10 Obstacles That Most Salespeople Cannot Overcome

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jun 08, 2010 @ 07:06 AM

well dressed salesperson





A great salesperson can overcome a myriad of obstacles including my top ten:

  1. resistance
  2. competition
  3. pricing
  4. technology
  5. budgeting
  6. relationship
  7. expertise/reputation
  8. customer service
  9. history/track record
  10. self presentation/first impressions

An average/ineffective salesperson may not be able to overcome any of the ten with the possible exception of relationship.  Some salespeople, while strategically and tactically challenged, are quite good at developing relationships.  Unfortunately, while a relationship is important, people won't buy if that's the only thing a salesperson brings to the table.

So if it requires a great salesperson to overcome 9 of those 10 obstacles, and only 5% of the sales population is truly great, why do salespeople create obstacles for themselves?  I'm talking about obstacle number 10 - self presentation/first impressions.

Yesterday, when I debriefed a great salesperson on his morning call, I learned that there was competition still to be considered.  Given the need to differentiate and rise to the top, you would think he would have wanted to make a good impression.  Why make it more difficult to be credible, demonstrate expertise, and outshine the competition by making a lousy first impression?  I asked if this was a face to face meeting and when he said it was, I cringed when I saw how he was dressed. Poor fitting, wrinkled khakis with an open collar, button down shirt and messy hair does not translate to, "We should give this guy $50,000 this year so he can help us run our business". 

The elite salesperson is good enough to overcome this disaster, but why should he have to and how many salespeople are guilty of this and aren't good enough to overcome the problem?

Nobody likes to dress down more than me.  I'll come into the office in shorts and a Tommy Bahama shirt if I don't have to meet with clients.  But to think that you can dress like a slob and get people to feel comfortable giving you a lot of their hard earned money just doesn't cut it for me.  It's one thing if you're selling to construction or manufacturing workers, residential landscaping to homeowners, or consumers in a hobby shop.  But if you are selling professional services to professionals, err on the side of being conservative.  

Nobody will ever refuse to buy from you because you are dressed well.

[UPDATE - Frank Belzer posted and picked up where my article left off.]

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Force, sales obstacles, dress code for salespeople

Subscribe via Email

View All 1,800 Articles

About Dave

Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for eight consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

Email Dave

View Dave Kurlan's LinkedIn profile View Dave Kurlan's profile


Receive new articles via email
 to the Blog on your Kindle 



Most Recent Articles


Vendor Neutral Certified 100 SalesTech Vendor Objective Management Group

Sales & Marketing Hall of Fame Inductee


Leaading Sales Consultants 2018

9 Consecutive Years!

Top Sales Awards 2018 - Article/Post -  Silver

9 Consecutive Years!

Top Sales & Marketing Awards 2015 -  Bronze - Thought Leader

2016 Top Sales & Marketing Podcast - Gold

2016 Top Sales & Marketing Webinar - Gold

Top Sales & Marketing Awards 2015 - Bronze - eBook/White Paper

Top 50 Sales & Marketing Blog 2019

Dave Kurlan Top 50 Sales Influencer 2015

Sales Pro Insider Blog

Top 50 most innovative sales bloggers



Hubspot Top 25 Blogs


Free Tools

Sales Process Grader

Sales Candidate Assessment Free Trial

Sales Ghost Calculator

Sales Force Grader

Sales Hiring Mistake Calculator

FREE Recruiting Process Grader