That is something I hear a lot. It doesn’t bother me in the least though, because in general, people who say that are right to say it. It’s not their fault, it’s the impostors’ fault.
Who are the impostors? Anyone who calls themselves a salesperson without having been to “sales school”. Now this “sales school” is not an actual brick and mortar school. It it the wealth of information available to us through books, videos, podcasts, audio books and blogs like this, made available by pros in the field.
There are way too many people out there who label themselves salespeople and they could not be further from being one. I like to call these nuisances “peddlers” or “order takers”.
The peddlers think that because they are slick talkers and make sales once in a while without building true long term rapport with their clients, they can call themselves salespeople. False! The order takers, those who know nothing about sales and rely on house accounts who keep repeat ordering and make no effort or have no success at expanding their pipeline and developing new business, they think they can call themselves salespeople. False!
There is a huge misconception as to what a true salesperson is and I will hopefully clear that up in this post, once and for all.
“SELLING” or “SALES”, are such, how can I put it, dirty words. They sound crooked. When someone tells you that a salesperson will be right with you, your brain automatically puts the shields up and all you can think of is defending yourself from being screwed by this disgusting human being they call “salesperson”, which to you is synonymous with “con artist”. And you know what, I can’t blame you for thinking that.
There are those types of people out there, trying to sell you stuff, but they are by no means true salespeople. A naturopath is not a doctor and a decorator is not a designer, in the same way that an untrained, uneducated (in the field of sales) individual cannot be a salesperson.
Unfortunately, there is no degree, certificate or diploma that can make you an official salesperson, so, pretty much anyone can label themselves as such.
You’ll know you have just done business with a legitimate salesperson when you leave and don’t second guess your purchase. I recently leased a new car. It was my second car with this brand and this dealership. I had just finished a 3 year lease term and I wanted a newer version of the same car.
My only non-negotiable demand was that it have a sunroof. Since I work on the road and find myself in my car a lot, I really enjoy the natural light that comes in. I did not care about any other gadget. No GPS, no backup camera, no interactive touchscreen, none of that. Just a sunroof.
I also had a maximum price I was willing to pay, so the “salesperson” had to do some research and get back to me.
He calls me a few weeks later, “I found your car!”, he says. I say “great! I’ll be by tonight to sign the paperwork”. Now keep in mind that there are 2 non-negotiables for this deal to happen, sunroof and price range. I sit down in his office that evening and he proceeds to open my file on his computer to show me the details.
He ends up showing me a model that is 150$ more per month than the budget I had given him. “But this one has all these cool options in it, you’ll love it!”Now, I don’t get mad at him at this point, because I know what he’s doing. He’s showing me a more expensive car in the hopes that I’ll be enticed by all the extra options and end up taking it.
I appreciate his effort, but remind him that I am really not negotiable on my 2 conditions. “Now show me the car you called me about”, I say. “Oh, well, this was it” is his response. It’s getting late and this whole process took over 45 minutes, so I just tell him it’s not going to happen and to call me back when he has something that meets my demands.
A few more weeks go by and I get the call again, he found my car. I meet him at the dealership a few days later. This time, it starts off a little better than the last. He shows me a car that is slightly more expensive than what I had given him as a budget, but it was manageable and not so much more expensive that it was a deal breaker. And then I say, “great! I can work with the price and most importantly, I have my sunroof, where do I sign?”
That’s when I see his face change, “oh, sunroof? This one has no sunroof. It has everything else you want though. Is that ok?”
This is when I ask him how long he has been a car salesman. “Oh! Only 4 months!” is his enthusiastic response. “What was your previous sales job?” I ask. He says ” I wasn’t in sales, I was in the restaurant industry”. I’m thinking the dealership probably saw some potential in him and he’s new, so I shouldn’t rip him a new one for having wasted my time twice. I then say to him, “It must be exciting to change industries and learn something brand new, especially in sales.
So, what kind of training program do they have you on? Are you guys using Grant Cardone ?”. His terrifying answer is “haha! no, no, there is no sales training really and I already know how to talk to people. And who the hell is Grant Cardone? “.
Ladies and gentlemen, please read this carefully. If you manage a sales force, please, for the love of our trade, industry and reputation, get your people to read or listen to Uncle G’s books. Simply put, he’s the best, period.
He can teach an introvert to own a room full of top executives. There is nobody like him on the market. His no nonsense, no b.s. style will whip anyone into sales shape and if he can’t do it, it just means that it was just never possible for that person, which I don’t believe can happen if the person in question really wants to succeed.
I prefer listening to him, because not only does he read his own book, but he also adds a lot of his thoughts on what he’s reading, so he will really elaborate on certain points. He’s not your typical “professional” and “proper” author or businessman, but he will kick your ass with knowledge. Stop wasting your time thinking you know how to “talk to people” and get your sales education from Grant Cardone , among many others.
All this to say that this car “salesman” is the reason people hate anyone in sales. Read this carefully… “SALES IS A SCIENCE IN ITS THEORY AND AN ART IN ITS EXECUTION”. So there really are 2 parts to learning sales. The theory and the execution. Knowing what to do is only half the battle.
Having the guts to do what needs to be done to apply the knowledge you have acquired, that is an art. Having guts doesn’t mean it is going to be difficult. It just means you need to have the desire and discipline to execute what you have learned enough times, that it eventually becomes habit and then, second nature.
Like I tell my kids all the time “If you find something difficult, it only means you haven’t learned how to do it enough yet. Nothing you’ve properly learned to do, is difficult.” What and how are you learning?
My car is my school. All I listen to in my car, are audio books. I have nothing to learn from Beyonce. Taylor Swift will not teach me anything that can make my life better. Katy Perry will not help me be the top salesman in my industry. I never stop learning and never should you.
If you work on the road, you are one of the privileged who can convert your commute time into learning time. I don’t know you, but i can guarantee that you have a lot to learn, especially if you are in sales. You should be listening to books about sales, marketing and psychology. There is an unlimited wealth of information out there that can make you better at what you do.
I was talking to a real estate agent recently and I asked him how many books he reads or listens to every month. He said none, that he likes talk radio. I talked to him about the many benefits of optimizing his commute time by learning and that Audible is the perfect tool to do that. I honestly hate that his first question was “how much does it cost?” instead of “has it really helped you sell more?”, but that’s alright, at least there was interest on his part.
I quickly explained the cost and how many I read per month. “So, you mean to tell me you spend about 50$ per month on books???” was his response. My first thought was that he was right, that wasn’t enough, I should be doing more. I then realized he meant it in the sense that it was a lot of money to be spending monthly on education and that, ladies and gents, is a huge problem among the sales community.
If you are not spending money on education (books, programs, seminars), you are not a serious salesperson. You are probably the reason most people say they hate salespeople. If you think you have nothing to learn from anyone else, you are not a serious salesperson.
If you are not doing everything you can to become the top person in your whole industry, you are not a serious salesperson. You could be putting up decent numbers and getting by, but if you don’t have that drive, that desire to always learn more, be better than everyone else and become the undisputed top gun in your industry, you are not a serious salesperson.
We are swimming in a sea of “average” and it is disgusting. Pride in one’s work or trade is almost non-existent. People create ridiculous titles to hide their true vocation, that way, people won’t judge them, especially in sales. Don’t believe me? Look up all the different fancy titles for salesperson. It’s insane. When someone asks me what I do, I answer loud and proud “I’m a salesman”. Sure, I see “that look” on their face, the one of disgust, but I know they are not thinking of me. They are thinking of those impostors who give us salespeople a bad name.
You might be reluctant to do so, because you have that “dirty” image of a salesperson. I don’t mind at all, because I know what it takes to be a REAL salesperson. All the studying, learning, trial and error, gutsy cold calls, framing the client, asking for the sale, selling for more expensive than my competition, building long standing relationships, all those things make my trade an elite one.
This is not to say that everyone in sales is an elite, but the good ones, the real ones, they are part of the workforce elite for sure.
My buddy had a situation recently that had him cornered. He told me he really didn’t know what to answer to something a prospect had told him. My friend was going through the explanation of his service and how it could benefit the prospect.
You need to know something about this friend of mine. He has a lot of integrity. He would not sell you his service if it didn’t benefit you and your company. Anyway, the pitch is going great. All questions are answered and everything seems to be a great, legitimate fit. I don’t know what it was, maybe this guy had been previously screwed by a sales rep, but after it was very clear that everything would be beneficial for all parties, he comes out with this gem: “everything sounds great, but, you’re just trying to make a sale”.
First of all, that guy is an asshole for saying that. Second of all, of course he’s trying to make a sale! That’s his job! This guy forgot all about how this service will help him and his company grow and be more efficient so that HE can sell more and keep his company alive. He decided to focus on what my buddy was doing instead of focusing on making his company better.
What a loser mentality. The “everyone is out to get me and my money and I should trust nobody” mentality. If you think that way, get over yourself, you’re not that important. “What should I have answered to that?”, my friend asks. I said “The truth!”. I mean, what else can you say? “No, I swear, I’m not trying to sell you, I just want to help?” Fuck that. If you have integrity, believe in your product and service and you know that this sale will truly benefit your client, there is no shame in saying you are making a sale.
“You bet your ass I’m trying to make a sale here. But you’re not an idiot. I couldn’t sell you a thing if you didn’t know for sure that this service is great for your company. My job, is to sell you something that will help you sell whatever it is that you’re selling, so you can stay alive and call yourself a profitable company. I’m making a sale that will help you make sales. If you don’t see that, we can go over everything again.” That is what I would have answered. Never be ashamed or try to hide the fact that you are selling something.
If you are truly genuine in your intentions to help your client while selling, the client should not feel they are “being sold to”.
If you have the privilege of working in sales, please, for the love of whatever you believe in, do it right. Sales is one of the rare jobs where a person with no college education whatsoever, can earn a healthy 6 figure income (even 7 figures is very possible) and gain the skill sets, experience and knowledge to become an entrepreneur in the process. Because if you already know how to sell when you start your business, that will give you enough time to survive until you learn all the other stuff you need to learn to run a successful business.
Now, not having any traditional schooling doesn’t mean you won’t need to educate yourself. To become a successful, top of your field salesperson, you absolutely need to educate yourself. There is no way around it. But let me tell you something. It has been the most fun I have ever had learning .
Once you start on the path of educating yourself in the sales realm, you will not be able to stop, I promise. Unlike traditional schooling, when you learn sales related things, you can apply them immediately to actual real life situations.
And when you try something new that you have learned and it works, whether it is in prospecting, cold calling or closing the sale, you will feel a joy and sense of actual concrete improvement in your life, like you have never felt before. And eventually, if you keep learning and applying (I have been doing it for 13 years and I have no plans on stopping or even slowing down), you might find yourself in situations where you ask yourself “Is it me, or was that too easy?”. It’s never easy, you just get really good.
And the only way, THE ONLY WAY, it will ever feel like it’s too easy is by educating yourself. Never think for one moment that you are above learning. You’re not. And if you still think you are after reading this, please, stop selling and giving the rest of us, the intelligent ones, a bad reputation.
Someone once said to me “I don’t believe sales is a skill that can be learned. I think all those sales books are bullshit”. My first reaction was to laugh, because of course, I thought he was kidding. He wasn’t. Instead of arguing with him and defending sales education, I asked him a simple question, “how many sales books have you read in your entire life?”. He had read 0.0 books. At that moment, I realized there was no point in arguing with someone that shouldn’t even be allowed to discuss the topic. It’s like arguing with someone about how good or bad a movie is, when the other person hasn’t even seen it.
I’m going to wrap this up with a story that perfectly demonstrates why I love being in sales so damn much. I was head hunted by a company in an industry that is in no way related to the one I was currently in.
Long story short, one of the interviewers asks me “After everything you have done in your industry, those 10 years it has taken you to build those relationships, aren’t you worried about jumping into a completely different field?” I respond “I’m not sure what you mean by that. Unless you are saying that the product I am currently selling is my field, then, I would have to correct you. My field is sales, not the product I sell. If I come work for you, I am still in my element, which is sales. So to me, I am not changing fields at all. My field is sales.”
If you choose to sell for a living, please, invest your time and money into learning how to be the best at it. It will be the greatest career decision you will ever make. Sure, there are salespeople who are broke, but the good ones, the really good ones, never go hungry.