Sales Essentials Blog

A new salesperson stereotype

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The typical salesperson stereotype is that of the fast talking, overly confident and ambitious, competitive, win at all costs, know-it-all persona that is often portrayed in the media and business world via films, press, social media, books, articles, and so on.

Many salespeople have never been able to relate to this stereotype and others who don’t consider themselves salespeople but need to sell find this task daunting because they don’t want to have anything to do with that popularised idea of a salesperson.  

People from all sorts of backgrounds – 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. 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 seems so alien and unpleasant to them, they don’t want 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’ integrity. This is the silent majority, the one you rarely hear about, the one that doesn’t make the news or is portrayed in a film.

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 physically present in some companies and industries that encourage and foster these types of characteristics and dog-eat-dog sales culture. The silent majority are simply disgusted and don’t want to be associated with anything like this.

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.

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 lives by selling something, even if that something is themselves.

Author: Sue Barrett, 


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