10 Things You Never Knew About Sales Reps



If you've ever bought a car, a house, insurance, or anything else that wasn't at a grocery store or ordered online, you've probably interacted with a sales rep. Sales reps are at the front line of almost every company but most peoples' knowledge of sales comes from the predominantly negative stereotypes we see in movies or on TV. Here are ten things you probably didn't know about people in sales:

1) There are a lot of them - According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are almost 15 million Americans employed in "sales and related occupations." While the number of actual salespeople is lower (the BLS counts cashiers in their estimate) there are literally millions of salespeople driving the economy every day and they come from a host of diverse backgrounds.

2) They have their own language - Anybody new to sales will quickly find out that salespeople have their own lingo, complete with phrases and terms that sales reps from California to Maine will recognize. "Always be closing." "One-legger." "Put that coffee down!" If any of these ring a bell, you've probably worked in sales. 

3) They don't have as much power as you think - Contrary to popular belief, salespeople aren't always equipped to make pricing concessions, nor are they always empowered to make product decisions. While some sales reps are allowed wiggle room on price and other aspects of the transaction, many must adhere to rigid policies set by management. 

4) Not all of them are extroverts - When people think of sales reps they tend to imagine an charismatic extrovert who can charm anyone. In reality, salespeople have a wide range of personalities. Some are methodical and process-oriented. Some are aggressive and drive the sales process. And some are quiet and sell by being great listeners. 

5) They want you to be happy - Some people believe that all sales reps care about is the bottom line and their paycheck. While in some instances this may be true, the vast majority of sales reps truly want their customers to have a great experience and be happy with the outcome of their transactions. Sales reps know that a happy customer means great reviews, referral business, and a good night's sleep. 

6) They get lied to - While most people know that sales reps deal with rejection on a regular basis, very few know that salespeople are also frequently misled by customers. Whether it's omitting or misrepresenting information in an effort to get a better deal, or convincing a sales rep that they're interested without any intention of actually following through, it's the harsh reality that's part of a life in sales. 

7) They are educated - Another common misconception about salespeople is that they are uneducated. A tremendous number of salespeople have college educations, and in many cases have advanced degrees. But even the ones who didn't attend college become experts in their products, building out their knowledge base and taking their profession just as seriously as someone with a degree on their wall. 

8) They take their work home with them - Although this isn't exclusive to sales reps, like lawyers and tech workers, salespeople have to always be on call, even after work hours. Whether it's dinner with a client, or discussing a deal with a customer who only has time to communicate at night, sales is a very rarely a nine-to-five job. 

9) Many celebrities were once sales reps - As difficult as it is to imagine, some of our favorite celebrities once worked in sales. Johnny Depp worked as a telemarketer selling custom pens, George Clooney was once a shoe salesman, Jon Bon Jovi sold newspapers as a youngster, Jennifer Aniston spent time in telesales, and Walt Disney worked on a railroad selling travelers snacks and magazines, just to name a few. 

10) They have great job security - One of the most frequently overlooked benefits to working in sales is the job security the profession provides. Since nearly every company requires a sales staff, and most sales skills are transferrable across industries, sales reps have one of the most marketable skill-sets in the entire country. 


Ken Kupchik runs the popular Sales Humor Facebook page and creates content for AppMesh, the makers of SalesMesh. He has over a decade of sales experience, ranging from telecom to financial sales. His favorite sales movie is Glengarry Glen Ross.

SalesMesh is the personal CRM/sales app that works the way you sell. Automatically track customer interactions, notes, schedule follow-ups, collaborate with your network, sync to and from Salesforce all from your iPhone and iPad -- even when you're offline. Learn more here.
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