Sales is such an interesting career. I was in corporate sales and business development for 10 years before leaving to be a writer.
In that time, I learned a lot about sales, business, entrepreneurship, myself, and life.
Sales is a lot about personality.
Anyone can be trained to sell and trained on what they are selling, but it requires the right type of personality.
- Being a go-getter.
- Taking initiative.
- Having an entrepreneurial spirit (much of sales is running your own desk and keeping your own calendar and meetings and making calls).
- Not being afraid of cold calls and starting conversations with strangers.
- Being good at building a rapport with people and relationships over the phone, in email, and in person. You want to be easy to talk to, relatable, knowledgeable.
- Most importantly, a salesperson must be able to take criticism and able to hear “no” a million times without it hurting their feelings.
When it comes to sales, who you are is as important, if not more important, than what you are selling.
When someone chooses to buy from you, they are making a conscious choice to trust you and your product or service, not necessarily the brand or company you represent.
Many new salespeople have that reversed, assuming that the client using their services are simply there for the brand or the name recognition or the reviews they have seen or the TV commercials.
In reality, the client is buying FROM YOU. If it was the brand name alone, then commercials or advertising would be sufficient and sales teams would not be required.
A great salesperson can leverage the brand or name of the company, sure. But what they are truly doing is building trust and a relationship with the buyer specifically.
When I speak to potential clients, I take notes. Next time we speak, even if it has been months, I know what we discussed, especially if that included personal details like their kid’s or pet’s names, vacations they went on, their favorite sports teams, or TV shows.
Because sales is about people.
Sales is about relationships.
How do you get a sales job?
You can spin almost any job experience, especially anything dealing with customer service, into a sales job. I got my first sales job after being a waitress throughout college!
By being able to discuss customer-facing experience eloquently and having specific stories of times I had dealt with policy changes, difficult customers, keeping a positive attitude, and how much I enjoy people.
I genuinely like people. I like talking to new people and learning about who they are, not just getting on the phone and making a sale.
That has been my single biggest strength in my career, especially when I became an entrepreneur.
People are buying into you and your company. People are speaking directly to you, learning about you, deciding if they can trust you. Do they enjoy talking to you? If so, you are far more likely to have long-term sales relationships.
I had many clients tell me that even though the company I worked for was slightly more expensive, they chose to work with us because they believed I truly understood them, their needs, their pain points, and made the process easy for them.
Use your existing skills to go in and slay the sales job interview. Make them LIKE you and want to keep talking, ask THEM questions.
And remember, most sales jobs have a commission on top of a base salary, so be willing to take entry-level roles and then kick butt and make money!
Entry-level means anywhere from 0–2 years of experience in any given field, and sales can be more intensive, busy, frustrating, and fast-paced than many others. Don’t be afraid to have ideas!
I went to my boss all the time to discuss new strategies or let him know what I had been doing that was most effective. This eventually led me to being in charge of much of the training when we had new employees. At one sales job, I designed and wrote an entire sales training program. At another, I was asked to lead sales seminars to sales teams around the country via video-conferencing.
Sales and Entrepreneurship
A sales career can position you well for entrepreneurship, teaching you many of the skills and strategies you need to be successful on your own.
When I made the transition from corporate to being an entrepreneur, I faced the same challenges as every other new entrepreneur — I needed clients!
Luckily, my experience in sales and business development positioned me perfectly to be able to approach potential companies and people and sell them on working with me.
I got clients rapidly, due to my ability to talk to anyone and enjoy people.
I built my business from 0 to $5k per month in 90 days and quit my day job!
But it didn’t end there. I had to continue to get clients, continue to grow, build a business, and refine and evolve my services.
But sales is a constant in my business. Whether that is networking, cold emailing potential clients, following up and keeping up with current and past clients, or messaging people through social media.
Check out my brand new book Concept to Conclusion: How to Write a Book and learn everything you need to know to conceive of, outline, write, publish, and market a book!
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