A Personal Note:
Against the wishes of my parents, I took a sales job.
My undergraduate degree is in History. US (United States) History to be exact. My goal was to become a lawyer. There were no lawyers in my family, but my high school AP (Accounts Payable) US History teacher, a graduate of Princeton and Yale Law School had seen something in my analysis and writing on constitutional law cases and told me, “You could really be a great lawyer.”
But that’s not what happened. Instead, I graduated with no interest in attending law school and with a degree in History. No one had any ideas for me.
I saw an advertisement for Sales with the opportunity to earn a decent salary and not knowing what to do with myself, I applied for the job and was hired. There was an offsite sales training program. 4 days of lectures and role playing. Discussions about selling models and processes. Then I was handed leads and told to get out there and do it.
For six months I learned any number of things, how to speak with people, how to listen to people, how to earn trust properly, how to get people to want to buy.
Since then, in my jobs, positions, and executive roles I often look back to the things I learned during those six months. I’ve applied these experiences to all sorts of people-related matters. I’ve sold ideas to CEOs and lawyers, bankers, and doctors. I’ve sold concepts to people I’ve managed, to business partners and to professors at Master’s programs, to marketers, advertisers, venture capitalists, you name it. Selling is communication.
It has been invaluable. And yet a sales job still comes with the “used-car-salesman” stigma. We are here to tell you that is shouldn’t. Selling is not bullying. It is not convincing; it is learning to listen and fashion your discussion to satisfy the needs of the person you are speaking to.
That is an invaluable skill.
If you are not certain what you are looking to do in your career or your life, take a job in sales. Commit yourself to the process. Earn some money. But more importantly, learn a life skill you can apply at any job.
Here is the article on sales written by our expert Career team. We are not trying to convince you to be a salesperson as a career. I provided a few Insider Hints.
What we are trying to do is show you how valuable a sales position and sales skills can be to your future.
- Chip Rae
Take a sales job. In a world dominated by innovation and entrepreneurship, the ability to sell is a skill that transcends industries and professions. Picture this: you, fresh out of college, standing at the crossroads of your career, armed not just with a degree but with a powerful set of skills acquired from a sales job. It’s not just about pushing products; it’s about honing essential skills that will set you on the path to success. As you embark on this journey, let the statistics speak for themselves, shedding light on the undeniable benefits of first job, a sales job.
Valuable Skills increase your value to companies.
- Communication Mastery:
Sales jobs are an unparalleled training ground for effective communication. According to a study by Project.co, 66% of people say they’ve stopped dealing company and moved to a competitor due to poor business communication skills. Whether it’s crafting compelling pitches or negotiating deals, the ability to convey ideas clearly and persuasively is a key asset in any field.
Insider’s Hint: Most of the time, you’ll be “crafting” your sales pitch in your mind after a conversation with a prospective client that didn’t buy. That’s why keeping a journal handy to write down ideas is valuable for a person with a sales job. If there is one thing every sales professional needs, it’s a journal. You’ll be instructed to use a CRM (Customer Relationship Management software, like Salesforce, Hubspot, Pipedrive, Zoho.) But these systems are for your boss and for corporate. They exist to rate your progress pushing or tracking potential customers through the buying process. They are not designed for you to build your sales and communication skills. That should be your personal goal.
- Resilience and Grit:
One of the less-talked-about but immensely valuable aspects of sales is the resilience it builds. Sales professionals encounter rejection daily, but it’s this very rejection that forges resilience and grit. A recent survey found that 90% of top-performing professionals had experienced rejection early in their careers. Learning to bounce back from setbacks is a skill that will serve you well in the long run.
Insider Hint: The best way to build resilience is to have belief in your mission. To have belief in the product or service you are selling. You do this by learning about the product or service itself. Then, learning about the type of customers that use the product or service successfully. It’s hard to sell a product or service you don’t believe in, so my suggestion is, Do Not Do It. Find a company with a product or service you do believe in.
Rejection is a strong word. Words are important when framing your experiences. The truth: Not everyone you speak with is ready to buy your product or service. A large portion of the people you speak with are simply investigating your product or service. But, after a week or two of no progress, no sales, it’s easy to be concerned. It’s easy for concern to lead to disappointment. These are the exact moments a personal journal can help you to understand how to do it better.
- Problem-Solving Prowess:
Sales is not just about closing deals; it’s about solving problems. When you understand the pain points of your customers, you become adept at finding solutions. The correlation between problem-solving skills and career success is evident, with an article by Forbes indicating that 60% of employers seek problem-solving abilities in their hires.
Insider Hint: Problem-Solving can happen 2 ways. 1) A day of discussion or analysis of the problem and roundtable discussions with co-workers or managers that allows you the opportunity to present a solution to your client. 2) Think during the discussion with the client, and use your product or service expertise to reframe them to match the client’s need. That’s called “Thinking–on–the–fly“, and when you can do this, you have learned sales skills that you can transfer to any job or career.
- Financial Literacy and Goal Setting:
A career in sales is an immersive lesson in financial literacy and goal setting. Managing commissions, setting targets, and understanding the financial dynamics of deals are invaluable skills. Studies have discovered that individuals with a background in sales are more likely to achieve their financial goals and build substantial wealth over time.
Insider Hint: You will hear salespeople in your organization boasting about their success and the big-ticket items they are buying. Do not get caught up in this. Use your resilience to focus on yourself and what motivates you. Building a career, skills, and a record of accomplishment using these skills are the most valuable thing you can earn.
When your salary and your bonuses are tied to your personal performance, as it is in any sales job, you are really your own boss. You are an entrepreneur that has a business and product or service to sell that you do not have to manage. You can focus on yourself and be that entrepreneur.
- Adaptability in a Dynamic Market:
The business landscape is in a constant state of flux, and adaptability is the key to survival. Sales professionals, by nature, are adaptable to change. Our research suggests that professionals with a sales background are 30% more likely to navigate and thrive in dynamic markets.
Insider Hint: Not a lot more to be said here. Sales is part of every job. It is the most valuable business skill. Most managers and C-Level people have good sales skills, either selling themselves or selling their value to co-workers or customers.
There is no market, no industry where sales skills are not valued.
As you navigate the early stages of your career, consider the transformative power of a sales job. CareerNet understands the importance of equipping the younger generation with these indispensable skills. While it’s crucial to identify the best sales positions, it’s equally vital to recognize that everyone, regardless of their chosen path, benefits from being a proficient seller.
Embrace the journey, hone your skills, and let the world see the remarkable professional you are becoming. After all, in the grand tapestry of your career, the art of selling may just be the thread that ties it all together.