‘Sales people are the most vital people in any business. Without sales, the biggest and most sophisticated companies shut down’ – Just Williams.
Sales impacts us all on a daily, almost hourly basis, whether it be on a personal or professional level; why do we still have such a distain and distrust for not only the word, but also anyone who dares to attach themselves to this term. To detoxify this word completely, it is important to first understand why people instinctively react in such a negative way to the concept of sales as a whole.
Sales is largely thought of as a dirty word due to what is usually associated with it. Daniel Pink the bestselling author of ‘To Sell is Human’, conducted a survey asking people what word first came to mind when they thought of ‘sales’ or ‘selling’. The most common response was ‘pushy’, quickly followed by the even less complimentary terms, ‘annoying’, ‘manipulative’ and ‘sleazy’. So is our dislike of sales purely based on our images of the stereotypically cheesy salesperson? Researchers have found that our aversion to salespeople is purely based upon our dislike of being ‘sold’ something. We as a nation love to buy, this is quickly apparent the second you walk down a high street or into a shopping centre; however we do not want to be sold to a product, we merely want to buy the product. Furthermore, there is also research suggesting that some customers instinctively
feel that a product must be of lower quality if a salesperson’s presence is required to shift said product. So therefore our perception of salespeople is tarnished simply by our dislike of being sold on a product, as well as our instinctive reaction to a product needing to be sold in such a way. But is it fair to hold these assumptions? Are we brandishing all salespeople as simply out for their commission and truly engaged with the customer?
It may be true that in the past when the power of information was not so easily grasped, there may have been occasions when particular salespeople took advantage of their supposed knowledge superiority, to merely sell more products regardless of the needs of their customers. However, times have changed and this information gap has closed to such a degree that the customer is now the expert; they’ve done the research and they know exactly what they need from a product. With this shift in customer behaviour, sales people have had to adapt too; resulting in an end to the traditional salesperson. So considering this major change in the selling landscape, should we now change our perceptions and truly recognise the millions of intelligent and trustworthy individuals who work in the fast paced and dedicated environment of sales.
Not only is sales vital to almost every single business, regardless of their size or sector, it is also therefore imperative to the successful functioning of all economies worldwide. The importance of maintaining a stable economy cannot be overstated, however beyond this important facet of what actually should be associated with the all-encompassing term that is ‘sales’; the question of whether sales can be used for good should be asked. A very simple answer to this is absolutely yes. When examining this further it is apparent that sales is an integral component in a great deal of charity work both domestically and internationally. So considering that we don’t associate charity work with any of the less-than-complementary aforementioned adjectives, perhaps it’s time to consider sales, or at least a large bulk of sales work as something other than the epitome of the pushy salesperson who is only out for themselves and their commission.