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The life of a salesman. Why common courtesy has everything to do with it

October 23, 2012

Salesman. The word inspires fear in most consumers. Someone who isn’t quite human. Someone who makes his living convincing other people to spend their hard-earned money. A person not to be trusted. I’m not exactly sure why that is, but it makes me angry.

I’m tired of hearing entrepreneurs say, with fear-tinged pompousness, “I’m NOT a salesman.”  I’ve worked in sales of some sort my entire life. If you own your own business, you damn well better be a salesman — and a good one. Quite the opposite of what most people expect, I find great sales people to be rare and talented creatures, strong and resilient individuals who can put everything on the line every day. Unlike most people in the workforce, who expect to earn a paycheck just for showing up, a salesperson understands that his paycheck is a direct indicator of how good he is and how much effort he puts in.

I want to talk about that today because I am angry. “Fightin’ mad,” as my son would say. I am a salesperson, as every entrepreneur is, and the man I love is a commissioned employee. What does that mean? Well, it means we deal with bad behavior nearly every day. Ignoring phone calls, rude statements, dishonesty, a lack of loyalty and even outright insults. These are all things we teach our children never to do to another human being. Yet, we seem to find it socially acceptable when dealing with a salesman. We say things like, “I’ll call you tomorrow,” or “I’m planning to sign up for that this afternoon.”  Then nothing. No response, no call, no explanation. When our conscious nags a little too loudly, we rationalize “He or she is ‘just a salesman, I don’t have to be nice.’”

When dealing with salespeople we tend to forget everything or grandmothers ever taught us about treating people with respect and dignity. Those of us who spend our lives in sales have thick skin. We’re used to being treated like garbage. Although we hate to admit it, it still hurts. After all, salespeople have feelings, too, and chances are pretty good that the salesperson you are treating like crap is a hard-working man or woman trying to support his family in the best way he can just like you.

“Why would I be nice to you! You’re just a salesman. Scum of the earth…Not even human.”

So the next time you are dealing with a salesman, why not treat him with the same courtesy you would give your own client? Because, as a salesperson, this is what I know: Most of the sales people I know are much more concerned about your success than someone who receives a paycheck regardless of whether you do business with them. They are much more concerned about making sure you are happy and prosperous, because they know that happy customers tell their friends and happy customers come back. They know that how good they are and how much money they make is directly affected by how well they treat you.

So, let me suggest that the next time you encounter a salesperson you treat them like the extraordinary professionals most of them are; because most of us who are in sales, whether, as a business owner or a commission sales person, know that the customer experience is where our paycheck comes from. We know, too, that consumers usually will treat us like crap and so the few who treat us well and value our expertise will always receive the best deals, the best service, and all the extra goodies that come along with being good to your fellow man.

Oh, and if you are an entrepreneur, repeat after me: “I am a saleswoman and proud of it!” No one ever succeeded in business without making sales.

Have a horror story about your time as a salesperson? Share in the comments!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 23, 2012 7:24 pm

    You go girl! I am an entrepreneur, I am a saleswoman, and very proud of it! Being able to get up every day and help solve other’s problems, providing help and results to those who need it, allows me to walk away with my head held high, feeling great that I was able to fill their needs. Even those who I may have to refer onto others because it’s out of my scope of services, in which I don’t make a dime, makes me feel amazing, just knowing I’ve given them someone who can help them out, and knowing I’m helping that person get a referral as well. There is nothing like this feeling, and when I do run into those who are inconsiderate or don’t realize my expertise, I just keep in mind all of those who love me for who I am, what I do, and I stay confident knowing that what I do, is always with the best interest of my customers in mind, knowing they realize that and appreciate me by their repeat business and word of mouth referrals. Thanks for sharing this Renia — because sometimes these mean people can get you feeling down, but by reading your blog, and writing my reply, has given me back a confidence that sometimes these people tear down. Wishing you and “the man you love” the best as you go out as an entrepreneur and commissioned sales person :)

    • October 24, 2012 7:11 am

      Thanks Jackie! LOVE this reply and remembering that what we are really doing is serving others.

  2. wallnp permalink
    October 31, 2012 3:57 pm

    so true!

  3. Mark permalink
    November 20, 2012 6:14 pm

    It is a shame how sales people tend to be the only people it is perfectly alright to be rude to, ignore them completly, or presume they’re dishonest just because they’re in sales. Yes some sales people have done things to earn these titles (and more sometimes), but people do forget we are still people too, and we are just trying to make a living like them. My skin has gotten very tick over the last year of selling, but it does still wear on me too sometimes. That’s why anytime someone trys to sell me something, I at least let them have their say, then kindly say I’m not interested (unless I am interested of course), because it’s what I would like for me. Sold cars, moved to Verizon Fios. Now number one sells in Verizon Fios of my area, promoted to location manager in a month of working. Cause I respect the customer, am honest with my deal, and don’t just bad mouth the other guys (Time Warner).

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