A lot of us struggle to work-out where we see ourselves career-wise. It’s a normal struggle, especially early on in your career. With my experience, I can at least shed some light on sales as an option. However, I must add that I’ve only ever worked in sales and am highly biased towards it. So, from what I’ve learnt across two global multi billion-dollar companies and two different regions, sales is one of the best industries to get involved in – here’s why.
Finding your feet:
The word “sales” is all too often associated with feelings of manipulation and pressuring. We’ve all been there, on the receiving end of some awful sales pitch. Now most of us pre-judge sales as a career choice and would never consider going into such a field. But it’s up there as one of the highest paying careers world-wide with added commission benefits that offer you the chance to push salaries very high. It’s a work hard and reap the rewards culture.
Like many others, I accidentally fell into this bracket of early 20-something graduates who have the ability to go places but are unsure of how to get to that place. It’s not a bad thing by all means, in fact, keeping your options open and being careful before making important decisions is the best way to progress.
It’s not selling
There’s a number of things we have to distinguish first of all. Sales is not about exploiting people for our own benefit or promoting products that we know won’t fit our client’s expectations or real requirements. It’s not about tele-marketing and making crazy amounts of phone-calls or cold-calling people who don’t want to be called.
In reality, the key to good salesmanship is a dissociation between yourself and “selling”. Get as far away as possible from calling yourself a salesman. It’s a dirty-word and many agree on this. Unlike so many other articles on sales where you will find a nice picture of smiling, innocent-looking employees with never-used headsets on, I will focus on the real-side of successful sales.
When I question my friends on why they haven’t considered sales, they often lean towards, “I am so bad on the phone” … or “I hate making phone calls, it’s not for me”. To tackle this, let’s get away from “selling”. People do not like to be sold to – fact. Ever had that bloke called Steve on the phone or in the streets woefully trying to make eye contact with you? Remember how painful it was to listen to that horrendously scripted pitch to the point of near-vomit? Yep, that’s the bad side of sales. The one that wants your money, your contact details and nothing else.
In fact, good sales is the ability to match your client conversations to your own personality. Because when you are natural over the phone, you suddenly appear genuine and trust-worthy, which is essential with a capital E. All good sales book will defend the point that “people don’t like to be sold to … but they do like to buy things” … The sooner you stop saying you’re a salesman and tailor your methods around that of a “consultant” or a problem-solver, the earlier your numbers will fly in. You look at solutions before numbers and margins.
“Get as far away as possible from calling yourself a salesman. It’s a dirty-word and many agree on this”
The art of consulting:
In truth, a good salesman, no wait – I hate that word. A great consultant is one who is comfortable with talking over the phone and personifying confidence, fantastic listening skills and a knack for problem-solving. If you hold these characteristics then you’re built for account managerial, consulting and any client-facing role. Which are noble careers, especially to begin with.
The beauty of this world of consultative-selling, is that the skills you pick-up are so transferable. Suddenly you find yourself becoming more assertive, more organized and independent. For example, when booking flights recently, I was speaking with said airline employee in person at the airport, as I wanted to add-on a return-flight to my current one-way ticket. I wanted to ensure everything was correct before the airline employee booked them. I was asking questions I would never have asked before to ensure everything was perfect. Now I knew there would be queues on my return flight so I had to get to the airport early and to spend my time in a recommended restaurant before the flight for full enjoyment.
I learnt all of this because I was intent on getting the right result. In this case by asking questions I never would have before my time in consulting, I had almost guaranteed that my return flight home would go smoothly and be a success. And all of this happened naturally and inquisitively. I owe it to the preparation behind daily calls, extracting information and getting the right results. It’s fair to claim my experiences in sales has forced me to become more organized and questionable in my own life, and to my benefit.
Progression can be fantastic. It’s takes a while to begin with, but once you start to understand your clients to the point of knowing when it’s their dog’s birthday next week, you become important as you have begun to build that magic sales word of rapport in the market. If you’re competent, your clients and partners will start coming to you for advice, a sort-of parent who knows the answers to their deepest fears. You are the consultant after all and as long as you can help clients understand how you can help them, the business will flow.
Alongside the aforementioned, transferable skills also fall in-line with a detailed understanding of your market – its dynamics, usual sales cycles and buying periods. You become an expert in the market outlook and its longevity. This is extremely valuable information to any organization and beneficial towards your future career as well. You’ll be able to talk in detail about market dynamics and sales strategies with friends, other businesses and in future interviews. Useful, right?
These are the kind of skills that makes sales the perfect job to launch-you in any direction you wish to follow, especially if you’re still ripe in your career or just starting out. It’s a win-win situation if you’re built for this kind of role. I think as an overall view, these are all essentially skills that build you to becoming a leader in your field. Listening, pro-activity, communication and time-management. It’s up to you whether you wish to pursue a career in leading people or maintaining a client-set. After all, statistically most CEOs and leaders come from Sales-driven backgrounds.
Happy selling and we hope you enjoyed this CTS article. If you need more assistance or information – email us firstname.lastname@example.org
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Love from the CTS team.