Learning to sell is one of the best skills you can bring to your career — and life.
Recent college grads often think, “Meh/ugh (or some other whiny noise), I don’t want to do sales.”
Either they think a sales job is beneath them, they don’t want their pay to be tied to performance or they just “don’t like the idea of selling something.”
I’ve been there, too; I actually felt bad for my friends who were “reduced” to sales jobs right out of college. And I’ve seen friends adopt an air of apology when explaining that their job involved sales. Oh, the shame!
But that approach is plain old stupid. Being able to sell is everything.
Every idea you pitch to your boss, every business you want to start and every job interview you have are all about selling. Sometimes it’s an idea, other times it’s a product or service, and it almost always involves selling yourself. The ability to sell is an absolutely critical skill, and taking a job that forces you to learn and master the art of sales early on in your career is a great move.
Get over yourself
If you are a recent college grad, chances are good that nothing is beneath you. Sorry, but that’s how it goes. People love to say they’re willing to “start at the bottom” and “work my way up the ladder,” but when they are presented with such an opportunity, they recoil in terror.
Taking a sales job is hardly starting at the bottom, but there’s definitely an air of superiority implicit in anyone who disregards sales as an unworthy profession.
Are you just afraid?
The reasons why we have negative perceptions of sales as a career vary, but part of it is the thought that salespeople are “sleazy.” That stereotype does a great disservice to young professionals everywhere. “Sales involves being sleazy,” so the flawed logic goes, “thus my dismissal of a sales position must be due to my integrity.”
The fact is that a career in sales can be quite challenging, and that’s intimidating. But associating a sales position with being “sleazy” allows people to give themselves a pass, rather than take on a difficult, sometimes uncomfortable job. In other words, a lot of people don’t want to do it because they’re scared.
To the bold goes the paycheck
While some of us are intimidated by the prospect of salary being tied to performance, others wouldn’t have it any other way. They see a set salary as a cap, a limit to their potential, while a sales commission-based salary is only limited by their abilities.
That’s why lots of people in sales make great money, eventually landing the set salary and the ability to make a bunch more via commissions. Adopt the right attitude and sales-based pay can be very attractive and lucrative.
Learn to pitch
The ability to sell is one of the most versatile skill sets a person can have. It doesn’t matter if you’re an engineer, an architect, a waitress or a business owner – if you can’t sell, you’re severely handicapped.
At some point, probably more often than you’d think, we all have to sell, and taking a job in sales forces you to learn the craft quickly. Making sales calls and presentations hones your critical thinking, on-the-fly thinking, public speaking and interpersonal skills like nothing else.
Plus, part of making a sale is negotiating – another tremendous skill set. By the time you need to negotiate a salary, ask for a raise, buy a house, a car, a business or sign a lease, the practice you’ve had at negotiating and working through alternative prices to close a deal will pay huge dividends.
Bottom line: taking a sales job is a great way to jumpstart your career, make good money, become a pitching and negotiating pro, and turn yourself into a well-rounded professional.
You might not want to be “in sales,” but the fact is, you don’t really have a choice. You’re going to have to pitch, sell and negotiate regularly throughout your life. Rather than brushing off sales as “not for you,” why not embrace it and get to work mastering a skill you’re going to need, regardless of profession?
Tim Murphy is founder of ApplyMate.com, a free application tracking tool.