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‘Working in sales’ can mean something different depending on what company you’re looking at - it can cover B2C (business to consumer), which is the sort of retail experience ordinary people are used to when shopping on the high street or online, or it can be B2B (business to business) where you might be selling a product or software to a company.
Most sales focused roles that are based in offices are B2B, where you’ll be aiming to sell something to a person in another company responsible for buying those types of products. If you have the skills to do your job well, you can often start earning higher salaries in sales sooner than other roles. To help you work out whether sales is for you, here are the top eight skills you'll need to work in sales.
The most important skill to have when working in sales is communication. You will be expected to reach out to people via email, on LinkedIn and other professional platforms, on the phone and in person. You need to be engaging, charming and professional, whilst still delivering a personal approach for each client and individual you meet. To do this you need to have fantastic communication skills, and be excellent at building relationships.
You need thick skin to work in Sales. It’s a numbers game; the more people you reach out to, the more likely you are to make a deal, but the nature of the role means sometimes people won’t get back to you, some will decline and for others it won’t be the right time. You have to be able to handle rejection.
Equally, sometimes it’s about being patient, although now might not be the right time, a few months later could be the perfect time to re-engage and strike a deal with a client that six months ago wasn’t interested.
Being really organised is essential. Not getting back to someone in a timely manner can be the difference between making a sale or not. Linked to the above point as well, being able to keep track of all your potential future clients will help you to hit your targets. If you're thinking of studying and working in sales at the same time, on an apprenticeship for example, then you'll need to balance your time effectively.
Researching the company you’re reaching out to will improve your chances of converting the interaction into a sale. Being able to talk about what their company does, and how your product could improve that process, will get their buy-in and demonstrate you really know what you’re talking about.
Sales is definitely a role for competitive individuals that are self-starters, or in other words, people who go out and get the right things done without being waiting to be told. It’s a role where you get out what you put in. Once you’ve been shown the ropes, it will be your responsibility to reach out to organisations, build rapport with people and generate sales. Often roles will be commission-based, and there is a lot of competition within a team to be the ‘top seller’.
Before you start to approach an organisation it’s essential that you understand the entire sales process in your own company. You want the client’s experience to be seamless and without blockers. You may want to shadow your colleagues at different stages of their deals to get an in-depth understanding of how it works. Be sure to ask questions early if you’re unsure.
As much as it’s important to be ambitious, it’s also important to be realistic. Work with your manager to set yourself achievable goals and milestones to help you check in on your progress. Remember the acronym SMART; make sure your goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Bound.
After reading these tips, regardless of whether you decide to go down the sales route or not, make sure you read job descriptions well to make sure your skills and interests align with what you would be doing day-to-day.