A Guide to a Career In Sales
A sales professional is someone who can peddle a variety of products. As long as a service or good is a product that people can buy, salespeople will try and sell it in the most persuasive way possible. Some of the things they sell include cars, drugs, clothing, stocks and bonds, insurance, medical equipment, computer technology, advertising time or space, farm equipment, electronics, real estate, livestock, and vacations. It is worth noting that sales professionals typically specialize in one type of product or industry.
Facts About Sales Jobs in The U.S.
As of 2016, America’s Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that over 14.5 million Americans worked in sales and other related occupations. This number doesn’t include self-employed marketers.
The field’s job outlook is pretty good. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be a 5% job growth in the field between 2015-2025, which is pretty much the same average for all occupations. That means that there will be approximately 780,000 new sales jobs.
In May 2016, people working in sales and related professions earned a median yearly wage of about $26,590. The annual median salary for all occupations as of May 2016 was $37,040, which means that sales professionals earn lesser compared to other workers in other fields.
A salesperson's compensation generally consists of a base salary plus commissions, which are normally calculated as a % of the sales the professional makes – this is the same for anyone from a car to a pharmaceutical sales rep.
Is a Career in Sales Right for You?
A career in sales, just like all other occupations, is not the perfect choice for everybody. It might or might not suit you. So, before moving forward, it is vital that you take the time to consider if you have what it will take to succeed in the field. As earlier mentioned, you need to be very persuasive to become a successful salesperson. As such, excellent communication skills are a must. You also have to be a keen listener and be someone who can communicate well verbally. Exceptional interpersonal skills are also essential, especially when it comes to connecting with others.
Patience and a commitment to working hard are some of the qualities you need to possess since it’ll sometimes take some effort to close sales. There are times you will have to be patient with a customer and give them time to make up their mind. Don’t be fazed be rejection; it is quite common in this line of business. So, it is essential that you have very thick skin.
What are the options for those intending to pursue careers in sales? Well, there are a couple of occupational titles that fall under the sales title, and they involve working in a variety of environments including offices and retail stores. People working in such settings are said to be in sales. Some of the people employed in the sales industry meet potential customers in their businesses by appointment or at their homes. Other salespeople approach customers by making unannounced, door-to-door visits – this is what’s known as outside sales.
Different Types of Sales Professionals You Might Come Across:
- Insurance Agents
- Advertising Sales Representatives
- Retail Salespersons
- Real Estate Brokers and Agents
- Sales Engineers
- Manufacturing and Wholesale Sales Representatives
- Travel Agents
- Commodities, Financial Services, and Securities Sales Agents
Choosing A Good Sales Job
With so many products and industries to choose from, how do you pick a sales job that’ll suit you well?
There are a couple of things that you need to consider when picking a sales job. They include your interest in the service or product you’re selling, job security, and potential income.
While what you earn isn’t strictly connected with job satisfaction, you still need to earn a living. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs selling commodities and securities; financial services; various investment instruments; and synthetic rubber, resin and artificial filaments and fibers manufacturing have the best earning potential.
With that being said, if you have very little interest in these products, then that might affect your overall motivation. When you lack motivation as a salesperson, this will affect your sales, leading to fewer sales, which will affect your earnings, especially if your compensation involves a commission from sales made. At the same time, it could lead to you losing your job if the company you are working for is unhappy with your performance. As important as making a living is, it’s crucial that you still think about your interest in the service or product you’re selling.
Finally, you need to think about whether you can find employment or not.
If you’re interested in a particular type of product or industry, but the number of jobs available is limited, consider looking for a line of sales that’ll work for you. Typically, when the demand for a product is high, the better the job security for those selling it. The most secure sales jobs are in the information technology and healthcare industries
Education and Training
How you will prepare for a sales job will depend on the products you’re selling. Chances are you will need more than a simple high school diploma to sell some services and products. For instance, let’s say you are looking to work as a technical or scientific products salesperson, you will need to have a college degree since that’s one of the things most employers in this line of business will consider before hiring a person. To sell insurance, you’ll need a degree and a bachelor’s degree (optional) to work as an advertising sales representative. Earning a college or bachelor’s degree will definitely improve your chances of finding a job.
Some products will require that you have a professional license to sell. For instance, people who sell financial products, insurance, and investment instruments must be licensed.
How To Get A Job in Sales
Whether you’re looking for a better job than the one you currently have or an entry-level sales position, there are several sales-job specific websites available that could have the position you’re seeking. You could also find luck on general employment websites like Indeed.com. A lot of companies tend to post openings on Indeed, and the website also racks up job listings from various job search sites, company websites and professional organizations. Alternatively, you could upload your resume to Indeed, making it easier for searching employers to find you when looking for someone with qualifications that match yours.
Professional networks are also an excellent resource when it comes to finding employment opportunities. Consider widening your network by using online networking sites such as LinkedIn. Doing so will allow you to connect with fellow sales professionals and connects who know people working within the sales field.
When a company is considering you for a sales position, it is vital that you secure it by excelling during the job interview. The company’s sales manager will likely ask you questions related to your sales skills. They may also want to know more about your strong points and weaknesses. When responding to their questions, make sure that you demonstrate your ability to think on your feet and to follow through.
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