Getting in and Moving up in Sales

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As a recent grad, you want to put that degree and your limited sales experience to work. You want to get in and get on the fast track in sales. You’re not alone. The competition in virtually all sales careers will be stiff, especially in this economy.


To start, you’ll have to be at the top of your game to even land a good sales job. Recruiters have devised all sorts of tests to weed out “bronze and silver” candidates. Personality tests and role-playing scenarios are often used during interviews for entry level job seekers.


Role-playing interviews typically involve a customer situation in which you’ll be given a script to read and improvise from. You might have to 'phone' a selector and offer them an option in the script. These interviews are designed to test your problem solving, decision-making, verbal communication, and analytical reasoning skills. Are you assertive enough? Can you structure a persuasive argument? While you can’t prepare for the exact scripted scenario, you can practice general role-playing scenes with fellow colleagues.


It also helps to familiarize yourself with the company's clients and products. Learn to talk the talk before you walk into the interview. This is where attending trade shows and industry seminars comes in handy. Bryan Power, a lead sales recruiter, advises young job seekers to highlight their talent over experience and to be flexible in a rapidly changing business. Google’s Hangout on Air provides some handy tips on resumes and interviews for young sales job seekers.


Once you’ve landed a job, recruiting managers say you’ll need to anticipate the needs of your client, become tech savvy about computer ordering and tracking systems, and apply everything you've learned in your psych classes. "Being in sales is truly more about the relationships and the people," said Angela Holbrook, a recruiting manager for J.R. Simplot, in an article in the Wall Street Journal. "You also have to stay abreast on the newest technologies, communicate well, and know how to ask probing questions" to learn what a client really needs.


Aaron Dean, national HR program manager at Phoenix-based Avnet, advises new hires seeking a promotion to exceed their sales goals. Karen Horton, program manager for university relations at Coca-Cola Enterprises, tells newbies to show excitement and a willingness to take on added projects and complete them successfully. Take your list of clients, cultivate them and add to the list.


In an article from Talent Egg, Softchoice Corporate Recruiter Annette Birch tells new sales hires to listen, learn and stay positive. “Make an effort to participate in team meetings or events with your colleagues, show initiative, listen to advice and work hard to prove yourself,” Annette says. “Don’t be afraid to ask for advice if you’re uncertain about a particular task and try your best to have some fun too. A smile and a positive attitude go a long way.”


Getting in and moving up in sales will take all you’ve got and then some. But it can be done. You made it through college, working at Target, and doing all those unpaid summer internships. You can do this.  


Image courtesy of photostock/


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  • Alex A. Kecskes
    Alex A. Kecskes
    If you're a working adult, and want to move into sales, check out: you're over 50, check out:
  • Ignacio F
    Ignacio F
    Excellent advise for the recent or future graduate. But, how about someone who wants to do a career move into sales? What would be the advise for them?
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