Lately, I’ve had a number of conversations with people who are considering sales as a career. Funny how things come in bunches.
From the outside, salespeople don’t always have the best image or reputation. I think we all enter the conversation with a viewpoint and opinion based on our upbringing and personal experiences to that point. Some people hear the word and think about Herb Tarlick, the slick-talking gaudily-dressed advertising salesperson from the TV show WKRP in Cincinnati. Others, like myself, have a professional salesperson in the family to use as a launching point.
From the inside, sales is a difficult career choice. Greater than 50 percent don’t make it past the first year and 75 percent won’t see year three. If you’ve never done it, you simply cannot imagine the effect of daily rejection over and over and over again. If it were easy, everyone would do it.
And yet we persevere. And yet we succeed.
As I think back on those “Why Sales?” conversations, there were a number of points made:1. The Money—
Name me another job where your income is directly tied to your success or failure in job performance. A pressman, bindery worker, or CSR can receive glowing job reviews but only see the topside of a three- to five-percent boost in salary. And that’s only if the company succeeded as well. Salespeople can see increases of almost unlimited proportion based on a good sales year.2. The Lifestyle—
Name me another job where you choose your hours and have the freedom to come and go as your schedule allows. Company owners have this kind of flexibility but few others. While it might be frowned upon to arrive at the crack of noon or depart for the day at 3 PM (especially on Fridays), I believe this is an earned privilege. More than money, this was my own personal number one reason for choosing sales as a career. I wanted to be a work-from-home father and this was the best way to make that happen.3. The Challenge—
Sales is rarely boring. New challenges occur daily as prospects are identified, courted, and closed. Sales droughts can last for weeks or even months. In sales, successes are often followed by frustrating crashes in business and in confidence. If you want interesting, look no further.4. The Job—
Name me another job where you work with the client to identify a problem, formulate a solution, and then see the results. It is immensely rewarding to witness the fruits of your labor. You get to work with talented and creative people both at other companies and within your own. New faces and new players appear constantly. Sure, there is money, freedom, and challenges, but some of us choose sales simply for the love of the game.5. The Rest of It—
I had a client tell me recently that he chose sales because he sees himself as a Philosopher and enjoys the study of human nature through his job. One young woman told me she went into the position to prove to her father that she could do it and to show that women can be just as effective in the position as men. There are millions of stories in the naked city. What’s yours?
My favorite all time reason for going into sales takes me back a few years to a friend by the name of Bob Malley. Bob went into sales as a way to support himself while going to law school at night. I can’t remember the name of the company that he worked for, but one of the products they offered was a small scale that kicked out a UPS label unique to the package it was weighing. By the time Bob graduated from law school, the offers were such that he couldn’t afford the pay cut. So, he bought the company he was working for, sold off everything except for the UPS device, rebuilt the company around that product, and eventually sold it for millions of dollars.
Go sales!Bill Farquharson is the Vice President at NAPL and a member of their Business Advisory Group. As a sales trainer for the print industry, he can drive your sales momentum. Call Bill at (781) 934-7036 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.