“… And what do you do for a living?”
“I’m in sales.”
“Oh, right. Got the gift-of-the-gab have ya?”
For a salesperson there is no other comment more likely to provoke a desire to attack the speaker with a proverbial slap. It’s not just insulting, after all the hard work and learning we put into our careers, it can be downright frustrating, writes sales and marketing specialist, RJ Cerasoli.
Since I was 18 (I’m now the wrong side of 40) I’ve been involved in sales in most of its forms. I’d learned about sales campaign management, account management, the hierarchy of needs, rapport-based sales, NLP in sales, features and benefits 101, territory planning, behavioural change, mind-set management, and sales-data analysis, long before any of my peers had finished their first year at uni.
Sadly, it highlights a commonly held belief about what a sales person is. To many people it’s an unskilled non-career that chancers do, using slick words and underhanded tactics, to earn a quick buck. There are even some employers who don’t fully appreciate the value our profession brings to their organisations. Ever been asked “sell me this pen” in an interview, when they can see from your CV and references that you have a proven track record in sales, and personal development?
The trouble is, every stereotype is based in some truth – at least at some point in history.
Noahm Shpancer Ph.D wrote in Psychology Today: “Stereotypes are not bugs in our cultural software but features of our biological hardware. This is because the ability to stereotype is often essential for efficient decision-making.” He goes on to quote Yale psychologist Paul Bloom, when he wrote: “You don’t ask a toddler for directions; you don’t ask a very old person to help you move a sofa, and that’s because you stereotype.”
Let’s face it. There are hordes of salespeople for whom professionalism, excellence and ethics, are way down on their list of priorities. Customers remember their encounters with these people because their experience was so bad.
So, how do we set ourselves apart as sales professionals on a par with lawyers, chartered accountants and marketing executives? What do all of these professions have in common? They all have an organisation that supports their profession in maintaining standards of excellence, ethics, and professionalism. Lawyers have The Bar Council; marketeers have The Chartered Institute of Marketing. Just by having the credentials awarded by these organisations, the status of members is immediately elevated in the minds of their clients, employers, and the general public. They can command the best salaries, are head hunted for new roles, are confident they are being supported in all aspects of their personal development and know that their skills are respected by other companies in their field.
What about sales?
The Association of Professional Sales (APS) is the professional body for the sales industry. We work with government, education and leading sales organisations to bring professional chartered status to our industry. We raise standards of professionalism and ethics by educating, supporting, engaging and constantly challenging our members to raise theirs.
We want our members to be proud of their career in sales and this is why we are sending an open invitation to all salespeople, of all levels of experience, to become members of the APS. If you want to be at the top of your game, get in touch. We will walk with you through each step of your personal development, making sure that you continually grow as confident sales professional.
RJ Cerasoli is a sales and marketing specialist with the Association of Professional Sales. He has been involved in the sales industry since he was 18 and started working for a sales training company then moved to the leisure industry, strategic communications, and field sales. Most recently he has been working for CPM UK on their Diageo account. RJ joined the APS to develop our community with frontline sales executives. He is also building a second career as a voiceover actor.
The Association of Professional Sales is the leading authority for salespeople. We are a not-for-profit organisation, reinvesting in our profession to build standards, trust and education.