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How Does One Enter The World Of Sales?

Updated on April 11, 2014
How does one enter the world of sales? What if you end up with a foot full of dirt instead of getting your feet wet?
How does one enter the world of sales? What if you end up with a foot full of dirt instead of getting your feet wet? | Source

Getting Your Feet Wet

If you came here from my first post "My Beginnings in Sales", then you see how I began my career in sales. That is my personal story of how I started, but there are many ways in which one would enter a career in sales. Whatever method you choose to use, make sure that you tread carefully as it can mean either success, or failure.

Success in sales is usually measured by how much money one can make in the shortest period of time. This seems to be what I have seen in the field in my many years in sales. People want instant gratitude, and sure, that can be achieved. However, where that leads you is what is truly important.

The world in which we live in is extremely demanding, and people expect only the best for the least amount of money. In turn, companies want to sell a product in the least amount of time, with the expectation of a high profit. This can mean a tug of war between businesses and consumers. If not executed properly, this can be extremely detrimental to your career in sales. Trust is something that is earned. People work hard for their money and many of them are not likely to part with it if they do not trust you.

So how does one enter the world of sales? Well, that depends. Sometimes it can be by accident, sometimes previous actions can lead to a job in sales, and then there is the conscious choice that some make, and actively pursue a career in sales by studying it, and then applying their knowledge in the field.

Cold Calling or Selling To The Base?  Cold calling is much more difficult, but much more rewarding.  Calling to the base is easier, but the money will usually not be as good.
Cold Calling or Selling To The Base? Cold calling is much more difficult, but much more rewarding. Calling to the base is easier, but the money will usually not be as good. | Source

In Sales By Accident

Much like myself, many people enter the world of sales "By Accident". In any economy, it is usually quite difficult to find the job of your choice, even if you went to college. There are many people competing for the same position, and unless you are the best candidate, your search may take several months, and sometimes years to find.

Look through the wanted ads on any website or newspaper. You will see that sales jobs are quite plentiful, but if you have no previous experience, then you will have to "Get your feet wet" first.

There are many companies out there that are willing to train a person with no sales experience. I have personally found that some are willing to do this because a fresh new mind can be molded. Sales people with experience may not be as easily molded, unless they are willing to continually adapt and adopt new sales methods.

If you happen to find a company that is willing to train you, chances are that the pay will probably not be very good. Be weary of companies that offer to pay you a "Draw". Although these companies may be the easiest to get a job with, the draw can end up putting you in the hole. My first sales job was offered to me as a draw plus commission. I will explain later in another article the types of commission, but I wanted to throw this out there first, since I believe that it is extremely important to know what you are getting into.

If you do find a company that is willing to train you, also realize that you may not like what you are selling. The world of sales is not a very glamorous one and if you are selling something that you do not like, or feel that it breaches the threshold of your personal ethics, then find something else quickly.

The first company that I worked with was a fire, water and trauma restoration business as I stated in my first article. I was fired for my ethics (because I have ethics, not the lack of), but while it lasted, it was a great experience and I carry that knowledge with me to this day. It helped me get to where I am today.

Another way to get into sales easily is by working for a telemarketing firm. Yes, you are probably cringing right now. However, if you can find something that is honest, and yes, it can be done, then that would definitely add to your experience, especially if you are seeking a job in inside sales.

Inside sales is going to be easier to get into because you will have direct supervision. You may have a mentor that coaches you, and maybe even role plays with you weekly to develop your skill. As silly as it may seem, these role playing sessions can be extremely helpful and a great for success. My first job did not offer these sessions, but my second job in sales did. We had a weekly meeting, and we all felt silly. It was comical at times, even when I was the one on the spot pretending to sell to someone over the phone in front of my colleagues.

So, you found a sales job. Do you know what you are selling? Who are you selling to? These are very important questions. Some companies have two different sales teams. One is a cold call team, and the other is a sales to the base team. Cold calling can be extremely difficult, and if you have trouble taking rejection, then this may not be for you, unless you are willing to adapt. Cold calling usually comes after you have had some experience first. Some companies do not want to risk losing a potential customer because you do not have the skills necessary to sell. The company may start you off in their "sales to the base" first to see how well you can sell.

My second selling job started me off selling to the base. I would call business owners that had already purchased the service and I would offer add-ons. This came easily to me as I was calling satisfied customers. You may find that you are able to hone your selling skills with a company such as the one that gave me this opportunity. Cable and satellite re-sellers are usually a good place to start. Sure, you will feel like a chicken in an egg farm, but what you learn will be extremely valuable.

So how good is the money if I enter the sales world by accident? Well, that depends on where you begin your career. As I mentioned above, there are companies that pay by a draw+commission, then there are other ways that you can be paid as well. I can discuss this in my next article. Come back in a few days and you will be able to make sense of it all.

I can tell you that my first sales job with the draw+commission earned me only $33K my first year. I can tell you that my second job, which paid me salary+commission earned me $48K my first year, and another sales job where I was paid salary+commission earned me $52K my first year. If you are earning under $30K with no experience your first year, it is time to find something else. So how much do I earn now? Let's just say it is almost six figures, combined with a company vehicle, smart phone, expense account, and a laptop. Plus my benefits are great.

Why Are You In Sales?

Why Are You In Sales?

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In Sales By Choice

So how does one get into sales by choice? Go to college and get a degree in business or other comparable degree. If you choose this path, your first job will have you addicted to the money that you make. Pharmaceutical sales for instance can be extremely rewarding with pay upwards of six figures or more. Sales in technology can be just as rewarding or even more. Some of these sales people make more than most attorneys, doctors or professionals that specialize in a specific field.

Having this type of job will usually require a level of professionalism that one can only usually attain by acquiring a high degree of education. This is not everyone's cup of tea because of the cost involved with attaining a degree from a higher learning institution. However, it can be the most rewarding.

If you have made this choice, then immediately after graduating from college you should have all your eggs in a row. Be prepared for grueling interviews, a long hiring process, and be ready to travel a lot. This is not the case with all high profile sales jobs, but it is an expectation.

Be sure that this is where you want to go in life, and as any other sales job, be prepared for rejection. The rejection in this type of sales job can be more hurtful than a regular sales job because the sales process is usually longer. I have seen processes that take a year or more to close a deal. This means that you will have to wait that long or even longer before you start to see a return on your efforts. If the deal falls through, then all you are left with is experience and an empty pocket book.

Be aware also that these type of jobs are not as forgiving as regular sales jobs. No one likes losing a customer, and that is usually forgiven in the regular sales world. However, if you lose a high profile client that would have made the company millions of dollars, then you may be out of a job.

I have seen high profile sales people come and go in short periods of time. My second job had a national sales team, which was comprised of four people. In the five years that I spent working there, only one of them lasted as long as I did. The other positions had a life span of approximately six to ten months because of the mistakes that were made.

I am not trying to scare anyone out of these types of positions, I am just making people aware that one must be a professional, and expect to make very little or no mistakes because you will be dealing with the big players.

All roads in sales lead to the sale and the commission.  Which path you take will be of your own choosing.  Make sure you choose wisely.
All roads in sales lead to the sale and the commission. Which path you take will be of your own choosing. Make sure you choose wisely. | Source

So There You Have It

So there you have it. Two ways to get into sales, and both have their differences, but in the end the goal is the same. You want to sell, you want to earn, and you want to succeed. Keep coming back as later articles will include sales tips that you can use in your own career. The sales world is constantly evolving, and if one must survive in this field, then one must adapt.

In my next article, I will discuss the types of commissions that companies pay. I will also discuss confidence, stability, and what one needs to do in order to adapt.

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