Death of a salesman

Sales sloughs off spiv image
(author unknown)

This month's launch of the Institute of Professional Sales reflects the need for the sales function to improve its status. Sales personnel are keen to shake off the hackneyed image of sharp-suited, fast talking wide boy and emerge as belonging to a professional discipline.

Chartered Institute of marketing research showed clear and strong support for a professional organization and found that men and women working in sales wanted recognition and to distance themselves from the Arthur Daley image. But further independent research has shown that not only do those working in sales want to enhance their status but many managers dealing with sales executives already consider them to be increasingly professional.

In "The salesman is Dead, Long Live the Salesman", Chiltern Consultancy questioned 100 managers from some of the UK's most successful private companies and multi-nationals on their recent personal experiences in dealing with commercial salesmen. The results showed that the modern salesman is in transition. Sixty-three percent of respondents agree the modern salesman is increasingly regarded as well-educated and highly articulate, but it seems there is still unethical individuals who are tainting the experience for some managers, as 47 percent were cynical about the "intelligent" salesperson.

Encouragingly, 72 percent of managers adopted a non-hostile stance to an opening sales approach, and 74 percent acknowledge that today's salesperson is well-informed about the product or service they're selling - particularly if it is of a technical or complex nature. However, more than half of those surveyed questioned whether the salesperson genuinely wants to deliver the right product for his client's needs and doubted they fully understood the client's business.

Opinion was divided on the standard of after sales service and support, but this ranked fifth on the top ten list of things most purchasing decision makers least like about the majority of sales people they deal with. The biggest dislike was pushy or pestering salesmen and women, followed by cold calling, lack of product or client knowledge and an inability to listen. Thirty-two percent of managers feel many salespeople are condescending and patronizing, but overall the salesman as spiv is being replaced by a more sophisticated beast.

The Salesman is Dead, Long Live the Salesman, Chiltern Consultancy. Tel: 01494 442330

Back to publications