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Nothing happens until someone sells something – so if you like to make things happen, selling could be your ideal career.

Sales roles include account managers and business development managers. It is in business-to-business sectors, such as an information technology company selling to a bank, or a food manufacturer selling to supermarket, where employers are most likely to need graduates for sales roles.

In these roles you will have the opportunity to build up a strong network of contacts within the customer and within your own organisation, as you work with colleagues to design sophisticated solutions to the customer’s challenging business problems. That takes high level thinking skills, which is why your degree will be an asset to employers.

Essential skills needed for sales

In addition to your degree, to manage business relationships, you will need ‘soft’ skills. These include being able to make a presentation, communicate well via social media, telephone and face-to-face, and work with other people. If some of your assessments have involved teamwork or role-plays and you have done well than these can be used to demonstrate these skills to prospective employers. If you are interested in people, communicating ideas, solving problems and making things happen, a selling or account management role will give you a buzz.

Selling can also be a stressful job, involving tense situations and lots of travel. Although the rewards are quite high, you have to work hard for them, and you need to be resilient and calm when things are going wrong. You will also be able to use your creativity, as well as analytical thinking.

Skills required for career progression

Nevertheless, if you want to progress to senior sales roles these soft skills will not be enough. You will need to be highly numerate, as you will be discussing topics such as ‘total cost of ownership’ with customers. Being able to write well is also important as you be authoring substantial written proposals.

Career development options

Once you have embarked on a sales role, you will be expected to keep on learning. Some sectors are highly regulated, and you may need to take industry-specific qualifications. For example, in the pharmaceutical sector, you need to pass the industry association’s ethics examination before you can sell. In global companies, language skills will be desirable, and if you are not proficient in another language yet, you should consider that as an on-going learning option.

In time, you may wish to take postgraduate qualifications in sales management, particularly if you role involves managing teams. Some senior sales professionals also consider doing an MBA if they plan to move into general management. Anyone who succeeds in a sales role will not be short of opportunities to develop their career to the highest levels of organisations.

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