Why are Sales People (so often) so Irritating? – Guest Post

Another post by Trevor Graeme Wilkins. Enjoy!

Remember the last time you went to visit your much-loved granny? Did you worry about the structure of the conversation? Did you consciously manage its direction and outcomes? Were you at all nervous?

What about when you last met up with a bunch of friends? Did you worry about what you were saying? Did you carefully prepare a check list of subject you needed to include? Did you need to keep control?

Almost certainly not  – because society has trained us well to do that sort of thing – completely intuitively.  As a result, we only consciously do or say things a tiny percentage of the time.  99% of our words arrive on ‘autopilot’, under complete control of our hippocampus – the automatic part of the brain which consolidates ‘who we are and what we believe’.

At 6 months old, babies ‘learn to lie’.  From that point on, life is a series of learning steps (big school, puberty, leaving home, responsibility, marriage, parenthood etc.).  Each step delivers experience, decisions and new knowledge.  Each time, we improve our ability to connect, to communicate and, ultimately, to influence other people … most of the time.

But think of the time you went to visit a really crotchety old grandfather – or asked for a pay rise – or needed to change someone else’s mind – even sell your car.  That’s where society’s programming begins to look inadequate.  We don’t know what the other person is thinking.  We don’t understand how they make decisions.  We don’t know what to say to make them believe us.  We’re uncertain and doubtful.

As a result, we suffer the three classic Sales Fears:

  • Fear of seeming too Pushy
  • Fear of appearing Ignorant
  • Fear of being Rejected

It’s to protect ourselves against this fear that all of us – particularly sales people – act and speak badly

Sales fear makes us brash – thinking this keeps control of the conversation.
Sales fear makes us talk too much – thinking this holds back questions or rejection.
Sales fear’s worst effect is losing the essential human connection with the other person – the ‘buyer’.

I’ve worked with a lot of sales teams  in nearly 30 years, and the corrosive effect created by a lack of ‘verbal navigation skills’ can ruin an otherwise well-balanced personality.  Add the effect of overwork, peer pressure and a poor work/life balance – and you can end up with a really disagreeable person.

 However, get this right, and it doesn’t have to be true.  Sales people don’t have to be low-lifes.

If we’re lucky, our upbringing gave us the insights and verbal skills to influence people to buy from us – ideas, products or services.  If so, that’s great, we can relax because we know what to say or ask next.

If we’re not that lucky, don’t despair.  We can all learn these skills – and with the exact same effect.  In fact, given time and determination, most of us will truly integrate these skills into ourselves. As a result, we can be as natural as when we talk to our granny.  We can be ourselves and most of all, we can be more successful and fulfilled – the people we deserve and desire to be.


Yup, Trevor tells it like it is!  I am excited to partner with him in bringing the ‘New Era of Influence’ series to Winnipeg.  Trevor focuses on the how to turn sellers into buyers, on helping you and your team bring new customers in the door.  The next step then is to turn those buyers into loyal customers.  Click here to learn more about the ‘New Era of Influence’ series coming to Winnipeg (and perhaps soon to a location near you?)o

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