Starting a Sales Career

Joe Weinlick
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Starting a career in sales can be a bit intimidating. Whether you are fresh out of college or changing career, wading through the wide variety of available positions and deciding where to focus your energy is a bit daunting. Here are a few critical areas of focus to help you get started and make a success of your career in sales.

Cultivating the Two Rs

Resilience and relationships are two of the key skills at the heart of a successful career in sales. Start your career well by focusing on developing your abilities in these two key areas. Job hunting is the perfect way to work on your resilience; instead of taking rejections personally, consider them opportunities for learning and growth. Even better, look to spin rejections into opportunities. Have you developed any contacts during an unsuccessful interview process that might help you find a position elsewhere? Are there other positions with the same organization that might be a good fit for you? Exploring these questions helps you focus on the positive, and helps to turn rejections into success.

Relationships are also essential while job hunting. Networking is a fantastic way to find a great position. Consider everyone you meet a possible contact, focus on the positive, and be pleasant in all your interactions. By working on your people skills outside of work, relationship building will become even more natural during the sales process.

Securing the Right Position

The right position for an entry-level salesperson is not always the place where you see yourself in 10 years. Instead, focus on finding a good place to develop the skills you need to progress in the field. For example, by starting your career in sales as a commissions-only salesperson, you learn the value of a sale and develop a strong work ethic alongside relationship-building skills. Working in an inside sales position helps you learn how organizations run and how sales reps fit into the process. Part-time or seasonal positions are great places to develop skills and see if a career in sales is right for you.

Finding a Mentor

Many successful salespeople attribute their success to the help of mentors. Start your search for a mentor by clearly defining what you want from a mentor relationship. Then, use your network to find someone to fit the bill. In addition to finding a person with superb sales success, look for someone with great listening skills and a positive attitude. Follow through with regular communication through meetings, phone calls or email to grow the relationship.

Staying Up-to-Date in the Field

Although some sales skills are timeless, the industry, like every field, is still subject to trends. Beginning your career in sales with up-to-date knowledge of sales trends gives you an edge over other job applicants. Stay current by reading recent articles about sales trends, exploring recent book releases and talking to other sales professionals about what is going on in their careers, including recent challenges, new methods and changing expectations.

As you start your career in sales, develop your resilience and relationship skills, secure a growth-oriented position, look for an industry mentor and stay up-to-date on the latest trends. Your long-term success starts on your first day of work as an entry-level salesperson. Remember to celebrate your successes as you progress on your journey.


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