The Sales Charlatan

Problem: Have you ever heard the term “sales profession”? How about “medical profession”? Which one do you think has the most credibility? Of course, we’re biased. We are one of those “professional” salespeople we spoke of a moment ago. But which would the general public, the people who are our prospective buyers, give the most credibility to as a real profession? Our guess is medicine.

Analysis: Medical professionals study for years before they are licensed to practice and then must undergo regular continuing education to stay licensed. The profession is highly regulated, and rightly so, since peoples’ lives are on the line. But what about sales? The normal requirement to get into sales is often nothing more than an outgoing personality and a business card. Training ranges from nothing to rigorous, but usually is inadequate. Salespeople are often making recommendations on products and services that can have a profound impact on their customers. Yet, we have no regulating body to keep out the charlatans.

In medicine, they have a term for someone who prescribes medical treatment without an adequate Analysis of the condition. They call that person a “quack.” A synonym for quack is charlatan, described by Webster as someone who pretends to have expert knowledge or skill that he does not have.

How many “professional” salespeople prescribe a product or service before they’ve made an adequate Analysis? Far too many according to the buying public. It’s no wonder that, almost universally, salespeople are mistrusted. And it’s no wonder that selling is so difficult, given that prospects don’t trust salespeople.

Solution: If you want to set yourself apart from your competition, if you truly want to be regarded as a professional, then begin by doing a better Analysis. Tell the prospect that you won’t give a presentation until you understand his situation completely. Then make sure you ask enough of the right questions to be able to suggest a solution that will completely fix the problem. That’s what a professional does. You’ll find you get more respect and sell more.