How to start a career in sales and become a successful salesman?
Looking to start a career in sales and become a successful salesman?
Then this guide will teach you the essence it becoming a good sales guy.
Production, logistics, human resources, marketing, accounting–there are so many functions that make up any business, be it a neighbourhood patisserie or an MNC such as Ford Motors.
According to many managers, the most crucial aspect of any business is selling. It is the final step during which a customer buys the product or service in return for a price.
Persuasion is often required and, unlike other aspects, it cannot be automated, at least not until now.
Tesla and Amazon have shown us how production and logistics can be highly automated. Software like SageX3 can take care of accounting and inventory with minimum human intervention.
But selling still needs a human touch. A salesman is indispensable for most businesses. Digital marketing has begun to make some headway but on the whole, it is still rudimentary.
Table of Contents
What is the role of a salesman?
The task of a salesman is self-evident. But how does he do it and what are his responsibilities?
The primary tasks of a salesperson include:
- Communication with prospective customers for new sales. This often involves a demo of how the product works, and the ability to put forth the advantages of buying and using the product vis-à-vis that made by a rival.
- Meeting existing purchasers for renewed sales. At the same time, the salesperson would inform the customer about new products and services and why an upgrade is necessary.
- Negotiating deals and contracts. B2B sales are large and often run into millions of dollars. A sales contract has multiple clauses about the delivery date, discount, maintenance, and warranty. It might also have an exit clause that allows one party to vacate the contract in some situations.
- Solving problems that a customer faces and providing a swift resolution.
- Creating sale reports that break down sales by demographics, region, product line.
- Analyzing trends and providing feedback up the management ladder.
Other than these primary tasks, a salesperson might also have to interact with the marketing team to devise strategies.
For many, sales and marketing are synonymous terms. However, marketing is about the entire gamut of activities that go into selling. This usually covers packaging, advertisement, pricing, and selling. Selling is a subset of marketing and involves the act of sale.
What makes a good salesperson?
Communication–this is the key to being a good salesperson. Communicating clearly, succinctly, and being able to describe in simple language while being engaging is a crucial quality. You can develop this skill by practicing constantly. Ask for feedback about your communication style from friends and family and work on your weaknesses.
- Patience–a sale is rarely over in a matter of minutes. It could take days or even weeks to persuade a customer to see your point of view. A salesman is always calm and never acts or speaks out of impatience.
- Energy–being a salesman in real life often requires a great deal of travel. Also, a salesman must appear ready and attentive at all times. Not only physical but a lot of mental energy is necessary to carry out the task. You need to be in good health and eat healthily.
- Knowledge–an in-depth understanding of the product is required. A salesperson should know the answer to most questions off the cuff. For others, he might refer to a manual or notes. Only rarely should he ask a client to wait for clarification. Moreover, he must know why his product is superior to the one sold by the competition.
- Self-confidence–I would put this at the top of the list. No one is going to buy from a pessimistic person with a dour attitude even if the product sold is the best available in the market. Of course, some salesmen go too far and turn self-confidence into an all-knowing, condescending pushiness that is off-putting.
How to start a career in sales?
A career in sales is rewarding and provides immense job satisfaction and scope for growth.
However, it is a profession that requires specialization in the lower rungs. You can’t go from selling detergent to selling cars and SUVs very easily.
That is why there are several broad sectors that a salesman has to choose from.
- FMCG (Fast-moving consumer goods, e.g. toiletries, beverages, OTC drugs, household consumables).
- White Goods (large electrical appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines, air conditioners).
- Auto (selling cars, SUVs, light and heavy commercial trucks, and buses).
- Insurance (not only personal but business insurance).
- Real Estate.
- Specialized industrial sectors such as aircraft. Besides passenger jets, smaller craft such as corporate jets made by Bombardier, Beechcraft, Dassault, and others have an enormous market. Smaller craft for hobby flying are also The same applies to other engineering products such as generators, forklifts, and industrial robots.
This is a broad classification and certainly not exhaustive. Many popular products, such as graphics cards and gaming consoles, are sold purely based on technical aspects and reviews.
There is no college course that teaches you to sell. If you want to become a salesman you have to apply for an internship with companies. Send an email to their HR and eventually, you would get a call.
Since it is a high-pressure job, there are always openings. For the first few months, you would receive a stipend that covers transport expenses and very little else.
You have to utilize this period to study yourself closely and develop strategies to become a good salesperson.
Without being negative, I have to put forth a caveat.
Unless you are good with people, do not opt for this career.
If your idea of heaven is watching Manchester United score against Liverpool while you wolf down a pack of crumpets with a fizzy drink, this profession is not right for you. Maybe coding HTML and CSS for a blog website would be a better career option.
You have to be an extroverted, outgoing, and reasonably optimistic person; someone people welcome meeting.
Your appearance has to be neat, and your attire has to fit your role.
You can’t sell a Mercedes while wearing a plastic Timex.
It might be a little upsetting to hear, but I am here to give you advice that helps and not hinders.
What is it like to be a salesman?
It is exciting and stressful at the same time.
Most salespeople have a monthly, quarterly, and annual target. That can weigh heavily on some.
On the other hand, the career is rewarding for those who like to meet other people. Whether you are selling a dress at Zara or closing the deal for 400 licenses of Office 365 you would meet interesting people.
The profession is very rewarding. Someone with an ordinary college degree who is proficient at sales can carry home a six-figure paycheck if they work hard.
Most salesmen, however, work for the thrill they get when they make a sale. A salesman is, in essence, a people person, and selling a product that would enrich someone’s life gives a mental high that is hard to replicate otherwise.
To sum up…
In the next few years, many roles will be replaced by automation. Hundreds of thousands of jobs have already been outsourced to China, India, and the Philippines.
Seling is a rare profession that is going to survive the turmoil. It cannot be automated to a reasonable degree and cannot be easily done by someone from afar.
For this reason, it makes sense to invest your time in becoming a good salesperson.
One or two internships would show you how stuff works and what it entails. Teamwork is an essential aspect of selling and an internship is a fine place to find out if you are indeed a team player.
Overall, it is an excellent career choice and if you put in hard work and self-introspection, you could rise to top managerial positions by your mid-thirties.