Sales – the last career path most recent graduates hope to take - the “ultimate default career”.
Below are some common responses to sales opportunities I have heard from many a candidate:
“I hate cold-calling, I’ll do anything but sales.”
“I have two degrees, it would be a waste.”
“Not for me…I’m not a pushy person.”
“I don’t want to be stuck on the phone all day.”
“Is there really that much money in sales?” Yes, someone asked me this.
I don’t blame them for thinking like this. Sales careers are not as frequently advertised amongst Australian Universities as other opportunities; there isn’t a huge amount of information on the career benefits of entering into a junior sales role. It is disregarded as a core competence, even by people who would thrive in it, partly because “it’s not regarded as intellectual”, which is completely false. As a result, individuals tend to rule out positions in sales based on little to no investigation.
Yet there are numerous reasons why you should consider sales as a career, ten of which I’ve explained below.
1. Endless opportunities
Every organisation has some sort of sales function, which means you have opportunities to work across a huge variety of industries. Imagine you want to work for a huge tech company but don’t have the relevant technical knowledge or skills behind you. Low and behold there is an entry-level opportunity for a Sales Development Representative! The perfect opportunity for you to learn the product inside out and network with peers across different departments. In this way you get to know the business and the business gets to know you and your capabilities, so that when an internal vacancy arises that piques your interest, you can progress to the next level a lot quicker than you would if you took another 1-2 years to study and/or build up relevant experience elsewhere.
2. Skill development
Verbal and written communication, negotiation, persuasion, public speaking, objection handling, time management, prioritisation, forecasting, relationship building, persistence, resilience and complex problem-solving are amongst a huge range of skills you will build on – all of which are highly sort after by employers. This carries over nicely to the third point.
3. (Good) sales people are in demand
Sales is applicable anywhere and there is always a need for quality sales people, so if you decide it’s the career path for you, then huge opportunity and career progression awaits!
4. Continual personal development
The sales landscape is continually evolving so there is never a shortage of training for sales professionals. Having read a number of sales books, I have found that the older ones (early 2000’s) are not as helpful or relevant to today’s landscape. You will always be adapting and developing new strategies, increasing your influencing skills, negotiating skills, objection handling and problem-solving abilities.
You will always be working with different people and businesses, learning about their operations and personal challenges and goals. No day will look the same and you will constantly be challenged.
6. Rewards for success
Unlike a lot of jobs, the harder/smarter you work in sales, the more you earn! More often than not there is a direct correlation with the amount of effort put into sales with the financial rewards you receive. Commission, bonus (quarterly, annually), trips, prizes, incentives, the rewards are plentiful.
7. Job security
When organisations are struggling and looking to cut down on costs, successful sales professionals are less likely to be made redundant as they are the revenue generators.
8. Freedom to work on own initiative
While you are given individual targets to work towards, it is up to you how you achieve these and design steps to work towards your goal. There is a lot of autonomy and ownership in sales, which scares some people, however it forces you to be accountable for your success and failures, meaning it’s up to you to strategise and think outside the box in order to deliver.
9. A great start to entrepreneurship
Do you dream about starting your own business one day? Similar to sales, as an entrepreneur you are 100% responsible for your success or failure. “The persistence, discipline and creativity required for making sales is the perfect cocktail for success in founding a business”. As mentioned earlier, you are made accountable for your own success and failures; skills that will help you “overcome the challenges of being your own boss”. You also learn how to handle rejection, negotiate, persuade, self-motivate and be proactive, all precursors to successful entrepreneurship.
10. Finger on the pulse
It is your job to know what’s going on with your clients, competitors and the industry. You become better informed about changes and opportunities in your market, enabling you to be better equipped when facing sudden changes that could affect you.
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