“Salescritter” is both more gender inclusive and more species inclusive than “salesman.” And no more syllables than “salesperson.”
Some products and services have what I call a high “salescrittership quotient.” These are the ones that naturally adjoin to the word “salesman:” vacuum cleaner, encyclopedia, used car, insurance… Used cars merit particular attention as they are the subject of a famous problem in economics; the “lemon problem” of information asymmetry. Now groceries are something a typical person is buying all the time. A consumer with decent memorization skills who shops multiple supermarkets will instinctively be able to identify which items in a supermarket are above or below the “going rate.” So, there are no salescritters in the supermarket; just people to handle transactions, and fewer and fewer of those. It’s basically a self-serve operation. Persuasion still enters into it in packaging, placement and other psychological games, but commissioned salescritters are not present there, as it is a relatively transparent space. The danger zone is the few-and-far-in-between purchases that are also the big-ticket purchases. Further informational disempowerment ensues if it’s a non-elective purchase. The TV commercials that shout the loudest are furniture stores and replacement windows. These are also very salesy industries, characterized by high pressure commissioned salescritters. One wonders if each industry (or each category of product or service) can be characterized as having a “salescrittership quotient” (SQ) that might be high in the case of home improvement contractors, low in the case of supermarkets, and medium in the case of, say, shoes.
Then there’s the market for jobs. How many of your colleagues are lemons? If you’re competent but can’t prove it to your boss, you may prefer to be a freelancer. If other competent workers think that way, it may explain why you think your colleagues are idiots and they think the same about you.
I’d like to think that in a post-privacy, radically transparent world, it will be a trivial matter to verify any information on a job application or resume. Hopefully this will mean less need to sell oneself in the interview, but I wouldn’t hold my hopes too high. As Tim Harford says, the outlet seems to be self-employment, or having to sell yourself every single fucking day. We shall see. I don’t expect extreme transparency to solve all the world’s problems, but hopefully it will help level the playing field between the value of BS and the value of other skills.
Joshua T. defines salesiness (in the context of software) as “quantity of suits & money to be dealt with in order to get actual technical detail,” and transparency as “the degree to which the authors interact with the community on defects and releases.” Suits and authors both perform gatekeeper functions. Joshua rates various products high, medium or low on these and four other scales. I suspect they are inversely proportional to each other.