Why People Think Salespeople Are Stupid…

Last week I was on the train travelling back from London having run two of my sales seminars and I was reading the Evening Standard.

On page 12 (Comment – Thursday 1st May 2008) there were a few pieces written by Charlotte Ross and a picture of Kevin and Sara from The Apprentice. Underneath it was written the following…

A bunch of true believers

Salespeople have always mystified me. This year, most of the Apprentice contestants are drawn from that world, so every Wednesday we witness team hugs, air-punching and yells of, “We’re going to smash them!”

But what they lack in intellect they make up for in self-belief that borders on the delusional. As Kevin, the comically thick leader of the losing pack, said, “There’s nothing I can’t sell. I had my first Porsche by 23. By the time I’m 40, I’ll be the most successful businessman in Britain.”

Needless to say, Sir Alan fired him.

As those of you who know me must have guessed already… I have plenty to say about this…

First off, these people are not salespeople…

We have seen little sign of any of them being salespeople as yet. Between them they have shown precious little sales aptitude or application. To those (including Charlotte) not in the know – selling is not about fast talking, closing and “whooping”, it is about questioning, understanding and expertise…

Secondly, good sales teams as all good teams have energy and commitment…

But they do not whoop and holler like a pack of hyenas. This lot are pathetic. What’s worse, their boastful gloats are very quickly found out. Top salespeople under-promise and over-deliver not the other way around…

Thirdly, good salespeople are not stupid nor are they necessarily intelligent Charlotte.

Agreed, salespeople do not need degrees (by enlarge). Agreed, salespeople do not need MBAs. Agreed, salespeople do not need MENSA level IQs.

But salespeople do need common sense, something that is desperately missing in today’s society. Salespeople do need to be able to get along with others, they do need to be able to build rapport with a wide variety of people, they do need to be able to understand the problems and issues that a multitude of different people face and, most importantly, they do need to be able to help their clients to make the right decisions to solve those issues in the right way.

If they’re smart too then all the better! But it’s not what you have that matters in sales, it’s what you do with it that counts!

Smart in this situation is not labelling all salespeople based on a narrow minded and stereotypical view. Particularly one where the writer, by their own admittance, starts, “Salespeople have always mystified me.”

Fourthly, Kevin was not a salesperson, he was a bank manager.

People talked about being a bank manager at school (albeit several years ago now) in the same breath as law, accountancy, journalism (touché) etc. Certainly not in the same breath as sales.

And Kevin certainly wasn’t sales anyway.

Had he have been a better salesperson he would still be in the show. Had he have been a better salesperson he would probably never have been on the show. Had he have been a better salesperson he would no doubt have come across far better. Had he have been a salesperson he would have been far more aware of the real persona that he projected rather than the imaginary one that he thought that he did.

Finally, because I’m bored and could go on all night, salespeople are not boastful.

They know the value that they add for their clients and they don’t have to brag about it. There are great “salespeople” in every profession and every industry. They are at all at the top of their fields. If you want to get along in life you need to be able to sell. Whether you’re selling a product, an idea, a concept or yourself – sales is one of the most important skills that you need if you want to get on.

Whether you’re a business person, a solicitor, an accountant or a journalist… your ability to sell will help you to maximise your success. Far too many people never deliver on their true potential because of their inability to “sell” what they do.


About the author: Gavin Ingham
Gavin Ingham is a speaker and author on mental toughness and will help you to Be More, Do More & Have More in your business and in your life. For all of the latest news, podcasts, videos, tips and strategies join his newsletter. Sign up to the newsletter
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