The Emotional Toll of a Career in Sales

Nobody likes salespeople. Nope, not even you. True story.

We’ve been programmed our entire lives to merely tolerate sales people. To demand their presence when we’re ready to buy but to avoid them when we’re only browsing. It’s just human nature. We want to feel in control of our decisions, to make a selection based upon our own research and instincts.

Salespeople, on the other hand, are paid to lead consumers to a purchase decision for a predetermined product or set of products. The job of the sales person is to convince you to buy from them. As soon as humanly possible, if not sooner.

But, of course, the consumer has their own plans and agendas and that agenda often involves the phrases: “No, thank you;” “I’m just browsing;” “I’m not ready to buy anything, today.” And a million other comments that simply mean “no.”

To a sales person (and I would think to any person) that’s a form of rejection. But that weary salesperson receives rejection far more frequently than the average consumer. It is our lot in life.

Consider this, a baseball player who bats 300 is considered at the absolute top of his game. And he hits only 30% of the pitches he receives. He misses 70% of the time, and 30% contact rate is considered amazingly successful.

And that ratio applies to salespeople, too. The best in any industry have around a 30% close rate; meaning only 30% of our sales pitches result in a purchase decision. Or, 70% of the time, we are rejected: “No, thank you.”

In baseball, it’s hard to take a ball racing at you personally. But in sales, we’re dealing with real people who use words and actions to reject our offers. It’s personal. Every single time. And it’s exhausting.

And I’m sure there are more resilient salespeople out there than me. There have to be. But I think it would be fantastic if large organizations kept a psychologist on retainer for their sales teams to help build resiliency in the face of daily rejection.

Or maybe I’m just being overly sensitive. I mean, it’s just business, after all; it isn’t personal.