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Home  > Article

Give Sales A Chance

By Experience

If "sales" conjures up the image of a slick-tongued, fast talking huckster who'll do or say anything to close a deal, you might want to take another look at a career where entry-level positions are numerous, professional development comes with the job and the take home pay can be most rewarding.


Salespeople are the face of any for-profit business.


Sure, the snake oil pitchmen are out there. But chances are they won't last long in any job and they certainly won't be able to call on repeat customers--the true sign of a good salesperson.

While there are dollars and cents involved in any deal, ask a successful salesperson about her job and she'll tell you it's really about listening to people, understanding their problems, and providing a solution. Do your job right, and the commissions will follow, along with thanks from a satisfied customer and an appreciative sales manager.

Whether it's retail or business-to-business, inside phone selling or territory sales, companies are increasingly looking for those with a bachelor's degree who can connect intelligently with customers. Salespeople are the face of any for-profit business. They must be organized, disciplined, able to talk, and listen to potential buyers, and they need to think both creatively and analytically about how business is conducted.

Experienced sales representatives say every job is different: Some require in-depth product knowledge; others demand travel and long hours. You might work on a sales team, or perhaps you're a manufacturers representative who works alone selling products from a number of companies. The common thread, though, is you're responsible for what you sell and, therefore, for what you make. In sales, hard work really does pay off!

Entry-level positions abound in retail. While a bachelor's degree is not a requirement, it is often helpful if an employee hopes to eventually move up in the company and into a sales management position.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, in 2008 (the most recent statistics available), 4.5 million people worked in retail sales.

Computer skills may be needed to track sales leads, process orders, and prepare often detailed proposals that may take weeks or months to develop. Successful outside sales people have strong communications skills, the ability to quickly analyze a situation and think about creative solutions.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were approximately 2 million business-to-business sales people in the workforce in 2008.

Experts say overall job growth for sales professionals is likely to be on par with the average job growth for all industries.

Elsewhere, athletes, artists, medical experts, architects, construction managers and others with specialized skills or knowledge may find a niche within a sales team.

Product demonstrators and models and trainers are also employed by companies to bolster sales, opening a door to grads with creative arts and education backgrounds.

Given the wide variety of companies, product and services out there, someone interested in a sales career should be able to find a company they can trust, a product they believe in--and most importantly, customers who will benefit from their hard work and informed advice.

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