Art of Accounting: Hot Shot Sales Manager Is Not Such a Hot Shot

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IMGCAP(1)]A client decided that to grow her business she needed a top-tier sales manager and recruited someone from a much larger competitor.

The negotiations went well, but the asking salary and commission structure seemed out of line. The client wanted me to see if I could come up with a counter package that back-loaded the benefits based on performance, with the understanding that if my client had to cut the relationship her losses would be minimized.

The client arranged for a meeting in her office where I would lay out the offer, and then we would discuss it over lunch as well as the business strategies going forward. On the way to lunch we passed an ATM, and the prospect asked if she could stop for a minute so she could get some cash. She withdrew $40.00.

At lunch I seemed to be much tougher than my client and I decided beforehand, but we made a deal and at much better terms than we planned on. Afterwards the client asked me why I changed so much. I explained that the $40.00 withdrawal indicated that the sales manager was not such a big-picture hot shot as she implied, and she didn't seem to manage her own finances as well as she should. I explained that we made the right deal, understanding that this was the only prospect my client had.

The takeaway here is to be observant of details. When negotiating, use everything at your disposal. You cannot have too much information, and the right information is precious.

Edward Mendlowitz, CPA, is a partner in WithumSmith+Brown, PC, CPAs. He has authored 20 books and has written hundreds of articles for business and professional journals and newsletters plus a Tax Loophole article for every issue of TaxHotline for 27 years. Ed also writes a blog twice a week that addresses issues his clients have at He is the winner of the Lawler Award for the best article published during 2001 in the Journal of Accountancy. He has also taught in the MBA graduate program at Fairleigh Dickinson University, and is admitted to practice before the U.S. Tax Court. Ed welcomes practice management questions and he can be reached at WithumSmith+Brown, One Spring Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, (732) 964-9329,

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