noun, plural sales·men.
DON’T VACILLATE! VANQUISH THIS WORD OF THE DAY QUIZ!
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
Example sentences from the Web for 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
For New Faces of ‘52, a landmark revue, I did a satire on Death of a Salesman and Elia Kazan’s superheavy direction.Mel Brooks Is Always Funny and Often Wise in This 1975 Playboy Interview|Alex Belth|February 16, 2014|DAILY BEAST
A Cox Cable executive, Nagin was a salesman who had never run for office.From Katrina to the Clink: Ex New Orleans Mayor Heads to Prison|Jason Berry|February 13, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Well, there is certainly ego in the Renaissance artists and, further back, in the self-promotion of a salesman such as Columbus.The Invention of the Ego in Martin Luther’s Defiance|Thomas Cahill|November 3, 2013|DAILY BEAST
The salesman had subsequently fallen off a balcony to his death.Fraud and the City: Russia’s Manhattan Money Laundering|Michael Daly|September 16, 2013|DAILY BEAST
To my surprise the question provoked a burst of anger from the salesman.Adventures of Sherlock Holmes|A. Conan Doyle
He is a salesman in one of the large sweet shops, and the ballet dancer is his colleague!The Sexual Question|August Forel
And today every salesman has one pasted in his selling portfolio.The Knack of Managing|Lewis K. Urquhart and Herbert Watson
Surely each preliminary advance the salesman makes should add to his confidence that he can complete the sale.Certain Success|Norval A. Hawkins
About a year later, however, this business man sent for the salesman again.How To Write Special Feature Articles|Willard Grosvenor Bleyer