Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
Sales reps and sales managers can be tough to shop for, but that doesn’t mean you get a pass on giving a terrible gift this holiday season. We’ve already offered some helpful gift ideas for the sales professional in your life to ensure you give them something phenomenal. But if you’re set on buying something different, make sure that you don’t buy a horrible, clichéd sales gift this holiday season.
Unless you actually want anyone to roll their eyes and sigh with disappointment when they open your present, you should avoid buying anything featured on this list. Here are the things you should absolutely, positively, never buy for any sales professional – EVER.
1. An Old-School Sales Book
There are good sales books, and then there are bad sales books. We don’t want to name names, but some sales books have become an industry cliché at this point. If the book was written before the internet existed, for example, it’s probably not all that applicable to inside sales reps today. Reps aren’t interested in learning sales tips that were old and rusty when they were published back in the 1980s. You don’t want to give a book that bores them to tears, or worse – one that’s a joke to anyone in sales. Instead, check today’s sales bestseller list or choose one of these great sales books to buy. If you don’t want your gift to end up gathering dust on the shelf, make sure you give a book they’ll actually read and enjoy.
2. A DVD of Glengarry Glen Ross
“It’s about sales,” you think. “They’ll love it!” Unfortunately, no, they won’t. Any person really dedicated to the craft has probably already seen Boiler Room, Wolf of Wall Street, Glengarry Glen Ross and many other sales-based movies. If someone is in sales and hasn’t watched these movies yet, they probably don’t want to and aren’t going to. While it may seem like a clever gift to you, this is yet another tired cliché to most sales reps. You may have heard them make a quip about “ABC” from time to time, but that doesn’t mean they want to spend their free time watching a dramatized version of their work life. If they really want to watch a sales movie, they can just stream it on Netflix anyway.
3. The Phone Book
We’re half-joking here, since we know no one would be mean enough to give a phone book as a gift. While everyone’s starved for good sales leads, it’s horrible to imagine a world where paging through the phonebook could actually be a source of quality leads for a rep. But really, no one really thinks it’s a great gift to add a bunch of leads to their queue as year ends either. Reps don’t want a huge queue to clean up between Christmas and New Years, and would rather be with their families and friends. Save the gift of great leads for after January 1, and look elsewhere for a holiday gift.
4. A Tie
Seriously, a tie? Just because someone works in sales doesn’t mean they necessarily wear a tie every day. Most reps today do inside sales, and a lot of offices are fine with business casual – no ties needed. For women in sales, unless they’re going for the Annie Hall look, they’re also probably not interested getting a tie for a gift, or a pencil skirt for that matter. Even if the rep you’re shopping for does wear a tie daily, he probably already has many ties, and definitely doesn’t need a novelty tie with Grumpy Cat’s face on it. No matter how you shake it, skip the tie.
5. A Headset
You may think a comfortable and high-quality headset is a thoughtful gift for a sales professional who’s always on the phone, but they definitely don’t want one. Even though many reps wear a headset day in and day out for hours on end, it’s not exactly an item that needs to be upgraded to something luxurious. Plus, what office are they working at that didn’t already buy one for them? If the rep you’re buying for loves high-quality sound, get them a nice set of headphones to enjoy music with instead. They’ll be much more appreciative.
6. A GPS
At this point, GPS-only devices have gone the way of the Road Atlas – they’re pretty much obsolete. Almost everyone has a smartphone, which has Google Maps, so what’s the point of buying a single-function GPS? A car-mounted phone holder might be a good gift, but it’s still not the best buy for a sales professional. Most reps are doing inside sales, so most people really don’t need a GPS for work. Consider more fun and interesting technology as a gift – like a smartwatch or a fitness tracker. They’ll enjoy it more, and hate you less.
7. A Motivational Poster
While meant to inspire hope and optimism, a motivational poster is really just a reminder that the rest of the world considers sales to be a depressing and awful job. No matter how adorable the kitten or happy the panda bear, the poster is more likely to infuriate than motivate sales reps. If you don’t want your gift to end up crumpled up in the trash, don’t buy that kitschy poster – no matter how adorable you think it may be.
8. A Postcard from the President’s Club
At the end of the year, many companies award the top 1% or 2% of sales reps a trip to a fantastic destination as they join the President’s Club, the Winner’s Circle or the Chairman’s Club. The worst possible gift would be to send postcard to the rest of the team when you’re off enjoying your reward trip. It’s yet another reminder that you’re the best, while every other rep missed their goals and is struggling this year. Beyond passive aggressive, this isn’t a gift at all – it’s a slap in the face. Unless you’re a jerk, you might want to buy the other reps on your team something else this year.
9. A #1 Sales Rep Mug
There’s nothing worse than an award you did nothing to earn or deserve. Unless the rep is actually #1 on their sales team that month, this mug will offer reps a daily dose of insecurity and inadequacy mixed with their coffee. Being #1 is only satisfying when you’re actually #1 and you earned it. But even then, this isn’t a great gift. No rep is always #1 and most reps aren’t interested in looking back on past accomplishments – they’re focused on tomorrow’s success.
If you care at all about the sales professional in your life, you’ll never buy them a single item on this awful list. However, if you really hate a sales rep somewhere, you know what to do – it’s time to overnight ship the nearest phone book with a motivational poster and a note that says, “Hope you enjoy the new leads! Happy Holidays! : )”