Blog | 6 minutes Read

History of the Sales Hat

The term “wear many hats” is a metaphoric expression which harkens to the mid-1900s when those in different occupations wore specific headgear.

Professionals from every industry have been saying, “Let me put my sales hat on,” for decades, much to the chagrin of folks on the other side of the table.

The foreshadowing of a sales-related activity on the horizon left those influenced by the stigma surrounding sales frightened, even disgusted. So the story goes, nobody likes being sold to; hence, the term “sales hat” and the use of its metaphor created a deep, unctuous groove in the collective consciousness. The idea of literally wearing a hat related to sales was eventually seen as preposterous, callous, even criminal. Why would anyone choose to put such a thing on one’s head?

Fast forward to 2017. A small company with big ambitions set out to demolish the stigma of sales. To champion sales. To redeem the proverbial Sales Hat. The climb seemed insurmountable, but a mission worth leaving it all on the field for.

This humble organization, called Bravado, held a holiday party for its small team of sub-20 on a Wednesday night in late November of 2018. (Investors were thrilled with the sensible, off-peak choice in date-setting.)

It is customary to give a team gift at such events, especially in the startup industry; some call it brand pride, other people call it a shameless way to get (reasonable!) items created on the company dime, depending on who’s placing the order. In this case, the latter, and thus the Sales Hat™ was born, and it made a splash. Black canvas, “dad cap” style, Helvetica - it looked like something Lagerfeld would have worn, unironically, to the beach.

At first, the Bravado family had a hard time figuring out what to do with the hat. It was almost too good to wear. A LITERAL SALES HAT?!!

A few months later, Bravado team members attended The Bi-Coastal Battle - dueling conferences put on by two sales automation rivals  - and in keeping with the tradition of rocking company swag at such events, the Sales Hats™ were packed.

The response was, to put it lightly, violently zealous. “Where did you get that hat?!” attendees cried. “Love the Sales Hat!” they screamed from across the Renaissance lobby.

Everyone in San Diego and Atlanta had to get their hands on a Sales Hat™.

Not long after, Bravado hosted a pitch competition for students in the mentorship program. The prizes? Three remaining Sales Hats. Impressing Gen Z is a litmus test for any good swag, so when the winners of the pitch competition were truly thrilled with their in their spoils and other humans under the age of 24 were asking for one, despite not winning the competition. It was clear the Sales Hat™  had officially found product-market fit.

Today, the Sales Hat™ is much more than an accessory. It’s a way of championing what sales professionals do every day as not just a job, but a toolbox of valuable, consultative skills.

Over 30% of Fortune 500 CEOs come from a sales background because if you’re a leader, you’re never fully dressed without a metaphorical Sales Hat™. We’re all selling something, and we should all look great doing it.