Sales Essentials Blog

We need a new salesperson stereotype for the 21st century

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If you cannot relate to the typical salesperson stereotype you are not alone. Many people we speak to, including many salespeople themselves, have never been able to relate to the fast talking, overly confident and ambitious, competitive, win at all costs, know-it-all, we-are-the-frontline-and-without-us-you-wouldn’t-have-a-job persona that is often portrayed as the ideal salesperson stereotype in the media and business world via films, press, social media, books, articles, and so on.

Today, many people, of all sorts of persuasions – entrepreneurs, start-up founders, professional services (law, accounting, engineering, architects, etc.), technical people, customer service staff, internal teams, membership groups, not-for-profits, even government bodies are realising that they have to be able to sell or be a proactive part of the client value chain. They are becoming more aware that if you have an idea, capability, product, service, or opportunity that you want to take to market, or get buy-in from your colleagues or stakeholders then you need to be able to sell. However, the predominant stereotype of selling on offer seems so alien and unpleasant to them, you cannot blame them for not wanting to be associated with selling. Most people want to do good work and that means they want to be able to sell ethically, honourably and effectively without compromising their and others’ personal integrity.

We need something else to counteract the current noisy, obnoxious salesperson stereotype that is still all pervasive in our collective minds as well as still physical present in some companies and industries that encourage and foster these types of characteristics and dog-eat-dog sales culture. Think how the Wolf of Wall Street has shone a light on the extreme version of the current sales stereotype and, whilst fascinating to watch like a train wreck in slow motion, most people are aghast at the immoral sales and personal behaviours portrayed in this true to life film and want nothing to do with this whatsoever. That the perpetrator of these crimes is still lauded by some people who want to model themselves on him as their preferred sales style speaks volumes about how dysfunctional and disconnected this stereotype of selling really is when it comes to leading a honourable professional career in sales. The silent majority are simply disgusted and never want to be associated with anything like this.

In short, we need a new sales stereotype that represents the silent majority and how we want to sell and feel proud about what we do.

Today, there are very few absolutes and everything is subject to evolution and reinvention. Business is not just about doing deals anymore; it’s about developing strong relationships that go beyond great products, great service and great design, and instead focus on cultivating real value beyond price alone. The 21st century selling stereotype is about the fair exchange of value where people buy from people they trust and, in turn, both the buyer and the seller achieve real results and prosperous viable relationships.

We, like many of our colleagues and clients, are sick of the hyped-up motivational speeches, the tricks and secrets to success, the spin, the rubbish that pollutes the sales profession. The new sales stereotype is about giving the silent majority access to real, reliable, evidenced based, practical and useful sales tools, frameworks, processes, resources, education and research that works in the real world and respect who we are as individuals.

If we want to dampen the noise of the current salesperson stereotype we need to make some noise ourselves. We need to actively promote a better standard of selling that can be embraced by everybody whether they call themselves a salesperson or not. How do we do that?

Through our actions by being patient, attentive listeners intended on working with our clients to solve their problems, shine light on new insights or opportunities and help people and businesses better themselves. Those businesses and sales teams who are already modelling the new sales stereotype are seeing great returns with clients wanting to actively engage with them over their ‘noisy’ competitors.

We also need to talk about and model good selling in a way that makes people feel safe as well as excited about the opportunities good selling practices can bring them, their teams and clients.  

Selling has become relevant to everyone. Everybody needs to live by selling something, even if that something is themselves.

Author: Sue Barrett, www.salesessentials.com 

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