Guest blog written by Sonia Aste
Legislation against salescism would ban the use of abusive terms and refusing to make friends with salespeople. Having worked in sales for many years, I still experience the sting of discrimination caused by salescism. ‘Bloody salespeople!’, ‘They’re all like used car salesmen!’ and ‘Stay away she’s in sales!’ are just some of the hateful things people say without realizing the devastating consequences it has on us sales folk. The feeling of loneliness (no one wants to be your friend) and low sales-esteem can last a lifetime.
As a comedian sales is still an integral part of my job, unfortunately salescism has crippled me so much that even motivational phrases like ‘Don’t be small make that call’ make me feel teeny weeny. I am not alone. Statistics show salescism (defined as: prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different job based on the belief that one’s own job is superior), impacts 99 in every 99 peoples. Stats not accurate. Like a true salesperson, I made them up.
Now you may think this has nothing to do with you. Maybe you’re the kind of person who’s never had to sell because the clients come to you (in which case you’re probably a drug dealer). For the rest of us, whether you’re selling ideas, services or ourselves (dating is the ultimate sell), nothing can shield you from the stigma and shame of salescism. Things are so bad we use covert language like, ‘Shall we explore the possibility of collaborating together?’ (SELL! SELL! SELL!)
We feel the need to use encrypted job titles to hide our true identity:
Unlike Secretaries, who rediscovered themselves as ‘PAs’ (and are now allowed to look miserable and wear crappy clothes), these new sales titles have done nothing for us except make clients distrust us even more. After all, you wouldn’t want your plumber to be called ‘pipe dreamer’.
When confronted, salescists deny any wrongdoing and claim that history is full of dodgy salespeople. Starting with the great car manufacturer and ultimate sales guy Henry Ford, who said ‘Any customer can have a car painted any colour they want … as long as it is black’, giving all car salesmen a terrible reputation.
Then ‘The Godfather’ comes along with the most effective (if extreme) sales pitch ever created, ‘I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse’. Trust me clients don’t take kindly to such drastic negotiation techniques.
Even the late Steve Jobs said ‘Get closer than ever to your customers, so close that you tell them what they need before they realize it themselves’. With all due respect isn’t that Machiavellian manipulation coupled with serious stalking?
OK, so maybe we haven’t exactly been the ‘beacon of morality’, but like any convict that’s done his time, don’t we deserve a second chance?
I believe anti-salescism lobbies around the world should call for legislation to tackle the problem by suing salecists who make inappropriate comments and refuse to make friends with salespeople. And it shouldn’t stop there. It needs to be written into employment laws that sales people must be invited to social events, even if that means installing quotas to overcome centuries of oppression. It’s time the world started accepting that all jobs are created equal.
Sales people are cautiously optimistic. ‘Society has its own perception of sales people’ says Jim (not his real name), who has kept his real job hidden from his family for decades. ‘People think we are mean spirited, financially driven, untrustworthy loud mouth extroverts. Which is not true. I’m actually an introvert’.
New laws would prevent prejudice against salespeople and make it mandatory to invite us to weddings, christenings, Bar Mitzvahs and funerals. Music to my ears as these events are ideal places to bombard unsuspecting guests with interactive business cards! I can’t wait!
In the meantime and since you’re reading this…
‘Shall we explore the possibility of collaborating together?’
SONIA ASTE is a writer and a comedian who needs to drum up business.
Sonia Aste @ http://soniaaste.com