If you’re trying to start a high value career, or if you’re ready for a career change, you might consider preparing yourself for a role as a salesperson. Working in sales gives you a ton of flexibility, and gives you access to potentially any industry.
But how do you start your career as a salesperson?
Why Start a Career in Sales?
Why are you motivated to get hired as a salesperson?
It’s the first question you’ll need to figure out on your journey. Most people who try to work in sales are motivated by one or more of the following:
- Money. Sales has the potential to be a very high earning job. In many roles, you’ll be paid at least partially based on a commission model, meaning the more you sell, the more money you’ll make. Hypothetically, you have access to unlimited income.
- Challenge. Some people love being a salesperson because they like the challenge. Persuading someone to buy a product or selling a specific number of units is highly motivational and rewarding.
- Competition. Naturally competitive people are often drawn to sales, because it’s such a competitive environment. Whether you’re directly competing with a rival or are just trying to beat your high score from last quarter, you’ll constantly be looking to improve yourself.
- Interaction. Being a salesperson is fun and stimulating, because you’re constantly talking to new people. You’ll be forming and reinforcing new relationships, learning from different perspectives, and interacting with people regularly.
- Future potential. Your future as a salesperson is practically limitless. Once you have core sales skills in place, you can get a job almost anywhere. And if you ever want to move out of sales, you can grow in any number of directions; for example, you could rise to become a sales and marketing executive or even start a business of your own.
What motivates you?
Education and Experience
What education and experience do you need to become a salesperson? That depends on the specific role to which you’re applying, but in most cases, you don’t need higher education to be hired; a high school diploma or GED is plenty. If you have sales experience, that’s a plus, but many roles in this field are open to entry-level candidates.
To become a better salesperson, and a more attractive applicant, it’s important to polish these priority skills:
- Product/service/industry knowledge. Before you can sell anything, you need to understand it, inside and out. The better you understand your product, the better you’ll be able to sell it. You may or may not be able to gain this information outside of your specific role.
- Persuasion. Persuasion is a useful skill for almost any professional, but it’s vital for salespeople. You need to understand how people make decisions, the factors that hold people back, and the right strategies for moving people closer to a desired outcome.
- Communication. You also need to be a good communicator. Think through your words and speak and write as articulately as possible. It’s going to make a better impression on your prospective clients and help you land more deals.
- Emotional intelligence (EQ). Not everyone thinks or feels the same way, so it’s important to develop your emotional intelligence. This aspect allows you to better understand the emotions of others, so you can better respond to them and better manage them.
- Adaptability. Salespeople are constantly forced to adapt, learning new products and adjusting their approach to new prospects. If you’re not flexible and adaptable, you probably won’t succeed in this role.
- Time management. You’ll also need to think about your time management. As a salesperson, you only have so many hours in the day, and you have both sales and non-sales responsibilities. How do you ensure that you get your most important priorities accomplished each day?
Applications and Interviews
Once you have these skills in place, you can focus on mastering your applications and interviews.
- Take what you can get (initially). Without existing experience, you may find it hard to be hired for certain positions. Early in your career, be willing to take any sales position that you can get.
- Learn to sell yourself. If you can sell yourself as a candidate, you can sell almost anything. Focus on the attributes and experiences that make you uniquely qualified for this position. In many ways, your job interview will be an experimental trial, where your employers will get a sense for your confidence, communication, and persuasion abilities.
- Recover from rejections. It can be hard to deal with rejection, but some rejections are inevitable. Learn to cope with these losses and failures, so you can move onto new opportunities confidently.
Landing your first job as a salesperson may be tough, but as you gain more experience in that job, and you become more comfortable with your role in this department, you’ll start to unlock your true potential.
The more experience you get, the more opportunities will open for you – and the brighter your career’s future will be.