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How to build a career in sales?

Updated on October 30, 2014

Top reasons to choose sales as the career option-

It is believed that for a sales job, soft skills are more important than your qualifications. Almost everybody can sell a product/service, if they possess all sales traits. If you are having doubts whether a sales would be a right career for you or not then have a look at the below points-

  • Sales is an extremely challenging field- If you love challenges and want to do a job which is away from boredom then you should go for sales. Sales give you a chance to meet new people and involves frequent traveling also.
  • Sales help you in earning extra bucks- Apart from your basic salary package, you get a chance to earn commissions on the basis of the price of the product or service which you are selling. You can earn incentives and perks that could include foreign trips also.
  • Sales involves flexible work schedules- One of the most notable thing about sales job is that you get a chance to dictate your own time. Say you are a mother who needs to devote her time towards her family in the morning, well, with a sales executive or any other sales job profile; you can easily meet some people in the afternoons or can schedule your meeting as per your convenience.

If you thought a career in sales is all about selling shoes, books and countless knocks on doors, then it is the time to think again. While being enthusiastic, confident and willing to work under pressure are critical to success in this field, sales jobs span nearly every field-from agribusiness, education, medical to real estate.

Although selling items/services-from the insurance policy, beauty service to the latest software and medication, is the focal point of any sales job, but recruiters say that there's more to it. Anticipating and paying attention towards the needs of your clients-like a savvy host does in a party, are some of the prerequisites that a person should possess in order to carve a niche for itself in the sales field.

With more & more companies paying attention towards their clients, sales & marketing has become a vital corporate function. There is a stiff competition in the market; consumers are spoilt of available choices. Winning new clients and reinforcing the relationship with existing ones is hence the demand of the hour. What would happen to a company who has an impeccable array of products/services but no customers? It would obviously fail. This is where sales & marketing teams play an important role.

Sales is a practical and on-the-ball function. As a sales professional, either you will be placed internally or on the field as a sales executive, who works within a particular area, calling in person or meeting people to show products/services and negotiating sales with them.

In sales there are going to be times when you can't make everyone happy.

Don't expect to and you won't be disappointed.

Just do your best for each client in each situation as it arises.

Then, learn from each situation how to do it better the next time

— Tom Hopkins

Marketing Vs Sales

It is true that both marketing and sales are aimed towards increasing revenues. They are so closely intertwined that many times people get confused between them. Indeed, in small companies, one person does both sales and marketing work. Nevertheless, sales is different from marketing and vice versa. I hope below comparison chart will give a better understanding to you-

Basis of differences
It involves a broader way of selling products/services and has a strategy in place to meet needs for the longer duration.
It involves selling those products to customers which are in stock. The company has some products/services and a sales person is required to sell them.
It focusses around positioning. It means, establish your brand within a particular industry.
The goal is to earn more sales.
It involves analyzing the market, distribution channels, product pricing and budgeting.
It is usually one-to-one.
Time Horizon
It is for a longer term
It is for a shorter term
Job profile
It shows how to reach to the target audience and build long-term customer relationships
Persuading customers to buy particular products/services is the ultimate result of sales

Sales Career Progression


Skills required to succeed in the sales field

Not everyone is right for a sales career. The main skills which every sales professional should possess are persuasiveness, commercial awareness, nice personality and self-motivation. Here, communication skills also play an indispensable role. Also, it is a target-based job, therefore, it is important that you should be able to handle severe pressure.

Sales targets are very high, but it is crucial that you should achieve it. Hence, firms always look for such sales persons who are goal-driven and possess strong leadership skills. As a sales person, you will need to meet new people. An insight into how people act and think can help you in expanding your clientèle base. Here, it is crucial that you network properly.

Traits of a successful sales professional

Excelent presentation skills
Personal ambition
Strong negotiation skills
Results orientated
Good market knowledge
Communication skills

Be ready for a sales career

If you strongly believe that you have a right composure and patience level, which can put other people at ease, a good listening & convincing power and an empathy that you would need to build relationships, then a sales career is the right choice for you. If you want to build a career in sales, choose a product with which you can easily relate, one in which you strongly believe. This will ease the selling process and your work too.

Also, you should know how to face rejections. Whether you are a newbie or an experienced professional, some people will turn your offer down or discontinue your phone even before you speak. Don't feel bad. Move on to your next prospective client. You only need to do your best and never afraid from bad results. Always keep in mind that first impressions last for a lifetime and you need to build a nice and strong relationship with your customers.

Resume format for a sales job

It is crucial that a sales resume should be result-oriented with good examples of strategies which you will follow to accomplish your goals. It becomes imperative to clearly define the success story of your career in terms of numbers because sales is all about figures, without these no sales resume can be considered complete. Here are three tips to make your sales resume appealing-

Your resume should clearly depict your level of industrial expertise= Every company likes to hire sales people who have some basic knowledge about the field along with industry contacts. So, it is worthwhile to mention your industry knowledge in a resume.

  • It is important that your resume should include transferable skills= This becomes important if you have sales experience, but you are new to the particular industry. Your good transferable skills will help prospective employers in knowing how well you would perform in the industry. But it is crucial to note that you should include only those transferable skills which you want to use in your next job position.
  • Your resume should highlight your achievements= It's good to say that you believe in utmost customer satisfaction, but it is meaningless if there is no quantifiable accomplishment to back it. Your resume should have a separate section where you should highlight your accomplishments.
  • Your resume acts as a pre- sales marketing tool and therefore, it is inevitable to make it look good. In the absence of a good resume, you'll miss out the best interviews and job offers.


Study hard to get a good sales job

Despite of the fact that more importance is given to personality traits and skills, the value of education and on-field experience should not be overlooked. Almost every company prefers to hire graduate candidates. A full-time MBA degree from a reputed institute can help you in getting the job with a prestigious company.

Moreover, specialized sales courses will help an individual in honing his skills. There are various short term certification courses which are offered by institutes like Sales Management, Customer Service Management, etc. Training and internships can impart a real experience of sales & marketing to a person.

Good colleges in India offering sales education are

1= All IIMs

2= Deviprasad Goenka Management College of Media Studies, Mumbai

3= Asian Business School, Noida

4= Hindustan University, Chennai

5= New Delhi Institute of Management

6= NIILM Centre for Management Studies, Greater Noida

7= International Institute of Business Studies, Noida

8= Faculty in Economics & Business, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar

9= Dr. P.C. Mahalanabish School of Management, West Bengal

10= Genesis Institute of Business Management, Pune


Money matters

Your salary package would depend on a conglomeration of factors like qualifications, experience, company, work, etc. Usually, salaries start at Rs 10,000/month. If you have done MBA in marketing from a reputed college like IIM, you can expect to get Rs 6-8 lakh/annum as a fresher. Sales job is highly targeted-driven and therefore, a substantial part involves performance incentives, based on whether the person hit targets or not.

Cast your vote!!

Do you think, Sales is a one of the most challenging jobs?

See results

What is the future?

The future holds good news for sales professionals. Considering the industrial growth, we can say with a surety that sales would be a booming career option for young professionals. Moreover, in today's Internet- driven world, online media has also emerged as a flourishing job sector, where there is a huge demand of sales people. Even international companies are setting up their bases in the Indian territory and here, domestic companies are also growing in size, and as a result, more employment opportunities for sales professionals are likely to produce in the near future.


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    • dhimanreena profile imageAUTHOR

      Reena Dhiman 

      4 years ago

      @ teaches12345 I totally agree with you on. Sales is both challenging and rewarding professional. To keep up with the fast pace of this field, a sales professional should be smart and savvy. Thanks for sharing your views on this hub.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      4 years ago

      It takes a very savvy and intelligent person to build a career in sales. They have such high energy and lead busy lives. I admire their ability to adjust to demands and meet goals. Great post on this topic.


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