Nobody likes to be stereotyped. It can be unpleasant when others make assumptions about you based on where you’re from, what you look like, or what you do for a living. The last one is perhaps the least harmful, but nevertheless, it can still cause pain, confusion, and create unpleasant situations that could otherwise have been avoided.
Salespeople, more than most professions, tend to be unfairly maligned. The stereotypes that exist have been created through years of caricatured representations in pop culture, and as a result of the actions of a few bad apples that taint the profession for everybody else. And oftentimes, these stereotypes cross the line into flat-out lies.
The truth, however, is a lot more complicated. The sales profession is as diverse as the country, with people from all walks of life, different backgrounds, and varied personality types choosing to make their living in sales. This is why the most common lies about salespeople should never be believed. Here are the most pervasive ones:
1. Salespeople are unskilled
One of the most pervasive lies about salespeople is that they’re unskilled labor. And while it’s true that there are usually no formal training requirements for a sales role, there are a myriad of skills a salesperson needs to learn, from communication, to negotiation, to a mastery of the sales process, to new technology, not to mention the company’s product lineup and all its nuances. Calling salespeople unskilled is a lie.
2. Salespeople are all pushy
While some salespeople are indeed pushy, if you surveyed every sales manager on the planet, there’s a good chance that ninety percent of them would say the opposite. The days of the pushy salesperson (if they ever truly existed) are coming to a close, as the internet has empowered buyers like never before. These days, salespeople act as consultants and educators, and there are few industries where a pushy, fly-by-night sales rep can survive, let alone thrive.
3. Salespeople are dishonest
Similar to the above, it would be inaccurate to say that there aren’t salespeople who lie, but it would be even more inaccurate to say that most (or even many) do. Like every profession (lawyers, members of congress) there are dishonest elements in sales, but most salespeople are honest, hard-working people trying to earn a living, and the overwhelming majority of sales organizations would fire anybody caught lying on the spot. Salespeople are no less honest than the general public, and any assertion to the contrary is simply not true.
4. Salespeople have control over pricing
This lie can serve as a source of contention among prospects and potential buyers during negotiations. Most people think that a sales rep has control over pricing, and that they will be able to get more favorable terms if they simply negotiate more aggressively. The truth, however, depends on the organization. In some cases, the sales rep does have some leeway when it comes to pricing, but that’s not always the case. Many organizations have set pricing, and a sales rep can’t do anything without approval from above. So the next time a salesperson tells you they can’t give you a break, don’t assume they’re lying — more than likely, they’re telling the truth.
5. Sales is easy
Sales is simple, but it’s certainly not easy, otherwise the turnover wouldn’t be anywhere near as high as it is. The role requires endless sustained effort, an ability to deal with near-constant rejection, and a tolerance for stress unlike most other professional jobs. Anybody who says that sales is easy has never done it, because most experienced sales reps know how hard they’ve had to work in order to succeed. It might not be overly complicated, but it sure isn’t easy.
6. Salespeople all make a fortune
Another common misconception, the idea that salespeople all make a great deal of money is simply not true. In reality, the incomes of salespeople vary widely, from the low five-figures all the way into the millions. An ambitious salesperson who looks for new opportunities can climb the ladder, while others are content to have a reliable job that can afford them a solidly middle-class lifestyle. Saying all salespeople make a fortune is like saying that all jewelry is expensive — it might sound good, but it’s just not true.
7. Salespeople are uneducated
This is perhaps one of the most unpleasant lies told about salespeople, because the person doing the lying is usually saying it with a sneer of condescension. The truth is that there are plenty of salespeople with undergraduate and even advanced degrees, and many companies require a degree for their sales roles, though that seems to be changing. Putting that aside, calling a salesperson who hasn’t earned a degree uneducated is inaccurate as well. There are endless examples of non-degreed salespeople who learned the intricacies of business through their positions and went on to have wildly successful careers. Calling salespeople uneducated is an offensive blanket statement meant to denigrate an entire profession, and it’s nothing more than a lie.
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