Selling is one of the most important and most honorable professions in the world. Unfortunately, salespeople get a “bad rap” through undesirable stereotypes which are largely undeserved and inaccurate. But where would we be without salespeople? The truth is, without sales professionals the economy would come to a screeching halt.
Take a look around you. Just about everything you see has been sold TO someone BY someone. If you’re in an office right now, look at the carpet beneath your feet, the pictures on the wall, the cubicles, the chairs, the artificial greenery. Most of those items were sold by the respective manufacturer’s reps to the office supply distributor. Then, the distributor’s rep(s) sold those items to your boss or office manager. What about the items in your home? You may be thinking “I went to the store and bought these things myself.” Mostly true, although I’m sure when you walked into the furniture store, you were immediately greeted by a sales rep. What about the things you bought from Home Depot or Target? Well, some sales rep sold those items to the purchasing managers at those retail establishments. What about the grass and the trees you see when you look out the window? Unless you live or work on a nature preserve, chances are that they were sold to developers and planners by a landscape architect, and that the actual grass seeds and tree saplings themselves were sold by a vendor.
So, it’s a fact that almost everything around us has been touched by at least one salesperson at some point in the past. We have to accept that without salespeople, our economy and our society would be drastically different. Now, let’s imagine the world without salespeople. It’s the internet age… So, why can’t consumers simply “Google” the products or services they desire and buy them directly from manufacturers? Obviously that system of trade already exists, but even if one orders a product directly from a manufacturer, somebody sold the raw materials to that manufacturer didn’t they?
Salespeople play a valuable role in society. They connect business with opportunity. They connect producers with consumers and providers with clients. They educate prospective purchasers and build relationships that lead to continuity in business and stability in the economy. Salespeople also make us aware of products or services that may have been previously unknown to us, but that have the potential to improve our lives. Unwanted solicitation can be an inconvenient interruption, but sometimes an open mind pays off. When I was a sales rep for Cutco Cutlery, I solicited people to let me come into their home and give them a demonstration of high quality kitchen products. Just about everyone I sat down with had absolutely NO intention of purchasing brand new, expensive kitchen knives that day. Yet, more than 90% of my appointments resulted in a sale of at least one knife, with my average customer purchasing hundreds of dollars worth of products on my first visit. Every now and then I run into one of my old Cutco customers and they usually tell me how great their knives are still working… even after 15 years of use! Most importantly, they thank me for calling on them all those years ago.
If commerce is the vehicle that moves our economy, salespeople are certainly the drivers. Without them, there would be chaos in the marketplace leading to economic instability. So the next time you get a call on the phone, or a knock at your door, or the next time you instruct your receptionist to screen your calls, consider what your life would be like without salespeople… With a little more appreciation and an open mind, you may just have an opportunity to solve a problem, increase your business, or improve your life in a way you hadn’t imagined before.