Sales — The Rodney Dangerfield of Professions Article by: Jim Rohrbach

Why Selling Gets No Respect.

“I’ll tell ya, I get no respect.”
Rodney Dangerfield, American comedian (1921 – 2004)

I don’t know if you’re familiar with the late, great Rodney Dangerfield, who’s comedy career took off after age 40 while he held a day job of, what else? A salesman! Rodney’s routines always began with, “I’ll tell ya, I get no respect.” Then he’d deliver a series of self-deprecating one-liners that would keep his fans rolling with laughter, like, “I was SO ugly when I was born, the doctor slapped my mother …” (Still brings a chuckle to me as I write this!)

So why is sales “the Rodney Dangerfield of Professions?” Why do people who sell for a living get no respect, and are often treated with disdain, even ridicule? I guess it comes from the many stereotypes, like the guy in a cheap suit at a used car dealership trying to sell you a car that doesn’t run right. Like PT Barnum supposedly saying “there’s a sucker born every minute” as he got hoards of paying customers to enter his freak show museum. Like the unflattering slang terms for a salesperson: “huckster” (petty haggler), “shyster” (unscrupulous deal maker), and worst of all, “goniff” (“thief” in Yiddish). And then there are late-night infomercial pitchmen, talking a mile a minute at you, promising you the moon (or six-pack abs in 30 days), always throwing in something extra if you order today, like a set of steak knives. Jeez — no wonder people can be turned off if you reveal you are in sales!

Perhaps the problem with the sales profession comes down to the low entry requirements. Sales has been called the lowest paid easy work you’ll ever do and the highest paid hard work. This explains why most people bomb out early in selling, thinking that all it takes to make a bundle of cash is a smile, a glad hand and a smooth rap. Let’s face it — many companies want to push low end products to the masses and will hire anyone who can fog a mirror, memorize a script and be willing to get doors slammed in their face hour after hour. (No respect there — trust me, I’ve done it!) I would call individuals in this category “amateurs” who just want a job, not a career. And they never turn pro.

Some of the mistakes amateurs make include:
Talking too much Amateurs consider “the gift of gab” their greatest asset. What they usually do is talk their way out of a sales as their prospects’ eyes glaze over from their incessant prattle.

Believing sales is a numbers game Rookie salespeople will talk to anyone who has a pulse without bothering to identify appropriate candidates for their products/services. (And then they’re the first to complain about the poor quality of their prospects!)

Job hopping Know anybody who has jumped from sales job to sales job? These folks mistakenly think that they’ll eventually find THE product/service that magically sells itself. (With that kind of thinking they might as well buy a lottery ticket …)
What would it be like if becoming a professional in sales was like other professions? Imagine for a minute if, to become a salesperson, you had to train as long as someone who had to complete medical school, then do an internship, then a residency to become a doctor. And spend the kind of money, and go into the kind of debt that an individual who aspires to heal others has to before practicing medicine on their own — you’d get a whole new level of respect as a professional,
wouldn’t you?

In contrast to the amateurs, pros know they need to train rigorously to master the “art of influence:” The ability to help their prospects make good decisions in favor of the products and services they offer. Sales pros understand they need to:
Get mentoring from top producers Why reinvent the wheel when you can model the behavior of successful ones who have come before you?

Study their craft Sales pros live by the motto, “leaders are readers.” Their library is filled with books from sales superstars like Brian Tracy, Tom Hopkins and David Sandler.

Attend seminars The best of the best make sure they go events where they can learn from the masters as well as rub shoulders with other individuals who have committed to staying on top.

Listen to educational/motivational/inspirational audio programs Rather than turn on their car radio, pros are listening to audio programs from the likes of Earl Nightingale and other great speakers at Nightingale-Conant Corporation during their commutes.

Hire a coach Tiger Woods is considered to be one of the top golfers in the world, and he has a coach. Sales pros know that they, like Tiger, can’t identify their areas for improvement like a pair of well trained eyes can, so they invest in a coach to improve their game.
In other words, sales professionals are committed to continually improve for years until they make it into the top 10% in their industry. And along the way they develop critical relationship skills to retain key customers/clients, vs. the rank hustler, who is looking for the equivalent of a sales one-night stand. That’s what separates the pros from the amateurs.

Finally, if you’re feeling “Rodney Dangerfield-ish” about the products or services you sell, remember: Nothing happens until there is a sale — it can be a noble calling. So if you want to become a true sales professional, it’s incumbent on you to learn what it takes to get good at this game, then stick with it. When you start treating the profession of selling with the respect it deserves, you’ll get it in return — and have a career instead of a job.

Success Skills Coach Jim Rohrbach, “The Personal Fitness Trainer for Your Business,” coaches business owners, entrepreneurs and sales professionals on growing their clientele. He has helped hundreds of individuals to achieve their goals since he developed his first coaching program in 1982. To arrange a Free Consultation with Jim, go to