Most Sales People Are Failed Social Workers

Most Sales People Are Failed Social Workers

It’s an unfortunate fact that most people in sales, I’d say 95%, didn’t choose selling as a career. Most will gladly admit this.

I recently had a meeting with a FTSE CEO a few weeks back. When I asked him, “How did you become a CEO, where did this all start?”

he replied, it started in sales. I then asked, had that been his plan? He said No, he fell into sales.

I then pointed out to him, no wonder you have sales people with problems, they’re the same and, most, unfortunately, don’t have your aptitude and drive. They’re stuck in a rut, which, as we both know, is a coffin with then ends kicked out.

We both laughed heartily.

Sales people who don’t really want to be in sales have the wrong attitudes, beliefs, techniques and behaviours. When they come together they are a recipe for protracted sales cycles. Their attitudes and beliefs determine that they act and behave more like a social worker, except less effective.They become professional visitors that don’t change the world.

Most CEOs and MDs that I meet have a shared frustration and source of irritation, and that’s long sales cycles. They just can’t understand why they have sales people running around like blue arsed flies, chasing “opportunities” that require more and more time, meetings, effort and energy.

They never seem to close or they simply disappear. When you start putting a value on all this, it becomes very uncomfortable talking. Most sales people are productive about 25% of the time, the rest of it is often engaged in pointless, non-productive behaviours. Namely; drafting proposals, quotes and pitches without any commitment or payment for these things.Chasing people whom have expressed an interest or said they need to think it over. Chasing “clients” (in actuality they aren’t because they aren’t paying) who need more time. Visiting or meeting prospects 3, 4 or 5 times, “building relationships”. It’s costly, time consuming, non-productive and all too common.

Let’s be honest, most sales people are failed social workers. Social workers spend their lives “rescuing” people, meeting people, talking to people, building up trust and rapport. They do this by frequent visits. Never pushing, judging or asserting, merely being. Now all this is well and good, if you’re a social worker, but people in sales are not social workers. If they were, they would have been fired as a social worker long ago for being inefficient.

I have lost track of the number of times I have heard sales people, small business owners, sales managers etc make the feeble and pointless excuse that “it takes time to build up relationships and trust.” As an excuse for not selling and justifying the long sales cycles. I hate to break this to you, but that is simply wrong. It is total BS. Only a fool would accept, believe or buy into this. I say this as a man who did buy into this. Who did say this. Who did use it as an excuse.


Trust can be created within 20 minutes of meeting a human being. That’s all you need. If you don’t believe this, then you’re not untypical. Most people in sales refuse to believe this is possible, but it is.


Simple, ask tough, challenging and uncomfortable questions of the person you are engaged with. Questions they know (once asked) that they should know the answers too, but do not. Simple.

The way to create and demonstrate trust is by allowing your prospect to realise, very quickly, you know more about them, their world and their problem than they do. Isn’t that why we trust someone to do something for us? We believe they can help us, and we only believe a person can help us if we believe they understand us, know more than us, can see our problem through our eyes and can empathise with us? This doesn’t require some form of legalised stalking where you phone, email or pop in harass people. It can be done in the very first meeting, in the very first 20 minutes.

Your sales cycle is too long because your sales people are more concerned with being liked and impressing, than they are making a prospect discover, through challenging questions, that you may be just the solution they are looking for. A desire to be liked, a desire to make the sale and the desire not to appear pushy or challenging means sales people avoid doing their job. That’s why you have drawn out sales cycles - you employ social workers.

On that note, what is a pushy sales person? I hear it all the time, but no-one knows and few admit to being it. Apparently, it’s pushy to ask a person to make a decision. Hence why most sales people are middle aged single men. Not a good prognosis.

Apparently, it’s pushy to ask a prospect for a No. But hang on, isn’t it the salesperson who gets a no AND THEN continues after that to convince that makes a pushy sales person? If you desire to get a NO, so you can move on, how can that be pushy? I’ll take a No.

Is it pushy to tell a prospect that a think it over isn’t an acceptable answer? Why?

Everyone knows that the reason a buyer gives a think it over is to avoid the sales person that won’t take NO. We all know, 9 out of 10 times, that a think it over means No. We all know that the only person ever actually thinking it over, is the sales person that took the think it over. The prospect meant No. That's why we give them.

So how is saying to someone, I want a NO, which I’ll take or we agree to move forwards together in some way, pushy?

I’ll tell you what pushy is, and it’s most salespeople. It’s the chasing someone after you sent them an email, even though you know deep down they are not interested. It’s when you keep calling on a prospect that never takes your call. It’s the pop in. It’s the “in the area” line. It’s all the crap you do to look busy, to build relationships and avoid being pushy.

Guess what? You are the very person people hate when they talk about pushy sales people. It's the sales guy that doesn't realise that when I said I need to think it over I actually meant F&*£ Off.

You’re not in sales to change the world, you’re in it to go to the bank. To create situations where you get paid your full fees/price on your terms and both parties walking away 100% satisfied.

Stop employing and justifying the behaviour of social workers on your sales teams.

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