Are you in sales? I am. I love the sales profession! Unfortunately, there are some negative stereotypes of people like us. We know the image: the pushy, aggressive, rude type out to selfishly make a quick buck. Those types of salespeople do exist. But those words are opposites from how I would describe the salespeople I know.  Our profession’s stereotype needs a public makeover.

Here’s an alternative stereotype for salespeople. These words seem a more accurate description for people in our profession today.


Salespeople are full of emotion. They strongly believe what they are selling will truly help others and have a positive impact on the world. Salespeople operate with such deep conviction that their energy is captivating to those around them. I describe this passion as the “fire in the belly”. This passion is not only engaging and contagious, it also motivates others to action.


Salespeople work their butts off! They are some of the hardest working people around. It is no surprise that the best salespeople are almost always the ones who work the longest, smartest, and hardest. Salespeople are disciplined, organized, and efficient with their time. They go above and beyond to make things happen. They do whatever it takes to get the job done.


People who like the “safe” road don’t go into Sales. There is just way too much uncertainty. Salespeople are courageous. They embrace the unknown and welcome change. They aren’t afraid of failure, and they put themselves in uncomfortable situations daily. Salespeople regularly step outside of their comfort zone. They face risk and adversity head-on, push boundaries, and love a challenge.

Fantastic communicators

Salespeople build connections. They get others to open up. How do they do this? Through communication. Engaging, interactive, and compelling communication. They are master storytellers. They speak with empathy. They interact with others and ask questions in ways that evoke meaningful dialogue and exchange. Sure, many salespeople could probably improve their listening skills (myself included,) but they relate to others in a way where people feel both heard and understood. Through effective communication, salespeople build trust and mutual respect.

Full of heart

This is my favorite characteristic. Salespeople are full of heart. They truly care about other people. Salespeople do what they do because they want to have a positive impact – on their company, their co-workers, their customers, and the world at large. Salespeople have an ability to emotionally connect with others, building strong and lasting relationships. This characteristic not only makes for a great salesperson, but also a great person. Good people – that’s what salespeople are.

No wonder salespeople are in great demand today. Companies need people like this to survive. Who wouldn’t want to fill their workplace with passionate, hard-working, risk-taking, fantastic communicators who are full of heart?

I’m proud to be a salesperson! Thank you to all you salespeople who have changed our profession’s stereotype for the better.

Originally published on LinkedIn on August 14, 2017


  • Kelly Breslin Wright

    Board Director at Fastly, Lucid, Amperity, and Even. Instructor, UW Foster. Former EVP Sales, Tableau.

    Kelly is a Board Director at Fastly (NYSE : FSLY), Lucid, Amperity, and Even. She teaches Go-To-Market Strategy at the University of Washington's Foster School of Business. She also advises companies and is active in multiple organizations focused on promoting women on corporate boards. Kelly recently retired from her operational role at Tableau Software after 12 years. She joined Tableau as the company's tenth employee and first salesperson and helped grow Tableau into a multi-billion dollar public company as a key member of the executive team. She grew Tableau's worldwide sales and field operations from zero to $850m in revenue and managed over half of the global team as the company grew to 3400 employees. Kelly speaks and writes regularly on topics including sales, culture, high performance teams, operational excellence, diversity, scaling, and women in leadership.