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Misconceptions: A Salesperson's Worst Enemy


Written for the Nova Scotia Business Journal

Expecting prospects to treat you fairly because you are an honest salesperson is like expecting the bull not to charge because you are a vegetarian. Like the bull, prospects know very little about you at the beginning. They lump you in with every other salesperson, or their perception of every other salesperson.

A close examination of the general public’s idea of what salespeople represent would frighten you — greedy, sleezy, money grubbers who will say anything to get you to buy something you neither need, nor want. Obviously, most salespeople are not like this, but it’s the subconscious pre-judgment of many prospects, even ourselves sometimes when roles reverse and we’re the buyer. A prospect in defensive mode is very much like the charging bull.

It is our job to differentiate ourselves from traditional salespeople. Change how you think of yourself — from salesperson to businessperson. Change what you say, what you do, and how you respond to prospects. This transformation will start the process of changing how others see you… including the bull.

For 2014, take an inventory of your skills. How would you rate yourself on a scale from 1 to 10 where 1 means there is a certain skill nowhere on your radar and 10 means you are a master of this skill. At Sandler Training, these are a few aspects we take personal inventory of:

  • Your prospect introduction is client focused
  • You have a systemized process to understand the depth of your prospect’s challenges
  • Your prospecting behaviors are entrenched in your calendar
  • You go “wide and deep” with the decision-making team
  • Your questioning skills are varied and beyond the basics
  • Your communication skills are professional and adaptable to all types of prospects
  • You ask and get qualified referrals
  • You do not sell with free consulting
  • You fully qualify the budget prior to the presentation
  • You’ve burned your bridges of hope, comfort, and reliance
  • You are an excellent active listener
  • You set and develop a plan for your business and personal goals

We go through this evaluation process three times a year. Each time we determine as individuals the three to five areas that need to be improved. If we are at a three on the scale, we look at how to get to a four over the next 16 weeks. Continual inventory and skill, behaviour and attitude development is essential for success. How do you score?

©2013 Sandler Training Inc. ( is an international sales and management training/consulting firm. To attend a free session of its monthly sales leadership program, call Sandler Training at 902-468-0787 or e-mail

Eric Fry

Sandler trainer