People Who Think All Salespeople Are Crooks

I don’t want to go on a rant here but I really get annoyed whenever I hear someone telling a story about being taken in by a salesperson, or complaining about how she or he was somehow cheated by a salesperson.

No wonder salespeople are looked down upon. From the stories floating around, you’d think we were all a bunch of crooks, con-men, and sleaze artists.

I have no doubt that the people telling these stories were taken in or cheated. I would argue, however, that they were taken in and/or cheated by crooks, con-men, or sleaze artists who were using sales techniques and not salespeople who were crooks, etc.

Every trade or profession has its proverbial bad apples that spoil the whole barrel. But I feel it’s grossly unfair to tar and feather all salespeople because of the actions of a relatively few bad apples.

Of all the professions, there are probably more salespeople per capita than there are engineers, doctors, accountants, lawyers, etc. So even if we have the same proportion of bad apples as other professions, there are going to be more salespeople to point at whenever someone bumps into one of the bad sales apples.

So what can you do about it? Well, here’s one thing you can do: Whenever you hear someone moaning about being cheated by a salesperson, correct the person by telling her that she wasn’t cheated by a salesperson; she was cheated by a crook who was simply using sales techniques.

If we all stand up for our chosen profession, maybe we’ll start getting some of the respect we deserve.

On the other hand, make sure you don’t hire a crooked salesperson. When you’re hiring, check out the candidate’s ethics and beware of anyone who promises to bring his current customers along with him. Not only is that unethical and borderline crooked, but don’t be surprised that if you hire him, your customers disappear when he does.

Anyway, that’s that way I see it.

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2 Responses to “People Who Think All Salespeople Are Crooks”

  1. jim November 29, 2009 at 8:16 pm #

    Right on!!! I have been running into these people for years. What I find in most cases is that their sales departments were ill-equiped. They had no sales process in place. No support of the reps for prospecting or even marketing. Poor atmosphere emphasizing a clear and obvious hatred for sales people. A pay structure designed to pass risk not motivate or attract professionals… I could go on forever. lol

    Recently, I have built teams for 2 courier companies that both fall under all of the above. Both actually cheated ME in the end. The latest one, I listened to the owner moan and cry daily about how he couldn’t find sales reps that understood the business. (Yet every rep he had came from years in the same industry except me. Not to mention, package delivery isn’t exactly tough to understand. “pick it up. Drop it off.” Not much more to it.) The problem was obvious, yet I never could get him to understand. It wasn’t lack of industry understanding on the sales reps part. It was a lack of understanding BY HIM about the sales process, building a sale department, and creating a marketing campaign. (I had a working and successful process in place. I was proving it every day.)

    In the end, I caught him cheating me. When confronted, he quickly said “I can’t afford your salary any more. I have to let you go.”

    My Bonus plan was 10% of my personal volume and 10% of any volume from my reps. By the end of 10 months, he had laid off all of my reps. Never giving me a bonus on their volume and never disclosing what that volume was. He gave me a $4k bonus on my personal volume, which I found out was $250k. (I had to dig for it because again he didn’t want to disclose it) Well, that doesn’t add up. I asked “what happened to the other $21k you owe me?”

    Sorry for the rant. Like your article said. Of course there will always be a few bad eggs. Don’t judge everyone by the few. This goes for my end of the argument as well as the owners side. However, the few knuckleheads that cheat owners create bad air on that side, and the knee jerk reaction is to not trust sales people and don’t offer real pay programs. This, in turn, only burns people like me who truly can pull it off but won’t work for fake pay plans.

    • Brian Jeffrey December 1, 2009 at 11:22 am #

      Thanks for your rant in response to my rant. I hope you feel better now. I always do. :>)

      As you point out, crooks come in all shapes and sizes. As salespeople we’re often too trusting and can be taken advantage of by unscrupulous employers. The situation you describe is one that would make some lawyers rich and the court system busy. It’s sad when we have to go to these extremes to get what we are owed.

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