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5 sales personality stereotypes that couldn’t be more wrong


Sales isn’t for everyone. It takes a certain kind of personality and grit to be in such a challenging profession.  Sadly, not many in the outside world realize this. There are often misconceptions and sales personality stereotypes about what sales reps do and what type of people they are.

Most people have no idea the amount of effort, thought, persistence and struggle salespeople go through on a daily basis.

We’ll break down five of the most common sales personality stereotypes that salespeople hear from people outside of the industry.

1. “They like to hear themselves talk.”

People think that sales reps talk more than they listen, often hinting at the sales personality stereotype that sales reps are “pushy.”

However, the best sales reps do more listening than talking.

Sales is all about understanding a prospect’s pain point and sharing how a product or service can help alleviate it –  not just talking the sake of it. In fact, the ideal talk-to-listen ratio for a sales conversation is actually 57 percent for the customer and only 43 percent for the rep.

2. “They are ego driven.”

People outside of the sales industry assume because salespeople are typically social, and extroverted they all have big egos, which is why this is a common stereotype. This assumes that all salespeople are successful and exceed their goals, thus appearing to be overconfident and ego-hungry.

But really, ego is one of the last motivators for sales reps. The biggest drivers for salespeople, according to Salesforce is 40 percent money, 30 percent job satisfaction, and only 12 percent recognition.

Sales reps obviously enjoy hitting and meeting their goals, but so does everyone (it’s practically human nature). But just because sales reps value a job well done, doesn’t mean they’re looking for recognition to feed their ego

3. “They are only concerned about making money.”

Many sales roles include commission as a large part of the overall salary so this is an understandable sales personality stereotype as income essentially depends on performance.

During this year’s Revenue Summit (hosted by Sales Hacker)Jacco VanderKooij, the founder of Winning By Design, and Rob Jeppsen, the CEO & founder of Xvoyant gave a keynote called “The 2020 Sales Leader.” They shared that while yes, money is the biggest motivator for sales reps,continuing education, experience and building a network are also high priorities

4. “They are just out there winging it.”

Only terrible sales reps go into a customer conversation without a plan and process. In reality, a vast majority of successful reps are extremely data driven, follow strategic processes and are committed, lifelong learners.

Sales reps and teams overall are always looking to improve. That’s why some of the largest online communities and events are comprised of sales professionals. Just look at sites like Sales Hacker and events like Dreamforce. These types of communities would not be so successful if sales reps were unconcerned with improving their tactics.

Reps are always looking for best practices and tips wherever they can. Thirty percent of sales reps get their best advice from their colleagues while 15 percent practice self-improvement by asking for feedback

5. “It’s easy work with good pay.”

Depending on the industry, product, location and performance of a sales rep, they get compensated very well. But the reason they are compensated so highly is because their job is so challenging.

According to a 2018 LinkedIn report, sales representative is the second hardest position to hire for. They come behind skilled trade workers and above engineers! They are one of the most sought-after recruits in part because their job is so difficult.

Part of what makes it so challenging is that they work long hours:

  • 28% of Sales Directors/VPs are working more than 60 hours per week
  • Only 9% of Directors/VPs work 31-40 hours per week
  • Only 19% of Sales Reps work 31-40 hours per week
  • Only 21% of Sales Managers work 31-40 hours per week

Nearly 70 percent of salespeople describe their lifestyle as challenging, and 54 percent say their life is stressful. And one in two salespeople have been told by friends and family that they work too much, while one in three salespeople say their job negatively impacts their personal life.

That doesn’t sound like easy work to me.

Tell us some of the sales personality stereotypes you hear from those outside of the industry by tweeting us @automationhero_.

By Jessica Munday