If you are naturally socialable or have the ‘gift of the gab’ then a career in sales could be for you. The best sales people are those who can seek out new opportunities by talking to people and love the thrill of providing them with the best product or service they have to offer.
Sales professionals, however, often gets a bad reputation. This is when sales people become too pushy, lack understanding of the customers’ needs or haven’t built up a trusting relationship. For further information about what makes a good sales person, read our skills article.
Sales is also well known for being very fast paced, with employees given targets to reach and rewards on achieving them. This can create a very competitive and high pressure environment. Some people thrive on this kind of atmosphere whilst others find this very stressful. This is not to say that you can’t be a good sales person it simply means that you have to choose your company or industry more carefully.
One big advantage with sales is that you can work on your own initiative. This might include doing research, chasing leads and creating opportunities in order to bring in revenue. This can mean working individually however, if your business is selling to other businesses (B2B) it is most likely you will have a sales team. The sales team may deal with financial services, after support and upgrades and maintenance products.
Salary packages in the sales industry can vary considerably, however a large part of the package may be commission based. This means that basic salaries can be low but if you are competent at your job there is an opportunity to be a very high earner. The balance between basic and commission based salary may change as your progress, especially if you take on a more management or training role.
Travel opportunities and work environment
If you are interested in a particular industry but not sure what job role you would like, then sales may be a good option. Sales departments are found across all sectors in order to bring in revenue. Many of these sales roles require you to have specialist knowledge so you should really choose something that you are passionate about.
Sales consultants will often have to travel quite a bit, attending meetings or trade shows to consolidate relationships, offer new services or attract new customers. Some sales professionals may be able to work from home, as often work is fairly easy to do remotely i.e. telephone leads.
Depending on the nature of the sales role and industry, you may end up working longer hours or evening and weekends when events are happening.
Short and long-term prospects
Career opportunities in sales are very good. Almost every industry relies on sales professionals to bring in revenue which means that there are short term prospects to earn larger salaries; a variety of options to train and develop professionally; and long term opportunities into management to help shape the sales strategy of a company.