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How to Get a Job in Sales

In More Posts... — by Dave Anderson


So you’re thinking about a career in sales? If you’re an outgoing person with a drive to succeed, you’ll likely find it to be a lucrative and rewarding line of work.

Sales is one of the few careers with a low barrier of entry and a high earning potential. If you’re motivated, smart and present yourself well in interviews, you’ll be able to land a job in the sales arena.

Advantages of working in sales

Every job has its upsides and downsides. But the right sales position will offer many advantages if you’re willing to put in the work. Here are a few benefits you will likely experience if you land the right gig:

  • The more success, the more money – The potential to earn commission is hands down the biggest draw of a sales career. The better you are at your job, the higher your income will be. Simple as that.
  • Making sales is all that matters – People who work in other jobs often wonder if they’re doing the best work they can. But success in sales in quantifiable. You’ll always have a quota to meet and will know what it takes to hit it.
  • Sales skills span every industry – Many people spend their entire career in a single industry. That can be said for some sales professionals too but there is always an opportunity to put your skills to use in any industry that excites you.
  • You get to meet a lot of people – Working in sales does not mean sitting alone facing a computer. You’ll get to meet and converse with different people every day, making it a great career if you enjoy social interaction.
  • The day-to-day is consistent – While sales will introduce you to different people, it doesn’t come with many surprises. You’ll know what your job entails, making it a stable yet exciting career to pursue.

All that being said, there are couple disadvantages that come with a career in sales. While your earning potential has a high ceiling, it also has a low floor. Even if your sales pitch is on point, there will be stretches of time you don’t close and your take-home pay is lower than you’re accustomed to. 

It’s also important to know that the product you’re selling is important. No matter how talented a salesperson you are, there are some companies that just aren’t going to succeed. Their price point could be too high, they could have superior competitors or people just are not interested in buying what they off. Those jobs put salespeople who depend on commission in a tough spot, so it’s important you do detailed research on a company before you accept an employment offer.

What skills does it take to succeed in sales?

If you’re considering a career in sales, you’ve probably already concluded it’s something you would be good at. Maybe you’ve been on the receiving end of a sales pitch and thought, “I could do that.” Or perhaps your friends, family and the people who know you best have said you have the personality for it.

Before you make the leap into sales, you should know what it takes to be successful. Here are a handful of traits the best salespeople have.

The gift of gab

It goes without saying that anyone who works in sales must be a strong verbal communicator. You need to be able to concisely make your pitch to a potential customer so they understand what your product does and the benefits it offers.

You’ll also need to be personable and a solid conversationalist. Most people detest a static sales pitch, so building a rapport with a prospect can often influence their buying decision.

And writing skills too

Depending on the company you work for, much of the sales process may be done through email. Cold outreach and follow-ups are increasingly moving away from the phone so it’s important to craft emails that catch the eye of prospects.

A poorly written email can lose a sale, while a message that hits all the right points can win one.

Read the room

The best salespeople get a sense for what prospects are thinking and feeling. A pitch that works on one person might fall on deaf ears the next time you do it. It’s important to realize when this is happening and take a different approach, like shifting the conversation or simply providing sales collateral for the prospect to review on their own time.

Empathy for your customer

It’s also crucial for salespeople to put themselves in the prospect’s shoes and consider their unique challenges and needs. Instead of spouting all the features and benefit, you’ll need to ask questions to learn as much about their situation as possible. What problem is the prospect facing? What are they looking for? What’s their budget? Collect as much information as you can, then shape your pitch to be the solution they need.

In-depth product knowledge

Knowing what you’re selling is of course important. But even more than that, you should be a total expert in your company’s offerings. The more you know, the better you’ll be able to customize your sales conversations.

When Mark Cuban was in his early 20s, he got a job selling computer software. He credits reading the technical manuals front to back as the reason he became the company’s top salesperson and started on his way to building his fortune.

Drive and resilience

You should already be aware that hard work in sales directly correlates with success – and money. People in other jobs can get away with phoning it in every once in a while but that’s not the case with sales. You’ll need to give it your all every day.

You’ll need to always be looking for sales opportunities and do whatever you can to close the ones you’ve already been presented.

Be authentic

The stereotypical salesperson will say anything to get a customer’s money. Don’t be that salesperson.

In any profession, morals and ethics win out. Being dishonest might get you a sale here and there but being authentic will result in return customers, referrals and a positive reputation for yourself and your future employer.

How to get your first sales job

There are a lot of entry-level sales jobs out there. But you don’t just want any job, you want the right job. Here are few tips for starting your sales career off on the right foot:

  • Target successful companies – Successful companies are always growing and expanding their sales team. Target those companies when applying.
  • Familiarize yourself with the industry – When you go in for an interview, be sure you know who the company’s customers and competitors are.
  • Learn the company’s product and benefits – Additionally, prepare for the interview by studying what the company sells and why it’s the right solution for customers.
  • Sell what excites you – Since sales spans every single industry, it makes sense to apply to companies that interest you. You’ll likely excel and be happier if you’re selling something that truly excites you.

Stay motivated

Job hunting can be a grind. But so will your sales job once you get hired. Be sure to stay motivated and remember the advantages of working in sales as you go about your job search. Then keep the effort up once you start working.

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