9 reasons why you should consider a career in sales (and one good reason why you shouldn't)

Sales Is A Dirty Word!

9 Reasons Why You Should Consider A Career in Sales

(And 1 Good Reason Why You Shouldn’t)

Someone I met for the first time last week remarked…

“Oh … you’re in sales?!”

…with a wry, suspicious look.  Clearly a lighthearted remark. However, to some people ‘sales’ really is a dirty word.  Why does this perception of sales as a profession still exist?

It’s because we all remember the pushy sales person we have dealt with, probably on more than one occasion. We all recall how uncomfortable the interaction made us feel.  When we interact with a professional salesperson or consultant however, it should not feel like we’re being sold to … it should feel as if it’s all about us. Because it is.

Herein lies the difference:

Sales is all about the customer, not an opportunity to force-feed someone a product or service.

So, why should you consider a career in sales?

Few people grow up wanting to work as a sales professional.

One of the challenges many people face, at a very young age, is having to figure out their career path. For some who know exactly what they want to do with their life, and follow through from young age – it’s all great.

This however, was certainly not my experience growing up. I didn’t figure out my vocation until I was well into my 30s.

The current system is set up to support people who decide on a career path and commit to the study required to secure a job in their chosen profession.

However, we are surrounded by:

1. Young people who don’t know what they want to do or what career is going to be suitable for them;
2. Young people who can’t afford the university tuition fees;
3. Graduates with hefty university loans and slim job prospects;
4. Employees who have just survived a company re-structure and redundancy and are trying to figure out what to do next.

We all have experienced one or more of the above, or know someone who has.

The question is: should they consider a career in sales?

My answer is a resounding “YES”.

Here’s why:

1. Compensation.

Your effort is directly linked to the level of financial recognition and reward you get. The more effort you put in, the bigger financial rewards you can reap. You don’t have to wait around for your basic salary to rise over years, which happens (or doesn’t) in other job roles. Sales professionals often work long hours, but they are rewarded accordingly. Generous commissions, bonuses and salary packages are commonplace. Why? Because nothing happens until someone sells something. With that in mind, employers strive to motivate their sales people, and income is a powerful motivator. In other words, if you put the effort in and you’re good at it, then sky is the limit as to how much you can earn.

2. You’re an entrepreneur.

Successful sales people look at their job as if it was their own business. The better you are in sales the more you will be treated as if you are your own boss. It is therefore, a very good first step to gain an insight into what being self-employed might feel like. A job in sales can easily form a stepping-stone to running your own business.

3. Job security.

There will always be a demand for good sales people. No matter what happens with the economy; whether it’s booming or crashing, the one thing that every business needs is sales. If you have ability and a successful track record in sales, you will always find work.

4. High level of recognition.

The world of sales is set up to acknowledge and reward high performance. If that’s something that you crave, you will certainly find it in a quality, sales-based organization.

5. No two days are the same.

A career in sales can undoubtedly be stressful, but it also provides the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life on daily basis, understand their business, find and chase opportunities, while building meaningful relationships in the process.

6. Flexible schedule.

Provided you demonstrate an excellent work ethic and initiative, you will be alllowed to work to your own schedule. It will certainly vary from sales job to sales job, however most sales-driven companies understand and allow the benefits of a flexible schedule. Why? Because it can be attractive, addictive and highly motivating.

7. Transferrable skills.

A fair proportion of achieving your life goals and aspirations requires selling skills: selling your idea, negotiating, selling other people on helping you, strategic decision making, listening & questioning, managing budgets, time-management, problem-solving. Sales skills are not only extremely handy in all aspects of life; they are also easily transferrable between different industries.

8. Sense of satisfaction.

The thrill of closing a deal, helping your customer solve a problem or beating the competition can bring a genuine sense of purpose and fulfillment. It can be, quite often, more rewarding that the bonus / commission. Which brings me to the next point:

9. Helping people.

No, not all salesmen are after customers’ money. In fact, the best salespeople know that a career in sales is all about helping people achieve their goals by listening to what’s important, identifying their pain, and finding the compelling reason for why their service/product will help. If you don’t care about helping people, it’s unlikely that you will last long or rise to the top in sales.

In summary:

If you’re willing to work hard, problem-solve, but you lack a compelling career choice then a career in sales might be just the thing for you. Sales is one of the few careers that offers an almost unlimited opportunity to achieve and to earn what you want without the need for formal or specific education, degree, etc.

A few tips:

Don’t be scared of entry-level positions. Embrace them and learn quickly.

Don’t be anxious to ask for sales skills training. They will come in handy.

Similarly, once the training is over, don’t be shy to ask your manager for coaching. It will help fill in the gaps in the real world of sales.

Oh, and finally: there is the ONE good reason why you shouldn’t consider sales for you chosen career.

We started this top-10 list by stating that the amount of money that you can earn is an attractive reason to consider making a move into sales. That is true, but if that is the ONLY reason for you it will probably go horribly wrong. The financial rewards that can come from being successful in sales are a by-product of the blood, sweat and tears that go into living the life of a sales person.

Money alone is the worst possible reason to go into sales that I can think of.

It’s the love of the art of selling that will make you successful.

If you can crack that, the rewards will come.