Ideas Versus Reality

••• Thomas Phelps

There are ideas and there is reality. When things work out for the best, our reality matches our ideas. When we experience struggle, turmoil or hardship, it is often because our reality does not match our ideas.

Those in sales, or who are considering starting a career as a sales professional, often have their own set of ideas of what sales and a sales career will be like. And when those ideas do not match their reality, many give up sales and decide that sales is simply not for them.

There are many reasons why someone should choose a career in sales and some reasons why someone should not choose a career in sales. But if you are considering a career in sales and have a set of ideas about what sales will be like or should be like, you owe it to yourself to consider some of the realities of a career in the wonderful world of sales.

IDEA: "I Will Make a lot of Money in Sales"

Many who choose to enter the sales industry do so believing that they will earn a significant amount of money. They hear or read stories of people who went from being broke to being millionaires as a result of their success in sales. They read offer letters and compensation plans that include phrases like "earn unlimited income," and "make as much as you want." Those new to sales or those considering sales often have a firmly planted idea that a career in sales is filled with wealth, riches, and unlimited earnings potential.

REALITY: "You Will Earn as Much as You Deserve"

The reality is that while any respectable sales job will offer unlimited income potential and many sales jobs do reward successful reps with high salaries, generous compensation plans, awards, prizes, and bonuses, it is only those who truly excel at sales who enjoy these offerings. Most sales professionals who are not willing to work harder and longer hours than anyone else in their industry, often earn exactly what they deserve: An amount equal to their commitment levels, skill level and dedication to excellence.

While the idea of earning a million dollars per year is certainly an attractive one, the reality is that only the best of the best earn the incomes that many believe they could earn.

IDEA: "I Will Have Tons of Flexibility and Autonomy"

Many are attracted to sales, especially to outside sales, as they believe that they will be able to set their own hours, squeeze in a few rounds of golf between sales calls and have a healthy dose of autonomy. They have heard stories about sales professionals spending most of their time entertaining clients and as little time as possible grinding out proposals. They see some of their successful friends who are in sales winning trips to exotic places and hearing about how they could never hold a job that demanded that they spend 8 hours inside, sitting behind a desk.

REALITY: "You Will Be Expected to Deliver Results Consistently Before Earning the Right"

If sales professionals spent as much time on the golf course or in a bar as people think, very little would ever get accomplished. The truth is that there are times when a sales professional is more likely to be found golfing than behind a desk or cold-calling, but the successful sales reps make 100% certain that their work is done before they spend a second on the golf course. Sales managers are usually not at all interested in giving new reps or under-performing reps plenty of freedom or flexibility, They too have quotas to reach and probably want to make sure that reps that have not proven that they can and will deliver their own assigned quotas consistently are spending every minute of their work hours, working.

Flexibility and autonomy are often granted to those who have proven themselves worthy of flexibility and autonomy. These reps have "earned the right" and consistently let their managers know that they will deliver.