If you are the type of person that wants to break free from the cubicle... If you love an adventure, but also want total control over your future… You really should consider a career in sales.
Shawn Achor, author of the Happiness Advantage states, “Those of us who believe we have control over the outcome of our fates have a huge advantage in work and life.”
I love, I mean LOVE, sales as a profession. Here are 6 Reasons You Should Consider a Career in Sales, and What to Look for:
1) Sales is for Those Seeking the Thrill of Victory
I am passionate about competition. But what’s great about sales is even if you don’t like to compete with others, you can always compete against your previous best. Best day, best month, best quarter, and best year. Personally, the thrill of beating my friends, yet the maturity to cheer them on and celebrate their wins makes what I do all the more fun. Like a video game. Video games are always more fun when you compete with friends, even though you want to beat them into oblivion.
Oh, and the exhilaration of breaking a sales record. Being the best that’s ever been. Every year in our company, and probably most sales companies, somebody somewhere breaks a record of some kind. It could be by a seasoned veteran (aka. old dog like me); sometimes it’s a new pup. Doesn’t matter, the records are there for us to demolish. It's a humbling experience to share that with your team as you reflect on the efforts of each individual. I give them all the credit. And when we miss, it's a reminder that there’s always an opportunity to improve and grow.
Some other cool perks include:
-Opportunities to be recognized for your efforts on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual basis
-Surrounding yourself with great, like-minded people
-The intrinsic rewards of adding value to your customers lives
-Incentive Trips to places like Europe, Hawaii, the Caribbean, etc.
-The communication skills & the experience
- Super Bonuses. Our company gives a “Super Bonus” to each sales manager every 3 years of either $10K-$20K-$30K-$40K- $60k-$80k-$100k depending on performance. These kinds of bonuses are not uncommon in sales. And they are totally awesome!
2) Sales Professionals are Rock Stars in their Field
The number one misconception about sales is simple. People go into sales because they are looking for a job. Sales isn’t a job, it’s a profession. You get professional training, wear professional attire, and receive professional experience. For many corporate recruiters, when they see a resume with a solid sales background, it’s guaranteed interview.
While it takes years of training to become a Doctor or Lawyer, I can teach someone to sell effectively within a few short training sessions. Because of this, sales attracts all kinds of people. Good and bad. However, those that treat sales as a profession instead of treating it like a means to an end will make the most of the experience.
Think of sales as a profession this way. When is a Doctor a Doctor? The answer is always. If you have a relative that is a Doctor, and you need medical advice, you’re going to ask them at the next family gathering and they are likely to give you the advice on the spot.
When is a Lawyer a Lawyer? The answer is always. If you have a neighbor that is a Lawyer, and you need legal advice, you’re going to ask them while waiting at the kids' bus stop in the morning. They’ll answer you... if, they understand the power of networking. And because they did, you will eventually refer a friend or relative to them.
When is a Sales Person a Sales Person? The answer is always. Yet so many new Sales people try to make it a job. You don’t punch in and out of a profession. My wife is a Math Teacher, and if someone in the family needs help with their math homework, she’s always happy to help. People have a passion for their profession. Same thing goes for Sales Professionals.
If you are one of the best in your industry, you will be lionized like a Rock Star. Oh, and when is a Rock Star a Rock Star? The answer is always.
3) Sales is the Highest Paid, Hardest Work there is…
…or, the lowest paid, easiest work there is.
It’s the lowest paid if you don’t get off your tail, generate the leads, make the calls, and expect success to come easily. It’s the highest paid if you are willing to work hard. However, don’t all professions require you to work hard?
A career in sales gives young people a chance to move up quickly in income year over year. It’s not uncommon for someone to jump from $50k to $75k to $100k+ in income in his or her first few years. I know quite a few 20-somethings that earn six figures. They are all in sales.
I’ve lived in a community where my neighbors were Doctors and Lawyers and Accountants and Engineers and so on. But the highest upside and incomes belonged to the neighbors that were Sales Professionals and Entrepreneurs. (currently I live in a community where most of my neighbors are farmers…they work pretty hard at their profession too!)
According to Success magazine 70% of Fortune 500 executives either started in or are in sales right now.
4) Sales is About Making a Positive Difference
As a Sales Rep you deal with customers. It’s about serving others and adding value to their lives. This creates long lasting success in any profession.
As a Sales Manager you deal with customers too. Your customers are your Sales Reps. Just like a Senior Executive’s customers are their Sales Managers, and so on. The same rules of serving and adding value apply. It’s the only way to sustainability. Isn't that what it means to be a professional?
The sales profession, when done right, is about helping people get what they want. When you do that, you too inevitably get what you want. But you have to keep their needs ahead of yours, or they will see right through you. Not to mention, making customers happy is very gratifying.
Sales is not about twisting people’s arms, handling objections or tying people down. It’s about helping people. The most powerful tool you have to help people is to simply ask, “What’s motivating you and how can I help you achieve it?”
It’s an opportunity to effect positive change in people’s lives. I love sales as a profession because I get to inspire people everyday. Everyday I get to come up with creative new ways to add value to their lives. It’s fulfillment at its best.
5) Sales Teaches Mega Skills
Some people make the decision to pursue sales for 2-3 years simply to get the outstanding experience that selling provides. These people leave their sales experience light years ahead of their peers as they transition into other jobs, grad school, or even start their own business. In fact; many business schools require 2-3 years of experience before entry. And companies love to hire people with sales experience—it blows them away.
Typically when you are in sales, if you work hard, you can move up quickly. Eventually even managing your own team. What makes that experience so valuable is the responsibility of recruiting and training a team, managing a sales force, preparing business plans, orchestrating a marketing plan…these things look great on a resume’ by themselves let alone combined together in one position.
What separates the experience even further is as a sales manager you get a serious taste of what it takes to run your own business—what it takes to run your own show.
Even college students that take a sales position for their summer break, have opportunities to move into sales management positions their second or third summer. Some students start their own business while in school, gaining tremendous experience. Maybe they want to be a Doctor or a Dentist and have their own private practice; they will need to know how to run a business, which is not taught in medical school. Maybe they want to have their own engineering firm or manufacturing firm or sales company; they will need to know how to run a business. Maybe they want to be an Architect or an Advertising Exec or an Internet Specialist or Attorney and they want to run their own show; they will need to know how to run a business.
Money Magazine reported in a study of affluent Americans who were asked what career path offers young people the greatest potential for financial success…
15% said working for a small company
15% said working for a large corporation
15% said a profession like law or medicine
46% said starting their own business
The same study reported that of affluent Americans, the average income of someone who did not run their own business was $67,500 where a business owner earned an average of $87,500 and the net worth of the average affluent non business owner was $84,625 vs. $245,950 for the business owner.
Unfortunately there are few, if any, classes in school designed to teach you how to start, manage, and maintain your own business.
There isn’t a class in school where you have hands on experience hiring, training, and managing people and then developing your own organization.
Most people have to figure it out on their own. Getting your start in sales is a great way to learn the tools you’ll need to make your business grow.
6) Sales is a Stepping Stone for Entrepreneurs
A Study done by the US Small Business Administration said that one out of three new businesses fail in their first two years and half fail within four years.
Half of all businesses fail in their first four years! And these people go into it thinking they know what they are doing! Many of these people are well-educated, highly skilled professionals—but they don’t really understand what it takes to run a business.
-In sales, you...
-Learn professional phone skills and presentation skills
-Learn how to build a network of customers
-Build relationships on many different levels
-Surround yourself with other energetic, motivated professionals
-Work in an atmosphere of personal growth and professional development
-Get mentored by other top sales people in your organization
-As you advance, build your own organization—train and develop your own sales force
-Have a meaningful impact on the lives of your team members
-Get rewarded with monthly, quarterly, and / or annual bonuses
It’s all hands on experience and it's the experience that can make the difference between success and failure in business.
What to Look for...
While no company is perfect, there are a few things to look for if you’re going to go for a career in sales. First on the list, you want to find a company that is on the cutting edge, that’s leading in their industry and innovating new programs. You not only want a company that stands behind you, but one that has a great product, great customer service, and great support. A company that is willing and able to throw dollars into new programs.
Look for a company that has opportunities for you to advance in income and in responsibility. This should be a staple in sales, but you’ll have to earn it. It takes time, perseverance, and hard work.
Look for a company with integrity. And I mean a company that has a culture of always doing the right thing. If mistakes are made, you want to work for a company willing to do what’s right to keep your customers happy.
And finally, the people you work with, and for, make all the difference.
In Good to Great, Jim Collins says, “The people we interviewed from great companies clearly loved what they did largely because of who they did it with.”
“Studies show that the more team members are encouraged to socialize and interact face-to-face, the more engaged they feel, the more energy they have, and the longer they can stay focused on a task. In short, the more the team members invest in their social cohesion, the better the results of their work.”
Ask the people that work with the company you are looking into what the culture is like. If it seems like the people you meet are not happy working there, chances are you won’t be either.
As you rise from sales rep to sales manager, remember, what a sales manager does is help people operate at peak performance and achieve wins that they will draw upon for the rest of their lives. I promise, you will be remembered for that.
Sales offers all the benefits of being a leader, a coach, a team player, a team builder, a mentor, and a business owner all wrapped into one! If you are the type of person that wants to break free from the cubical… If you love an adventure, but also want total control over your future…
…you just might want to look into a career in sales.
Taking a mental break and in the mood for another good read? Find more blogs from author John Wasserman on JohnsShorts.com. A new blog is posted every month.
Oh...check out John's new book Deciding to Thrive now available on Amazon - 100% of the proceeds go to a great charity, Children's Dyslexia Centers, Inc.
"After reading over 200 books on leadership, self help, coaching, and mentoring I finally put it all together in one book. Deciding To Thrive is the distillation of what I learned about the nature of happiness, the meaning of success, the purpose of money, and the all-essential 'why' that helps great entrepreneurs create companies." - John Wasserman
2/20/2014 02:07:00 am
Powerful article John. Thanks for sharing!
2/20/2014 03:30:28 am
Thanks Ryan! I appreciate the feedback.
2/20/2014 04:01:31 am
Great blog! Totally agree! Hey now, I'm an all star!! :) I'm a rock star!
2/20/2014 04:26:00 am
Thanks JPB! You are a Rock Star!!!
2/20/2014 03:57:04 pm
Not going to lie but that was the first of your blogs I read and it made me hungry for more so now I have to go read the rest of them !
2/21/2014 12:36:18 am
Glad you liked the blog Ryan Supplee. Stay hungry my friend.
2/21/2014 01:22:39 am
Another great article you're getting better by the week:)
2/21/2014 01:45:04 am
2/22/2014 01:12:41 pm
Excellent article John and my experience tells me that it is dead on in terms of analysis. Keep sharing!
2/24/2014 02:47:47 pm
Thanks Earl! Glad you enjoyed it!
2/22/2014 03:17:09 pm
Nice work John. This is truth and wisdom.
2/24/2014 02:48:50 pm
Thanks J Brad! You rock!!
2/26/2014 08:24:22 am
Hey John, for many its not so much a case of choosing sales as of sales choosing us. There is very little one can do successfully in life without selling so the main question for those who love people and love persuasion is not whether but simply WHAT !
2/26/2014 09:20:10 am
Paul, Great point. I couldn't work for very long without a WHAT that I was excited about. In addition to that is the WHY. I couldn't work at all without a meaningful WHY.
2/21/2015 02:11:59 pm
Wow! What a great article! Definitely a keeper! I already love my job but I identified with so much of what was said and it just gives me more fuel to keep chugging! I especially liked:
2/25/2015 07:47:38 am
Dave, sorry for the slow reply. I was in Punta Cana on an incentive trip that 40 of us won for our high sales last month. How cool is that!
4/14/2015 06:28:57 am
This is by far the most complete, balanced and encouraging articles about sales I have ever read. I have been in sales for over 15years and tothis day many of my friends still don't understand what a salesperson does. Thank you
4/14/2015 10:28:41 am
Edwin, thanks for the comment. I've always spent what seemed like forever trying to explain what I do to my friends and family, so I can understand where you're coming from. I'm glad you liked the blog. I hope you find it useful. Have an amazing April! - John
Ansari Shahid Ziauddin
6/4/2015 05:36:58 pm
thanks for the blog
Comments are closed.
by John Wasserman
About the Author
Proceeds benefit Children's Dyslexia Centers