Dan Naden

Words that kill: I am just a sales guy

I was on a product demonstration yesterday when I heard a salesperson say, “I am just a sales guy.”

In isolation, one could think this phrase is harmless, but let me continue to document an alarming trend starting to blanket the business world.

Imagine you are visiting a restaurant for Mother’s Day, and your waiter shares with you the day’s specials. You respond, “Wow, that omelette sounds great. This place looks cool. How long have you been open?”

I am just a sales guy.
Just ‘doing the job’ doesn’t cut it today. You need to exceed all expectations — no matter the role.

“I am not sure. I am just a waiter. I’ll have to ask my manager,” the waiter responds, his voice quivering with indifference. In your mind, you wonder why this waiter doesn’t care enough to know this answer.

You sit in the dentist’s chair as Dr. Smiles views your molars for decay. “Have you been brushing and flossing every day?” Dr. Smiles cheerfully asks.

“I try to floss every day, but sometimes I just forget,” you respond. You notice his University of Texas degree on the office wall and say, “I see you are a Texas graduate. I love the Longhorns. How long have you been a dentist?”

Dr. Smiles answers: “Oh, I don’t remember, a few years, I think. I was hoping to become a surgeon, but I wasn’t smart enough, so I just became a dentist.”

For a man that might be drilling holes in your mouth, this string of words isn’t a way to fill you with confidence.

These words that kill can also infiltrate your home.

You’ve plans to turn your backyard into a blanket of color and beauty with some native Texas landscaping.

A number of landscape experts visit with you, sharing details and proposed costs of the work you want done. One gentleman, whom you particularly like, shares: “I can probably do this work, but remember, I am just a lawn guy.”

This phrasing, this unfortunate sequencing of words: “I am just a ___ (dentist, lawn guy, fill in the blank) is a demoralizing put-down. As a potential buyer of your services, I am immediately second guessing if I’ve made the right choice.

You’ve immediately placed yourself into the world of a commodity. Instead of being a unique, talented professional with specialized skills, you’ve branded yourself as a regular, typical, ordinary worker.

My time and money are valuable. When I choose a restaurant, dentist, landscaper, I want to know that I am working with people who think of themselves as artisan craftsmen, not just someone after a paycheck.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

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1 thought on “Words that kill: I am just a sales guy

  1. Don’t ruin my indicator. As a consumer, I want to hear people say those words that kill because, as you say, it warns me not to proceed. I tells me there is something more fundamentally wrong with that organization. It’s my canary in the coal mine. Taking away the canary doesn’t make the coal mine any safer.
    (As always, I appreciate your posts.)

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