The Problem With Salespeople

by Don F Perkins

The problem with salespeople is that they are always trying to sell you something.


problem with salespeople

Not On Your Life

I was reading from Robert Terson’s new book yesterday “Selling Fearlessly”. There’s a section where Bob’s talking about his son Jake; about how he wouldn’t dream of being in sales. “He would swim the ocean from Haiti to Cuba in shark infested waters before he would become a salesman.” notes Bob. I can totally relate Jake, and yet, here I am working in sales. I’m what you might call a reluctant salesperson. I know some of my colleagues have a problem with that, so let me explain:


You’re Pushy And Obnoxious

I have a problem with salespeople, just as Bob’s son Jake does, probably because I equate sales with the pushy, arrogant sales people who have tried to coerce me into doing things that were not what I wanted to do time and time again. The last thing I want is for people to see me like that! Now I know intellectually that not all salespeople are like that, but some are, and it has caused me to be prejudiced toward them all. Is that fair? No. Is it reality? Hell yes, and I know I’m not alone.


You’re Not Fooling Anyone

The stigma of the sleazy salesman runs deep and wide as the muddy ole mississippi. This is why companies don’t call their salespeople salespeople anymore. According to my employer, I am a “digital media consultant.” That way, they reason, customers will not run and hide when they see me coming. Guess what? Customers are not fooled! As Dave Brock says:

“Let’s give our customers credit. They know we are sales people, they know that we will be trying to present our products and services, possibly persuading them to buy. They want to determine if we have the potential of solving their problem, if they are interested in talking to us further.”

So be honest with yourself and with your customers. If you are in sales, you are in sales. Own up to why you are there, and move on to why they should bother to talk with you.


You Talk Too Much

One of the other problems with  salespeople is that they talk too much. We’ve all been there. Some guy corners you and proceeds to kill you with death by blather. You watch in amazement for a while, because you wonder: is he getting oxygen by osmosis or something? Because damn, he hasn’t stopped talking long enough to sneak in a breath. One such salesperson I remember, probably because of some power coaching program about controlling the flow of the conversation, would ask me “questions” instead of just blathering on for an hour. She would ask a question and then nod yes or no as she told me the “right” answer. So they weren’t really questions and she wasn’t really asking, they were some bastardized form of coercive speech which ultimately had the same negative result on me as the blathering dude. RUN AWAY! It’s a SALESPERSON!!


Why You Got To Be Like That?

I don’t consider myself a top salesperson. I’m above average, but no superstar. I don’t know if I have what it takes to be a sales superstar. However, I do get a lot of great feedback from my customers about how much they like working with me. Because I ask real questions. Because I listen to what they have to say. Because I help them see what’s possible. Because I treat them with respect. These are all comments customers have volunteered upon signing contracts with me. The problem with salespeople is that they are always trying to sell you something. When we’ve done it right though, it becomes something else. It becomes a partnership where both buyer and seller get what they want, even become friends in the process. I can live with that. I don’t mind being in sales, knowing I have done so without making the problem worse.


Your Turn:

What else makes you cringe about salespeople?


  1. #1 by Oz on May 13, 2013 - 12:42 pm

    Whether they talk too much or not, what makes me cringe are salespeople who don’t listen.

    When I bought my car, I told a salesman my budget and that I needed a small car because I lived in a congested neighborhood and parking is difficult to find–it’s horrible if you’ve got a huge car.

    The salesman lit up and responded as if he had the absolute perfect car for me: an SUV that was way out of my budget. It was clear to me that he was expecting a trade-in that day, and he wanted to hurry and get it sold. His interest had absolutely nothing to do with mine. He wasn’t listening, he was on a mission to unload that SUV.

    • #2 by Don F Perkins on May 15, 2013 - 6:52 pm

      Yes. My wife had a similar problem when looking at a vacuum cleaner at a big box store. Textbook case of a salesman not aligning with his customer’s needs/wants/interests. “He wasn’t listening.” sums it up.

      Makes you wonder how many sales he could make if he would learn to listen!

  2. #3 by Jason Raisleger on May 14, 2013 - 12:58 pm

    Great post. You nailed in on the head about doing too much talking and not enough listening. If you want to use the title “consultant”, than you better actually consult instead of trying to sell. In addition to your list, the one thing that irritates me most about salespeople is their lack of follow up. If I have given you a chance, the least you can do is make sure I am taken care of.

    • #4 by Don F Perkins on May 15, 2013 - 6:55 pm


      Agreed. I used to coach my son about business: It’s not hard to look good. There are many people out there who’s carelessness and self-centeredness rub people the wrong way and close a lot of doors.

      How hard is that? Asking customers when to follow up, or suggesting a time goes a long way toward making the difference between a happy customer and an irritated one. Wouldn’t you agree?

  3. #5 by Rio on May 14, 2013 - 6:22 pm

    From a buyers perspective, the most annoying part about a salesman is when they insist on sticking to a script. I’m much more likely to buy something if you can talk to me like a human and not like prey.

    • #6 by Don F Perkins on May 15, 2013 - 6:58 pm


      I hear you. Like when I get calls from machines.. I always hang up! When I first began in sales, they used to give us scripts and I quickly found out that if I picked out the principle points and put them in my own words, couching them in real conversation (like real humans have) my success rate skyrocketed.

  4. #7 by Marc Zazeela on May 16, 2013 - 8:42 pm


    You are obviously talking about the Herb Tarlick’s of the world. They are the quintessential snake oil salesmen and they give all of us a bad name. Although, I’ll admit to having met quite a few Herbs in my time.

    We all carry that stigma and sometimes it can be quite difficult to overcome. Once you have, you have made a lifetime connection.


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