Some Advice for Those Seeking Their First Job in Sales

So, you are looking for your first sales job? You are ready to embrace the role and all that comes with it. If you are going to pursue a career in sales, here are a few ideas you should consider as you begin to embark on a new career.

You Want First Class Training and Development

It’s true that you can’t learn to sell by reading about sales or by attending classes. Competency, professionalism, and excellence in sales are only gained by actually selling (hence my strong aversion to those that write about sales without ever having carried a bag). But, if you are pursuing a career in sales, first class training and development will make the transition much easier and much faster.

Great sales organizations like IBM and Xerox were legendary for their training and development. Their training and development armed their salespeople with a super-strong foundation. You should seek the same advantage.

The time and resources devoted to your development will help you to succeed faster. It will also help by teaching you the fundamentals of effective selling.

What if the company you are going to work for doesn’t offer formal training and development? This is more often the case. When you can’t get the formal training and development, you can build your own training and development plan. There are countless great books, blogs, and resources that you can turn to for help (heck, I’ll even write a post with a sample plan).

Will You Have a Great Sales Manager?

As a job-seeking employee, you don’t get a lot of say in whom your sales manager is and what they are like to work for. But you do get to interview, and you do need to make some assessments as to whether or not you want to be led by the person charged with leading you.

The best salespeople I know had sales managers that served as great coaches and mentors. They can name them, and they can describe for you the impact these individuals had on their development—and their results.

You want a sales manager who is going to spend time with you. You also want them to be someone who is going to help you to learn how to sell. They need to be a role model and someone you respect as a businessperson—and as a salesperson.

You Need a Base Salary

I shouldn’t have to write about compensation here. But too many people who want to pursue a career in sales take commission-only sales positions as their first job in sales. For all but a tiny minority, this is a horrible mistake.

You need time to learn. You need time to develop your skills. And you need to survive while you do so. You need a base salary that, while perhaps being less than you would make you comfortable, allows you to live.

You should absolutely trade for a lower base salary to get the training and development and a great sales manager. The investment will later bring you exponential returns.

Identify Internal Mentors

Look around the companies for whom you are considering working. Are there people within the company that would serve as your mentors? Are there successful people working in sales now that might be willing to help you develop your skills as a salesperson.

There is no reason to try to learn anything the hard way—you’ll learn the hard lessons even when you are trying to avoid them. Mentors and coaches can help you learn the ropes and they can help you avoid making some of the mistakes that they have made.

Who will you have access to as a salesperson?

Take Responsibility for Your Own Development

Even if you check all of the boxes and get everything listed above, working in sales means producing results. Ultimately, you are responsible for selling. You are responsible for your own effectiveness, no matter what you have or don’t have in the way of training, development, sales management, coaching, or mentors.

You are responsible for you own development plan. This means reading books, listening to audio books, reading blogs, listening to podcasts, paying for your own training and development, and making some assessments about where you need to improve and how you will do so.

Once hired, even if you do receive a lot of help, make your success your business.

Filed under: Sales 3.0

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