In the 2007 ‘Affluent Attitudes Towards Salespeople’ survey, 90% of those surveyed said, “A true sales professional is hard to find”, and in just a few years it’s gotten worse.The annual survey of ‘Affluence and Wealth’ in 2007 found 66% of the respondents “depend on the salesperson to know the specific details of the product that makes it worth more.” Three years later, that percentage had dropped to 39% - almost in half.Also, interestingly enough in the same survey, 37% said “they had close relationships with sales people they relied on.” Three years later, it had dropped to 25%. It continues to go down. As a sales professional and a sales trainer, I find these facts alarming. Here are some reasons I believe this is happening and some things you can do to make sure it doesn’t happen to you.First, I think many sales professionals today have a weak work ethic. In the book Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell, it suggests that it requires 10,000 hours of practice to reach true greatness. Most of the sales people I interview today think sales’ is a forty hour per week job. It isn’t and never has been. Every minute of the business day should be spent seeing or trying to see prospects. Research, reports, education and preparation should be done before and after business hours.The first thing I tell all sales people is to put in the time. Not just in front of the prospect but in perfecting the tools of their trade. CPA’s, doctors, lawyers and most professionals have continuing education requirements. Sales people have none. They should do it themselves. If you’re in sales, ask yourself how many books you read about selling or your industry a year. How many training programs have you attended in the last five years?As professional sales people, we owe it to ourselves and our companies to continually improve our craft. In addition to education, most sales people fail the “wordsmithing test”. Their companies spend millions of dollars on websites, branding and brochures. Every world is scrutinized and examined under a microscope. Yet, most salespeople rarely practice or even write out what they are going to say.A Harvard study says the first sales scripts date to 1863. Scripts work or they wouldn’t have survived 150 years. There’s a reason politicians memorize speeches or use teleprompters. The reason is they really care about their message getting across. Shouldn’t we, as professional sales people, care as much?So, all I’m saying is these negative trends about sales people are our responsibility. If you want to be a professional sales person and earn above average income, turn off the TV, get up early or stay up late and work on improving your craft. If you do, your name will be written high on the wall of the greatest sales people!