult to understand—and they act accordingly.

This doesn’t mean that they like everything about their company or everything that their company does. But it does mean that they march, they sell, and they produce results.

If you would be believed loyal

If you want others to believe you are loyal, behave in a manner consistent with what you want people to believe: Be loyal.

If you disagree with management, there are other choices. You can stand and fight for what you believe needs to be done. That isn’t disloyal; it means you care enough to try to make your company better. You need the patience to know that it may take time to do what is right, and you may not understand everything you need to understand to know what a good decision is. Selling inside isn’t passive resistance.

If you really don’t believe in your company, you are wrong to take their money, wrong not to deliver the results for which you are paid, and wrong to sell your clients something you don’t believe is right for them. Your continuing to take a paycheck while professing your loyalty doesn’t make you a sincere believer. There are other choices that you can make that will prove how strong are your beliefs.


Is it enough to profess your loyalty to your company while behaving as if you don’t?

Are words enough to prove your loyalty and your sincere belief?

What is the best course of action you can take when you don’t believe in your company and what they sell?

What is the right course of action when you disagree with a decision that management has taken?

What do you owe yourself when you don’t have a sincere belief in your company? Could your company and its management be right and could you be mistaken?

Join my weekly Newsletter or apply for membership in my exclusive Inner Circle Mastermind Group.

Subscribe to my weekly podcast In the Arena.



  • Saul Fleischman

    Reads great, Ian, but what do you do when you’ve searched high and low, and for months on end for a company that isn’t downright nefarious?  And so, what you can barely get into is a company that expects you to sell icecubes to Eskimos (and “loyalty” in the eyes of your boss is how poisonous a water supply you are willing to draw from to make your icecubes…?)  But it isn’t enough to pretend to be “on their team?” Sorry, but this reads like the stuff of  the ubiquitous *Sales Trainer* or your in-house Sales Manager – who whizzes on you to see how enthusiastically you will cheer for the rain.  Times are tough, and we often can only get a job in a company we know to be seriously up to no good.

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      I am not sure where one was looking, Saul, but I’d suggest that one isn’t really looking high and low if all they find is “downright nefarious.” That is too rare a find, and there are very businesses that fit that bill because there are very few people that fit that bill. 

      Selfish people? Sure. Poor leaders and managers? Absolutely. Evil? Fortunately rare. 

      I hear what you are saying, but there are almost no sales organizations that ask people to sell to a market that doesn’t need what they sell. Regardless of the old saw about salespeople with that ability, it’s too damn hard, time is too damn short, and it’s a recipe for certain failure. 

      It’s bullshit to believe that one can only get a job in a company that is up to no good. That’s too broad a belief to be true. It’s more likely the lens through which they see the world is tainted, not the world itself. 

      • Saul Fleischman

        There are companies that are not always on the lookout for new ways to introduce cigarettes to yet younger children and embark on other similarly loathsome endeavors.  Lots of people have them (and they’re holding on for dear life, with the economy in its current state!)  At age 45, I have yet to be considered for a bonafide J.O.B. by one of them.

  • Cara Celli

    I understand the point, and I like that you said, Anthony. That we may never agree with everything our company does. But we can still love our company, and not agree with everything they do. Just like you may love someone in your family, or your best friend, and not agree with them. But you can still love them any way. And yes, it really does help to believe in what you’re selling. It makes all the difference in the world between just taking your company’s money, and actually believing in what you’re doing:D

  • Anonymous

    A wise person once said, “Either drink the Kool-Aid or go find some Kool-Aid that you will drink.” You might hate your company and you are entitled to, but what you aren’t entitled to do is to, like you say, simultaneously hate them and take their money. If the only person whose values you can agree with enough to sell for them is yourself, then start your own thing. But, whatever you do, believe in it or simply don’t do it. We’re quick to blame our companies for being evil, but what are we if we are pretending to be something we’re not in order to get a paycheck?

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Doug. I am going to steal that bit about the Kool-Aid! 

  • Dan Veronese

    Interesting take. My experience is that companies should be focused on earning loyalty themselves. (And I have been lucky by working with some great companies with strong leadership)  The observation goes both ways and although I am very happy in my current situation and company, many I know also struggle finding a company that is committed to the individual, not just the “sales”, especially in the last few years. And while this may be true when one is younger, I know many experienced people with tremendous attributes-not just sales acumen-that are out of work and yearning for a place to call “home” and provide 100% to their success.  If you’re lucky to find a company that has a top-down commitment to their people, you have found a good one and hopefully a long and successful relationship. 

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      I couldn’t agree more, Dan! My target audience wasn’t companies, but I agree that the agreement needs to run both directions. Here’s a list a of links for those that might chance upon this post and believe I an suggesting otherwise. 
      The Real Method to Improve Performance Evaluations and Results (A Note to the Sales Manager)Three Options for Underperforming Sales Reps (A Note to the Sales Manager)Investment First, Results Second (A Note to Sales Leaders)Who Do You Serve? A Note to the Sales ManagerCohesion is a Force Multiplier (A Note to the Sales Leader)Why Should They Follow You (A Note to the Sales Manager)They Will Be What You Are (A Note to the Sales Leader)Your People Are Your Only Asset (A Note to the Sales Manager)Thanks for sharing your thoughts!Anthony

      • Ted Coine

        Anthony, these links don’t link.

  • Lois Kelly

    Great thought provoking post. Some people — sales reps and execs — have religion  but have no faith in their companies.  Sales reps have to really believe in order to serve customers. Otherwise, they’re kind of like intelligent, well-meaning pimps. Similarly, execs need to believe in their reps — what the field is telling them about customer needs is advice worth heeding.

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      Andy Grove wrote about it in his bio (Only the Paranoid Survive). Salespeople  are the best source of information. . . they are closest to the clients. 

  • Ted Coine

    Anthony, Here’s a question I wonder about all the time: what about when the product a pro is asked to sell is terrific, so it’s something she is proud to represent? She enjoys and respects her clients, and carved out a good life for herself selling for this company. All’s good, except that the management – be it sales management up the ladder, or the leadership on the executive team – is either unethical or, as is much more likely, doesn’t care about the sales staff and so occasionally policies are unfair?

    This is a composite example; I’m not thinking of one company in particular. I’ve found this type of situation isn’t that rare, though, especially in cases of a long-serving sales pro who faces a turnover in leadership. 

    I have a lot of respect for your insight, so I’m eager to hear your take on this.

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      I believe the salesperson is obligated to stay and fight within their own company . . . to a point. If their management is unethical, then the salesperson might even be obligated to leave, especially if it would make her appear to her clients to be unethical (trust is our currency in sales–and all relationships). 

      Your second point is even worse. Everyone needs someone at work that cares enough about them to ensure that they succeed. Sales managers that don’t care for their people deserve to lose them, and they deserve their poor results. In this case, a salesperson may do better to sell a lesser product for better people.