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Politicians & Salespeople: America’s Least Respected Professions

There are plenty of similarities between the job descriptions/perceptions of politicians and people in sales. Both often times are considered “fake.” Both are seen to lie, or grossly exaggerate, often. Both have their main goal of convincing you that you need to select them and/or their product/service. Both are generally seen as personable and/or have strong personalities; both can typically “work a room.”

As a salesperson, I disagree with much of this- but these are the generalizations associated with the sales profession.  And marketing of course is but a sub-set within the broader “sales” category. I was reading a recent (9/4/19) article on  listing the least honest/least trustworthy professions. They polled for 27 different positions; the most trustworthy were nurses. The following are 4 of the top 7 least trustworthy:

  • #1 (worst): Congress/ politicians
  • #3 (car) salespeople
  • #6 advertising professionals  (could also be termed people in marketing)
  • #7 state officeholders/bureaucrats

In other similar polls, real estate agents were selected as one of the “top 10” least honest. Realtors are certainly salespeople, primarily. In the Moneywise article, it lists car salespeople specifically as opposed to generic sales. But I think it is intuitive to consider many other types and sects of salespeople to also be thought of as no better or worse than those within the auto dealer industry.

What is the point of all of this?

Much like much of society dislikes and ignores politicians, people’s gut reaction is to disregard what is said or written by a sales (or marketing) professional. When people believe that they are trying to be sold something they instinctively get uncomfortable and often times defensive or even combative. However, there is a substantial difference between the 1-and-done used car salesman and the professional sales engineer or consultative sales consultant- with the latter being what I have primarily found within the commercial AEC community. Honesty is always important in any business discussion or negotiation, but one could say it is even more important when one is in sales.

We have to work harder to overcome the perception that we are “just in it for the sale/commission.”  I don’t think anyone questions the fact that everyone needs to make a living-  but we need to demonstrate clearly and on a regular basis that we are actually looking out for the interest of our clients or prospects.  The best salespeople do this, and they are considered a trusted resource by their clients.

And if the sales career doesn’t quite work out for you, keep in mind every 2 years there are 435 races nationwide for U.S. Congress!


Ken is a Director of Industry Development and Technical Services at the International Masonry Institute. Some of his writings have been featured in ARCHITECT magazine,, and for U.S. Building News. He can be reached at

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