I walked into the interview room and my (now) manager said to me, “So if I said you had to make $4000 today, do you think you could do that?” I knew with beaming certainty that I could not do that – but, in Jim Carrey form, I said yes anyway. Flash forward a year later, and to my bemusement, I’m still here: a young woman in an industry full of middle-aged men.
For salesmen, respect from customers often exists at the outset, due to the assumption that men are exclusively charismatic, motivating and persuasive.
Saleswomen have to work for that authority. The more random shit I knew (such as the unspoken feud between LG and Samsung), the more respect I gained, and the more customers conversed with me. The actual product-money trade became extrinsic to the web of intros, anecdotes, laughs, goodbyes and good lucks weaved within the sale.
Unfortunately, some customers still follow the equation: societal assumptions = my opinion. I was explaining the features of a washer to a man in his sixties, who interrupted to ask if I’d ever even used a washer. It threw me off. If I said yes, I’d prove myself, but it would be for him. If I said no, his ageist doubts would obviously be confirmed.
Another customer criticised my colleague’s sales skills… by saying she wasn’t very good-looking.
So here’s a call to value salespeople by their distinctive personalities because a Bosch dishwasher is far too decent to be sold to ageists and/or sexists.