Thinking About Giving Sales a Try?

Salesman talking man in automobile showroom
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Ahhhh, the wonderful world of sales! Hours upon hours of cold calling on people who either hang up if you are calling or demand that you leave their office if you visit them in person. Meeting after meeting, forecasts, pipeline updates, product training, living with the stress when your sales are flat, angry customers, low-priced competitors and customers who demand way more than what anyone could ever possibly provide.

Why in the world would anyone choose a career in sales?

For those who have never tried sales, the allure of earning a substantial income and having the freedom that many believe sales professionals enjoy is usually enough to make them give sales a try. But before you jump in, there are a few things that you need to be aware of and a few reasons why sales may or may not be a good choice for you.

Let's Talk About the Money

Yes, successful sales professionals can and do earn substantial incomes. But sales have also been called the easiest, lowest paying job in American. That means that not everyone in sales makes a lot of money. In fact, many who try sales leave for another career because the money they expected to earn never materializes.

Another commonly heard description of sales is that sales it is the hardest, best paying job in America. Those who work harder than the rest, who show up early, stay late and are committed to improving their sales skills are the ones who earn money. In most sales organizations, 80% of commissions are earned by 20% of the reps. That means that if you are not in the top 20%, you are fighting for only 20% of the "commission pie" with 80% of the sales force.

Start Low, Aim High

People with no sales experience usually are offered entry-level positions. While starting at the bottom is nothing to be afraid of or embarrassed about, you do need to understand what makes up the account lists of most entry-level positions: All the accounts that no one else wants.

While this is not always the case, entry-level positions require the most work and realize the fewest rewards. Most companies have a high turnover with their sales teams and are resistant to giving top accounts to brand new, untested sales reps. Expect that your entry level position will be truly entry-level and be filled with entry-level accounts and entry-level compensation.

But don't get too discouraged. Sales organizations also know that they need to develop new reps so that they can grow into top performing reps. If they don't provide enough opportunity to their new reps, they know that reps will leave long before they have a chance to fully mature and bring in the big deals.

With this in mind, expect that whatever company you work for has a solid training program and rewards your hard efforts with greater opportunities. If they don't, you probably should be looking for a different employer.

The Truth About Freedom

If you are considering an outside sales position, meaning that you will spend the majority of your time outside of the office visiting with customers, you will have the ability to choose how you spend your time. You should expect to have activity standards and certainly be assigned a sales quota, but you will be able to choose how you spend a lot of your time. If you want to go golfing or to see a movie, you will be able to do so. If you choose to take 2-hour lunches or run home to take a quick nap on the couch, feel free. But know that you won't be in sales very long.

Remember that sales can be the easiest, lowest paying job in America. Meaning that if you want to work as little as is demanded, you will be able to do so in an outside sales position. But your pay will be low, and your results will draw an awful lot of unwanted attention from your sales manager.

Do not get into sales if you think that it will allow you time to do other things. To be successful in sales, to earn a substantial income in sales and to stay in sales takes work. Hard work and plenty of it.