Before transitioning into my desired career as an HR generalist, I spent four years in sales-related roles both as a headhunter for a staffing agency and as a sales and service representative for a Fortune 500 company. Coming out of school, I never thought I'd be a salesperson. The idea of spending hours on the phone trying to schedule appointments and pitching products and services to busy business owners brought back painful memories of my high school job working in a call center. Besides, I didn't get a degree to get hung up on, lied to and called every name in the book.
Little did I know that my work in sales would turn out to be some of the best professional development I've gotten in my life. That's why I highly recommend sales jobs to people who may be unsure of what they'd like to do, but are eager to get experience under their belts. And since sharing is caring, I'd like to give you five reasons you should consider sales during your search.
Sales skills are highly transferable: You learn what a good customer looks like, how to build trust over the phone, effectively present, anticipate and rebut objections, build relationships across industries and networks and the ins and outs of customer service. A lot of people don't realize that customer service is part of just about every job, even if you're only dealing with people within your own organization. Having strong customer service skills has never hurt anybody.
No matter what you do, you will be require to sell: Similar to my point on customer service, selling is everywhere. That's what makes it so transferable. Whether it's pushing a great idea at work, pitching an article, writing an amazing cover letter or creating an attractive rèsumè, you are selling something. The same goes for interviews, regardless of which side of the table you're on. Working in sales helps you develop the mindset to influence people and get favorable results. It doesn't just have to be an office thing. Sales experience is also useful if you're an entrepreneur. You will have to sell all aspects of your business to potential investors, employees and customers. Sales will help you understand everything someone on the other side of the table may want to know. That's definitely a win.
Companies are always looking for salespeople: If there are no sales, there is no revenue. Therefore, every company needs a good sales force. Sales is also a relatively high turnover field, so new positions are constantly opening up. Try not to see the turnover as a bad thing. Look at it as an opportunity. If you're good in sales, there will always be a job for you.
Sales jobs can provide you with variety and freedom...if you're good: Two things I loved about sales were the opportunity to be out of the office and to independently manage my schedule. And because I was good at it, I had more freedom throughout the day. As long as I met or exceeded my targets, my boss wasn't concerned with what I was doing at every moment. I'm not suggesting you hit your quota then go take a nap, but not having a manager breathing down your back is pretty awesome.
Sales requires resilience, a crucial trait for the successful: Resilience is one of the key traits of successful people. If you can consistently deal with rejection and still succeed, it says a lot about you as a person. Companies aren't looking for people who retreat when things get tough. They're looking for people that can thrive under pressure and roll with the punches.
Sales is not an easy field, but I think that's part of the reason you should consider it---if only just for career development. Who knows what a successful couple years in sales could do for your future? It's worth spending some time figuring it out.
Rich Jones is a Pathfinder for Professionals with a knack for helping the wayward determine the next steps of their careers. He’s also a certified professional in Human Resources with for-profit and non-profit recruiting experience. Check Rich out on his career blog I Am Rich Jones.