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Working in Sales Doesn’t Have to Suck: A Quick Rundown

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We’re kicking off with a series of posts dedicated to the wonderful world of sales. Now, you might be saying “Why sales?” or “Yawn. I’m not interested in working in sales.” But before you start drooling on your keyboard, consider these fun perks:

  • Flexible schedule and working environment
  • Growth and learning opportunities
  • Commissions and bonuses (in other words, ka-ching!)

Now that we’ve got your attention, let’s look at what it actually means to work in sales.

At the very basic level, a salesperson is offering a product or service for potential customers to buy. However, it’s about more than that. Most salespeople agree that their job is actually about listening to clients and presenting solutions to their problems.

 A lot of companies divide their sales departments into inside sales and outside sales. The definitions of these terms can vary at each company, but generally inside salespeople work in an office, communicate with clients over the phone, and maintain a regular work schedule. The “inside” in this case means that you are performing your sales duties from inside your company. Outside salespeople, on the other hand, tend to go out and meet clients in person, manage their own appointments, and have variable schedules.

In entry-level sales, two common job titles are sales representative and account manager. Sales representatives are usually in charge of getting new business (sometimes called “hunting”), and generally have targets for generating income while account managers are responsible for retaining current clients (sometimes called “farming”). Account managers may also be expected to generate specific amounts of income, too.

So what would your day be like if you worked as a salesperson? You’d probably divide your time between these types of tasks:

  • Networking in person and over the phone
  • Researching and following up with potential leads
  • Monitoring industry trends
  • Reporting on progress to team members and managers
  • Developing existing relationships with clients (yes, this can mean two-hour lunches and meetings over golf)

One thing that these skills have in common is that they’re all related to clear communication and building relationships with other people.

In order to be a salesperson, you don’t necessarily need to have a strong business background, but you do need to be able to speak and write clearly, research and understand what’s going on in your company and industry, and interact smoothly with lots of different people.

Just for funsies, we compiled a list of the most common majors who apply for sales jobs on AfterCollege. Check it out:

Top 10 majors applying for sales jobs

1. Marketing

2. Business Administration

3. Economics

4. Communication

5. English

6. Biological Sciences

7. Business Management

8. Political Science

9. Psychology

10. Accounting

I think this list is pretty cool because there are a few choices in there that don’t seem immediately obvious (like English and Psychology), but if you think about the skills a good salesperson needs, it totally makes sense that English and Psychology majors would be a good fit. If you’re interested in hearing more about people from non-business backgrounds who end up in sales, be sure to come and visit us again soon.

Homework time! Take the VIA Strengths Test to learn a bit more about your natural interests and inclinations. It’s free (you just have to create an account to register) and it’ll give you great insight for your job search and maybe a few key words you can include in your cover letters!

P.S. Are you considering a job in sales? What are some other jobs you’d like us to profile in the future? Let us know in the comments!

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