Condition Yourself for Success Article by: David Sandler

Becoming a good professional salesperson requires the same type of training that other good professionals endure. Athletes, physicians, college professors, firefighters — you name the profession, and the people at the top pay a price every day to stay there. The price they pay is their conditioning. Conditioning is a way of life. It’s a set of rules, sometimes philosophical, but always practical. Those who become top sales performers, and those who remain at the top year after year, condition themselves daily for success. Here is the first rule every salesperson must adhere to to condition yourself for success.


Salespeople have a choice to make every day. They can either be on “pay time” or “no-pay time.” Trouble occurs when you spend too much time on the “no-pay time” side of the line.

Pay time is from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., or whichever part of the day or night is best for presenting your product or service to prospects. This is that special time when prospects are inclined to see you, when you call on referrals, set appointments, and service your customers.

No-pay time is important, too, but it’s set aside for planning, conditioning, learning more about your product or service, and attending meetings. No-pay time usually occurs after 5:00 p.m. and before 9:00 a.m.

When you perform no-pay time activities during pay time hours, you create a worse problem than simply hurting your sales performance. If you’re supposed to be doing one thing, and you know it, but you do something else, two negatives occur:

  • You feel guilty because you’re violating your conditioning.
  • You’re less productive because you’re doing the wrong thing.


If you’re sitting in your office during pay time, but you’re spending hours planning, reading trade literature, conducting meetings, and moving prospect cards from the left side of the desk to the right side, or even if you’re in your car driving from the west side of town to the east side, you may say you’re working, but you know you’re working on the wrong side of the trouble line.

It’s easier for salaried salespeople to violate this conditioning rule than it is for those who get paid on commission. Salaried salespeople may not feel the urgency that comes with a commission-only job. They’re going to collect the same dollar amount week after week, so time management is a less critical issue for salaried employees. However, if you are salaried and you’re spending too much time on the wrong side of the trouble line, you may be just a heartbeat away from termination.

Salary is just another form of commission to a top-performing salesperson. In fact, there’s no such thing as salary in the sales profession. If you now take a salary, I suggest that you stop it. Get yourself on commission. When you do, it will be easier to keep yourself on the right side of the trouble line.

Another trick to help you use pay time productively is to set goals. I’m not talking about annual goals and five-year plans. They have their place, but I’m talking about setting daily goals. Top sales performers condition themselves by beginning every day with goals. “Today, I want to accomplish the following …” and they either record their goals on paper, or they note them mentally. I suggest you keep a daily journal to help you maintain quality time management.

It’s easy to recognize salespeople who violate the trouble-line rule. They’re the hysterical-acting people. Instead of pacing themselves, they fall behind in their work. At the end of the month they scramble to make their quotas, or suddenly they’ve scheduled back-to-back sales calls three days in a row. This hysterical activity is nonproductive. It results in panic. And, it occurs because the salesperson failed to consistently spend time on the right side of the trouble line.

If you want to get to the top of your sales profession, be consistent. Stay on the right side of the trouble line, and make your pay time productive.

This article is from You Can’t Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike at a Seminar, ©1995 by David H. Sandler. All rights reserved. To learn more about Sandler Sales Institute, click here.