What I Mean By Bullshit Sales Jobs

In my previous blog post, I wrote about what jobs were listed this month of April for Dickinson, North Dakota, on the North Dakota Job Services website, and the Indeed.com website.  I categorized some of these job listings as “bullshit sales jobs”, where you are led to believe that you can make a certain amount in sales commissions, but you never receive these commissions.

I have had only a few jobs where part of my pay was supposed to come from sales commissions, but several long time friends of mine have had more experience with this.  It is true, that some sales professionals who represent industrial companies that have $50 million or more in annual sales, these sales representatives can and do sometimes make $200,000 per year.

I will try to explain what many or most sales jobs truly are.  A company that provides a product or service, can advertise in newspapers, magazines, trade journals, on television, radio, the internet, through mailings, and at trade shows.  But another important way to reach customers, is to have an individual sales representative telephone and meet prospective customers in person.

Companies hire very experienced sales people, who likely have a background and education in business and marketing, to be their sales manager, or part of the company management team.  The sales manager, or the company management team, know that having sales representatives is not just about making sales, but it is about marketing, advertising, publicity, and creating an interest and familiarity with the product line or services.

The sales manager, or the management team, are interested in recruiting sales representatives not just to make sales, but to perform marketing, advertising, product education, and customer support, whether the sales representatives know this or not.

Companies like to hire young, idealistic, ambitious, hard working, articulate, and nice looking college graduates for sales representative positions, in order to make a good impression with the public.  They hire older professional people too, who fit this description.  The base salary may only be $12 per hour, which is about $24,000 per year.

A young college graduate, or an older professional person, would not even consider taking a $24,000 per year job, they wouldn’t even apply for a job like this, they would keep looking for a job that paid at least $40,000 per year.

Companies inform job seekers that the base pay is $24,000 per year, but typically a sales representative with their company earns about $50,000 per year through their sales commissions, some sales representatives with their company make $70,000 or $80,000.

Newly hired sales representatives may be given the option to drive their own personal vehicle and be reimbursed for mileage, or they may be provided with a company vehicle.  It will all be explained what their sales territory is, whether this is an exclusive territory, or if they share it with other company sales representatives.  Or, it will be explained what accounts or customers the sales representative is assigned, and what the expectations are for new customers.

A new sales representative, after making all of the cold calls, following up on leads, driving to all the customers on his route, and meeting new customers in his territory, may find that he makes no sales or few sales in his first month.  The sales manager may give the new sales representative a pep talk, about how everyone starts out slow, or about getting customers into the pipeline.

The second and the third month may not be much different, no sales or few sales.  However, by this time, the new sales representative may start to catch on to what is happening.  The news sale rep may learn, that all of the major existing customers in the territory such as a public school system, hospital chain, automobile dealership line, or heavy equipment line, these accounts and orders are all being serviced by the sales manager.

Next, the new sales rep may learn, that having discussed the product or service with a customer or business in his territory, the customer or business has telephoned the company he represents, and is now dealing with the sales manager or someone else at the company.  Customers and businesses sometimes enjoy speaking to the “owner, the people in charge, the people at headquarters, someone more important”, because they think that this is just better.

At about the third or fourth month at a bullshit sales job, it will begin to dawn on a new sales rep, that all they are doing, is driving around, telephoning, and talking to the few prospective customers that the company does not already have, just trying to comb through what has already been picked, for possible crumbs.  What they really are, is an unwitting marketing, advertising, public relations, and customer service rep who is only being paid $12 per hour.

Furthermore, how did the sales manager end up with the public school system account, the hospital chain account, the automobile manufacturer dealership account, the heavy equipment manufacturer account? How many sales representatives have there been before, what happened to them, and how long did they work here?

In the end, a new sales rep will discover that each sales rep before him, lasted three months to one year.  As each new sales rep realized that they had been lied to and were being cheated, they left, and the sales manager scooped up for himself, whatever business or accounts the most recently departed sales rep had discovered.

In summary, many or most of the sales jobs listed, are bullshit sales jobs, where the salesmen will never be paid the commissions they are told are typical.  The true purpose of these sales positions is marketing, advertising, public relations, customer service, and finding a few remaining crumbs in a sales territory that has already been picked.  Inevitably, the sales manager will receive the benefit of whatever new business or customers that a new sales rep discovers.

One way to discover that what I am describing is true, look at the local job listings in your area, and make note of the sales rep job listings.  When you see a company advertising for sales reps, every three months, for year after year, you have got to wonder why do their sales reps keep quitting after three or four months?

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