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Mar 23-29, 1998

Salespeople and Secretaries—Hiding Out

jack carrollby Jack Carroll

Ok, I'm old school. I still think that a secretary is a secretary and not an executive assistant, and that a salesperson is a salesperson and not a Senior Consultative Regional Account Executive.

I love secretaries and have enormous respect and admiration for what they do—be they male or female. Oftentimes they play a major role in the success of a company, and contrary to popular opinion, are almost always greatly appreciated and admired, and compensated aggressively by anyone in business who's lucky enough to have one.

And more than any other function in business, they have in common with salespeople that anomaly of hiding out in titles other than what they are—secretaries.

Here are a few of the names that salespeople hide out in: account executive, regional manager, marketing representative (do they create brochures?), and national accounts manager. A rose by any other name? When was the last time you took a business card from a salesperson (or carried one yourself) that said "salesperson"? Has it ever happened to you? Probably not.

So, why do secretaries and salespeople do this and not engineers and accountants? My theory is that salespeople hide out because of old paradigms in the business world that perceive sales in a subservient role of amusing, entertaining, and cajoling for its daily bread. Call it the "Willie Loman syndrome." (What's your theory?)

"So, what do you do for a living?"
"I sell."
"You what?"
"I am a salesperson."
"Oh..., is that all? What happened? Where did you go wrong?"

And yet, we're told almost every day that nothing happens until somebody sells something. Who tells us that? Other salespeople?

I went through my own "marketing guy" phase about 20 years ago. Now when somebody asks what I do for a living, I tell them I'm an entrepreneur with a buoyant personality.

Still hiding out after all these years. Here are some links to take care of a "hiding out" condition.

We are all salespeople, every day of our lives. We are selling our ideas, plans, and enthusiasms to those with whom we come in contact. (Charles Schwab, American Entrepreneur)

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