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If You Believe That, I’ve Got a Bridge to Sell You!

Whether it’s snide remarks about the Brooklyn Bridge, selling refrigerators in Alaska, used cars, snake oil, aluminum siding, or Willy Loman, sales professionals have a long, long way to go before we get the respect we deserve.

Glengarry Glen Ross (1992) grossed $10 million in the U.S.  Watch this seven-minute clip (only if you aren’t offended by four-letter words) and you can begin to understand how salespeople are seen by much of the population, including some of the very businesspeople to whom you are selling. 

Personally, I cringe whenever I view this scene. I consulted with a company that employed a regional VP of sales who had many of Blake’s negative attributes, although he wasn’t nearly as horrible.  He was fired for cause during my engagement.

Even Will Rogers got into the fray with, “I’d rather be the man who bought the Brooklyn Bridge than the one who sold it.”  I guess he’s saying he’d rather be an honest patsy then a dishonest salesperson.  That makes sense, but did he have to raise the Brooklyn Bridge thing to demonstrate his finer attributes?  (Reminds me of the old, “Do you still beat your dog?”)

I’m proud to be associated with nearly every sales person and sales leader I know and work with.  Sure, B2B sales has its share of lazy, incompetent and dishonest people.  So does nearly every profession.  And although there are people in sales just for the money or because they haven’t been successful at anything else, for the most part, we’re an honest, hard-working group.

So what are you doing to elevate the opinion people have about us? 

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