noun, plural sales·men.
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usage note for salesman
Words nearby salesman
What does salesman mean?
A salesman is a man whose job is to sell products or services.
The plural of salesman is salesmen. The equivalent term for a woman is saleswoman. Both terms are still commonly used, but salesperson and sales rep (or sales representative) are often used in their place.
A salesman is often said to “work in sales”—in which sales refers to the type of occupation or the division or department within a company.
A salesman can sell directly to customers or to other businesses or organizations. Sometimes, salesmen sell things in person, such as at a retail store or dealership. They also commonly sell things over the phone or by communicating with people online. In the past, it was common for some salesmen to travel door-to-door to make sales to people at home, leading to the term door-to-door salesman.
A salesman who has to travel as part of his job can be called a traveling salesman.
The word salesman is sometimes used in a somewhat figurative way to refer to someone who’s skilled at persuading people, especially in a business or professional setting, as if they are selling them a product. This skill or quality can be called salesmanship.
Example: The salesman told me that this was the best deal he could give me.
Where does salesman come from?
The first records of the word salesman come from the 1500s. It’s formed with the ending -man, which is used in many other terms that specify occupation, such as businessman and fisherman. This ending can be replaced with -woman or the gender-neutral -person, as in saleswoman and salesperson.
The job of a salesman is to sell, and to sell they have to convince the customer to buy. For this reason, salesmen have a reputation for sometimes being aggressive or putting pressure on the customer, especially in retail settings, like furniture or electronics stores. Also contributing to this reputation is the fact that some salesmen are at least partly paid on commission—a percentage of sales that goes into their pay. Of course, this reputation isn’t always warranted—a lot of salesmen genuinely want to help you find the right product.
Still, a lot of people try to avoid salesmen when shopping due to feeling pressured. Relatedly, the term used car salesman is sometimes used in a figurative way to refer to someone considered a smooth-talking swindler.
Did you know ... ?
What are some other forms related to salesman?
- salesmen (plural)
What are some synonyms for salesman?
What are some words that share a root or word element with salesman?
What are some words that often get used in discussing salesman?
How is salesman used in real life?
Salesman is a neutral term, but salesmen may be viewed positively or negatively, based on a person’s experience with them.
I think the "pressure" of sales results from the need to reach quotas and maintain a pipeline of leads and potential deals. The "stress" of sales is the desire or need to maintain a standing within the organization, such as top salesman.
— Christopher Torres (@ChrisTorresNYC) July 28, 2020
We got an Encyclopedia Britannica from a door-to-door salesman in 1987.
— Aaron Astor (@AstorAaron) July 29, 2020
He’s an overtly aggressive troll! He comes across as a fast-talking, slick, sleazy used cars salesman! And one thing I find very annoying about him is his over use of the phrase “ and guess what”!
— Citizen Sane 🇨🇦 (@teddyboy490223) July 29, 2020
Try using salesman!
Which of the following terms can be used as a synonym for salesman?
A. sales rep
B. sales representative
D. all of the above
How to use salesman in a sentence
There were a lot more days that he did poorly than he did well because being a salesman and being on the road is very hard.
It’s one of those phrases that makes you nervous when a salesman says it.America yearns for an era of good feeling. The inaugural ceremony launched one.|Peter Marks|January 20, 2021|Washington Post
“It just oozed with character, from having been there for decades,” Michael Kranish, a salesman and teenage demonstrator of tricks at the store in the 1970s, said in an interview.Al Cohen, D.C. magic shop proprietor who knew all the tricks, dies at 94|Matt Schudel|December 18, 2020|Washington Post
Flowers’s father, a military veteran and salesman, and her mother, a teacher’s aide, were heavily involved.
His father was an insurance salesman and his mother a secretary.Bruce Sklarew, psychiatrist who created grief-therapy program, dies at 88|Bart Barnes|November 5, 2020|Washington Post
The 289-page satire follows Morris Feldstein, a pharmaceutical salesman who gets seduced by a lonely receptionist.Powerful Congressman Writes About ‘Fleshy Breasts’|Asawin Suebsaeng|January 7, 2015|DAILY BEAST
I wonder if the seasoned salesman can spot the billionaires on sight.Sneer and Clothing in Miami: Inside The $3 Billion Woodstock of Contemporary Art|Jay Michaelson|December 6, 2014|DAILY BEAST
In the same interview, he told an anecdote about what it means to be a good salesman.
Except George Spahn had no such dream, nor was he a Midwestern Model T salesman.
You also starred in Death of a Salesman on Broadway with the late Philip Seymour Hoffman.Andrew Garfield on the Evils of Capitalism, the Hacking Scandal, and Criticism of ‘Spider-Man 2’|Marlow Stern|September 10, 2014|DAILY BEAST
To be sure, the little salesman could not see up to the level of the cage floor, but his sales talk never ceased.David Lannarck, Midget|George S. Harney
I tried several positions and am now a traveling salesman for a large carpet house.The Rover Boys on the Farm|Arthur M. Winfield (AKA Edward Stratemeyer)
He got out and went in and came out, the big rocking-horse in the arms of the salesman who followed him.Red Pepper Burns|Grace S. Richmond
He worked for twenty years without a book-keeper, clerk, salesman, or agent.Captains of Industry|James Parton
The sin of “over-capitalization” differed in magnitude only, not in kind, from the daily practice of every salesman in every shop.The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce|Ambrose Bierce