Everybody does sales to some degree. When looking for a job in a sales organization, you’re selling your skills. Even serious artists, who cringe at being accused of “selling out”, must somehow compel patrons, critics and their intended audience to “buy” the core aesthetics of their craft.
Ultimately, success (in and out of business) depends on how well you have sold a product, a service, a brand or an idea.
Whether or not you’re directly involved in selling, here are seven benefits that just might persuade you to consider the sales profession and start a career in sales.
On-the-job-training for sales professionals covers the development of critical abilities that help you shine in and out of the workplace. These abilities primarily belong to the category of soft skills that are adaptive, transferable and in high demand across professions, industries and sales positions.
These sales skills include negotiating skills, time management, communication skills, listening, social networking, trust-building, analytical thinking, presentations, customer relationship management and problem-solving.
Since sales is often highly competitive, you’ll need to build character traits like persistence, resilience, self-discipline, confidence and a sense of urgency just to stay ahead of the curve in your sales career. Now imagine yourself as a job recruiter and you’re interviewing someone who clearly possesses these skills and character traits developed from their sales experience. What would your hiring decision likely be?
As soon as you’ve started closing your first deals, even with an entry-level or sales associate role, you’ll feel that those endless hours you’ve spent perfecting your pitch, poring over your presentation deck, examining your clients’ needs from just about every angle and mulling over how to increase your chances of success were all well worth it. Nothing brings vindication like the thrill of winning. Everyone likes to win, and for better or worse, sales is largely a win-or-lose game.
The best part is that winning in sales won’t go unnoticed. Sales professionals often have a shot at organizational and industry awards, or even simple in-house rankings, praise or recognition within your sales department. That’s on top of financial incentives like bonuses and commissions (more on this later) that companies are eager to give people who successfully sell their brands.
Any of these will likely build a sense of fulfillment and pride. But perhaps the icing on top is the realization that succeeding in sales means that:
You helped solve your customer’s problem
You made shareholders happy
You helped your firm’s tech support, operations and admin staff keep their jobs
You’re bringing home something extra for yourself or your family
Let’s be honest, money ranks among the most powerful motivating factors and that’s where the lure of sales is strongest. Sales involve money in a big way. After all, for most businesses, sales operations serve as the primary engine for generating revenues. Simply put: no revenues, no business.
That’s why companies handsomely reward successful sales professionals with recognition, attractive salaries, bonuses, commissions, travel accommodations and other perks. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that sales-oriented jobs provide some of the highest median salaries in the United States, with sales representatives taking home an average base salary pay that’s nearly twice that of the national average for all occupations, with the best of them able to reel in six-figure salaries.
Only a few careers offer an income potential as high as the sales profession does. Beat quotas (easier said than done, though) and the rewards are all yours.
Despite the high likelihood of rejection, false hope, fatigue and other frustrations, selling can be a lot of fun. Perhaps because selling entails a lot of these challenges, a sales career offers healthy levels of excitement and adventure. Variety in your day-to-day activities is one of the main reasons why a career in sales can be exciting. You get to engage different people, many in different types of sales jobs, analyze emerging market needs and propose ingenious solutions to different problems.
With the rise of big data, consumer analytics and sales acceleration software, selling as a profession is also evolving rapidly, ushering in fresh, new elements in the buyer-seller dynamic as well as outreach strategies. While still hinged on relationships between people and brands at the core, today’s sales industry allows you to leverage awesome tools and access amazingly accurate and timely business intelligence that help automate processes, reduce engagement variables and help you focus more on relationship-building.
Incidentally, these relationships often go beyond customer engagement since many sales teams also interact with internal stakeholders such as brand managers and product developers, making your network rich and brimming with opportunities.
Being battle-scarred has its advantages. No one (especially highly successful pros and sales managers) will ever tell you that sales is easy. That’s because sales is a) tough, b) requires hard work, c) immerses practitioners to a variety of unexpected and uncomfortable scenarios and d) poses all sorts of unpleasant risks. People who succeed in it have likely honed their personalities and skills to adapt in just about any terrain and thrive.
Not surprisingly, most senior executives have spent some time in a sales-oriented position. This allows them to build people skills that are critical not only in leading departments but also in favorably influencing a brand’s target audience.
Depending on your role and the employer, sales jobs generally offer a flexible schedule. That usually means you’re not bound to a cubicle eight hours a day and you have some leeway in tweaking your working hours to match the buying behavior of your customers. Now that brings a certain degree of freedom in how you manage your daily and even monthly activities.
In some companies, sales reps can generally do what they want with their time as long as targets are met. If you’re a sales whiz (i.e. someone using the fundamental tools to find and engage potential customers and the right skills to close deals faster than normal), then you can exceed quotas while achieving work-life balance. This ultimately gives you more time to spend learning a new skill, feeding your passions or vacationing with family and friends.
In a volatile economy, job security, or the lack of it, can be worrisome. But if you’re a high-performing sales professional, you have a far better chance of being retained by your company or hired by a prospective employer than workers in other industries if business heads for an unlucky downturn. That’s simply because revenues have to continue trickling in even during an economic drought for any company to survive.
Additionally, given the role the sales process plays in a company’s cash flow and business development, salespeople are often among the last employees to be let go by management in worst-case scenarios. But even in the event that they do head for the exit, competent salespeople possess critical, transferable skills that will always stay in demand across industries.
Regardless of your profession, performing a sales-focused role will always be beneficial to your career path or business. Don’t question seeking a career in sales and look for inspiration from successful salespeople with proven track records instead. Consider the valuable skill set and character traits you’ll develop that will remain relevant as long as there are products, services, brands or ideas to sell. Of course, the great earning potential of sales roles is a major advantage as well.
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