Sales Isn’t Sleazy – If You’re Doing it Right

The Tin MenIn the 1987 movie “The Tin Men,” a flick about competing salesmen who push unwitting homeowners to buy aluminum siding that they don’t really need, the movie opens with a classic exchange between Richard Dreyfuss’ character and a Cadillac salesman.

When the car salesman asks Dreyfuss’ character what he’s willing to pay for a new car, Dreyfuss fires back with a classic response:

“I really don’t want you to hustle me here. You know what I mean. I really hate that. I hate being hustled.”

Mind you, that’s one salesperson telling another salesperson that they don’t want to be hustled. Oh, the irony.

I was reminded of that quote when I received an email from one of my webinar listeners recently. This person described himself as someone with a technical background who was new to sales and struggling with prospecting. Here’s what he said:

Whenever I try to cold call, I constantly picture myself as a dreaded car salesman (whom I tend to avoid like the plague) or the Music Man who’s here to tell you whatever you want to hear, then exit stage right once the money is in hand!

Ah, the life of a salesperson. Perpetually condemned to sleazeball status, pushing unneeded or unwanted services on prospects who have no interest in those wares, only to run off into the sunset with briefcases full of cash…

The problem with that portrayal, however, is that it’s more Hollywood myth and misconception than anything else.

The reality is that the vast majority of salespeople are honest, helpful, and scrupulous professionals. Our goal is to educate prospects, inform them of their options, and guide them to a product or service that enriches their life or business.

What’s so sleazy or negative about that?!

Honestly, I love selling. But it’s not because of the money and it’s certainly not because I enjoy a good hustle.

I love it because sales allows me to help others.

Throughout my sales career, I’ve found that if you’re genuinely focused on helping your clients, sales is a truly joyful and noble job to have. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, and you certainly shouldn’t think of yourself in the vein of a used car salesman or Danny DeVito’s character from “The Tin Men.”

Frankly, the best salespeople don’t focus on the money – even if they do happen to make a nice living from their craft. Instead, they focus on the issues that their prospects and customers are facing and create a plan to address those problems. They hone in on solutions, make honest recommendations that will help customers personally and professionally, and cultivate relationships in ways that foster long-term business partnerships.

So, my advice to that webinar listener (and anyone reading this who has similar fears) was simple:

Don’t be ashamed of what you do.

Instead, embrace and be proud of it. Because if you’re primarily focused on building relationships, serving clients, and resolving problems with helpful solutions, then there’s nothing sleazy about what you’re doing.

Now, that doesn’t mean that prospects will always warmly respond to your outreach. But even when you’re coldly rejected, you can walk away with your head held high knowing that you tried your best to make someone’s life a little bit better.

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