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

From Army to Sales Guru – Guest Post

I’m very excited to introduce you to Trevor Graeme Wilkins, a colleague and co-presenter in the ‘New Era of Influence’ series.  The series is being launched here in Winnipeg in November.  Read on to learn more.


Back in 1985 I left the army and started my first ‘sales job’.  I’ve spent over 25 years in international sales now – working very hard, making good money, travelling the world and meeting great people.  And what a roller coaster it has always been.  I’ve had to learn to relish the adrenaline highs of success and to drive through the lows of failure or delay.

But all the time, many of the people around me considered I wasn’t in a ‘proper job’.  I still regularly see friends that went to school with me, and they’re now almost all ‘professionals’ – engineers, architects, lawyers, teachers, doctors etc.  Some have admitted unease that I didn’t ‘stick it out as a professional’.  I’ve always been happy with my decision, but ‘sales is scary’ according to my students…

This is sad, and the sales profession has to take much of the blame for our not being seen as ethical, trustworthy professionals.  For too many years, we’ve woven a mystique of toughness, invincibility and manipulation around ourselves.  The TV depiction of used car sales and insurance agents has only made this image stronger. Worst of all, the sales training industry has always offered ‘hints and tips to close that sale’ or ‘build a pipeline that delivers’.  The emphasis has always been on ‘forcing through a sale’

Well it’s time to relegate that notion to the dustbin of history – our buyers are smarter and better educated now (especially the younger ones). They’ve got instant access to information or comparisons and, most importantly of all, they expect sustainability – and not just in the way they live and work. They now also demand it in the relationships they have with providers and whatever it is they buy – products, services, complex solutions or simply ideas.

My contribution to this ‘New Era of Influence’ movement is Turning Selling into Buying (TSB) – an approach that’s based on modelling the ‘Best of the Best’ in sales and management – the ones who have been successful (surprise, surprise) by always being focused on their buyer, not on themselves.  As a result, TSB focuses on a relationship that Builds a Willing Buyer and then works with that person to justify the investment that’s needed.

I am so excited that my good friend and colleague Laurie Barkman has invited me to join her in presenting our ‘New Era of Influence’ series in Winnipeg this November.  Like hundreds of teams and individuals in Ottawa, Europe and the Middle East, the attendees learn new words to say, new actions to take and new insights to use that ‘join the dots’ ethically and smoothly.  The result will be to drive market analysis, marketing, sales, customer service and account management out of the darkness of ‘Sales Mystique’ and into the bright light of the 21st century.


Click here to learn more about the ‘New Era of Influence’ series coming to Winnipeg (and perhaps soon to a location near you?)