If you have a desire to work in sales, then the information I am going to share with you in this article will serve two purposes:
- It will propel you ahead of the competition when it comes to landing your first sales job
- It will teach you the exact approach you need to take when you are looking to maximize your results as a salesperson
Let me start this article with the #1 reason why sales careers are sought after :
You will have much more control of your future in an industry that is relatively easy to enter, where the rewards are down to the effort you are prepared to put in and the future is bright, providing you have an understanding of what that future looks like and you are prepared to put in some serious hard work.
If you have the ability to talk to people, then you are able to sell — better still, if you have the ability to initiate a conversation with a stranger, then you are ahead of the curve.
But that can be taught.
Here are the components of success with regard to sales careers:
- The ability to conduct research — the most overlooked and vital component of successful selling.
- Commercial awareness — the ability to understand commerce in general.
- Good communication skills.
- The ability to engage your prospective customers at the highest level and present a compelling or “no-brainer” value proposition — to make sure you are talking to the people who can make the decisions.
I go into these in much greater detail in my article:
And the good news is all of the above can be taught and are based on common sense.
There is no need to attend formal sales training programs or listen to the endless “gurus” who tell you that there is a “secret formula” for success — there are none.
But you will need to have an in-depth and total knowledge of the products and services that the company you choose to work for which is the key point of this article:
You must choose who you want to start your sales career with!
Over my thirty-five-year entrepreneurial and business career, I have learned the art of selling from the ground-up and literally sold at the sharp-end, selling home improvements door-to-door and ultimately into the boardrooms and even yachts of some of the worlds leading technology companies.
And everything in-between!
More importantly, I have trained hundreds of people on how to sell, many who have gone on to be extremely successful, and the good news for you is that most of them had no or very little sales experience.
A good salesperson is a proven asset to their customers — they will make their customers more successful through delivering high quality products and solutions that deliver clear, tangible value.
The best decision I made in life was to enter the world of selling and I want to share my ideas and opinions of why you should consider a career in sales and how to start the process.
Notice that I didn’t put “money” as the #1 reason and that is because if you enter the world of selling purely for money, you will set yourself up for failure — you need to be passionate about what you are selling and the outcome of that product, which will give a tremendous benefit to the customer…the money will follow and trust me on this!
When you learn how to sell, you will have access to a variety of opportunities and for example, you could enter the world of copywriting and content marketing — two skills that will be in great demand as more and more people are getting online.
If you can sell, then it doesn’t matter whether you are selling face-to-face or online, the skills are the same and if you can speak persuasively, then you can write in the same manner.
So let’s first take a look at the future of selling, just to set the framework.
Sales careers: The future
In a world that is increasingly adopting automation and artificial intelligence (AI), there is an overall fear factor around the job industry as a whole, so what is the future of such technology in the world of sales?
If you take AI to the extreme, then it could potentially take over everything…but for me, not anytime soon.
I have always seen technology as an “enabler” and if you approach a sales career in the right way and by that, I mean engaging with the right people, at the right time and with the right value proposition, then you will be able to maximize the value of human interaction.
Technology will support and take out the mundane functions that reduce the amount of human-human face-time that is essential to the success of the salesperson and of course the success of the customer.
Let’s not forget that a good salesperson will deliver products and solutions that will make their customers more successful and in the future economy, customers will need all the help they can get.
The future of selling for me is very bright, but only for the best and most capable salespeople.
Now let me give you the basics to help you start your journey.
Sales careers: Fire yourself and retire
You are looking to enter the world of sales then the first thing for you to do is to mentally fire yourself from whatever you are doing right now and retire!
I “retired” from working when I started my main technology staffing business and that was simply because I was passionate about the industry and the company that I formed — I had developed this passion after a sales career of working for companies that I wasn’t passionate about.
I was no longer “working.”
So now you have to find out what you are truly passionate about and use this as a starting point.
In my case, my passions are:
- Business in general
- Staffing and recruiting
- Martial Arts
- Olympic Weightlifting
- And a few more
I could talk endlessly about these subjects and I will spend countless hours researching, learning, and updating my knowledge so that I am never standing still and always at the cutting edge.
I could take any sales role related to these passions and make a huge success out of it and for both me and the companies involved.
Find your passion and that may mean doing a lot of soul-searching as I did to a degree — I loved sales and selling, but I didn’t know how much I loved the world of staffing and recruiting until I took a job in the sector.
Sales careers: Research
Next, you have to research the industry you are passionate about and by research, I mean to conduct deep and detailed research starting with the global economic factors relating to that industry.
You are trying to understand the major factors that affect the global economy and the impact they have on your chosen industry and you must try to form your own opinions as these will give you talking points which will become invaluable in the future.
Your research should also extend into:
- The main companies in the industry and who they serve
- Their performance, successes, and failures
- Their marketing strategy and the differences each of them has over each other
- The products and services that they are dependent on
- The products and services that will be in hot demand in the future
- Companies that supply those products
- …You get the idea
Let’s say that you are passionate about healthcare and following your research, you decide you want to sell medical devices.
You can then further narrow that search down to a particular device that you believe is essential today and where you also know that a huge amount of money is being invested in the future development of that and other similar devices.
All you have to do now is find the companies that are providing them — these can be manufacturers and distributors and there are pros and cons for working in both…do your research!
Sales careers: Approach the target companies
An old friend of mine, having decided he wanted to become a salesperson, decided that financial services were the industry for him and he had targeted one company that he wanted to work for and then found the name of the person who was the head of operations for his area.
My friend found out the executive assistant of the head of operations and called her explaining that he had specifically chosen the company, after conducting research and requested her help in arranging a meeting so that he could discuss how he could add value to the company as a sales associate.
A meeting was arranged promptly and to cut a long story short, he became one of their most successful salespeople.
He explained to me the look of amazement on the face of the head of operations who promptly fast-tracked him through the onboarding and learning process.
That is exactly what you need to do if you want to start a sales career — it takes courage, confidence, and conviction…but as I explained to my sixteen-year-old-daughter when it came to her making her first online video — just do it.
If another human being can do it…then so can you!
You will not realize the importance of this step, because you are not a salesperson…but an aspiring one.
Again and as I said earlier — you must choose the company that you want to start your sales career with.
But let me assure you as a former CEO, that I would take anyone very seriously who approached me in this manner and hired a sales director as a result of him approaching me in the exact same manner.
It showed me that he was totally confident in engaging at the highest level and I could envisage him approaching my target customers in the same way.
This is a critical point.
Now, as a former staffing and recruitment consultant, I do not want to damage my industry…but I will tell you that when it comes down to finding a sales role, you should absolutely do it yourself.
Having an agent works in many areas because many people will be better off having somebody else selling their skills, negotiating on their behalf, and generally representing them.
But think about it…selling requires all of those skills and in the case of the sales director I hired, I got a feeling for how he sold and represented himself to me and more importantly, how he negotiated.
My advice is to do it yourself and don’t worry about how big the corporation is, that you have decided you want to work for and the worst case is that you will be referred down.
The entire approach will give you a hands-on lesson about real and high-level selling — one that you cannot buy from any sales course because you are not in a classroom and learning in the real world.
Oh, and you will also hopefully land a job!
There is no substitute for experience in sales and this is a great way to start as you mean to go on.
Many seasoned salespeople operate at the wrong levels, with regard to the people they engage with regarding their customers and it only leads to a more drawn out sales cycle.
The business function of sales is the most important function, as nothing else happens without it.
And don’t forget that it is the most important skill that you can learn as an individual because you are always selling yourself!
I hope this information gets you started on a very lucrative career in sales and if you want hands-on coaching to take you to the next level, then please get in touch with me.
Last modified: September 8, 2020