When you think of sales, honesty probably isn't the first trait that comes to your mind.
You're not alone; most of us imagine a slimy salesperson that will try to persuade someone in Alaska to buy ice from them. We're taught to be guarded against salespeople's questions, or else we'll get taken advantage of.
I used to think this way too. My dad has always distrusted salespeople. Growing up, he taught me to always hang up on every telemarketer that called, and to tell them to "Take me off their list." If a salesperson came to our house, or approached me in a store, my default response was always, "No thanks, I'm fine."
But then something changed. I did something I never expected I would do: I started doing sales, and I loved it.
After learning about what being a salesperson is really like first-hand, I've learned that it's actually one of the most honest and respectable professions there is.
Let me explain why:
1. Salespeople are judged by their W-2's
Unlike many roles in a company, sales is nearly impossible to fake. While some marketers may be able to hide behind vague fuzzy metrics, and engineers can try to hide behind over-complicating things or blaming their tech stack's limitations, sales is much less forgiving. You're evaluated and paid based on how much revenue you help bring the company.
It's very much survival of the fittest: If you don't add dollars to the bottom line, you're gone.
2. You can't succeed in sales without really hard work
While some things are much easier to sell than others, a salesperson's earnings are very closely tied to how hard they work. You won't make money if you're lazy; you have to hustle to chase deals. Sometimes you have to follow up at least a dozen times with a prospect before they'll finally be ready to be your customer, which requires persistence and determination.
And the bigger your commission is, the more you'll have to work to close those deals and keep your job.
3. The best salespeople really love helping people
One of the easiest ways to be successful in sales is just trying to help people solve their problems. Likewise, companies with the most successful sales programs make a point to add value to their prospective customers throughout their entire sales process. Even if someone isn't ready to become your customer, they will develop a sense of trust and reciprocity towards you so that when they are ready to buy they'll always come back to you.
4. Liars and jerks lose deals
You might think that selling is all about tricking people into buying things they don't need or want, but the best salespeople know that this doesn't do anyone any good. Not only is it much harder to sell to someone who isn't ready to make a buying decision, many of those deals will fall apart or become a mess, even if you do somehow manage to close them. And companies that encourage their salespeople to lie and "close any way they can" quickly develop a reputation for being shady and untrustworthy. Even if they can close deals, many of their customers won't stay, and they will only be able to sell to the lowest common denominator.
Do you feel the same way about sales? If so, I'd love to hear from you.