How Can We Improve the Sales Profession’s Reputation?

By Jeff Beals

The good news is that salespeople are considered more trustworthy than stockbrokers, politicians and lobbyists.

Unfortunately, that’s it. Pretty much every other profession is considered more trustworthy than sales.  Ouch.

Now here’s the bad news: only 3 percent of people consider salespersons to be trustworthy.  That’s according to a HubSpot Global Jobs Poll from 2016 that asked 928 people the question: “Who do you consider to be trustworthy?”  Each respondent was asked to choose three job titles from a list of 20 provided.

While salespersons ranked low, no profession did terribly well.  Doctors came in number one, but only 49 percent of people thought they were among the most trustworthy professions.  Only 48 percent thought firefighters were trustworthy.  For crying out loud, firefighters run into burning buildings to save lives and even rescue pets.

Lawyers get a bad rap, some of it deserved, but 12 percent of respondents thought lawyers were among the most trustworthy professions.  That’s four times the number of people who trust sales reps.

And this one kind of  makes me laugh: only 5 percent chose baristas as trustworthy.  Perhaps respondents were mad about screwed up latte orders at the coffeehouse drive-through.

Four percent of respondents named professional athletes as trustworthy.  If I was one of the survey participants, I would have definitely put those prima donnas below sales reps.

The sales profession has made great strides over the years, and it continues to become more professional and sophisticated each year. Nevertheless, old stereotypes about salespeople persist.

Given our profession’s tarnished reputation, how can we become more trusted by customers and more respected by the general public?


Research indicates that ethical sales practitioners end up making more money (in the long run) than unethical sales reps.  They also head off potential trouble and are less likely to be fired.  Behaving ethically in no way makes you a weaker sales rep.  It makes you a good one.


Detailed and timely communication removes suspicions and reassures clients.  Be truthful and don’t procrastinate when you need to tell prospects things they don’t want to hear.  Remember that bad news does not improve with age.

Another important part of communication is to say you are sorry when appropriate. It’s amazing how much an earnest and sincere apology can boost trust.

Moment of Truth

At some point in any given relationship, you will encounter a moment of truth, a time in which you will be faced with an important decision. How you decide to act determines if you “pass” the moment of truth.  If you do pass it, you build trust.  Fail it and the relationship could be irreparably damaged.

What are some moment-of-truth examples? When it’s tempting to lie but you tell the truth.  When you have a choice to do something in your interest or your client’s interest and you choose the client’s. When you go the extra mile to help clients achieve their goals. When you screw up and do everything in your power to fix the situation.

Every time you pass a moment of truth, no matter how small, trust becomes at least a little deeper.


People trust other people whose behavior is predictable. If you’re the type of person who responds to challenges in a consistently professional manner, you come across as trustworthy.

The best predictor of a person’s future actions is frequent past behavior. If you consistently establish frequent past behavior that is trustworthy, it will be much easier for you to be trusted in the future.


Because technology, people have become accustomed to getting any desired information immediately. That means we have to be ultra responsive to our prospects and current customers.

With so much information immediately available at our fingertips, we now view slow communicators as “untrustworthy.”  It’s almost as if people think you’re incompetent or perhaps hiding something if you take too long.  Speed is now equated with trust.

Trusted Adviser

Those sales pros who put their clients’ best interest first, become incredibly valuable to those clients.  Not only is that good for personal gain, it helps improve the reputation of our entire profession.

Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share.  Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”

Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:

“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events this year. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events next year!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“Jeff Beals is a consummate pro. With short notice, he put together an engaging, fun, sales-focused presentation full of specifics – just what our exec team needed. We’ll ask him back for annual company retreat again next year.” – John Baylor, President, On to College, Lincoln, NE

“In the three months since Jeff Beals became my sales coach, I have signed over 20 new, top-tier clients and have positioned myself among the top three sales producers in my company nationwide. Jeff has helped me create a beneficial success plan and ensures, through an accountability process, that I’m actively accomplishing my goals. Not only is Jeff an incredible coach, he’s a true friend, mentor and wonderful human being.” – Carter Green, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Stratus Building Solutions, Oklahoma City, OK

(402) 637-9300

Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant. He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide. He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states. A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.

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