6 Ways People Underestimate Sales Reps

Despite being one of the most popular, oldest, and vital functions to our economy, sales is often misunderstood. 

Here are some ways the general population underestimates sales reps: 

1) Sincerity- Many people believe that reps will do and say anything to close a deal. But, in fact, most sales reps are sincere in their desire to help customers and provide a great experience for them, and are emotionally invested in the sales process. Of course there are some insincere and unscrupulous sales reps, as there are in any other industry, but the vast majority of sales reps want the customer to leave happy. It gives them pride, peace of mind, and --most importantly -- referral business. 

2) Education - People tend to assume that sales reps are uneducated. Again, not true. Millions of salespeople have college degrees, and a large portion even have advanced degrees. Highly specialized industries like legal, technical, or medical sales require understanding of complex systems that take years to learn. Financial industry sales like insurance, mortgages, and financial planning have challenging mandated state and federal tests that reps need to pass before they're allowed to start selling. 

3) Work ethic - The level of effort required to be in sales is often underestimated. Salespeople don't get paid unless they bring in new business so they must constantly be prospecting for future clients, working to close their existing deals, and managing potential customers at the same time. A sales funnel only works if you're constantly adding new prospects to the top of the funnel, requiring a very strong work ethic for anyone who wants to thrive in sales. 

4) Compensation - Top reps in high paying industries can be very handsomely compensated. While the range is wide and some industries aren't as well paid as others, reps are frequently some of the best compensated employees outside of executives as their earnings can be uncapped, unlike their salaried counterparts in other departments. Recurring accounts and residual income can also drive up salespeople's compensation, with some sales reps literally making millions of dollars a year. 

5) Stress - Sales reps deal with an immense amount of stress. There's the stress of closing enough business to make a living while dealing with constant rejection, the stress of management pushing you to hit your numbers, the stress of meeting customer's requests while keeping them happy, and the stress of being the point of contact for any post-sale issues that may arise. The best sales reps understand that stress comes with the territory and don't internalize it, and those that do usually don't last very long. 

6) Importance - Perhaps the biggest way sales reps are underestimated is by how important they are to the general economy. Nearly every company has a sales force, whether it's inside sales, outside sales, retail sales, wholesale, or any other variation. Even non-profits have what amounts to sales reps: people responsible for raising money. Recruiters, business development reps, telemarketers, real estate agents, insurance brokers are all salespeople, and are all integral to keeping the world economy functioning every day. So if you're a sales rep, make sure to remember just how important you truly are!

Leo is the CEO and co-founder of AppMesh, the makers of SalesMesh. Prior to joining AppMesh, he worked for Salesforce. His favorite TV sales scene was the Kodak pitch in Mad Men season 1, episode 13.
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.