My First Sales Job: Stories of a Salesman

Glengarry Glen Ross- “We’re adding a little something to this month’s sales contest. As you all know, first prize is a Cadillac Eldorado. Anybody want to see second prize?
Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you’re fired.”

                                    Tom Gerald Part 1:                 

Tom Gerald was a boss of mine for a few months. He was a Senior Lead Recruiting Director for “Always Hired Inc,” located  downtown. It was a big office. The elevator doors would open right to the waiting room with an open kitchen for drinks and food for guests and visitors.  The sitting area had a big sectional leather sofa with a huge TV in front of it. For some reason, ESPN was always on. A long hallway lead to the call center, with a huge room with big bay windows overlooking the streets of Boston.

A Newbury heaven.

He had a team of 10 aggressive superstars banging the phones for him, to prospect new hiring managers with jobs to fill. Tom was in charge of finding candidates for the job. Most of these jobs were for Directors, Managers, and VP’s. I was 3 months in, working relentlessly, calling into companies 2- 300 times a day. I made it easy for Tom.

Real easy.

If Tom got some poor sap a job, he would get thirty three perecnt of their first year’s salary. Salaries were averaging 90k,100k and up a year.

Tom was placing 15-20 candidates a month. He dressed well, always smiling, a family man and always worked hard and had plenty of time to motivate his team. He carried himself well, had a big house in the suburbs, and respected everyone.

He had dark hair, tall, fit and deep contagious voice. The secretaries and admins loved him. He was the American Dream.He was a hero among  us all because he just exuded confidence, encouragement and persuasion.Sometimes he would show me his commission checks ranging from forty to fifty dollars a month. He would wink and point to me and say, “you’re next!” and walked away and looked back as if he knew I was going to be a rising star.”More jobs”, he would say. “More jobs!”

He was intimidating, exciting, and always kept his guard up. Always smiling and encouraging us to be the best. When he got pissed, our only answer was to dial more and create action. The ten of us creating noise was peace and quiet to Tom. Like someone that needed the tv on at night to go to bed.Music to his ears. It soothed him and excited him all at the same time.I used to hear Tom, telling CEO’S, “Listen, I got a guy right now ready to work for you ASAP!” “He has been unemployed for awhile, but he’s hungry, I tell ya!”

He was talking about Larry Griggs. Larry Griggs wasn’t attractive. He was middle aged, and didn’t carry himself well. His posture was horrible, but Tom said “he was the man.”

He said he was “perfect.”

And when Tom found perfect candidates, he sold them as perfect.

He was a pimp and we were finding the right street corners to put them all on.He would slam the phone down with a smile, looking out his office window, overlooking Boylston St into Copley Square and sighing, and whispering to himself, “this is too damn easy.” After every sale, he would close his office door as he peered through those big office windows of his, and  his wife would call him at 1:00 in the afternoon and he would talk to his 5 year old son, acting like an infant for 5 minutes and hang up, and  then march back into our call center and give us 10 minute speech on his success and how big his b*lls were.
If we got a hiring manager to use us for a mid managerial job that needed to be filled, Tom cut us checks for a thousand dollars. If it was a Director level?.. two thousand dollars. If there was a VP vacancy?.. well, he would flat out ask us, what we wanted.

He treated us well, if we produced. And we did.

I did.

Some days we would come in the morning and there would be a new watch at our desk.

A plasma tv.

Tickets for a Red Sox Playoff Game.

If he was happy, there was no price.                     

                          Tom’s big secret

I thought he was brilliant, even when he got fired. It was a Friday and it was the last Friday of the month. We all had checks and gifts on our desks. Even when I saw him on his last day, putting all his crap in a box, I thought it was a joke.His wife used to call him every day at 1:00PM in the afternoon. I saw him packing and his office phone kept ringing and then his cell phone. He looked out the window, the same window he looked out of after every big sale.

I could see  his reflection and I finally saw it. A rich man weeping like a baby. Every other week, Tom had candidates come in. Some were familiar faces.

Too familiar.

Some were washed up, old executives with bad gambling habits, or bad womanizers with drinking problems.

My desk was right behind our front desk. I could peer out and see who was waiting to talk to Tom. It was Tom’s job to qualify these candidate as hopeful hires.Young experienced men in their  late twenty’s and thirty’s hardly got placed.

Women never got second interviews.

It was always middle aged men on the verge of divorce, or men with plenty of experience but with obvious flaws that you could pick up instantly. Booze breath, red eyes, old clothes, beer gut, unshaven.

Defeated prize fighters.

Ex champions, walking down to Tom’s office to old 80’s heavy metal songs for one more fight.
Tom’s secret to his success slowly leaked out. It’s always obvious in hindsight, right? Tom’s secretary would suddenly be freaking out. She would say, “Tom, you have an urgent call, regarding Mr. Griggs!”

It all started one day when a CEO, who had agreed to hire Larry Griggs as a Director, was pounding on Tom’s office door. Security had to escort him outside. He was infuriated. At the time, we had no idea who he was. We all  thought  that he was some poor sap that didn’t get hired or Tom had just ignored his resume for the last few months.

                              Larry Griggs and friends:

Larry Griggs used to be a Director of Sales for some big company 5 years ago. Larry has been unemployed since. Larry is an alcoholic and a widow but used to be the man according to Tom. Any hiring manager would think Larry is an ideal candidate. Fully qualified and but not too savvy. Larry’s first day at his new job meant Tom would get a check for $25,000.00 His check would clear 30 days after their first official day.

I remember all those questionable candidates, wondering how the hell Tom sold them to companies like high class prostitutes when they were really middle aged crack whores barely hanging on.

But he did it.

He sold them all.

And sold them again and again.
A month or two would go by and Larry Griggs would go out for a smoke break and never return back to work and would be back in Tom’s office looking for a new job.Tom had lots of unstable  clients that we were once unbelievably high spirited aggressive Sales and Marketing executives.Was Tom just capitalizing on his highly popular job hopping clients with very unstable lifestyles?

Was that the truth?

Could it be?

We saw Larry Griggs a lot. The two time Director of Marketing that would flee jobs for happy hour.

Or Steve McCurry, the sex addict who bailed out after 3  months.

And Brice Williams and Mark Comber, both who moved back home with their parents. A month later, they would show up again.

It was unreal how these guys kept showing up at the office as if it was a  McDonalds to eat another happy meal.

Stray cats trying to get fed again.

Drug addicts trying to get clean.

Alcoholics reintroducing themselves to the group.

These man had no savings, 401k’s, IRA’s or even benefits. Just themselves and their baggage. I am staring at an old Red Sox ticket stub pinned to my cubicle wall. I am gripping my coffee mug, that says “I LOVE MY BOSS.” I see Tom has 27 recommendations on his Linked-In Page. And I see Tom taking down his sales plaques from his bookshelf.

                             The Job:

Could it be possible that these pathetic schmucks knew that working every other month would mean getting a decent cut for Tom? Were they in “it” too? Were they actually job hopping and collecting?

Were more angry CEO’s coming to get Tom?Or were they really trying to find that one job that could fit their dysfunction? What was really going on? The whole team was dumbfounded. Tom’s secretary didn’t know what to do.

Angry inbound phone calls were flying off the hook. She eventually had to quit because of the verbal abuse she received on the phone.Tom’s motive was apparently clear.


He practiced what he preached. But how was he able to keep the gig going?

Why was he demanding so much from us to find new hiring CEO’s, and VP’s?

He had seats to fill.Lots of seats to refill.

But greed isn’t what got Tom fired.

Greed wasn’t what the company frowned upon.

It had turned out that Tom was deleting all recent history of jobs on his client’s new updated resumes.

Jobs that he had placed and now resubmitting them to new hiring CEO’s that have never interviewed or heard of people like Larry Griggs or Mark Comber or Brice Williams. One month of employment was gone . Poof!Larry’s job gap was getting longer and longer because Tom has been deleting all the jobs he had given him.

So his 5 years of being employed was non existent.

Human Resource Departments never knew.

Their background checks haven’t caught with Larry yet.

All because of Tom.

The Process:

 All his friends and clients had excuses for not working .The big government  bail out laid out all the excuses. Most of them were in finance, the auto industry and manufacturing. It all worked out great. What a spectacular time to tell hiring managers you worked for Washington Mutual, Bank of America, Dodge and GM.And right then and there, they completely understood. For the first time, surviving VP’s were empathetic and overlooked a few petty discrepancies.They looked after their own and were loyal to applicants around their age and Tom knew that.

Tom was like a waiter, waiting for the next rush and then wait for the turn over.

Which one of his client’s 30 days were up, in order to get him to the next interview for another cut?

If the new VP of Marketing for Comcast with the booze breath and red eyes got the job, what makes you think he wouldn’t get the next job with Verizon?

Repeat customers all on Tom’s treadmill of employment. Baffled hiring CEO’s wondered where the hell their new hires went?  And now Tom was packing all his shit in a box. That his actions have made him just like his degenerate clients.

Reports had shown that 18 out of his 30 clients had left jobs 1 day after Tom’s checks had cleared. But as I saw Tom packing up all his shit, still looking out the window, with his phone still ringing…I thought, how the hell was he going to sell this to his wife on this tonight.

                                     Usual Suspect

Tom left the office fairly quickly. His office was almost empty. Corporate emails were sent out updating the status of Tom and when he was expected to depart the building. Security guards escorted him out.The whole office bet 10 to 1 that Tom’s clients weren’t in on the scam. He left his sales plaques and trophies in his office. Some still mounted on his wall and other left on his desk for the janitor.

He passed my desk, tried to smile and whisked to the hallway. And right there, something flew out of his box.I picked it up instantly. I just needed an excuse to say good bye to him. And looked at it.

A picture of Tom.

Fresh out of college.

At a bar with friends.

Some young, some older.

And there it was, a younger Larry Griggs, holding a pint of beer, yelling at the camera.

No beer gut, combed hair, wearing a suit and tie.

I quickly went back to the office bet, finally knowing the truth. I ran back to my computer logging in, to place a bet, thinking of that final scene in Usual Suspects as Verbal is walking out of the police station.

Agent Kujon drops his coffee mug.

And Larry Griggs, ex Director of Marketing is in the car waiting for Tom.

(To Be Continued…)


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40 thoughts on “My First Sales Job: Stories of a Salesman

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  3. Excellent post and a gripping story. Have gone through my share of bad and sneaky bosses. You can say some of them ‘inspired’ me to start writing down the sneaky sales tips I have picked up on my blog :). Just one question though – from my limited knowledge of this business model, aren’t you supposed to provide a replacement to the client within a few months if the candidate moves out?


  4. Anti. Thanks for sharing! I’ll have to check out your stories as well. My knowledge is just as limited as yours but a good question nevertheless.


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  16. its been a year since you uploaded the first part. when you add the other part? or the whole story rather? its a good story but its not complete yet. i hope you finish it because its interesting to read.

    Liked by 1 person

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