ProImpress | An Ode to Salespeople
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24 Jun An Ode to Salespeople


A 19th-Century Poem Reflects the Spirit of Selling

A framed copy of “IF” by Rudyard Kipling hung on my wall next to my bed as a young girl. It’s outwardly an ode to being a man, so I’m grateful that my father found it appropriate to place it in the room of his two daughters rather than the rooms of his four sons. These many years later, I’m surprised – and grateful – to realize how often Kipling’s lyrical rhymes come to mind at just the right moments to support me in my role as a salesperson: to bolster my resolve at a difficult time with a client or prospect; to remind me to operate in integrity when a shortcut would be easier and “who would know”; to embolden me to remain in the competitive race even when I face possible rejection or failure; and to celebrate the fun and excitement of living and working in service to my clients.

For me, Kipling’s rousing invocations are a surprisingly relevant rallying cry for salespeople today, from all walks of life.

by rudyard kipling (1865-1936)

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master,
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will, which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man*, my son!