So You Want a Career in Sales?

What is your first reaction when you think of a sales job? A typical negative stereotype of a sales person pops into mind: thick-skinned, a pest, relentless telemarketers. To many, sales means approaching total strangers and pushing down their throats whatever products/services you are commissioned to promote, regardless of whether or not those products and services are needed.

By Yvonne Boo

When I was first introduced to the sales line, I did not have the faintest idea what a sales career comprised of and what it required from me. No one prepared me for it. The main thing I was aware of is that sales jobs bring handsome rewards! I was not prepared for the countless rejections and the frustrations it brought...

However, I persisted, as I was not one who quit without a fight. Besides, I know I will not be contented with a salaried desk-bound job. I want to be mobile, meet new people, have new experiences and I was looking for more than a fixed monthly income.

My experienced sales friends always remind me that the ups and downs could only affect me as much or as little as I want them to. I was not going to give up without trying; so I psyched myself not to be disheartened by the rejections. I constantly told myself - “Expect to be frustrated and rejected but don’t quit and never give up!” It is the endless cold calls that sharpen the quality of your sales pitch and your responses. The next call you make might just be the one that ends in a deal! Sales work is definitely not a bed of roses, but the rewards of the perseverance, both psychologically and financially, are definitely unmatched.

In the sales line, with the right sales attitude and technique, there is literally no ceiling to your income. Sales people are in the unique position to increase the level of their earnings by working harder / longer / quicker / smarter. In almost all other jobs, you are paid according to a fixed scale despite your input and efforts. You get your regular annual promotions and pay increases but these does not give you the instant gratification of getting the rewards you reap during the month. Sales people earn as much as they want! It is a simple formula of ‘sell more = earn more’. Of course all these imply that you need to have excellent time management skills and know how to set your priorities and plan your schedule.

When I clinch a deal, other than knowing how much the deal will fatten my pay-check at month-end, I always feel that adrenaline rush – YES, I’VE DONE IT AGAIN! It is more than simple job satisfaction – it is a personal achievement of conquering the fear (of repeated rejections) and proving to myself what I could achieve as long as I set my mind to it.

My personal advice to all the new comers in this challenging career is to put your head down, stick to the basics and forge ahead. Reading up on sales and human dynamics related materials will improve your sales and people skills; practice good listening techniques in order to benefit from other people’s experiences. Set your goal on long-term success and building quality relationships with your clients. And always maintain a positive attitude as everyone enjoys doing business with a positive and confident person.

One thing to note: sales is no longer about what you could sell, it is what your clients need. Product-oriented sales technique is out-dated. Being a successful sales person requires you to listen and address customer’s concerns and provide solutions that customers willingly accept and pay for.

Yvonne Boo has been in the sales and customer service fields since she graduated from Nanyang Polytechnic in 2000. Currently, pursuing her further studies in Marketing Management, she found her personal sales experience a major plus in her academic pursuit and gained valuable life lessons as well. In this article, she shares her sales experiences and tells why she thinks SALES is a good starting point for all fresh graduates who are looking for a challenging and rewarding career.

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