So you’ve just graduated and bright-eyed and bushy-tailed you look around you at the options. Sales positions abound in a world obsessed with the latest product and driven by consumers; sales is a field which can offer highly lucrative positions early on in your career in comparison to many other professions. What you put in you’ll get out in commission, and there’s a great sense of camaraderie in sales, right? To an extent – but before you go diving in head first there are a number of factors that you should be aware of; it’s always better to go into something with your eyes open, after all.
1. You’ll be on the phone a lot
You may be drawn into sales by the promise of daily face-to-face meetings and constant interactions with clients, but be aware that these months may very well take months to materialise. Know that every good salesperson has to learn their trade on the phone, talking to hundreds of potential customers before they’re let loose anywhere near a company’s clients. Whilst this may seem tedious and pointless at first, when you see yourself improve and have developed brilliant sales patter, you’ll thank your boss for making you call a thousand and one people.
2. People are rude, and you'll get a lot of rejection
Regardless of what you’re selling, people can be incredibly rude and abrasive across a whole range of industries. Be prepared for a great deal of rejection; the vast majority of those you speak to wont want to buy your product. Whilst resilience is naturally more prevalent in some individuals than others, it is by and large a skill which is learnt. Your resolve will undoubtedly be tested, but the main thing to remember is to maintain your professionalism and civility at all times, as you are representing the company; remember things are never personal and your work must always come first. Such interactions will serve to make you more appreciative of those who are considerate, and give you a more nuanced awareness of when someone is genuine.
3. It's a numbers game
Sales is all about getting the figures in and up. It’s much harder to measure the ‘quality’ of your work than in other, less quantitative professions, so even if you’re putting in the hours no one will care unless you’re achieving results. Remember that even if you’re not scoring huge figures to begin with, with hard work and perseverance these will go up, and once you’ve cracked the numbers game you’ll be laughing.
4. You're signing up for a life of competition
Sales is, for the most part, not a collaborative job. Whilst you may succeed or fail on the figures and sales of the team as a whole, what really matters is individual performance. You will be judged by your superiors in comparison to those around you, and regardless of whether anyone if doing a really fantastic job, if you can excel in comparison to your contemporaries, this will earn you brownie points. Such a system which compares work colleagues is then likely to engender an atmosphere of competition; whilst a little healthy competition is never a bad thing, be careful to ensure that this doesn’t become a toxic atmosphere. If you’re the sort of person who doesn’t thrive on competition, think carefully before committing yourself to a career in sales.
Alexandra Jane is the writer and editor of graduate careers advice for Inspiring Interns, a graduate recruitment agency. Check out their website to see which internships and graduate marketing jobs are currently available, as well as their graduate jobs Manchester page for further opportunities.