I spent several years in the sales game and I was really good at it. It was a great career for a single girl with nothing but time on her hands. Then I met The One, got married, and adopted our two rescue dogs. Suddenly, I had this whole new family to care for, and I couldn’t devote the majority of my life to work anymore. Even moreso, I didn’t want that life anymore, so I got out of the game in favor of more low-key work and more family time. These are my observations from the other side.
Salespeople have a bad reputation for being slimy dishonest charlatans who will say anything to make a sale, and, honestly, some are exactly that. Most aren’t though; the majority are legitimately trying to help their clients but get a bad reputation for also daring to expect to earn a living wage for their hard work (oh the horrors!)
In a completely different sense, salespeople do lie on a daily basis, and I’m not talking about lying to their clients to close deals. I’m talking about the ones who lie to their coworkers, family and friends in order to appear friendly to “sales culture.” Here are five of the most common lies salespeople tell to keep up appearances in the industry.
1. “I prefer straight commission jobs because I want to prove myself.” Bullshit. I heard this one a lot at the one and only straight commission job I ever worked. Unless you’re selling really expensive products and services, you get a high percentage commission, and you have a nice big nest egg to float you through the slow days, it’s really hard to make a decent living without base pay, and it’s nerve wracking financially when you drive around all day using expensive gas and buying food only to get undercut on price and make $0 that day (actually less than zero after gas/food). In my experience, settling for a straight commission job felt like I was allowing the company to tell me that my time and effort is worthless. Even the best salesperson can’t close every deal and it’s often due to things beyond their control, such as price. You can sell value and customer service until you’re blue in the face and some customers really don’t give a shit about anything besides price. That’s where base pay comes in; it ensures that you can pay your bills when you did everything in your power to close the sale and it didn’t happen.
2. “Oh, you work 40 hours a week? I remember my first part-time job!” I’ve worked 80 hrs/week and it’s not fun. You can make great money that way but you never have time to spend it on anything fun or see your family/friends. After awhile, you inevitably get burned out. Life is meant for living, and you can’t live very well if all you do is work, sleep, and drink your stress away in between 12-hour shifts. I call bullshit on anyone who claims to enjoy living that way.
3. “If your spouse is divorcing you, it’s time for a promotion!” This one irritates me the most because it’s disrespectful to both humanity and marriage (two things I’m a big supporter of). If you’re married, you literally vowed to prioritize your spouse, and that’s a big responsibility. I’ve never heard of anyone planning a massive party to publicly declare their devotion to their employer or writing vows to love, honor and respect the company until death and never cheat on them with a different company. That would be a little ridiculous, right? Doesn’t that tell you which one should be a higher priority?
4. “I don’t mind coming to work on my day off.” It’s seen as essentially treasonous in sales culture to insist that you get your much-needed days off so you can rest and catch up on chores, so often it’s easier to lie and say you don’t mind and then trudge through the overtime. It sucks, but sometimes it’s better than enduring the boss’s gaslighting about how you’re not devoted enough to your career.
5. “Money is all I need/care about.” Let be real, money is important because bills don’t pay themselves, but there are much more important things in life. It was this realization that led me to my decision to get out of sales. It’s the profound truth that everyone tries to deny. You need love, peace, and family to really be happy. Some of the richest people in the world are miserable, and some of the brokest people in the world are happy and fulfilled because they’re honest about their priorities.
I don’t have anything against salespeople, especially since I’ve been there and done that, but I do have a problem with the companies who perpetuate this bullshit and encourage people to conform to it with no respect for humanity or family. As for this former hustler, if I ever decide to use my sales skills again, it will be on my terms as a self-employed independent contractor. Even though I could make a lot more money by going back to the corporate world, it’s not worth missing out on cuddling my puppies, Netflix marathons, traveling with my husband, and writing. I choose to live for today because tomorrow is promised to no one.