How Many Peddlers Do You Have?

Last week our eight-year-old son had “peddler” on his word list.  We asked what it meant and he quickly and nonchalantly replied, “someone who travels to sell his products.”

Out of curiosity, I checked a few online definitions for peddler and one was very close to our son’s version.  Another was basically an unlicensed dealer in illegal drugs.  That one struck me rather oddly. First, is there actually a licensed dealer of illegal drugs?  And then it hit me.  Of course.  Doctors!  So are doctors some kind of peddlers?  Well, they don’t travel….

My favorite was from Merriam Webster’s online dictionary: one who deals in or promotes something intangible (as a personal asset or an idea).

Several intangibles came to mind.  The first was insurance, followed by consulting, lawyers and then, doctors!  So maybe doctors are peddlers…

I found it interesting that insurance salespeople don’t have a particularly good reputation and that’s probably followed by lawyers and consultants!  Of course none of them have the reputation of used car salespeople, who don’t travel, don’t sell anything illegal and don’t have an intangible so we’ll have to leave the auto salespeople out of this discussion.  (If you do want to read what I’ve written about them in the past, here are two about my grandfather1 grandfather2 one about a former car salesperson who failed)

Back to doctors.  These days, doctors aren’t much more than prescription writing pawns for the drug companies so, you know, peddler might be the right term after all. Take the modern doctors that loves to write prescriptions and compare them to salespeople who love to present (value proposition and capabilities), demo, propose and quote (the prescription).  The doctor has more initial credibility than he should while the salesperson has less initial credibility than he should. The doctor spends as little time as possible with his patients while the salesperson attempts to spend as much time as possible.  But beyond those two differences, aren’t they both peddlers?

How many peddlers do you have and when will you insist that they become more consultative?