You know who really believes that salespeople are self-oriented, smarmy, money-grubbing brutes? The answer may surprise you. If you guessed that it’s buyers, customers, and clients, you would be incorrect. Instead, those who believe salespeople are awful, foul, nasty monsters are the self-loathing sales experts (read charlatans), especially those of the LinkedIn variety.
There is no scientific study that I am aware of, but if one were to look at the number of posts on social platforms where a buyer, customer, or client complains about a salesperson and contrast it with posts in which a self-loathing sales expert writes about how terrible are their brethren, the numbers will be shockingly tilted toward the latter.
If evolution is designed around the survival of the fittest, then certain traits tend to be minimized over time and better traits built on top of what came before. Evolution is an apt metaphor here, especially since the behaviors that have long been eradicated haven’t served salespeople for decades. These behaviors haven’t largely been eliminated by sales experts, as much as by salespeople adjusting their approach based on their experience.
The reason high pressure tactics are no longer in practice is because they no longer work, having been eliminated as customers and clients had more choices and less reason to buy from someone they don’t like or trust. There are plenty of people who are smart enough to create value and are also likable.
The reason salespeople don’t sell people things they don’t need-even if the salesperson would personally benefit from doing so—is because there wouldn’t be a second sale in their future. Salespeople who refuse to trade their integrity and their relationships for a deal are the norm, with the few salespeople with low moral quotients being the rare exception of those who would do “whatever it takes.”
Salespeople who succeed now know that their success is a direct reflection of the value they create for their clients and customers, including any financial success they hope to have. They also know—and have known for decades—their longterm success requires them to be accountable for delivering the outcomes they’ve sold. Great salespeople have always developed the business acumen and situational knowledge to provide advice to their clients, with the only real novelty here being the demand they have much more of it, not that they become “social sellers,” the high-water mark in the minds of the self-loathing sales expert, who is left to complain about the cold call and a variable compensation structure as proof of how bad are salespeople.
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