Why Do You Hate Selling?

The Oldest Profession

People hate to sell.

Not everyone, it’s true.

But why do so many people hate sales, and look down on sales people?

I’ve met many wonderful salespeople who help their customers find exactly the right product or service.

But, we’ve all met someone who fits the stereotype of the pushy, deceitful salesman.
(It seems sometimes like deceit was invented for the use of salespeople.)

We’ve all met salesmen who don’t let you stop to think, and telemarketers who interrupt your life and dinner to offer you something you don’t want.

And the media reinforces the stereotype of the deceitful salesman.

We tell ourselves, that to be a salesman, is to be a professional liar.
And it’s not only that.

When I think of sales, I tell myself that I won’t be any good at convincing someone to buy.
I imagine that I’ll say something that I don’t really believe in, and someone will challenge me, and I’ll feel like an absolute idiot.

Ok. So I hate it.
Fine. I don’t have to sell, so I won’t.


Call it sales, or call it persuasion, or just call it communication.
If you ever ask anyone to do anything for you, you’re a salesman, even if you don’t ask them for money.

We have all sorts of resistance to asking for money.
As though money was evil, or dirty.

Know the Enemy
There are two good reasons to learn some basic, powerful persuasion methods.
1) You can better defend yourself against dishonest sales people
2) You can influence people more effectively at the times that you want to influence them.

There are five techniques that are summed up in a single sentence. This sentence comes from a report by marketer Blair Warren. Download One Sentence Persuasion if you’d like.

The five techniques that he includes were chosen because they are simple, immediately useful, and they can be almost frighteningly powerful.

Before I tell you the sentence, I need to warn you.
The language Blair uses is provocative.
Maybe you’ll even find it offensive.
But give me a few minutes, and you’ll see that you can use every one of these techniques

People will do anything for those who encourage their dreams, justify their failures, allay their fears, confirm their suspicions and help them throw rocks at their enemies.

1) What does it mean to encourage other people’s dreams? Well, you show them how doing what you’re suggesting, or buying your product or service will help them achieve their dreams.

2) We are troubled by the things that we want to do, or think we should do, yet haven’t done. And we’re also troubled by what we’ve tried to do without any success. Give people reasons why they haven’t begun to act, or haven’t succeeded at the action. This is “justifying their failures.” Tell them about some missing thing that will make them successful in the future.

3) Almost everyone has fears. “Allaying fears” doesn’t mean ignoring the fears. It means acknowledging the fears and providing support to enable someone to keep going despite the fear.

4) People love to say: “I knew that.” Talk about things that people believe or suspect to be true, yet they are rarely spoken about or acknowledged. This technique is often used in a negative way to confirm people’s paranoia or suspicions about bad things that others want to do to them. But we can instead focus on things that are deeply meaningful to others but are rarely spoken out and acknowledged.

5) A common enemy creates a strong bond. When I wrote “enemy” did you think of people? That’s the first thing that comes to mind, and unfortunately this technique is commonly used in that way. But there’s another way to use the technique without that negative approach. Find a key difficulty or obstacle that you share, and talk about that common challenge.

Persuasion through Relationship

All of these techniques rely on finding important common ground with people you want to influence. Influencing others is not simply a process of presenting a logical argument. It is most successful when you build relationships with people by showing that you understand key things that they feel strongly about: dreams, getting stuck, fears, things that people don’t talk about, obstacles.

Build real relationships with others based on issues that you both care about.
Ask the person to take action on something that relates to those meaningful issues.

You can use these techniques in a way that will have incredible, positive influence on others, and absolutely maintain your integrity.

And you don’t have to call yourself a salesman.
You are just one human being speaking to another, about things you both care about.

One Sentence Persuasion                     Next in Series >>
  1. Why Do You Hate Selling?
  2. Are You Afraid to Dream?
  3. It’s Not Your Fault!
  4. Why Do People Use Fear to Influence You?
  5. What’s Your Secret?
  6. Who Are Your Enemies?

14 comments to Why Do You Hate Selling?

  • “And you don’t have to call yourself a salesman.
    You are just one human being speaking to another, about things you both care about.” Really true for doing selling using videos. I rememember Mike Stewart said, just talk about the product like you are showing a gadget to a neighbor in her kitchen. Another great post.

  • Great perspective. I have found that people cringe when I have said “we are all in sales”. The notion that a typical person could be remotely connected to the pushy, stereotypical sales person repulses. The definition of sales that you provided is deep and profound. A “real” sales person is someone truly interested in connecting with people to help them find our discover the things that they are looking for. Building relationships that add value is sales, too. Thanks for a great thought starter for my next blog.

  • Wow… this is a fabulous post!

    I’m going to need a day or two to ponder everything in this… the quote you use is powerful! It is unsettling and yet I sense it is true.

    I’m one of those who really, REALLY does not like “selling” but as you point out, life is about selling.

    Thank you for this most excellent article!

    Warmest wishes,


  • Your article reinforces (that which I have long forgotten) principles on how to act like a lamb and sell like a lion :)

  • As you say, people often criticize salespeople, especially the “pushy salesman” persona.

    Having been in sales and marketing almost all of my adult life, I see sales as a way to share valuable information with people who can CHOOSE whether or not to benefit from the information that I offer. If no one knows about that money-saver/time-saver/healthy/educational or entertaining item, then no one benefits from it. The same is true of a cure for cancer or, conversely, a simple recommendation for a pleasant restaurant.

    In it’s best form, sales is just information-sharing, with a potential for benefit to both parties.

    Every married man and every married woman made AT LEAST one successful sales pitch in their lives. Likewise, every UNMARRIED man/woman.

    As you so adroitly clarified, every human interaction is a sales pitch at some level. The one who persuades completes the “sale”.

    Really enjoyed the article. Thanks,

  • A wonderful informative post.I like the words:
    ..’just one human being speaking to another, about things you both care about..’
    Thanks Joel, for shaing . Good luck.

  • I hate selling because I feel I have to be fake.

    There is so much hype that if I just talk realistically it feels like I’m putting myself (or the product I’m selling) down.

    I feel like pretending that I or what I’m selling has no faults is just silly.

    This is my biggest problem with selling.

  • I really like your site and your whole approach.


  • […] Why Do You Hate Selling, we spoke about five powerful ways of influencing others. The second of those ways is telling […]

  • […] Do You Hate Selling, we spoke about five powerful ways of influencing others. The third of those ways is to help others […]

  • John Perry

    I truly hate selling. I have been in it for over 20 years, have made lots of money, bla bla bla, and I absolutely hate it. This has all come to be in the last 6 months. I used to love to deal with the public, now I wish there was no public, or at least one I didn’t have to run a sales force into. I am a sales manager for a home improvement company and the fact that 1/2 of America has over extended themselves to foreclosure is not helping a bit.

    People are scared to do anything now, and I can’t even blame them. Your blog was good, nice post, rah rah rah, and good for you. In my opinion Howard Hughes and Axl Rose have/had it right. Become a recluse, and take comfort in the knowledge you’ll never go broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.

    Anyone looking to go into sales a career now should rethink this position, unless you like beating yourself to a pulp for the next 25 years looking to cater to a world that sees salespeople as one level above a leper. You can chose between selling and banging your head repeatedly into a brick wall, the end results are identical. I used to love people, after 20 years dealing with them I am fed up to the point that I’ve only two words left. “See ya”. And, btw, I was a top salesman and manager all those years, not a struggling one.

    Peace out.

  • luthfie ludino

    My second book on selling titled ” Getting Into Your Customer’s Heart” discuss briefly on the definition of selling..SELLING is about TO SERVE,SELLING is about TO GIVE,SELLING is about TO WORK.The definition of LIFE is to LIVE .. LIVING is SELLING,Happy Living,Happy Selling!Selling is not a ‘dirty word’,like life,life is GREAT!

  • I used to cringe when I heard the word sales. I had a fear of sales like some people have fear of public speaking. Sales was all a mystery to me. But I took a sales training course last fall and now I understand that selling is a process that can be understood, measured and improved upon. Almost anyone can do it, it’s a matter of understanding how a sale happens. It’s not scary anymore, in fact, it’s fun!
    Shameless Disclaimer: I was inspired so much by the method that I joined the training company 2 months ago (SalesWays OPM).

  • Ben

    I am one of the best salesman I know. I am a misfit that found a niche doing something that no one else really want’s to do. I think people are hypocritical who hate salesman. If it weren’t for salesman the whole world would starve. You could have the cure for cancer, and if nobody could sell it, it wouldn’t matter. The product would never get out. Sales are a fact of life. So everybody who hates salesman, stop your freaking whining! Nobody would even have a job if it weren’t for sales. The true hard fact is, in the land of the consumer, the salesman are king. People are petty and jealous because salesman do things that they are to scared to do and make more money than any other profession know to man.

    The president, nothing but a good salesman.
    Actors in Hollywood, nothing more than good salesman.
    Leaders in corporations, just good salesman.

    Everybody stop hatting on people who succeed!

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