Your Perception of a Salesperson


personal selling, role of salespeople, perception

Teaching Notes

      • Overview: This activity is a simple discussion exercise to identify how salespeople are perceived by consumers (your students). A mix of positive and negative attributes are provided in the worksheet to enable simple, fast and valuable easy discussion in the classroom. The purpose of this exercise is to understand the role of salespeople in the marketing mix, by challenging typical negative stereotypes of salespeople that are sometimes held by consumers.
      • Teaching Level: Basic/introductory – no assumed knowledge
      • Teaching Tips: This task can be run in small student groups, with each group then presenting their top five perceived attributes to the class (Question 1). Overall class discussion and debate then can continue regarding whether the perceived attributes of salespeople are typically positive or negative – and how firms can then modify these perceptions to their marketing advantage (Questions 2 to 5).
      • Approximate Timing: Allow 10-15 minutes for group discussion (question 1) and reporting back to the overall class. Plus 15-20 minutes for overall class discussion of questions 2 to 5.

Review the activity below or download the PDF student worksheet

Student Discussion Activity


While salespeople are more common in business-to-business marketing (B2B), no doubt you have interacted with professional salespeople in your role as an individual or family consumer. If you have ever bought a computer, a smart phone, expensive clothes, organized a wedding, bought a home or furniture, or a motor vehicle – then you have most likely interacted with a salesperson in your purchase journey.

These salespeople would have most likely provided you with important information on the benefits and features of competing products, helped you choose the right product, helped you choose additional supporting products, and helped to finalize your purchase.

However, consumer’s perceptions of salespeople vary significantly, usually depending upon typical stereotypes and people’s personal experiences.

In this activity, you need to select the five attributes (from the list below) that you most associate with a salesperson.

When you are finished, compare your responses to the perceptions of other students and answer the questions below.

Possible Attributes of a Salesperson

Good communicator Honest Thoughtful
Good listener Aggressive Energetic
Concerned for customer Pushy Difficult
Tricky Self-interested Professional
Slick Talkative Misleading
Friendly Causes problems Helpful
Dishonest Good understanding Educated
Annoying Knowledgeable Polished
Profit-driven Problem solver Awkward
Trustworthy Time waster Over promises

Student Discussion Questions

      1. What are the five attributes that you (or your group) most associate with a salesperson?
      2. Class comparison: Is your list quite similar or different to other students?
      3. Are the attributes that have been listed mainly positive, negative, or balanced?
      4. Do you think that how salespeople are perceived differs by industry? That is, a car salesperson versus an Apple Store salesperson?
      5. What actions can a firm implement to ensure that their salespeople are perceived in a more positive manner?

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