News & Research Archive

Why Are Salespeople Held in Such Low Regard?

Sep 10, 2014

SalespeopleYears ago, I had the pleasure of working with one of the best brokers in town. He controlled over half of the industrial market for over ten years in San Francisco. I was constantly asking him how he became so successful. His response to me was simple. "I am a peddler putting two people together who have a need and desire, and I slice a piece of the transaction for myself," he would say.


When he told me he was a peddler, I took offense. In my generation, a peddler was a poor person who went around selling things to people "door to door."

In fact, the correct meaning of "peddler" in the Merriam Webster dictionary is: 

One who peddles: as

A: One who offers merchandise (as fresh produce) for sale along the street or from door to door

B: One who deals in or promotes something intangible (as a personal asset or an idea)

Based off this definition, what we do in the realty profession is peddling.

In today's society, everything that anyone does as a job needs a title for distinction. You are not only a "janitor," but you are the "sanitation engineer." Somewhere along the way, "salespeople" replaced "peddlers." In fact, even salespeople are long replaced by vice presidents or directors.

It's as if society regards salespeople so low, that they do not even want to recognize us. Case in point, there is almost no sales classes in colleges or universities. If you want to become a commercial real estate agent, there are no classes in real estate sales, only real estate finance and real estate development.

I spoke to a very successful commercial real estate agent who now has his two sons working for him. He also has a daughter who is a doctor. Out of his children, he is most proud of his daughter, rather than his two sons. Even within ourselves, we hold our own career in low reverence.

Here is the reality- without salespeople, in any field, you have no business. Period. We are the front of the train, the engine. Instead of holding salespeople in such low standing, we as a society should strive to build new well-trained sales forces.

In Germany, legally you cannot perform any retail sales unless you have a license to do so. Having a license means you have passed proper training. Germany treats retail sales as an authentic profession. Today, many U.S. companies seek Germans to come to the U.S. to handle sales.

We need to rethink sales in our nation as a true profession and hold it as high (maybe even higher) than doctors and lawyers. Without sales, you may have a good product, service, or idea, but you won't have business.

Photo Credit: pennstatenews via Compfight cc


Written by: Hans Hansson


Hans Hansson is President of Starboard TCN Worldwide Real Estate Services as well as a member of the Board of Directors for TCN Worldwide Real Estate. Hans has been an active broker for over 29 years in the San Francisco Bay Area and specializes in office leasing and investments. If you have any questions or comments please email or call him at (415) 765-6897. You may also check out his website,

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