Sleete on Sales

Following the Yellow Brick Road to sales success: Insights inspired by 'The Wizard of Oz'

'Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore!'


Back in the late 1970s I had a client who owned a 740-seat movie theater in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, that will remain nameless to protect the innocent.

It was turned into a venue for showing classic movies and concerts featuring up and coming rock bands such as The Cars, Joan Jett and Devo.

The theater had a smoking loge with parlor piece stuffed chairs. Keeping in mind that this was the late 70s, it was an interesting place to sit and watch the antics of those in the audience for late night screenings of the cult film “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” that — quite frankly — paid the bills for the place.

Beyond getting great seating for the up and comer bands before the business folded and, rumor has it, went up the nose of one of the partner principals of the theater (if you get my drift), I got to eat my lunches while watching the rock group Santana rent the theater for a week to rehearse cuts from their 1977 Moonflower album. The LP was put together as solo musicians in studio as opposed to recording as a band. Carlos Santana wanted to work out any kinks with those tunes before they hit the road for a tour. 

As I am a classic movie buff, I really loved seeing for free, flicks like “Casablanca,” “Gone With The Wind,” the Marx Brothers “Duck Soup,” and Laurel and Hardy’s “Sons Of The Desert,” on the big screen. One in particular that was really neat watching was “The Wizard of Oz” — not on a TV. The scene where Dorothy lands in Oz and opens the door of the house she was riding a tornado in, and the film goes from black and white into full color, was way cool in a theater. 

You are probably aware that there is one controversial scene in the film where after receiving a “brain” in the form of a diploma, the Scarecrow in “The Wizard of Oz” famously says the following: “The sum of the square roots of any two sides of an isosceles triangle is equal to the square root of the remaining side!”  Which know-it-alls have noted, is incorrect. That's a right triangle.

Apparently, scripts from the movie show this error was intentional, and tells that, in essence, the Wizard did very little. The wizard was a fraud and what Dorothy’s fellow friends needed was confidence.  Think America's “Tin Man” tune from the 1970s which has the line, “But Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man; That he didn't, didn't already have.”

The actual math formula which the Scarecrow should have quoted was one that many consider to be the most important one ever — the “Pythagorean theorem” — a theorem in geometry: “the square of the length of the hypotenuse of a right triangle equals the sum of the squares of the lengths of the other two sides.”

In sales there are two math formulas that I have always held as being important, that I dust off and bring out to share annually. Here is this year’s take …

The first sales formula is:

The Where & When

How it works: On the third Friday of a month, in this case let's say for argument's sake it is already 4/19. To make your goals in April, May and June — on the 3rd Friday of this month, you should be at: 100% for April’s goal — 75% of May — 40% of June.

Your personal numbers may be different. Also in tighter economic times, business commitments to place advertising can have wider swings so a normal pattern of your “where and when” may be altered a bit. So, take a hard look at your billing history for the last few months — you’ll see a formula of your own.

Sales Managers: Same thing for your overall goal. Lots of reports can tell you where you ARE. But this tells you where you OUGHT to be, in order to make your number.

The second formula is…

Your IAM

$ Billing ÷ # of Accounts = Invoice: Average Monthly

What does it tell you?

What you are good at.

What your clients think you are worth.

What you think you are worth.

50/50 sign of what works.

And keep this in front of you to get there . . .

Updated Daily

“Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” It’s a phrase that has come to mean that we have stepped outside of what is considered normal.

Sellers working with formulas like these are sadly not normal. Most salespeople have no real clue as to what “their numbers” are as in the above two examples. You need to step out of the norm and be at your best when your best is needed. These numbers are a daily call to action to get you there. Getting through this year successfully will take your brains, some courage and heart! Use them all!

Jeff Sleete is a 50+ year broadcast industry veteran — sales manager/GM/corporate sales head. He most enjoys helping sales departments position themselves as “mavens” (experts) of business to be more successful at selling advertising. Fundamentally, Jeff is a salesman. Through his media sales consultancy, Sleete Sales Script, he provides a daily road map for sellers of any media outlet type to be more consultative in their approach to their clients and set themselves apart from all their competition. Learn more about Jeff at Or reach him at


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